Months and months ago when we were searching non-stop looking for all of our flights in and around Australia and New Zealand I came across a great deal to get us between Auckland and Sydney for the last leg of our vacation. I thought it was a typo when I secured us two tickets for around $150 but went for it and was even more surprised when I saw the flight was on an Emirates A-380. A plane that holds upwards of 500 people for a 1500 mile flight? Makes no sense but whatever and we bought the tickets and moved on.
Fast forward almost seven months and four days before said flight I get an email from Emirates offering us an upgrade oppurtunity on the flight to Sydney. Normally I wouldn’t bother on a short flight but it was a good deal, we’d paid next to nothing for the tickets in the first place and it’s business class on an A380 which is not something either of us were likely to experience any time soon let alone on Emirates. After some further conversation where we figured out that this upgrade would give us dinner at the airport, dinner on board, hours of free internet access that we’d been lacking and whatever..it didn’t take much convincing to go ahead with it.
On the day of the flight we showed up at the airport probably four hours early wanting to take full advantage of the lounge facilities for happy hour and getting some much needed blogging and photo uploading complete before our flight. We settled into the lounge and celebrated with some vintage Veuve Clicout and snacks while we worked. In the meantime the lounge quickly filled as we learned there were not one but four large flights departing for Australia and then on to Dubai that afternoon.
Boarding was called and we wandered our way down to the terminal, along the way we saw this Air New Zealand plane with some cool Hobbit artwork:
Another few minutes and we arrived at our gate which was predictably at the end of the terminal and got a first glimpse of our ride to Sydney waiting at the gate. We walked through the gate and found two separate boarding ramps for coach (lower level of the plane) and first/business on the upper level.
We were welcomed on board by one of the most pleasant flight crews I’ve ever run across, I think there were about 14 crew working in the business cabin for about 30 people. We found our seats about halfway down the cabin nicely appointed with wood, these great storage compartments under the windows and even a mini-bar at each seat stocked with fancy water, juice, soda’s and glassware. Each seat has a huge video screen you control by touching the screen, using the wired remote or if you can’t manage that there’s also a touch screen wireless remote for controlling the seat, lights, AC and the massive library of movies, TV, music etc..
After a second pre-flight happy hour we were under way and it was a weird take off, the plane rolled for a long time but the acceleration wasn’t as pronounced as you would feel in at 747, 767 or smaller Airbus plane it was like one second we were rolling on the ground and the next we were floating upwards under the massive wings attached to this plane. It was a strange realization that we were in a huge plane and that there was essentially another huge plane right down the stairs with another 300 people on it. Crazy. Also worth mentioning that this plane is QUIET, the usual noise you get on planes seemed to be about 40% less than usual.
Service began with a nice Bordeaux and then some nice smoked salmon and lamb cutlets for dinner, these were easily as good or better than the lamb I’d ordered in a couple of restaurants during out time in NZ. For dessert a delicious chocolate cake and fruit.
Once dinner was over we decided to head back to the bar for an after dinner drink, yes, I said back to the bar ON THE PLANE! The rear of the business cabin is setup as a lounge/bar area complete with with top end liquor and wines, little canape’s and other snacks available throughout the flight. The bartender was a nice guy from Brazil originally and we chatted with him while the other attendant who was also super nice and very used to people looking amazed that there was a bar on the plane, took a picture for us.
Champagne and martini’s seemed to be most appropriate for this lifestyles of the rich and famous/international super spy 007 moment so we did just that and enjoyed our little club flying along at 38,000 feet. Just since they had it, I grabbed a scotch before we headed back to our seats to relax for the remainder of the flight wishing for the first time ever that the flight could be longer.
All to soon we landed in Sydney after what seemed like the longest low level approach to the runway ever, a nice smooth landing and we breezed through customs and very quickly found ourselves downtown at the Westin and ready to enjoy the last few days of vacation exploring Sydney.