Emirates Airline's 100th 777-300ER. Courtesy Boeing
Emirates Airline's 100th 777-300ER. Courtesy Boeing

Emirates business class from Dubai to Manila: Chauffeur service delay an anticlimax



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.

Q&A

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.

lgraves@thenational.ae

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if you go

The flights

Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines fly direct from the UAE to Singapore from Dh2,265 return including taxes. The flight takes about 7 hours.

The hotel

Rooms at the M Social Singapore cost from SG $179 (Dh488) per night including taxes.

The tour

Makan Makan Walking group tours costs from SG $90 (Dh245) per person for about three hours. Tailor-made tours can be arranged. For details go to www.woknstroll.com.sg

Januzaj's club record

Manchester United 50 appearances, 5 goals

Borussia Dortmund (loan) 6 appearances, 0 goals

Sunderland (loan) 25 appearances, 0 goals

THE BIO

Favourite car: Koenigsegg Agera RS or Renault Trezor concept car.

Favourite book: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes or Red Notice by Bill Browder.

Biggest inspiration: My husband Nik. He really got me through a lot with his positivity.

Favourite holiday destination: Being at home in Australia, as I travel all over the world for work. It’s great to just hang out with my husband and family.

 

 

Cricket World Cup League 2

UAE results
Lost to Oman by eight runs
Beat Namibia by three wickets
Lost to Oman by 12 runs
Beat Namibia by 43 runs

UAE fixtures
Free admission. All fixtures broadcast live on icc.tv

Tuesday March 15, v PNG at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Friday March 18, v Nepal at Dubai International Stadium
Saturday March 19, v PNG at Dubai International Stadium
Monday March 21, v Nepal at Dubai International Stadium

Forced Deportations

While the Lebanese government has deported a number of refugees back to Syria since 2011, the latest round is the first en-mass campaign of its kind, say the Access Center for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization which monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“In the past, the Lebanese General Security was responsible for the forced deportation operations of refugees, after forcing them to sign papers stating that they wished to return to Syria of their own free will. Now, the Lebanese army, specifically military intelligence, is responsible for the security operation,” said Mohammad Hasan, head of ACHR.
In just the first four months of 2023 the number of forced deportations is nearly double that of the entirety of 2022.

Since the beginning of 2023, ACHR has reported 407 forced deportations – 200 of which occurred in April alone.

In comparison, just 154 people were forcfully deported in 2022.

Violence

Instances of violence against Syrian refugees are not uncommon.

Just last month, security camera footage of men violently attacking and stabbing an employee at a mini-market went viral. The store’s employees had engaged in a verbal altercation with the men who had come to enforce an order to shutter shops, following the announcement of a municipal curfew for Syrian refugees.
“They thought they were Syrian,” said the mayor of the Nahr el Bared municipality, Charbel Bou Raad, of the attackers.
It later emerged the beaten employees were Lebanese. But the video was an exemplary instance of violence at a time when anti-Syrian rhetoric is particularly heated as Lebanese politicians call for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.


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