Winston Aldworth flies aboard EK435, from Brisbane to Auckland.

The plane:

An A380. Emirates works three of the big birds daily out of Auckland Airport and into Australia, before they continue on to Dubai. A fourth goes direct to Dubai.

Emirates has the biggest A380 fleet in the world, with 83 planes in service and 59 more on order. Where other airlines seem to be losing faith in the double-decker, Emirates continues to double down on their commitment.

Class: Business Class. There are 76 flat-bed seats in this section. Fourteen fliers can be perched in private First Class suites and 399 punters down below in Economy Class.


That's 489 passengers total. Multiply that by four (for each of the Emirates A380s heading out of Auckland daily) and you've got 1996 possible passengers - a remarkable number. That's the second biggest potential passenger volume for any airline flying out of Auckland - only Air NZ carries more.

Emirates' impact on the local market - both transtasman and for flying onwards to Europe - has been profound.

Price: You can get into Business Class seats for $1749, return.

My seat: 25B.

On time? We take to the air bang on the scheduled 5.10pm departure. This flight is down for four hours, but we're home 20 minutes early.

Fellow passengers: A load of holidaying Kiwis returning from the Queensland sunshine. I had my mum, Heather, and my 4-year-old son, Baxter, for company. The boy spent the entire flight slugging fizzy drinks and watching cartoons.

How full: Of the 76 flat-bed seats in Business only half a dozen or so are vacant. The cabin crew chief staffer Perya tells me the 14 First Class seats are all full. A quick stroll down below shows they're at about 90 per cent capacity.

Entertainment: Baxter reports that the cartoons were "good".

Service: The cabin crew come from 22 different countries and speak 18 languages. Chief staffer Perya, from Hungary, says they enjoy working the Auckland-to-Australia flights. It's a short-haul in, then the crew get a day to relax (watch out for them on Waiheke), before working a short-haul back to Oz.

Food and drink: I had a superb cod, then popped into my favourite pub in the whole world: The bar at the rear end of the upstairs section of the Emirates A380. They're revamping the bars this year, bringing in tables and bench seats and going for a "yacht cabin" feeling. Sounds grand.

My unsolicited, free advice for Emirates President Tim Clark: Give each of the bars a name. Different planes, different bars. Bit of fun. (No problem, Tim - you can thank me with upgrades.)

The toilets: Clean throughout.

Luggage: Business Class gets up to 40kg.

Would I fly this again? Certainly. Standing at the bar on an Emirates A380 remains the finest way to cross the Tasman.