Another quick overview while I get over a cold. Expect to start seeing some reviews next week! Until then, my Emirates flight!
Emirates has just announced that they will be launching service to a rather unexpected destination... Fort Lauderale. When I heard this I was a bit surprised by it. Actually I first saw this on Emirates' Instagram account, but dismissed it because I didn't think that Emirates would actually fly to Fort Lauderdale.
Unlike most other Emirates US routes, Fort Lauderdale does not have the large local population that most major US cities can provide to Emirates. With a city population size of only 173,000 it would seem to be a confusing choice on the surface. Why provide service to such a small city with a population that would likely be unable to sustain a daily flight between Dubai and the US?
There is an answer to that question and it comes in the form of Emirates partnerships. Jet Blue uses Fort Lauderdale as a launching point for many Central American and Caribbean destinations as well as a connection point to other places in the US. Since the Fort Lauderdale airport is used as a heavy Jet Blue hub, this is likely the reason for Emirates initiating flights to this small city. Jet Blue is an Emirates partner and as such, can easily transfer passengers from around the US to an Emirates flight to continue on to the rest of the world connecting in Dubai.
Emirates will begin operating the flight in December with one of their 777-200LR aircraft. If you live in the Florida area and use Jet Blue, you now have a new connection point to the rest of the world. Oh, and their first class cabin is pretty awesome if you've got a spare 10 grand sitting around... or a pool of miles that need to get used.
Emirates Airlines, well known for their opulent decor and unwavering use of A380 aircraft. It is also the only Middle Eastern airline that analysts say may be turning a profit. Other Gulf carriers are government subsidized and mainly exist to drive traffic to the country; Qatar and Etihad are good examples. Well Emirates looks to be pushing to increase their profit margins.
Emirates will soon begin to charge for seat assignments. When I say soon, I mean October 3rd, so you have a week or so to get in before this charge is put into place. I've only ever experienced this type of service charge on Qantas when I flew to Australia at the end of 2014. At the time I had not yet jumped on the points and miles train, so my seat was coach, and I didn't want a crappy seat on a 15+ hr flight. While I resisted paying at first, I did come around to paying for my seats so I wasn't stuck in a middle seat regretting my life choices.
On Qantas, the charge was something on the order of $25 per segment... hence why I hesitated.
Emirates seems to be one upping Qantas in this arena. An adult seat will cost 50AED or roughly $14 for a short haul flight. Medium haul flights will be 100AED or roughly on par with Qantas at a little over $27. Those long haul flights will slam you though at 150AED or about $40. If you're in business or first class, don't worry at all, these fees will not apply to you.
Can you imagine paying over $1000 for a flight and then being told you still owe them another $40 per person to choose a seat?
I think this is a dangerous precedent to set. While this will certainly bring in additional revenue, these types of actions are what super low cost airlines do. The only reason it works so well for them is that the initial fare is so low in the first place. For a major airline like Emirates, this may start to push people toward other carriers and in particular low cost carriers.
The more services that are charged for, the more these airlines start to seem like low cost carriers, except that the fare price is not low cost. In those cases, the low cost carriers initial fare will begin to look preferable to the high cost of a carrier like Emirates.
Roughly a month ago, an Emirates flight landing in Dubai on it's return leg from India, crashed on the runway during a landing attempt. Everyone on board was able to evacuate before the plane was engulfed in flames, only one firefighter was killed during the incident. That crash was speculated to have a gear problem that caused the crash... it appears that may not have been completely true.
Let me preface this by saying that this initial report is by no means conclusive, and the full investigation with true cause will come out many months from now. With that said, we now have the intial report from the investigation, and some of the reports on the first day of the accident look to overly favor the pilot. Historically aircraft accidents in majority of cases are caused by pilot error and the intial reports on Emirates flight 521 looks to have been caused by an error in the pilots actions.
What appears to have happened is that the 777-300 landed very long, almost 1000ft further down the runway than it should have. The cause for this may have been a number of factors from wind, to improper glide slope, but for whatever reason this occured, the aircraft touched down too far down the runway. Once the aircraft touched down the pilot decided to go around and try the landing again, this happens from time to time when an error happens during landing.
Typically the process is to reapply full power to the engines, pull the nose up and lift off the runway. The pilot is then able to circle around and attempt the landing again. In the case of EK521 the pilot appears to have completed the go around sequence in an incorrect order. This may have been due to confusion or nerves or something else.
On the Emirates flight the pilot appears to have lifted the nose in the air and immediately retracted the gear before applying power to the engines again. Jet engines do not go immediately to full thrust, there is time to spool up and hit full thrust. Due to the pilot lifting the aircraft and retracting the gear before adding engine power, the aircraft began to slow down significantly as soon as the plane was pulled into the air. Without adding power right away, the aircraft would not have had enough speed to stay in the air. The landing gear was not locked down to take the drop back onto the runway, and so the aircraft dropped back onto the belly of the plane and susequently crashed.
This is the intial report at the moment and may change. We'll have to see what the final report says when it comes out.
As my major Africa/Middle East trip draws near, here is a quick overview of what to expect in the way of reviews.
Airline: Virgin Atlantic
Route: ATL to LHR
Class: Business (Upper Class)
My first international leg will be on board a Virgin Atlantic A330-300 aircraft. While this is the updated interior, Virgin has just announced that they are no longer going to be using this interior. It tends to be very cramped as Virgin tried to shove lots of business class seats in a small area and it was not well executed. Tight or not, look forward to seeing the sleep suit, the tight seat, and everything in between.
Airline: British Airways
Route: LHR to JNB
After a decently long connection in London, I'll be off to Johannesburg to catch my final connection. This will be my first time in a 747, and it'll be done in first class with a small nose section, a beautiful seat and interior. Queen of the skies from takeoff to touchdown, it'll be a memorable one.
Airline: Qatar Airways
Route: JNB to DOH
After a four day stop, a safari, and tour of the cape peninsula, I'll connect in Johannesburg to a Qatar Airways 777-300ER. Not the most ideal business class seat to fly on, their 787 is much better, but it'll make an interesting review. Then on the ground in Doha, Qatar I'll be reviewing the brand new Qatar Airways massive first class lounge.
Airline: Qatar Airways
Route: DOH to DXb
Here is where I get to try out the Qatar Airways 787-8 business class. Said to be one of the best business class seats money can buy, we'll see how it matches against American Airlines business class and others.
Airline: Emirates Airline
Route: DXB to LAX
The dream jewel of this trip; opulence, overstated gold accents and just a little too much bling, Emirates brings it's A-game in first class. It may not be the seat that wins me over here though as much as using one of two on board showers while flying at almost 40,000 ft above the ground. This aircraft was why I made this trip, well that and to try out the unbeatable Emirates A380 lounge that stretches the entire length of the A380 terminal at Dubai International. This lounge even features direct gate access for first class passengers only... insane!
Route: LAX to ATL
Class: Domestic First Lie Flat
An unexpected close out to the trip, I get to fly Delta's business class product on a domestic route. Handling the heavy LAX to ATL segment, the 767-300 features a first class seat that is equal to the Delta One offered in business class on international fights. Don't expect any food review here since it is a red eye, but a lie flat on a domestic route is a full on win.
This trip is starting to get me excited. I can't tell you how much businessfirst class makes flying an amazing experience again. Flying can be enjoyable. Business Class, First Class and Lounges make all the difference in the world.