Thomas Bywater flies Auckland to Dubai on Emirates EK499.

The plane:

Airbus A380.

Class: Business Class.


Price: $8049.

Flight time: We were in the air for 17hr 30m of sheer contentment.

My seat: 12B — a fantastic capsule of buttons and contraptions including a minibar and fully reclining seat.

Fellow passengers: The late scheduled flight meant most passengers spent the first half of the flight asleep.

Entertainment: The audio options left much to be desired. What sounded like a novel offering of in-house produced podcasts turned out to be little more than Emirates and visit-Dubai propaganda. The selection of films and TV was much better. I was pleasantly surprised to find the entire Jurassic Park back catalogue on offer. After five films on the same formula, park operators are still to be convinced dinosaur safaris are a terrible idea. Here's hoping they never are!

The service: From champagne reception to landing departure, I was made to feel utterly pampered.

Food and drink: A PA announcement made the promise of food and drink available throughout the flight and, I assure you reader, I held them to it.

In the search for second helpings at the back of the plane I made the single most wondrous discovery of my time in the skies: a flying bar. This was no ginned-up drinks trolley either. The lounge involves a proper counter with glasses, bottles of Dom P and cocktail mixing. There is even extra seating for socialising with fellow passengers. However, due to the time of departure the lounge was practically empty.

The airport experience: Speedy boarding and fast-track security screening made the transition through Auckland Airport brief and unremarkable. Dubai was a different matter, arriving a full seven years too early. We were parked right at the end of the proposed airport expansion, and a lengthy bus ride away from the terminals.

The bottomline: Regardless of destination, if there is an onboard lounge count me in!