Ever since the infamous Etihad flight glitch to Abu Dhabi took place over Christmas break a couple of years ago, I dreamed about flying on a fancy Middle Eastern airline for an international flight. I saw the stylish outfits the flight attendants would wear and heard about the impeccable service in comparison to some notoriously horrid American based companies (*cough* United). By chance this past May, I seized the opportunity when I saw an unbelievably cheap nonstop flight from my home state of New Jersey to Athens, Greece. This flight led to me having a three-week solo international adventure to kick off my summer 2017 season.
While I was elated that I would be fulfilling some childhood dreams by finally touching down in Greece and revisiting one of my favorite cities, Paris, I was apprehensive about the duration of the flight. I do not mind being in the air but I certainly do not enjoy turbulence and I simply had not been in a flight longer than 7 hours. Based off of the flight schedule, my flight from Newark to Athens would be 8.5 hours and the return flight would be 11 hours, which set off a few sets of nerves. Nonetheless, the end of the school year was rapidly approaching, the 2nd anniversary of the blog came and went, and before I knew it, it was time for me to head from Dallas to the East Coast to begin my journey to Greece.
I flew to Washington D.C. from Dallas because one, it was cheaper, and two, D.C. is one of my favorite cities in the states. The Megabus from D.C. to Philadelphia cost me a mere $11 which was okay in my book. I spent almost 24 hours in Jersey before I was on my way to Newark International Airport. Now, while Etihad had strict regulations about arriving to the airport 3 hours before departing, Emirates had a request of 90 minutes. Even still, I did not want to chance it and preferred arriving at the airport between 9-10pm for my midnight flight. To be fair, I also wanted to catch the NBA finals at the airport instead of the road… such is life. The boarding gate seemed to have a sizeable amount of travelers but nothing that was overbearing and just as expected, I paused when I saw the flight crew make their arrival to the gate. I wasn’t expecting to see such a diverse crew, but I certainly appreciated it. They were so stylish I just knew I would be in good hands. How vain.
Seating & Comfort
The aircraft was sizeable and I was excited to see that although I was in the dreaded middle row of four, there was only one other passenger in my row and we each occupied two seats. I would be able to stretch out a bit after all. I quickly got out of my sneakers and replaced them with some fuzzy compression socks (the first time I had ever done this). I didn’t realize until later that the amenity kit they delivered to passengers had compression socks in it. Lesson learned. The kit also included a toothbrush, toothpaste, and an eye mask. I thought that was thoughtful.
During takeoff they turned on the camera so we could see what was going on around us, and call me a novice, but this was my first time experiencing this. Eventually the sky faded to black and I noticed how unbelievably smooth the aircraft rode. While I am not much of a sleeper on planes, I knew that eventually I would be fading away courtesy of friendly skies and melatonin. I was also extremely content because I was able to watch the remainder of the NBA Finals Game 4 on the live tv option. So far, so good on Emirates Airlines on coach for this traveler.
After the first round of cabin service was complete, the ceiling transformed into a starry night sky and it set the mood to rest. I had enough room between my extra seat, the space in front of me considering I was 5’10”, and the reclining of my seat. I could only imagine what it must have been like in business or first class.
Food & Liquor
Look, unless you’re in first-class on Emirates Airlines, don’t come in expecting a five-star meal. If you are that particular about what you eat, bring your own snacks onboard. I had a few with me but was still open when it was time to read the menu they passed out. On my way to Athens they were serving dinner and breakfast. On the way back, we would have “lunch” and dinner. For both flights the aircrew was swift in preparing the first round of meals and I do not ever recall waiting for an unreasonable amount of time.
Depending on where you were sitting, you would either have to accept that your flight attendant ran out of a certain option and get the second option, or pray and wait that it was available. On the way to Athens I had sweet & sour fish, and scrambled eggs. For my return flight, I had grilled chicken. When it came to the drink options, while I would have loved to have complimentary sparkling beverages, I was satisfied with the other options. In fact, when I asked the attendant if she had whiskey for me to pair with my tea, she asked if I liked a cognac and pulled out Hennessey. I couldn’t help but laugh because while you get charged for cocktails on domestic flights, the flight attendants would ask, “anything else?”. Clearly, they wanted their passengers to be comfortable. Emirates Airlines for the win, again.
I was thoroughly occupied on my flight, both to and from Greece. I was a bit worried that I would get ridiculously antsy with 5+ hours left on my flight, but that never occurred. Yes, I made sure my iPhone was loaded with music that was available offline, but Emirates Airline did a great job with the various options.
I was able to watch live tv, including the NBA Finals Game 4 as though I was back at my favorite sports bar in Dallas. In addition to the variety of live tv channels and movies, I particularly enjoyed “Relax TV”. I enjoy sleeping to white noise on a daily basis and I enjoyed having the scenic background of my choice with the relaxing sound of nature in the background as I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up from my slumber, I was satisfied playing games (Solitaire) for an hour at a time. For a minute, I felt like my mother.
The only true gripe I was how quickly the wifi vanished. It was probably an error on my end, but I never realize how quickly 200MB can go until it is the end. Maybe it’s because I need to strictly use a web browser instead of the Instagram and Facebook apps. I didn’t really bother to get connected on my flight back because despite local time, my body felt like it was 2-5 in the morning.
The flight attendants on Emirates Airlines were great, and the fact that it was my first time flying their aircraft gave them bonus points. They definitely have a new fan and as soon as I see another great deal with them, I am booking it.
I remember one particular incident on the flight from Athens to Newark. I was one of the few individuals with an empty row, and so you could imagine my excitement. I was going to lay out. I had made a strategy to stay up for a few hours, nap in between, and then wake up, so that when I arrive in Newark around 10pm, I would be able to fall back asleep. I also enjoy looking out and seeing what’s going on. The father of the family behind me (who literally ran on the plane as they were gearing to shut the door and had all sorts of issues with the food…) reached into my personal space and attempted to pull the shade down. When I turned around he said, “you don’t mind do you?” Actually, I do, and I put it right back up. He had his own window to manage. Don’t touch mine.
In continuation of the window ministry, another gentleman who was sitting in the center aisle, on the left aisle decided that he was going to come into my personal space, reach over me, and try to shut my window when I pushed his arm. He did not ask but instead told me he was going to put MY window down. Honey, you are in the middle of plane, you have ZERO privileges! You should’ve paid for your seat lol. I told him I wasn’t doing it and if he didn’t back out of my space, I was going to call an attendant. I guess because he was so used to privilege, he encouraged me to get her. The supervisor of the flight attendants told him that they cannot force me to put my shade down and maybe there was a reason I wanted it up. I kindly smirked at him the entire time, waved at him, and carried on (like I said in my post about my worst moments, God ain’t done with me yet…).
I appreciate the Emirates crew for one, being professional and polite with me. We’ve all seen and heard horror stories about things going awry and the last thing I wanted was to raise hell on my flight home. The man was literally almost yelling causing more of a disturbance and they all remained calm. The supervisor even brought me some extra Hennessey just because he pretty much woke me up and any fatigue I had went out of the window. Shoutout to whoever did the de-escalation trainings.
Aside from the incident, every encounter I had with a crew member was pleasant. I didn’t feel as though I was the bottom of the barrel just because I was riding in coach. The extra touches of lotion and perfume in the restroom or the hot towel at the end of each flight was such a comfort. It helped me feel like a human after time traveling.
My Overall Experience
It was quite a buzzkill to go from flying on Emirates Airlines to back to our normal domestic carriers after such an amazing experience. From a beautiful plane to a beautiful crew, they have certainly gained a new fan in me. If you are considering flying with them, I wholeheartedly recommend this airline. It is just unfortunate that now I feel spoiled so if I see a flight deal on an unfamiliar carrier, I am going to compare the in-flight experience with Emirates. I’m sure for the most part it will be unmatched until I get my funds up to ride in business or first class.
Do you have a favorite airline? Have you ever flown with Emirates Airlines? What was your experience? Let’s chat!