It was my first times. First time travelling to Mauritius with my toddler but without my husband. First time leaving Doha. First time on Emirates airline. First time in Dubai. What a journey!
The Emirates Group operates across six continents with a 75,000 strong multi-national team comprised of over 160 nationalities — Emirates.com
In 1985, Emirates started its travels out of Dubai with only 2 planes: a leased Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4. Now, it has a fleet of more than 230 planes, and flies to more than 140 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world.
Purchasing Tickets Online
The website (www.emirates.com) is very user friendly and it’s actually quite easy to plan and book a trip. Paradoxically, we managed to make a mistake while filling in the name of our daughter (!!!) but thanks to the phone assistance, it all got sorted straightaway (a big PLUS for Emirates airline). However because we had to make a separate ticket for my daughter, my name wasn’t linked to hers and unfortunately we could not check in nor choose our seats online.
Hamad International Airport
Clearing customs at Hamad International Airport (HIA) was like a breeze. I was asked for my passport, boarding pass and my Qatari ID and those of my daughter. Being on my husband’s sponsorship, I wasn’t required to provide any other documents, which was a relief. Check-in was quite quick and efficient with helpful staff. Having 137 extra-wide check-in aisles surely makes a difference in terms of rapidity.
As soon as I went through the security checks (this went really fast too), I was stunned by the size of the terminal and the incessant movements. It was much busier than I had imagined; there were people and shops everywhere! The airport has an initial annual capacity of 30 million passengers and believed to be able to handle 50 million passengers per year upon completion. HIA has 8 lounges and 1 more opening soon. It also has a fitness centre, a 200-room hotel and quiet rooms. The airport works closely with Qatar Museums Authority and showcases many art works by local and international artists. HIA also has facilities like prayer rooms, parents’ rooms, family toilets and 5 activity nodes for children. Each activity node offers televisions, Internet browsing, toys, mini-rides and climbing frames.
Unfortunately I couldn’t try the Oryx lounge; I was informed it was on a different level and it was already 10.30 p.m., my daughter was on the ‘sleep mode’ and I was required to board at 11.00 for the 11.45 p.m. departure to Dubai. That would be for next time.
Emirates Boeing Business Class with a Toddler (Doha to Dubai)
The plane left for Dubai around 11.45 p.m. and given the late hour, I didn’t have the opportunity to use any of the ‘entertainment services’ provided on board.
On the Plus Side:
- Friendly and helpful staff
- Very short 45 mins trip
- Cold dinner was served; we were both hungry so it was convenient.
On the Minus Side:
- I was informed that my 2 year old has to sit by herself on a separate seat and not in my lap as she looked ‘old enough’ to be able to do that. Fortunately she was fine with that and both the take off and landing went well.
- Because of the design of the seats, eventhough I was sitting next to my toddler, I couldn’t see much of her. Luckily for us the flight was very short.
Dubai International Airport
I requested for my luggage to go directly to Mauritius which was a good decision as being on my own, with my two year old, I wouldn’t have had enough time to go through the whole immigration/check-in process again for my next flight. We landed in Dubai around 1.35 a.m. and my next flight was at 2.45 a.m. Dubai time. No time to check out the lounge here either.
I was already quite impressed with HIA being so big and busy but when I saw Dubai International Airport (DXB) then I realised how huge the latter really is as compared to the former. This time I was really really stunned! When I got out of the plane I thought I was going to get lost among so many people and signs and lights and cafes and shops…Luckily for me, the signs were very clear! I was amazed by how easy it was to get to the gate for the next flight to Mauritius. After walking with my half-slept toddler in my arms for about 20 minutes including catching a light train to get to Gate A, I started to wonder why I declined the offer to book a stroller at the check-in counter!
DXB has three terminals and Terminal 3 is the world’s largest building by floor space at 1.5 million square meters and is exclusive to Emirates airline. When we landed in Dubai, all I could see was lights and Emirates planes lined on the tarmac (till the eyes could see..)
The airport has the capacity of handling 75 million passengers per year, with Terminal 3 having the capacity of handling 47 million passengers. DXB has exclusive lounges for its Emirates first class and Business Class passengers and a specific lounge for all Emirates passengers. It also has a luxurious 88 rooms and suites hotel, a Business Centre, a health club, a variety of world cuisines, an airport medical centre, quiet rooms, prayer rooms, a post office among many other facilities.
Emirates A380 Business Class with a Toddler (Dubai to Mauritius)
WOW! I cannot find suitable adjectives to describe the plane. It was beautiful. I noticed some exotic fresh flowers to decorate the plane as well as some natural orchids. The seats were very comfortable and turned into a really flat bed. I was even offered a ‘mattress’ to put on my flat bed! That was awesome! It felt really nice to lie down and rest and I quickly fell asleep.
On the Plus side:
- Meal time is like fine dining: foods by award winning chefs served in china tableware on tables laid with fine linen.
- ‘Light bites’ served, a few hours into the flight.
- Over 2000 channels of movies, TV shows, music and games to choose from. Also available: movies with Audio Description and Closed Captions for those who are visually or hearing impaired.
- You can create your personal playlist.
- There is an Onboard Lounge where you can meet people while choosing to eat from a selection of canapés and cocktails or hot and cold beverages, served by a bartender.
- Different kit bags for men and women, both signed Bvlgari.
- Personal minibar next to your seat.
- Own tablet where you can access WIFI. (I didn’t try it)
On the Minus Side
- Consistency Issue. This time I was told I had to hold my toddler in my lap for take off, as she looked too small to sit by herself!
- The food selection was great but at 2.45 a.m. I did not see many passengers interested in eating. Many even skipped breakfast preferring to sleep.
- Service Issue: although I told an air hostess not to wake me up for breakfast and I filled in a form (which was never collected), I was still asked if I wanted breakfast by another flight attendant. Lucky I wasn’t sleeping then.
- When my daughter was sleeping I suddenly saw an air-hostess by her side, lifting her head up to put a pillow. I was both surprised and upset. Surprised as I had never asked for one and upset as she didn’t ask me first. My daughter doesn’t use a pillow and she could have woken her up by lifting her head etc. Resettling a baby/toddler on a plane in the middle of the night can be a real challenge (trust me).
- I ordered some oats for my daughter and the attendant who went to get it never came back with it. When I asked another one, she informed me they only has Muesli and oats was not available.
My first time on Emirates and in Dubai was more or less a positive experience. The technology was a bit over the top for me, particularly at that time of the night; the flashy gadgets, not really for me. Some flight attendants can be over-enthusiastic and you’d be amazed at how some manage to keep a permanent smile on their face… Let’s hope this experience is going to be much more worth it when going back to Doha.