Joyrides Down Under Part 6: Homebound on EK A380
Noun: A ride in a vehicle taken solely for pleasure
Verb: A ride in a vehicle with no particular goal and just for the pleasure of it
This TR covers the return leg with Emirates, back to Auckland. It’ll be a brief TR as I wasn’t feeling very well when I took this flight and also my two previous EK A380 TRs cover most of what I have already covered. It has ended up being another consistency test.
Emirates only has one flight a day operating SYD-AKL and that is flown by the A380. It is a huge plane but they fill it up and provides Emirates with a nice little add-on profit. They didn’t have to fly across the Tasman and could have instead opted to stay on the ground in Australia but the layover was made long enough to fit this extra leg in for 4 of their flights. They now operate daily to AKL from BNE, MEL and SYD and also one daily CHC-SYD flight. There are many pros and cons about flying Emirates across the Tasman. Pros being the excellent IFE, food, generous baggage allowance and generally speaking, service whereas on the other side, you have the potential for a very full plane and only early morning flights out of Australia or late evening flights out of NZ with no other choice of flights. It takes one dedicated person some effort to consistently wake up for these flights!
The time had come for me to leave Australia once again after a really fun journey trying out different planes. I must have caught the bug for trying out different planes! A short drive to the airport from my cousin and I was at the International Terminal.
The check in queue was fairly long by the time I had reached the airport and there was quite a long wait before I reached the front of the queue. The check in agent was very friendly and I was soon on my way with my bag checked in. I noticed that the plane was delayed and the plane hadn’t even arrived yet so the obvious place in Sydney to head to was the observation deck.
DJ 738, Australian Registration on Pacific Blue
TG 772 from BKK
LAN A343 from AKL
QF 763 Taking A Piggyback
A Bit Late!
Not long after my plane had arrived, I was off through customs. Sydney Airport had changed a lot since I last travelled there 9 months previously. Now there is one checkpoint for both piers which makes a lot more sense (just in case you go to the wrong set of gates when trying to pass through Customs) but they have also made a huge duty free store at the end of it for everyone to walk through.
The Massive Duty Free Area You’re Forced To Walk Through
Sydney Airport is definitely QF (and OneWorld) orientated and so once you’re through the duty free shop, it’s a much closer walk to their gates. For passengers on most *A and Skyteam airlines, there’s a long walk to the other side of the terminal. And this also applies for Emirates passengers..
What It Means Is Do A U-Turn
The Wiggles Shop
The Walkway To The Other Gates
The Other UA 744 And My Plane Behind It
When I arrived at the gate area, I found myself in a very similar situation to last time – the whole gate lounge was packed and there were tonnes of people standing around. Maybe it’s time for some of these airports to start increasing seating capacity or do something before hoardes of A380s arrive on the scene. There were tonnes of random announcements for nothing in particular.
The Gate Area
Boarding commenced half an hour late, due to the late arrival of the aircraft as I had previously seen. There weren’t any notifications about boarding and the whole place was a shambles. There were people everywhere trying to board. So it’s just like how people want to get off a plane early but instead they all want to get on it at the same time and our plane is an A380! Crazy. It was very poorly managed. I remember back to the first flight I had on the EK A380 where there were actually announcements on who were to board (just like most civilised carriers). I was right at the back of the plane so I decided to jump into the snaking queue.
30 Nov 2009
Routing: Sydney – Auckland (SYD-AKL)
Scheduled Time of Departure: 0850hrs (GMT+11)
Actual Departure: 1001hrs (pushback), 1022hrs (rotate)
Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1350hrs (GMT+13)
Flight time: 2hr 47 min
Aircraft: Airbus A380-861
EDB is Emirates’ 2nd A380 out of a fleet that is forever growing in the short and mid-term. So far 10 have been delivered. The older ones are the ULH configured aircraft with more space and more premium seating and they obviously do the big flights such as DXB-SYD.
Walk To The Plane
Off To Seoul Incheon
Off To WLG
By this stage, we were over an hour late. The captain came over the PA and announced that flying time would be 2 hr 25, cruising at 39,000ft. We finally pushed back from Gate 61 at 10:01 local and hot towels were being handed out during pushback. Engines started their soft whine at 10:08 and we taxied to the end of Runway 16R.
EK 77W As EK418 To CHC
Past The Qantas Pier
Untitled 742 TF-AAA
AC 77L From Vancouver
After all traffic was cleared, we were off down the runway and into the sky over Botany Bay at 10:22, bound for home.
The seats at the back of the plane aren’t my favourite in the whale. They’re close to a number of toilets and due to the engines being so quiet, multiple flushes can easily be heard. This would be very annoying for one flying a long sector in the back cabin. I find that the cabin crew rest area makes the 2 sides of 3 feel quite claustrophobic in contrast to what the A380 is known to feel like. So my favourite section on the A380 still remains the front of the second cabin.
QF 734 Holding Short
Up, Up And Away!
Menus were later distributed.
The choice was either lamb or eggs on this flight. Being at the back of the cabin, there wasn’t much hope for getting the lamb and that was soon confirmed. They had run out of lamb, forcing me to settle with the egg.
The meal was alright, remembering I was not feeling 100% at the time. But all the salt and pepper was needed to get some flavour out. This time, the meal trolley was closely followed up by the drink trolley which made up for the previous flight with them.
IFE Is Great!
It wasn’t a very exciting flight especially due to the fact that I’ve done this leg a few times already. Who knows why I bothered to do another EK A380 report! Anyway, the rest of the flight was spent resting and listening to my iPod – yes I’ve figured that I’d be better off just listening to my own music sometimes even though there’s a wealth of programmes and music on the Emirates system.. But time flew past and soon we were about to start descent into Auckland.
Top Of Descent
Between The Clouds
Auckland City Beneath That Cloud To The Left
Rangitoto Island At The Back
Main Motorway South, State Highway 1 And Roadworks To Link The Airport Motorway To This One
We finally touched down on Runway 23L.
The next worst part about being at the back of a fully laden A380 is the wait to get out. Once again, just about everyone had crowded the aisles as soon as the aircraft came to a stop at Gate 16. It took between 10 and 15 minutes for me to disembark.
My Favourite Section
After a quick chat to the flight attendant, he told me that there were 489 passengers onboard that flight.. No wonder there was such a wait!
Long Walk To Customs
After experiencing Smartgate (passport control for NZ and Aus passport holders with microchips) in Sydney, it was great to see that AKL’s Smartgate had been opened. Looking at those queues lining up for the booths was quite funny and barely anyone knew about the Smartgates so I was able to walk straight up to them and was cleared within a minute. Too bad baggage took a little while to come out.
That concludes my trip to Australia, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. There are a couple more flights to this series – next being a hop to Queenstown. Comments are most welcome and thanks for reading!