Grant Bradley flies Emirates EK413 from Auckland to Sydney.

The Plane:

Airbus A380-800.

Class: Economy.

Price: $321 one way for flights booked in September.


On time? Spot on (the return flight was 30 minutes late pushing back but got us in on time).

My seat: 62J, in the middle of three seats. The economy cabin has 399 seats in a 3-4-3 configuration. Being an Airbus the seats are at least 46cm wide so there's plenty of room, even after a good Christmas. Likewise there is sufficient legroom. The A380 is the biggest passenger plane flying so it's spacious especially in window seats and there's plenty of headroom. There are 90 seats/beds upstairs and a bar for premium travellers.

Fellow passengers: My family and many other excited holidaymakers.

How full: Between Christmas and New Year there were just a few spare seats at the back.

Entertainment: 1500 channels of news and entertainment. There's a great selection of new release movies, the live news ticker is worthwhile and the airshow from three different camera sites on the plane is fascinating. You can buy Wi-Fi starting at US$2.75 ($3.33) for 5MB. Seat-to-seat calling is easy should you need it.

The service: Unobtrusive. Most of the 25 cabin crew were upstairs and those in the packed economy cabin were very busy but professional. The airline prides itself on its multinational crew and ours spoke 10 languages, including Swahili. There's not that easy familiarity of crew aboard an Australasian carrier so it makes for a different experience.

Food and drink: Nice to get a menu and real cutlery in economy. The chicken cacciatore had run out by the time the trolley reached us but the beef shin stew was a delicious alternative. The drinks service (all complimentary apart from champagne) only made one round although you could get a top-up on request.

The toilets: Plenty of them and as the plane was just three and a half years old everything was in sparkling condition.


The airport experience: We flew at a peak time so were in a queue for 15 minutes. Emirates staff sensibly plucked families with very young kids from the line to check them in first - nice. Online check in is recommended.

Would I fly again? Yes. Flying on a full-service carrier makes for a distinctive transtasman experience and you can get better fares during off-peak times of the year. We wanted to fly in the big plane - it's very quiet and smooth - but it is mass transit so depending on where you're sitting it takes longer to get on and off. The Emirates schedule means you miss the worst of Sydney's traffic arriving around 8pm and the scheduled departure time for the return flight is 8.45am.

Grant Bradley is aviation reporter for the Business Herald.