Every traveler has a “flight from hell” story. Luckily for me, it didn’t happen until well into my traveling career – my parents taught me to only ever fly with Emirates or Singapore Air. But like most kids will do at least once their lives, I ignored the good advice, and on one fateful day in 2008, I sat contemplating my small savings account and suddenly gave in to temptation, settling on a $300 flight to Japan with Australia’s newest (at the time) budget airline; Jetstar.
…And boy, did I learn my lesson!
The city of lights; an icon of romance, and the center of cuisine at it’s finest, has fascinated me for as long as I remember. There is a magic about her that is undefinable, undebatable, and unrivalled… a charm that can be found in every fromage-filled baguette, in the two-minute stillness between metro services, in the late-night aperitifs of the Marais, and the luxurious boutiques selling designer books, designer ballet shoes, or designer incense. Even in the way the Parisians love their dogs, and the way they smoke cigarettes without a care for tomorrow. From the lawns beneath the Eiffel tower, to the pyramids of the Louvre, and all the tourist traps inbetween – I love the very essence of Paris. I can still hear the buskers singing tribute to Edith on the street-corners, still feel the rain on my face as we zipped around Paris one midnight on the back of a scooter, still feel my heart jump out of my chest as we stepped off that train at Paris, Gare du Nord, September 7th 2012.
Crossing over into Germany on the train, we are startled when the dialect on the speakers suddenly switches. From the alien Czech, I am relieved to hear the comforting, familiar sound of Deutsch. We soon arrive at Berlin Haubtbahnhof (ja, Berlin!), where we jump on our connecting service.
Unable to find our reserved First-Class seats, the attendant tells us that we need to move to the train behind us. I take it to mean, there’s another train physically connected to this one, and that we’ll need to get off at the next stop and run along the platform to get back on. He understands this is as, we’ve taken the wrong train and need to get off, and get on the next one that comes along.
I am right, of course.
Never have I experienced such incompetence and disrespect as we did at Dubai International Airport.
Most flights with Emirates will have a layover at the Dubai hub for refueling. We had a short stop in Dubai on both flights; going, it was only four hours, coming; it was eight (although the pain we experienced was tenfold).
Arriving in Dubai the first time, I’m not sure what I expected to find, but in retrospect it made complete sense. Imagine a scene from Joss Whedon’s futuristic TV series Firefly. Terminal 3 reminds me of one of the central planets; a bustling hub for international flights, and a melting pot of culture. Men wearing the traditional Arab thawb (white suit and headdress) as common as your jeans-sporting Aussie bloke, followed by their black-draped-wives, like shadows in glamorous heels and bling-bling rings herding the children along; the Indians with their turbans and sari-draped wives, aunts, and mother-in-laws in tow; the African natives in their vibrant colours; the holy men; and the lone geisha we spotted, trotting along so delicately in her exquisite kimono and wooden geta sandals.
The novelty didn’t last long.
Emirates, your reputation precedes you. From your history of honeymoon upgrades (although we were unfortunately on fully-booked flights both ways), to your leniency with an already generous luggage allowance (30kg checked plus 7kg carry on), your not merely edible but delicious menu, and, last-but-not-least, some of the largest economy seats in the air – we were content in the knowledge that you could deliver us, well-fed, well-rested, suitably-pampered, to our destination. We weren’t disappointed.
The welcome we received wasn’t quite as theatrical as this photo, but it may as well have been – we were pampered to the extent we forgot we were sitting in economy class seats!
Credit: World Stewardess Crews