Flight check: Emirates A340 Airbus

Linda Herrick flies Emirates from Dubai to Venice

Photo / Christchurch Star
Photo / Christchurch Star

The plane: A340 Airbus.

Class: Economy.

Price: Part of an Auckland to Venice low-season package of $2485.

On time?: Bang on. No mucking around. This is more like it, after schlepping up from Auckland to Brisbane (a seven-hour wait in its bleak transit lounge in the wee hours: avoid) then to Singapore in a B777-300 that had the ambience of a sardine can. The A340 looks clean and new. Ultra-smooth take-off and a banking swoop over Dubai's The World sand islands, which are looking decidedly droopy.

My seat: 21A. A window seat; bigger and much more comfortable than the B777, which had very tight leg space, even for a shortie like me. No chance to snooze. The views as we cross from Dubai and head towards the Adriatic are far too interesting.

Fellow passengers: A glam bunch; including beautiful PDA couples, a chorus of "grazies" and the heady aroma of expensive men's cologne. Seated next to me in our two-four-two row is a friendly yet (thankfully) silent Venetian girl with corn-row hair, white trackies and long nails more manicured than the Giardini lawns.

How full?: About 90 per cent.

Entertainment: Highly entertaining Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. Emirates' entertainment channels have dozens of free, new, classic and world movies on hi-tech touch-screens. Later I switched to a talking book: Hugh Bonneville reading Goldfinger. The benign Downton Abbey star did an excellent turn as a menacing James Bond.

The service: Friendlier than the previous legs. There was a great mood on this flight - and why wouldn't there be? Flying into Venice must be one of the happiest experiences a traveller can have.

Food and drink: Er, that's a blur but I vaguely recall a small salad, shrimp cocktail and chicken casserole. After 30 hours and so many legs the meals were all starting to look and taste the same.

The toilets: Very clean. Nice fresh cologne. Tried not to look in the mirror. Thirty hours of flying does one's complexion no favours.

Luggage: A generous 30kg. My suitcase weighed less than 20kg. That was about to change.

The airport experience: The arrival area at Marco Polo airport was surprisingly shabby. Only two bored-looking staff manned the immigration desks so progress was a trickle. Once through, you grab your bags but must pay for a trolley. Tricky if you have no euro coins. Thank goodness for wheeled suitcases. The departure point for private water taxis (they charge up to €100 ($170) for the one-hour ride to Venice) or the public-service Alilaguna boats are a 10-minute walk; buy a €15 Alilaguna ticket at the airport before leaving. The experience of waiting in the rocking, floating "shed", then boarding by walking a plank, is surreal.

Would I fly this again? Per favore. But I would avoid the Brisbane transit. Mostruoso.

- NZ Herald

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