My recent experience onboard Emirates flight EK404, onboard its A380 aircraft - the flagship and workhorse of the Dubai-based carrier, has been exceptional, thanks to the comfortable and traveler-oriented hard products and excellent and warm service of the multinational cabin crew.
Emirates flight EK404 is a flight from Dubai to Melbourne, via Singapore, with a total travelling time of 16 hours and 15 minutes. In comparison, the nonstop Dubai to Melbourne flights, EK406 and EK408, as well as on Emirates partner, Qantas flight QF10, take 13 hours and 20 minutes. While adding a couple of hours in travelling, EK404 allows a break about midway in the long journey (with 7 hours and 20 minutes flight time from Dubai to Singapore, 1 hour and 45 minute transit in Singapore, followed by 7 hours and 10 minutes flying from Singapore to Melbourne).
This report details the first sector from Dubai (DXB) to Singapore (SIN).
Flight: EK404 (Dubai to Singapore)
Departure from Dubai: 9.35am (scheduled) / 10.09am (actual)
Arrival in Singapore: 8.55pm (scheduled) / 8.52pm (actual)
Flight time: 7 hours and 20 minutes (scheduled) / 6 hours and 43 minutes (actual)
Operating aircraft: A380-861 (Registration: A6-EOU)
This flight EK404, departed from the A gates of Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport, which was quite busy in the early morning when I arrived. Most of the seats were taken, and some people were even lounging on the floor. Crowds did thin out by 9am, as the morning wave of flights departed.
Boarding for EK404 commenced promptly with zonal boarding strictly enforced. The whole boarding progress for this A380 flight was sluggish even though the flight was lightly loaded in Economy Class. Most passengers had a whole row to themselves to stretch out. The cabin crew handed out cups of water to passengers as they waited for the boarding process to be completed.
The Economy Class seat, perhaps due to its greyish and purple hue, looked somewhat worn but was spacious and comfortable. Traveller-friendly seat features include USB ports and AC power ports (2 ports to be shared for the HJK row). Pillows and blankets, as well as audio headphones, were preset on the seats, for passengers' inflight comfort and enjoyment.
Visiting the lavatory, it was stocked with The White Company (London) Noir (Amber, Mandarin and Sandalwood) toiletries (hand & body lotion and eau de toilette), which was a nice touch.
Once boarding was completed, menus were distributed, as well as heath advisory cards and immigration forms for Singapore.
For this sector from Dubai to Singapore, the menu was as follows:
Choose a regionally inspired meal and enjoy with our complimentary wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks.
Or raise a glass of Champagne; Moët & Chandon 200 ml piccolos for USD 25.
A full range of sodas and mixers
Orange, apple, pineapple, mango and tomato juice
Coffee and tea
From the bar
A range of red and white wine, beer, spirits and liqueurs
Dubai to Singapore
Soba Noodle Salad
Fish in spicy garlic sauce, served with stir-fried noodles and vegetables
With black pepper sauce, green beans and mashed potatoes
Chocolate and mango fudge cake
With raspberry coulis
Instant cup noodles
Available on request when meals are not being served
Barbecue chicken roll
With tomato and mayonnaise
White chocolate chip cookies
For the next sector from Singapore to Melbourne, the menu was as follows:
Singapore - Melbourne
Served with potato and cucumber salad
Fish fillet in mild curry sauce, served with steamed rice and sautéed vegetables
Chicken in creamy mushroom sauce
Served with herbed mashed potatoes, buttered broccoli and sautéed carrots
Sicilian baked cheesecake
Instant cup noodles
Available on request when meals are not being served
Fresh seasonal fruit
Soft breakfast roll
Served with butter and preserve
Aside from paper menus distributed onboard, Emirates also publishes menus for its flights on its website, which passengers can easily reference to before their flight, by running a search on the route or flight number, at this link: https://www.emirates.com/english/flying/dining/dining.aspx
The Captain gave a lovely speech, and was clearly proud to be part of the multinational Emirates team. He introduced himself as hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, and the Senior First Officer from the United Kingdom. He also briefly introduced the senior cabin crew: Flight Purser was from Morocco and Cabin Supervisors from Canada, Malaysia, and Senegal. In all, 23 nationalities were represented amongst the cabin crew for this flight, and astoundingly, 20 different languages were spoken between them.
The Economy Class cabin crew came from 10 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Senegal, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.
Living up to its reputation, ice entertainment was nothing short of spectacular! Aside from the excellent digital widescreen product, a handset with a tablet-like interface, and comfortable headphones, ice boasts of 2500 channels of movies, music, games, and TV, in a whooping 36 languages! The interface itself is available in 13 languages. My screen was fast and very touch-responsive, and importantly, visual and audio quality were superb!
Detailed flight information can be found in the Today's Flight section of ice, which also features three different camera perspectives: forward-facing, bird's eye, and tail fin. I was able to enjoy a tail fin view of the take off and landing on my entertainment screen, which I found more awe-inspiring compared to the micro-perspective from a window seat.
Inflight internet was available and two plans were offered. The first plan was complimentary: 10MB free Wi-Fi data, limited to 2 hours usage. The second was a $1 plan for 500MB Wi-Fi data that would expire at the end of the non-stop flight (ie. arrival in Singapore). I found the internet connection reasonably fast enough to update photos on my social media accounts. Note that when overflying certain countries (ie. India), the inflight internet would be unavailable, and this is indicated by a lighted no connectivity sign next to the fasten seatbelt sign. As a large portion of this flight sector overflew Indian territory (including the Nicobar Islands), inflight internet was unavailable for a lengthy portion of time, which you may wish to consider should you wish to utilize the inflight internet.
Lunch service commenced shortly after take off. Given the choice between a generic chicken and potatoes and a somewhat more interesting fish and noodles, I opted for the latter. A choice of drink from a limited selection on the meal cart was served (a more comprehensive drinks cart would follow later). I opted for white wine, and was served a bottle of South African Stellenrust Chenin Blank 2016. It was interesting that Emirates still use glass bottles of wines, unlike the lightweight (but somewhat cheap-looking) plastic bottles used by other major airlines - then again, plastic or glass, I should be thankful enough for complimentary booze in this age of flying!
The meal was generous in quantity - the meal tray was messy and overflowing! The fish noodles main course was more sweet than spicy - a trait of a rather westernized Asian meal. The appetizer was large in portion but was rather bland - being just a sad heap of soba noodles with bits of vegetables, after all. The chocolate and mango fudge cake wasn't too memorable either. Other components of the tray were a flour-dusted bun, Italian breadsticks, cheese and crackers, a chocolate, and a cup of water. Even though the meal was at most, average in taste, it certainly did its job in filling up my tummy.
Along came the drinks cart with the full range of drinks on offer. I opted for Rum and Pepsi. More booze. This certainly took my mind off the lackluster meal.
Later, coffee and tea were served. I decided to skip caffeine.
Even if the meal was mediocre, the lunch service was an elegant and delightful dining affair. The cabin crew were unhurried in serving the meals and drinks, taking time to politely ask passengers for their choices, and smiled warmly towards each passenger. Oh, how many times have I encountered Economy Class cabin crew in my past flights who were rushing down the aisle in serving the meals/drinks - akin to distributing rations to soldiers.
Or perhaps a better analogy: serving animal feed to the cattle in Cattle Class:
Non-EK404 cabin crew grunts impatiently: "Chicken or fish?"
Brown cow moos: "Fish, please."
*plonks the meal tray*
Non-EK404 cabin crew continues on to the next bovine in line.
In encountering how the EK404 cabin crew conducted the meal service in a relaxed, warm, and personal manner, it was truly a refreshing Economy Class dining experience.
Now, at this time, I would like to compliment the cabin crew of EK404. Their enthusiasm for the job could be observed in their warm smiles and excellent eye contact towards their passengers. When distributing immigration forms, the cabin crew asked passengers individually if they were heading to Singapore or Melbourne, even though doing so made this simple task a lot more laborious. The same attitude was shown as they served coffee and tea, rather than waiting for the passengers to flag them down as they walked down the aisle, the cabin crew proactively approached passengers to offer them the hot drinks.
What particularly impressed me was not the excellent service rendered in itself, but how this customer-oriented attitude was consistent for the whole cabin crew team. Every cabin crew member displayed a warm and friendly demeanour. They also displayed a strong sense of teamwork, taking turns to regularly offer passengers juices, water, and savoury biscuits outside of the meal services, and clearing trash, or checking on passengers during turbulence. They also didn't appear to draw boundaries either on the cabins or rows they served, as I observed various cabin crew members working in the cabin I was in.
Duty-free sales was conducted mid-way during the flight. I was not planning to buy something. While pushing her sales cart, a really friendly and helpful cabin crew member noticed I was awake and suggested that I should take a look at the duty free shopping catalogue as there was an ongoing promotion for a flat 20% discount with a USD90 spending! Hey, it was a pretty good deal and that was how I disembarked the flight with new travel accessories.
Soon after my inflight purchase, light bites service commenced, in which a chicken roll and two cookies were served. I liked the cookies. Apparently I was not the only one with a sweet tooth as the lady behind me asked the cabin crew for more cookies. I opted for white wine for my beverage, and was rather pleased to receive a bottle of German August Kesseler Riesling 2015.
Hot towels were served and it was time to prepare for landing shortly after, and the cabin crew got busy in collecting: first, used blankets, followed by unused blankets, then, unused headsets, and lastly, used headsets. That's a lot of work! I asked to keep mine to continue watching my entertainment programme, and the cabin crew member approved with a smile.
Lighting flashes could be seen during the descent but it was a very smooth landing into Singapore Changi Airport. After a quick taxiing, we arrived at the gate. Emirates groundstaff were at hand at the gate, calling out for Melbourne-bound passengers to return to the gate in 30 minutes. The second sector from Singapore to Melbourne would be operated by a new set of crew, with joining passengers from Singapore on this 5th freedom flight.
With the combination of a superior hard product and excellent cabin services, this flight has got to be one of my most enjoyable flights. Though I enjoyed the superb ice entertainment and the comfortable seat, the consistent great service rendered by the multinational Emirates cabin crew made the flight truly memorable.
Thank you for reading this FlightTravels Emirates flight report. The video experience can be viewed below: