Taking a business class return flight on Emirates Airline from Dubai to Manila began famously, but the journey failed to end the same way.
The airline offers business passengers a complimentary chauffeur service; although it appears Emirates does not want passengers lingering too long in its business lounge – for a 10.30am departure flight, a car was scheduled for pickup at 7.30am. And I live in Abu Dhabi.
My nerves about making the eight-hour flight on time were eased by the speedy business class check-in area. The whole process from checking in luggage to completing passport control took less than 10 minutes.
On board the 777-300ER, the seat did not lie fully flat, only reclining at an angle, but the stewardess brought a large foam cushion to help me sleep.
For dinner I tucked into a sirloin steak with roasted vegetables and the cheese selection was a nice savoury alternative to the sweet desserts on offer.
However, my breakfast on the return flight consisted of scrambled eggs teamed with a beef hot dog – not something one would expect when flying business.
Despite the generally comfortable flights, the experience was let down by the chauffeur service from Dubai airport. I had made a car reservation heading to Abu Dhabi 24 hours in advance. I arrived early in the morning and strolled to the chauffeur area expecting to get a car immediately.
The desk asked me to wait “just a few minutes” at 5.50am. Other passengers from my flight booked a car on the spot and were escorted to their vehicle almost instantly.
I was told by the desk the delay was due to a shift change for the drivers, then informed it was because I was going to Abu Dhabi.
After 30 minutes, I asked to speak to a manager. He reiterated the other two excuses for the delay in addition to offering a new one: the driver was new and didn’t know his way around the capital. I assured them I was capable of giving directions once in Abu Dhabi.
My urgency was because I needed to get home, change and return to Dubai immediately for a conference. If you’ve paid Dh9,135 for a return flight, you would expect the pick-up to be on time.
At 6.36am, I was finally in a car and on my way back to Abu Dhabi.
Leanne Graves reviews the Sky Lounge at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines
Was Wi-Fi available in the lounge?
I asked the waiting staff for a password to use the Wi-Fi but it failed to work. A further two were issued before I was able to sign in and even then I had to log in repeatedly.
How was the lounge overall?
It was passable, with a few chairs to sit on and four large- screen televisions. However, the seating looked as though it had been plucked directly from a 1970s TV show, square-shaped with teal and purple colouring and very uncomfortable. One of the TVs was showing a Discovery Channel documentary on airspace and another was showing cartoons. I chose to get on with my work – once I managed to log on to the Wi-Fi.
What about food and drink?
Food was minimal, consisting of tuna finger sandwiches, as well as a saffron rice dish and a suspect-looking pasta concoction. The food was laid out on hotplates and beverages were in a refrigerator, so it was a case of serving yourself.
What about the airport itself?
Despite being located in the newest terminal, the facilities were minimal. There was a small selection of items at Duty Free and an area for foot massages that cost about Dh21 for 30 minutes. However, if your flight departs late at night, most stores and cafes close about 10pm so it’s wise to take a book with you.
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