Thursday 18th March 2011
Well I guess this is day two already after a hot and dry night on the plane. So much for Economy – this is the Business! Yes I got upgraded with not only Business Class on the next flight to Delhi, but full access to the Emirates Lounge in Dubai. Doesn’t sound much – after all I have been in, and indeed been responsible for provisioning, business class lounges in the past. However to discvover that this one runs half the entire length of the terminal on the upper story with at least a dozen different service points all offering an incredible reange of hot and cold breakfasts – its a totally different world – and it is very busy this morning.
There is of course free wifi and hundreds of charging points, showers and health spa (the only extra). But the food – the quality is superb – is the star of the show and a delicious plate of South Indian idli and sambar was just the ticket to recover from last night.
I felt really awful coming in here though, as I had met a really nice chap on the flight who was on his way to Sydney to meet up with his Australian girlfriend, where he would then spend the rest of his life. Emigrating without ever having been to Australia is a fairly big step, and he was totally bewildered by the size of Dubai airport, asked if I wanted to join him for some breakfast and then had to say goodbye as I toddled off up the stairs. Best of luck if by some bizarre chance you are reading this – I really hope it all works out in Oz. Oh yes – and his father runs a boat yard in Rugby, fitting out narrowboats. What an incredibly small world!
The emirates crew were also very professional and one in particular, a South African guy called Ronaldo, seemed such a genuinely interested person that we all ended up shaking hands as we left the plane. He also chatted in Aafrikans to our South African neighbours who had been visiting Crufts, and were Bull Terrier breeders back home in Capetown. What an interesting flight it turned out to be.
With the three hour wait over the Delhi flight was about to depart – this time in an older Airbus 330 which left from a coaching stand absolutely miles away from the terminal. Business Class certianly didnt exist on the bus but the sight of the enormous leather armchairs was most welcome as we boarded.
Compared with the A380 this is a small plane and quite old fashioned – and completely full. The crew started off quite efficiently, serving us with champagne or soft drinks as we sat down, but with a full cabin of 42 passengers they began to fall apart when it came to serving drinks and food. Everyone got what they wanted, but some were very annoyed about the delay in serving – and when you think how much some of these people had paid, they certianly had a point.
However the demands of some of these passengers were verging on the unreasonable and made me realise that whilst I like my comforts and expect a lot, I hope I never turn into the sort of person who formed the majority of the people in this cabin. Mostly Indian, mostly quite old and mostly very demanding from not being able to cope with fastening their seat belt to wanting continuous refills of their drinks.
My meal was Lobster and Caviar followed by Sea Bream and was quite nice, but proves that all the money in the world cant really buy an exceptional meal onboard. I would quite honestly rather have had something less fancy but nicer.
I left the flight thinking that most of the passengers were spoilt brats, but do agree that this crew were making a mess of the service. However the plane got its own back, as when we landed all the business class trollies flew open and spilt the entire contents of most of the 42 used meal trays, glasses, soup bowls and contents all over the crew and floor. The noise of breaking glass was quite incredible and the galley floor ended up awash with spilt wine, soup and equipment. The crew were so busy ducking from the flying bottles that they didnt notice that two passengers had got out of their seats while the plane was still running at over 100 miles an hour, to close the overhead lockers which had burst open. A messy end to a messy flight and whilst I really enjoyed my huge seat I feel the overall experience onboard could have matched that of the lounge if only they hadnt tried too hard.
There was a short delay in allowing us off due to sweeping up the mess, but I got off first (as usual!) into the amazing world of the new Delhi airport which is of world class quality. We Business Class passengers even had our own passport desks (although there was no check to see if anyone had taken advantage) and within ten minutes of landing I was collecting my priorty labelled Business Class bag and heading out of the airport.
The new Delhi metro airport branch has been open for only three weeks or so, and for 80 rupees whisked me and about 10 other people into the centre of town within 20 minutes. With 8 or 10 carriages, a staff of thousands, this train could have carried over a thousand people – presumably word has still got to get around that it exists.
All I have to do now is find an exit and check my train reservations. Wait a minute – BUMP!!! – whats that? Thats the sound of me coming down to earth and arriving in Delhi of course!! And its just as chaotic as ever.