Monday 13th February 2012
Following the late arrival of my aircraft at Birmingham, we were also late leaving. But Emirates have their own lounge in Birmingham now, so I was relaxed about the delay. My earlier post was entered using my Notebook and a good Wi-Fi. It was only after I'd made that post I discovered (tucked in a corner of the lounge) a business centre with seven PCs which I could have used.
Boarding the aircraft (a Boeing 777-300ER) was fast and I had seat 4A in business, next to a charming lady travelling back to Cairns with a brief stop-over in Dubai. The layout in business is 2-3-2 with a state-of-the-art 'lie-flat' seat and on-demand entertainment with hundreds of channels. There was fairly low overcast so, soon after take-off from runway 33, we lost sight of the ground but everywhere seemed white with heavy frost or snow. As we continued over northern Europe, the cloud cleared but the landscape was the same heavy frost or snow we'd seen over England.
They served a very reasonable lunch so I was quite comfortable and I decided to watch the recent cinema release of Le Carre's 'Tinker, Tailor'. I know the earlier BBC television series quite well so it was a bit odd to have different actors in all the roles but it seemed to have the same dystopian feel as the book and the television series so I enjoyed it. I had a brief look at the Speilberg 'Tin Tin' film but I decided I wasn't in the mood for CGI so I flattened the seat and rested. The flight to Dubai takes six to seven hours (depending upon wind). I was starting to get a little restless before we arrived so I watched the new Clooney release 'Ides of March' which I found a bit sub-'West Wing'. Regular readers will have realised that the only time I see new cinema films is during long-distance flights.
Dubai Airport has expanded so much that there are often air traffic delays on landing and we seemed to stooge around before making our final approach, touching down at about 00:45 against a scheduled time of 00:15. The air bridges were promptly connected and I was in the terminal by about 01:00, with plenty of time to kill because my connecting flight EK761 to Johannesburg wasn't scheduled to leave until 04:40.
I walked through the terminal and the experience was rather like visiting the Bull Ring Centre in Birmingham - modern architecture, shops everywhere and lots and lots of people. It amazes me that people are even awake in the middle of the night, let alone grasping these retail opportunities with such relish.
In the past, I've had trouble trying to find a Business Lounge at Dubai but this time I navigated straight to it. I've been to large lounges elswewhere but I think the one I found at Dubai must take the prize (although I suspect there are other candidates I've not yet seen). The lounge seemed to be big enough to qualify as a terminal in its own right and there were many passengers enjoying the various facilities. Having picked up an orange juice, I walked to a business lounge with about 16 PCs. It was quite busy but, fortunately, the users were quiet. So, I was able to give you this update before commencing the second leg of my tour.
To reach Dubai, we've come through a number of time zones and local time has moved forward by (I think) four hours so that locally it's Monday. But Blogger uses its own time and has timestamped the post 'Sunday'. I haven't changed the timestamp.