Airbus A380. A smaller Boeing 777-200LR (long range) will usually be operated on this flight, but in a last-minute switch Emirates decided to use one of their super-jumbos on the inaugural non-stop flight between Dubai and Auckland last week. It was good news for me as the A380 is, I reckon, the best way to fly.
Class: Business. And I'm supposed to feel really bad about this, according to the writers of hate mail I received in response to my live blog of the flight. They thought I should have suffered downstairs in economy and shared that experience. Maybe I should have. But Emirates sorted me out with a spot upstairs, so what was I to do? I don't think it's going to be one of my regrets when I'm lying on my death bed.
Price: Not cheap. Around $7690 return at short notice.
Flight time: It was supposed to take 17 hours and 15 minutes, which would have made it the world's longest flight, eclipsing Qantas' Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth route at around 16 hours and 55 minutes. In the end, however, the flight was in the air for 16 hours and 24 minutes, which was long enough.
My seat: 20b, towards the rear end of the cabin. The business class set-up on the A380 is just about as good as it gets (there is, of course, first class, which is a whole other level of decadence). Vast amounts of leg room and a lie-flat bed made it an easy trip for me. And it's all contained in your own little compartment. There's no fighting over the arm rests here.
Fellow passengers: Business and leisure travellers, mostly transiting through Dubai to other destinations.
How full: Not very full at all, which probably makes sense given that the flight was meant to be operated on a 777-200LR until the last minute. A crew member told me there was also a load restriction on the A380 in order for it to make the more than 14,000km flight to Dubai. Only 38 of the 76 business class seats were occupied. Two people were in first class - which seats up to 14 - while only 266 of the 459 economy class seats were occupied.
Entertainment: More than 2200 channels of TV series, games, movies and music. To be honest, there wasn't a heap of movies I really wanted to see in the latest releases section, but that probably says more about me than the selection.
The service: It was great. The crew were super-friendly and professional. One in particular was very helpful in getting my wi-fi up-and-running for my blog.
Food and drink: Was fine, although the food wasn't particularly outstanding. My breakfast omelette was similar to what you'd get in economy, just presented more fancily.
Toilets: Were clean and tidy, and always available. No complaints there.
Luggage: Heaps of space in the overhead lockers, given the half-empty flight.
In flight wi-fi: A little bit patchy during the first half of the journey but good for the second half. Emirates gives you 10 MB free of charge and then you can buy an extra 500 MB for US$1. The 500mb I bought was enough for me to blog right through the flight. It's not super-fast but good enough for Facebook, Twitter and emails.
Airports: A breeze at both ends.
Would I fly again: Hell yeah. When are we going?