The Plane: Airbus A380-800, king of the skies.
Price: I paid $2004 for the round trip to Auckland from London Heathrow, plus $54 to secure my seat of choice on this leg of the journey.
Flight time: About 16.5 hours, which until recently was the longest flight in the world.
Given the Gulf states are ambitious and competitive, Dubai-based Emirates was recently knocked off its perch by regional rival Qatar Airways, whose Doha-to-Auckland flight can take a record 17.5 hours.
My seat: The thought of doing a flight this long pinned to a window or jammed in a centre seat filled me with dread, so I tried to check in online and secure an aisle spot at the earliest possible opportunity. What a pity, then, Emirates has chosen to monetise the anxiety of travellers like me, and charges $54 for prime seats. I drop a few extra coins on comfort, opting for 45H, an aisle seat a few rows from the front of the lower level of the A380.
It's the poor man's ticket to the pointy end of the plane where things seems quieter. In the end I didn't even sit here. I was accompanied to check in by the Herald's Travel editor who worked his magic with the ground staff and secured seat 80C for me, a sweet sounding spot on an exit row down the back. However, once airborne I had reason to curse your editor's judgment. 80C is near a galley, and often becomes a busy junction during peak meal times. The cabin crew parked a trolley at my toes, and to navigate around this obstruction almost every passing passenger brushed into me, or ended up knocking down my TV screen with their backsides. Frustrating. (Ed: Whoops!)
Fellow passengers: Standard selection of tourists leaving New Zealand and Kiwis headed for the Gulf to take advantage of Emirates' myriad connections out of Dubai.
How full: Half empty, making me feel like a sucker for dropping that $54 to choose a seat in the first place.
Entertainment: I believe this was one of Emirates' newer A380s, and the ICE in-flight entertainment system is even better than I had remembered. Large, high-resolution screens with a great variety of content. Emirates' in-flight Wi-Fi is also great with 10mb for free, which is fine if you're not looking at photos or videos. If you run out of data, a top-up costs next to nothing, US$1. Eventually I nod off listening to the Ramones' classic self-titled album. Sleep is as close as you'll get to time travel on a flight this long, and I'm thrilled to clock up 10 hours of slumber.
The service: Emirates markets its cattle class as "economy that feels like an upgrade" and I find it hard to disagree with this. It's a large part of the reason I usually book this airline for long haul. The service is helpful, polite and unobtrusive (aside from that trolley).
Food and drink: For this epic journey, Emirates serves a dinner on departure, then a breakfast before arriving in Dubai. Both were great. I woke up mid-flight so hungry the cushion on my seat started to look appetising. Just at that moment the cabin crew appeared with a snack.
Luggage: 23kg check in.
The airport experience: Auckland Airport is a walk in the park. Dubai International was a walk across 10 parks to reach my connecting gate.
Would I fly again: Definitely.