Flight check: Auckland to Brisbane on Emirates

By Ewan McDonald

Ewan McDonald helps christen EK435, Emirates' A380 service from Auckland to Brisbane.

An Emirates A380 Airbus jumbo liner.
An Emirates A380 Airbus jumbo liner.

Aircraft: The double-decker Dubai Airbus. And this one is barely a week old. It's still got that new car smell.

Class: Business. No, I wasn't paying.

How full: Surprisingly so. But this is an inaugural flight - plenty of media from both sides of the Ditch. Probably needed an extra pallet of Moet. And XXXX for my mates.

On time: Better than. We were pushed out 10 minutes early and arrived in B-town the best part of half an hour ahead of schedule.

Service: Emirates? Business class? Say no more. Well, if you insist ... attentive staff who make a point of knowing your name before the first bubbles are, er, down the hatch; white linen and adequate coffee; the seating capsule that provides near-complete privacy from the rest of the cabin. And then there's a cool little lounge bar down the back.

You can sit on banquettes (with seat belts, in case the captain has illuminated the sign) and chat and, yes, don't mind if I do, enjoy a tipple. The wines include some decent French stuff - a white Burgundy and a frightfully more-ish Bordeaux. The barman will shake, muddle or mix cocktails if one prefers. It's all very Great Gatsby, or perhaps a return to the glamorous airships in those grainy old newsreels of the 1930s, chaps in dinner suits and the ladies in silk dresses and cloche hats. That's it - the A380 is a dirigible for the digital age.

Food and drink: You've barely taken off - and this plane does barely take off, you'd have to be looking out the window and not playing with all the toys to notice it take to the air - when they serve a three-course dinner that actually tastes like a three-course dinner. Starts with the "elegant" chicken and nut terrine, followed by lemon and lime marinated chicken, Moroccan-style lamb loin or grilled prawns. I went with the lamb loin, just to test the caterers' skill, and they passed with flying colours (sorry). It was just the right warmth, smack-dab on the pinkness scale, and the courgettes, pumpkin and baby potatoes retained moistness and flavour. Chocolate and raspberry ganache for dessert; spot on. Drink? You've already read about it.

Entertainment: More than you can shake a remote at. Not that you need a remote - there's an iPaddy touch screen that runs the upright, reclining or fully liedown seat; the lighting; and masterminds 1200-plus channels of music, games, TV, with more than 200 fairly up-to-date movies to choose from. But hey, you're only flying to Brisbane so there's barely time for a flick. And there's onboard wifi for about $20 so you can work, surf or play Plane Envy - send selfies from the bar to your Facebook friends from 40,000ft. Small things ...

Airport experience: One doesn't do "airport" when one is flying business class on the sheikh's dirham, old bean. One wafts upstairs and into the plushest lounge at Auckland International, and partakes of whatever it has to offer. Which is quite a lot, from comestibles to media to ablutions. Until one ambles off to the upper airbridge and into the plane. One wonders how long it takes to herd the cattle class, but we are doing Upstairs Downstairs today.

Would I fly this again? In a Dubai minute.

- NZ Herald

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