Monday, January 04, 2016

First time on Emirates

United is leaving the region.  I was soooo ready to say, "SEE YA!" until I had the experience of flying in cattle class of an Emirates 777.

First off, United and Delta are pissed off at the General Services Administration (GSA) - the main US government procurement entity - for awarding the route between the GCC and Europe to Jet Blue.  Jet Blue doesn't own any long-range aircraft.  They also don't fly to the GCC.  So, they are doing a "code share" (profit sharing) with Emirates.  Since United and Delta aren't making any money in this region because they've been cut out of the route contract, they're pulling out.  By law, anyone on US official business has to fly on a US carrier that has been awarded that route by the GSA. (The program was designed to give revenue to US airlines from US government travelers.)  So guess who they are going to have to fly with (at least as far as Europe)?  Emirates.  BAM.

I have been so outrageously pissed off at United on the last several flights that I vowed NEVER AGAIN under any circumstances to fly United.  I will actually write a post about the experience I had on my previous flight with them.  So, I tried to use all my miles on my Christmas trip back to the US.  I only had enough for one way, so I bought a return ticket on Emirates to see how they would do.

Let's talk about United's flight out of Kuwait.  We were delayed on the ground with no information as to why until about an hour and a half later.  People were checking their United apps to see what was going on.  It said our flight was going to Boston.  Uh.... no.... we were supposed to go to DC.  NOPE.  We were going to Boston because "the plane is low on fuel."  Ok, how is that even possible if the plane is still sitting on the tarmac in Kuwait where there is fuel available?

In the spirit of the Christmas season, I think most people boarding the plane were just happy to be going home.  No one really complained. (I kept singing, "Please come to Boston; she said NO!")  We all kind of brushed it off.... and flew to Boston where we sat on the plane while they re-fueled.  Unfortunately for those passengers who LIVE in Boston, they weren't allowed off the plane.  They had to fly to DC, where they missed their connecting flights to (you've got it) BOSTON.

So, we landed 5 hours late.  Thank you, United.  Merry Christmas to you too.

Had a great time in DC for Christmas.  Didn't want to leave.  Hoping that one of these next trips I won't have to.  More on that later....

Emirates.  I dunno why I thought this, but when I saw the ad with Jennifer Aniston, I assumed the clientele on Emirates would be of an upper class.  It wasn't to be.  I've been having severe back problems (more on that later...) and just couldn't stand the thought of being wedged in a middle seat on their 3-5-3 seating configuration in economy.  So when the very lovely Emirates representative came around and offered upgrades to business class for $1000, I whipped out my trusty Amex and moved to the front of the line.

Emirates Business Class: Now that thar has United's business class beat by 100%.  I've been in United's business class before and practically had meals thrown at me.  One of my friends (hi, Mike!) bought a $12,000 first class ticket on United and was treated like a prisoner.  (I may be mistaken, but I think they gave him a $100 voucher after he complained.)  Anyhoo, Emirates was FABULOUS. Ana came over and  introduced herself as the person who would be taking care of us.  She was lovely and kept refilling my champagne glass.  The toiletries bag was Bvlgari (soooo nice!) and they also had Bvlgari perfume and cologne in the bathroom - along with fresh cut orchids.  I really felt pampered and would highly recommend Emirates business class (or first, which didn't look too much different).

But.... economy.... uh, notsomuch.

I kept my economy ticket from Dubai to Kuwait:  Horrible horrible horrible.  (I am SO glad that I upgraded on the long flight.)  I had a big guy sitting next to me, so I was leaning over into the aisle to accommodate his size.  I got whacked in the arm/shoulder 3 different times.

Emirates  has no "economy plus" section like United does.  Economy plus on United gives you 5" extra room between you and the seat in front of you.  And let me tell you - as many of us know - 5 inches makes a HUGE difference sometimes.

I had a hard time in that uncomfortable chair.  I can only imagine how some of those big men (contractors, service members, etc) are going to feel, squished into those little tiny, no-lumbar-support seats.  I felt like my butt was in a vice.

As for me, I'm not forced to fly Emirates, so I will be checking out the competition. I hate that no one has a direct flight from Kuwait to DC.  I don't want to do the stop over in Europe.  So I'm thinking maybe Qatar Airways or Etihad.  Have any of you flown with either and what do you think?


AG said...

Sounds like a 'fun' (yet typical) United Airlines experience.

I flew Etihad all the time when I lived in Abu Dhabi and I prefer it even over Emirates. They have a great mileage program and business class has lay flat seats that offer massage and heat options. Their entertainment system is incredible but sadly you won't use it since you'll probably be sleeping in the comfortable seats the entire flight. With all the miles I had I was able to fly free to and from Kuwait almost every weekend (economy class) which was still superior compared to United and Emirates. Emirates economy is really miserable. I think their seats are 17 inches wide as compared to the standard 19 inches on many other airlines. I've also flown Qatar, which many people truly love, but I preferred Etihad (direct to JFK).

Anonymous said...

Flown both but only as economy. Qatar long haul flight and Etihad just within the GCC. I suggest shelling out for business class for long haul trips if you can.

Airlines will fit as many people as they can in economy anyway. Gotta make money somehow.

I'm not very tall but it was uncomfortable. Especially in the long haul flight with Qatar I felt I was in a can of sardines. Most comfortable I was (just GCC trip) in Saudia air- felt there was more space for my legs. But then again maybe just got lucky with the plane.

tom said...

My experiences In that region is as follows.

Going to Kuwait was the DC-KWI United flight you are so familiar with, I had no choice, that was the company who booked me. I hated United the one flight. One trip to the States, It was a Delta ticket in conjunction with KLM, took a several day layover in Amsterdam each direction to visit a few friends and some beer drinking relaxation. KLM customer service sucks, and not fond of flying on Scarebuses(Airbus) which is what they have.

Regional travel, I used Jazeera, Fly Dubai, Emirates, and Qatar. Jazeera, nice no frills, great prices, schedules and customer service. Fly Dubai, about the same, BUT they have to use the old crappy terminal on the other side of the airport in Dubai. Emirates will pack you the fuck in cattle class, I believe they are 10 seats across wehn most others are 9 across in a 777. The do feed you, but one breakfast meal, was about 3/4ths done with my omelette and found a hair under it. ewwwwwwww.

Long haul, some Emirates, and the rest was Qatar; usually business class but not always. Qatar Airways wins in my book. Even in business from KWI to DXB Emirates crams them in. I was asked to move once to accommodate a mother and her kids from being separated. I was asked a second time to move after I was all settled in because two guys in disdashas didnt want to be apart the one hour flight but I didnt move a second time. My flight from Dubai to Amsterdam was upstairs on the A-380, nice, but with so many first/business class paxs, there isnt the attention given like a smaller premium cabin on other aircraft. No Amenity kits given on this six hour flight, nor did they give them out on a Bangkok to Hong Kong round trip (3 hours each) either.

Qatar, I mostly used for scuba dive trips to Thailand. 30% coach/70% business. Their 777 in coach is 9 across unlike the 10 on Emirates, business is 2-2-2 across on the 777 where Emirates is 2-3-2 across. Emirates interiors are more bling like and Qatar is nice subdued relaxing colors.

Every flight on QR business class, an amenity kit and pajamas are given out. I am not a big fan of wine and champagne, but all were good that I had consummed. Food was always top notch. Service always felt like it was given top priority.

My final departure from Kuwait to JFK was with Qatar as well, I did bring my Kuwaiti dog back with me but she flew in the baggage compartment. QR charged for her as an extra piece of luggage and cost $250 when others would charge $2K plus at the cargo rate, and stopovers in Europe eliminated many options as well.

Shortly after I left Qatar started using their new airport, so all my transits in Doha was being bussed to and from the terminal, but overall, QR was my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Qatar is amazing, similar to Emirates but I think Emirates is the best. It rated #2 in the top 20 best airlines, Qatar is on the list too!

Anonymous said...

i use etihad a lot after the immigration can be done in abu dhabi and their business class is great no idea about economy i highly recommend them

Desert Girl said...

AG - thanks for the info. A few inches makes a huge difference.

Anonymous commenters - thanks so much. I actually checked prices and Saudi airlines was by far the cheapest. I don't care about drinking alcohol, so I may just book them for business sometime an see how it goes. My friend also works for Qatar airlines and I seem to remember her adding me to some kind of friends and family deal. I'll have to check on that.

Anonymous said...

I am very sick of traveling and cannot join into your conversation.Changing subjects, do you know anyplace or person that will care for a small female bunny for a week? We have cage and food of course i have contacted a few vets and they Don't

Nawaf AL-Rudaini said...

I'm never flying Etihad or Emirates again. Their customer service is terrible. Business class seats on Emirates' A380 are the worst. Imagine flying DXB-JFK with a seat that won't recline or a non-functional screen. This seems to happen every time.

Qatar Airways is not all that KWI-DOH. But on long flights, they are great.

Anonymous said...

Emirates is starting a Kuwait-Washington D.C. flight soon!

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous Jan 14 - Good to know. I hope it is the 380 with larger seats. So far, I'm not impressed.

michelle hill said...

My heavens your posters were helpful..THANK YOU.