Emirates, My New Favorite Airline

Posted on April 21, 2018

Not long ago I took my first and second flights with Emirates. The airline of Dubai, probably everyone has heard of Dubai and its aggressive airline. I've been loyal to United Airlines for years, largely as I've achieved enough 'status' with them and they throw me enough perks to keep me loyal. I do deviate from United, though mostly stay with its Star Alliance partners, as the same perks come with them (and with better service in most all cases). United and its partner alliance cover a lot of the globe, though the least expensive fare from Ethiopia to Argentina was offered by Emirates; loyalty does have its limits, and I was seduced by a lower price. 

What a seduction. From the moment I boarded it was apparent this was a superior product. Nicer seats and more legroom, entertainment system with vast selection, and bigger pillows and nicer blankets, a menu with 3 choices and many choices of alcoholic beverages. All this in coach. The pilot makes his announcement, telling us he is from Italy, the nationality of his co-pilot, and that there are 15 flight attendants form 14 countries that among them speak more than 15 languages aboard this Boeing 777. 

I settle into my seat, look for a movie (so many choices, I am momentarily overwhelmed), and then dinner arrives and it actually tastes pretty good. I ask for wine, and am offered the standard size small bottle that airlines provide, though the flight attendant inquires if I'd like 2 bottles. Sure, why not. I'm impressed.

After an hour or so, I wander to the back of the plane to stretch my legs and use the bathroom. In the galley there are several flight attendants and more passengers, the flight attendants welcome me with friendly greeting. "What can we get you?" With a wave of the hand they point out booze, juice, soft drinks, snacks. The other passengers are all talking among themselves and the flight attendants. It's like a party. Not just any party, but one of those cool parties where everyone is friendly and the conversation flows easily and whatever party shyness I sometimes have has evaporated. I am momentarily irritated that I've been seat bound when I could have been at the party. As we talk, I learn the Emirates staff have as part of their job description to foster this party like atmosphere during the flight. They are all young, obviously chosen for their age, appearance and personalities. I support the USA policies of non-discrimination against age or weight, but to see these young, handsome, well groomed and well dressed men and women, who are very willing to help assist one have an actual fun flight experience does make me think that the 'golden age of flying' now seemingly extinct must have been a wonderful era.

We deplane in Dubai, I'm familiar with this vast airport from previous visits. The airport makes for easy transit, and soon enough I'm on the next leg of my flight, to Buenos Aires (another Boeing 777, with a stop in Rio, some 18 hours aloft). I know the drill, get settled, wait for menu, wait a bit more for drinks and snacks to arrive, then dinner. Watch a movie, then head to the galley. Again the same sort of party, more fun flight attendants (who are urging all to try the special South Americans snacks this plane is carrying, while pouring drinks and fostering conversation like any good party host. I have a series of interesting conversations with other passengers and our flight attendant hosts. Then I head off to my seat to watch a movie and have a rest, but fo the duration of the flight I wander back to the party, it never ends. By the time we have arrived in Buenos Aires I am a complete convert to Emirates and have decided that I am now going to switch my loyalty to this carrier.

Postscript: I fly with United Airlines some days later to New York and on to Mexico. And have a pleasant conversation with some United flight attendants who tell me United Boeing 777's have 7 flight attendants. And their job description says nothing about fostering a party type atmosphere in the rear of the plane.