Flight Review, Emirates (EK406/QF8762), Melbourne (MEL) to Auckland (AKL)
Date Flown: 12/03/2018
Emirates operate daily flights from Melbourne to Auckland as part of their Dubai-Melbourne-Auckland service. All flights are operated by their flagship A380-800 aircraft. EK406 is operated by Emirates, but it can also be booked as a codeshare service with Qantas, with a QF Flight number (QF8762).
Emirates has two different seating configurations on their A380’s. The aircraft that operates these long haul sectors are in a 3 class configuration. The upper deck is reserved exclusively for First Class, with 14 individual suites, along with Business Class seating 76 passengers. There is also an onboard bar and lounge at the back of the aircraft. Downstairs it’s all economy seating with 399 seats. A full A380 aircraft would see a maximum passenger capacity of 489 passengers. -That’s a lot!
Click here for the aircraft seat map.
For this flight, I was travelling in First Class and was seated in Suite 2A, a window seat. My flight was ticketed as a Qantas codeshare flight, allowing me to earn Qantas Points and Status Credits for flying on this sector. Flying on this route in First could see you earn up to 5,000 Points and 120 Status Credits.
The early morning flight departs from the International Terminal (T2) at Melbourne Airport which only caters for international flights. When you first walk into the large check in area, it can be daunting. Thankfully, Emirates has an assigned check in counter which is easy to find, just keep an eye out for the red emirates check in screens.
I made my way down the priority queue, reserved for First Class passengers and Platinum Members. Passengers flying in Business and First Class are given Express departure cards, which can be used to fast track security. Being an early morning flight, there was hardly any queue, so I kept my Express pass for another time, when it can be of better use.
Passport control is so easy and straightforward, all you have to do is walk up to the automated machine, place your passport face down into the reader and follow the onscreen prompts, and before you know it, you are ready to go!
There’s no need to fill in those annoying departure cards anymore. The Australian Government and Border Force stopping using them in July 2017.
Flying in First, you are automatically given access to The Emirates Lounge. The lounge is located near Gate 10, on Level 3. Follow the signage around to Departure Gate 10, and you will see the Emirates lounge entrance. Simply make your way up the escalator, and you are at the desk in the lounge, simply present your boarding pass to the lounge attendant and then your free to walk around and find a nice spot to sit and enjoy the lounge offerings.
As this flight was booked under a Qantas (QF) flight number, and also being a Platinum Qantas Frequent Flyer/Oneworld Emerald member I was entitled to use the Qantas First Lounge, which is just a short walk down to Gate 9. – Which was the better option, in my opinion.
Boarding and Departure
Boarding commenced at Gate 11, not too far from the Qantas First Lounge. There were so many people trying to board which made it hard to figure out where each queue started, it only looked to be the one economy queue. I assumed that there would have to be priority queue somewhere, I made my way to the front of the line and saw the small priority queue to the side. Boarding was quick and easy, there was hardly any wait at all. When travelling in First Class, you have your own exclusive air bridge which takes you straight onto the upper deck forward door.
Stepping on board the A380 is something extraordinary! Just looking at the size of the aircraft and its engines, and wondering how something so big can actually get off the ground, it’s an incredible feat of engineering.
As you make your way to the top of the air bridge a cabin crew member checks your ticket and personally escorts you to your First Class Suite. On this flight I had Monica, who was looking after me and the other passengers in the First Class cabin.
As soon as you take a seat, a coat hanger is brought around and your jacket is hung up. A pillow and blanket comes around next incase you want to catch up on some sleep on the flight. As you will read there was definitely no time for any sleep on this flight.
The purser (A crew member that’s in charge of the whole plane, and oversees all the crew ) came personally to wish me a Happy Birthday, and also thanked me for flying with Emirates and choosing to celebrate my birthday onboard.
Monica, the First Class manager brings around a wooden box with an assortment of dates, followed by another crew member which offer a small cup of Arabic coffee.
A hot towel is offered, to wipe your hands and you face to feel refreshed, as the plane is getting ready for departure and the forward door is closed, a pre-departure drink is offered, on this flight it was Moët and Chandon, 2009 Grand Vintage.
In the A380-800 there are 14 suites in the First Class cabin, all having direct aisle access, so there are no distractions if someone needs to get in or out, and there’s no need to climb over anyone in the middle of the night if you need to go to the toilet.
The centre seats, Rows E and F are perfect for couples, you can lower the divider with a touch of a button and share the first class experience together. As a solo traveller, the seats on each side of the cabin, Rows A and K are the best.
Within your own personal suite you will be amazed at all the Emirates exclusive suite offerings, such as a fully stocked mini-bar, writing kit, vanity mirror with Temple Spa products, noise cancelling headphones and a huge 23″ HD touch screen television. Entertainment on board is excellent with Emirates ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) system. This system has been awarded the World’s Best Inflight Entertainment for 13 consecutive years, at the Skytrax World Airline Awards.
If you are in need of catching up on a few hours sleep, each seat can fully recline into a fully flat-bed with just a simple touch of a button. If you would like to have some time to yourself, and would like to make your cabin more private, simply close the sliding doors to your suite and make it your own personal space. Perfect, if you don’t want to be disturbed.
All of the suites functions and cabin controls can be adjusted to your needs by the small device, similar to a tablet, located next to your seat. This controls everything, from your entertainment, communications, flight information, lighting, seat adjustments, window shades and also controls the suites doors all from this device.
On board the A380, there are two bathrooms at the front of the aircraft, don’t just assume that they are those small traditional style toilets that we have become accustomed to on other flights. These bathrooms are MASSIVE! Every bathroom has a shower and a full selection of luxurious spa products in the bathroom. Voya branded products are offered, exclusively made for Emirates. These include shampoo, conditioner, body wash, cleanser, moisturiser and soap. There is even a small selection of items such as a brush, shaving kit, dental kit and other useful items.
In Flight Experience
During the flight, you are well looked after by the award-winning cabin crew. They are among the most skilled and diverse cabin attendants in the world, and really make you the centre of their attention throughout the journey. The crew offer you the very best service at all times and they are always on call to make you feel a right at home. They are professional, and are genuinely interested in where your journey is taking you.
As soon as the flight has commenced and the seatbelt sign has been turned off, the First Class service begins. The cabin crew offer a glass of the Dom Perignon 2009 Vintage Brut and a small plate of mixed nuts.
The crew take your meal requests and meals come around shortly afterwards. For my starter plate, I choose to have the fresh seasonal fruit plate with a slice of banana bread and a glass of fresh orange juice. – Would have to have been the nicest juice I’ve ever had!
The main breakfast meal followed shortly afterwards. Gingerbread French Toast, with raspberry compote and lemon curd butter. All the meals are served on exclusive Royal Doulton bone china and fine Robert Welch cutlery.
The crews were attentive when it came to drinks, even with the Dom Perignon, my glass was never empty at any point in time and was always kept full.
A Birthday Surprise…
Unknown to me at the time, someone had arranged to have a special birthday celebration onboard. After the meal service concluded, I was tapped on the shoulder by Monica the First Class cabin manager, she said that she would like to show me around the plane and take me to the onboard lounge at the back of the plane.
I followed her down the aisle, through the business class cabin and as I walked into the onboard lounge, all the crew were waiting for me and began to sing Happy Birthday to me. They had a cake at the bar for me and an espresso martini.
Many photos were taken on board and the crew were more than happy to pose for photos, with one crew member offering up her Emirates uniform for me to wear along with her hat. I guess if Emirates are looking for extra crew they know who to ask. I think I pulled it off pretty well!
The crew were more than happy to use my phone to take photos, they also used the onboard Polaroid camera. As all the hype died down and the crew had to return to work. Monica was more than happy to sit down with me on the lounge and have chat and wanted to know how I was going to celebrate my birthday in New Zealand and what made me choose to fly with Emirates.
After having a few drinks at the lounge I headed back to my suite. The crew had placed the Polaroid photos that they took with their camera in the photo cards and placed them on the vanity desk of the cabin. They also topped up the Dom Perignon and another small dish of mixed nuts was offered. On this flight the First and Business cabins weren’t even full, there was only four of us in First and Business would only have been a quarter full, meaning there was plenty of room to move around.
Descent and Arrival
As the cabin crew began to prepare the plane for the descent into Auckland Airport, Monika came around for final champagne top ups, and also asked if there was anything else the crew could do for me. A final top up of Dom Perignon is poured as you sit back in your seat and watch the picturesque New Zealand scenery. A few minutes prior to landing the Purser on board came around again and wished me a Happy Birthday, and hoped that his crew had made it a memorable one.
He had one last gift for me, an Emirates branded tote bag, which had a Bvlgari amenity kit, slippers, vanity pack, eyeshades and pyjamas in there as a souvenir of my flight. – How awesome!
The landing with smooth into Auckland . There was a brief wait on the tarmac as we were taxiing to the gate, as there was a Singapore Airlines A380, on the taxiway in our way. Once we arrived at the gate, the front upper deck door was opened and we shared the air bridge with Business Class passengers. The curtains that divided the First Cabin and the Business Cabin remained closed until all the First Class passengers had disembarked. A few final goodbyes were said as I disembarked and said a final thank you to the crew.
Overall the fight was amazing, Emirates were excellent in providing a high level of personalised service to me and all the other passengers in First. The crew onboard went above and beyond helped make my birthday an enjoyable one and very memorable one. A made flying First Class a special experience. One that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
A huge Thank you needs to be given to all the crew onboard flight EK406.
Unfortunately, with the upcoming changes in schedules with Emirates, this particular flight will only be operating until the 24th of March 2018. I was lucky enough to enjoy the Emirates service one last time before these flights stop operating, and there was no better way that I could have celebrated my birthday.
Disclaimer: All the reviews are simply a summary of my experience and opinions from my own point of view. Unless stated, all of the flights and experiences are paid for by myself as a self-funded frequent flyer. No articles or reviews are influenced in any way by a third party or company.