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Travel and Leisure

Emirates Airways — Elegant Flying but Affordable

New flight deals put flying back on the itinerary after Covid grounding. The first stop is the exotic Middle East but the airline choice to consider is Emirates Airways. Here's why.

Sitting around O’Hare Airport waiting for a plane doesn’t sound like anything spectacular except when you are going to the Middle East on a new Boeing 777-200LR. Just mentioning travel to the Middle East sounds exotic and flying on new planes makes one a little excited. Emirates Airways is planning on expanding its stable of direct flights to Dubai, and they have been updating their fleet. By airline standards, the upgrade is extraordinary. The average plane flying in the is 25 years. A 30-year old plane is not uncommon. Emirates started service to New York in 2004, so much of their fleet has not reached a half-life. Since 2010, Emirates has virtually doubled the number of passengers it has flown to just shy of 60 million. It carries (before Covid) an average flight capacity of 86% in 2013.  There is obviously a need as 250 of the Fortune 500 have offices in Dubai. While one has been able to fly to Abu Dhabi by competitor Etihad Airways, Dubai has required transfers or connections. While flying currently may not be on one’s radar screen, it may be a good time to pick up a good travel bargain flights with anticipation of travel for next year. In fact, Emirates is incentivizing frequent fliers. Emirates Skywards is offering members double tier miles on any flight booked by December 10th for travel until 31 March 2021, while founding members can earn double tier miles and double skywards miles on any flight booked by December 10th of 2020 for travel until August 31, 2021. Check with your flight program rules for details. That’s remarkable as it is easy to rack up points from the US.

The rate on this trip to Dubai was exceptionally reasonable and competitively priced. If Dubai is part of a connecting flight to Mumbai, the trip came in at $621 each way. For the traveler looking for a bigger bang for your buck, this offers twice the excitement than a trip to Europe. Typical Mumbai excursions start at $1700 and go up from there. Traveling to Dubai offers the cachet of saying one has been one of the most exotic destinations in the Middle. Architecturally significant, Dubai is known for its mesmerizing, elaborate, and innovative structures such as the Burj Khalifa. It is the tallest building in the world. The city of Dubai is pristinely clean, like a mirage in the desert.

Traveling from the Midwest.

O’Hare and Illinois scored an excellent win when Emirate started Direct-to-Dubai flights. While this route connects two of the world’s busiest airports, it also offers Chicago an economic boost. Exports to UAE from Illinois in 2017 were $503,666,559 in goods and services — this means a workforce addition of 3,000 jobs in the state and supports 119,000 American jobs overall. Illinois is the #10 exporter to the UAE. The estimated economic benefit alone of having the airport runs to just 7 of the 9 airports has been tallied over $2 billion. This has almost doubled since 2010. Emirates.

An Elegant Flight

Emirates Airlines was ranked consistently in the top five of the “World’s Best Airline” by Skytrax – a UK consultancy group that ranks airline/airport reviews and rankings. The 2019 ranking put competitor Qatar Airways along with Singapore Airlines, Asia’s ANA Al Nippon Airlines, Cathay Pacific just ahead. Competition for the top spot is fierce. Attendants are polished, styled, glamorous, and reek of worldly sophistication. For this Emirate flight (Boeing 777-200LR), the aircraft has 8 private suites in First Class, 42 business class seats, and 216 economy class seats.  Multi-course meals are served in all classes, with complimentary drinks including aperitifs, spirits, beers, and a choice of wines. The personalized in-flight entertainment boasts over 1,800 channels. It lists over 350 films from around the world. They offer over 100 video games and 600 audio channels with noise-canceling headphones in ALL classes. I was able to happily tune out the screaming brat in the next row on my 14-hour flight. Personal television screens are 27” in first class and 20” in business class. Sport 24 with live sports matches, BBC World News, BBC Arabic, and CNN International are live on all flights and in all classes. There are three on-board cameras with live video feed throughout the flight showing everything from take-offs to landings. There are in-seat laptop power supplies as well as Wi-Fi service. One is never unconnected or unplugged from the outside world…so your boss or mother-in-law can still find you. The flight can carry 17 tons of cargo. Passengers can check TWO bags with weights of 50 LB each and first/business class passengers are able to check two bags of 71 LB each! That is wonderful as this traveler never travels light. Business-class has lie-flat beds and ergonomically designed seats in economy class. First and business classes also get complimentary Chauffeur-driven service to/from hotels, an office to airport trip, or any point in any stopover destination. I can so get used to that.

Stunningly Civilized

This is not like riding a bus from Detroit to Chicago. This is really is a throwback to when air travel was relaxing, elegant and yes — sexy.  Much of the nostalgia of how we remember the excitement of travel or gave gleaned from old movies is still preserved. This is how it used to be when one traveled — or at least, how we would like it to be. One is left feeling calm, at peace and serene. The qualities that made travel fun are still alive in this airline. I would expect a steep price for this level of service. It is not out of the price league. It is pretty economical when considering total flight charges on a domestic carrier particularly when added fees are included. I have not seen domestic carriers step up to the plate and be dedicated to pampering their customers or the attention to detail that Emirates Airways provides. If anything, flying on a domestic carrier has been a race to the bottom of customer service and cut-rate flights. Customer-related benefits have been the first thing to get cut and fees that nickel and dime a customer being the first thing to be added. While the change fees may have been eliminated from Covid, no one has yet to touch the other add-on fees (luggage or seating fees). I agree that there is a place for cut-rate airlines, but flying on them is anything but serene. If flying to a far destination, I would strongly suggest checking out Emirates Airways to keep your peace of mind and Zen while traveling.

BTW, there are no luggage fees for flying from the US to Dubai on Emirates… unless you have extra bags. They charge a fee for each additional baggage for $200 per piece (up to 10 pieces) beyond the 120 pounds of luggage one can carry for free (two checked bags and a carry-on). For flights outside of the Americas, extra baggage is charged per kg and ranges from $15 – $50 depending on the route. So should you fall in love with a camel (and they are cute) and wish to take it home, be prepared for a hefty price tag. The camel will fight you if you try to squish him into one suitcase.


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