It was time to visit home. I scoured the internet to find the best and the most affordable airline which would cater to my needs during the 17 or 18 hours of flight. Google brought me to a page listing the top airlines in the world in 2015, and there it was at number 5: Emirates.
Of course, I visited the webpages of the other airlines in the top 10. But Emirates was well-reviewed and recommended by most of the members of a Filipino support group on Facebook. And so, after choosing the best itineraries for a two-way journey on Economy, I booked with Emirates on my 25th birthday for 6,091 NOK. My itinerary:
- Oslo to Dubai (6 h 50 m) ; Layover 4 h 10 m
- Dubai to Manila (8 h 15 m)
- Manila to Dubai (9 h 5 m); Layover 1 h 40 m
- Dubai to Oslo (7 h 25 m)
The excitement was high prior to the journey. In fact, I couldn’t wait to try the food they offer on board because many reviewed it as first class and of superb quality. The airline also boasts of exceptional service and in-flight entertainment.
So, did I find Emirates to be worthy of the praise? Or is it overrated? Here’s what I have to say on the following:
- Booking: I booked my flights online, and I have to say that I was impressed by the efficiency of the website. It is available in 23 languages, and it’s fairly easy to navigate. I have seen many websites with confusing tabs and menus, and with plenty of pop-ups. Emirates website is an exception! There you can create your personal account and join loyalty programs, book flights, check in, check flight status, and see the services included on your flight. Everything you need to know is available, and you can also opt to have your flight details sent via SMS or email to your loved ones so they’ll get updated on your whereabouts.
- The fleet: Emirates boasts of modern and hi-tech fleets. I flew with Boeing 777-300ER, which can offer a two class or a three class passenger capacity. Flights from Oslo to Dubai and vice versa are three-class, while it’s two class from Dubai to Manila. No wonder I flew with many Filipinos on board during the second leg of my trip. More info about the fleet here.
- The interior. Oi. I really like the interior of the three-class fleet! The cabin is spacious, and I got more room to sleep, given that I was at the economy section of the plane! You can also count that the monitors are working properly, it works faster, and there are more movies and entertainment selections! Meanwhile, the two-class fleet is a little bit disappointing. Also, I remember a broken cabin compartment. The door opened during take-off, and we anxiously watched if the bags could defy gravity and would make it to the sky! And oh, I love the stars on the ceiling lit during naptime!
- Food. Okay. This is where much of the disappointment comes in. I have really good memories flying with KLM. Why? Because I was well-fed! And I remember the food to be warm and delicious! Except for the flight from Amsterdam to Oslo, where they served a cold, cold sandwich. But yes, the food in Emirates is.. lacking! Lacking in taste, color, variety, and portion! From Oslo to Dubai, we had an option between chicken and fish. They asked me to wait, as they were “preparing the chicken”, but after a long wait, the stewardess came back and told me that they ran out of chicken. Goodness gracious, they could have just handed me the fish earlier! Along with the main dish is a tasteless starter of bulgur salad, bread, a cup of orange and vanilla delice, and a small pack of tiny biscuits with dips. From Dubai to Manila, they served a sandwich and a cup of coffee. 😛 Going back to Oslo, we had more food! Hurray! But it wasn’t any tastier. And I really recommend that they heat the food, especially the Philippine dishes. My seatmate and I both agreed that kindergarten kids can make better meals!!! From Manila to Dubai, I had some breakfast of egg and corned beef, and a snack of fresh fruits and bread. From Dubai to Oslo, the selection was better. I had croissant, muffin and fruit for breakfast, and ginger garlic prawns with rice and some side dish for lunch. The photos look nice, but yeah…. Book Emirates and see for yourself. 😉
- Attendants. This can be a little subjective, but the attendants really made an impression to me. Emirates hire staff from different backgrounds and nationalities, which I find impressive. As always, I referred to the attendants by their first name (Hint! Name plate on chest!) to make sure I’d get their attention and they would respond to me with respect. (Another hint! They love compliments, who doesn’t?) I think they were well-trained, especially on how to deal with demanding passengers. However, there were some who were absent-minded and looking “lost”, sleep-deprived, and easily irritated. I was also quite annoyed when they gave priority to “white” passengers in the waiting line in Dubai, i.e., offering or directing them to places where they could sit and wait. But with their fellow Filipinos, na-da, wapakels! And another thing, my seatmate from Dubai to Manila was asked to wait for his food! And it was 2 hours before landing that he finally got his lunch. Hurray to that! Obviously, they had forgotten him, despite the many reminders we did.
- Schedule & Safety. No problem at all! Emirates was always on time during my travel. 😉 The take-off from Manila was a little late, but they managed to pull through and arrive in Dubai ahead of time. I was a bit anxious because I only had an hour of transfer to my connecting flight, and had to travel via train to the other terminal. haha But trust Emirates. You gotta trust them!
- Entertainment. A few new movies, and a couple of Tagalog movies available on flight! I enjoyed the music playlists, and the camera at the front and the bottom parts of the plane. However, do not count on these that much from the two-class fleet. I will not bring a book next time. I had Don Quixote with me, and yes, we just made use of the napping time and did not really bond with each other!
So there. Will I book with Emirates again? Most probably, because I liked that they land and take off at NAIA Terminal 3. Meaning, I don’t have to swim my way through the crowd, so less stress. But the food… Oh my. I hope they will improve. 😉 Oops. Gotta go. Ha det bra!