The opportunities to genuinely be a pioneer in the modern era of travel and exploration are rapidly diminishing. There are occasional reports of especially intrepid adventurers discovering a new cave system in Venezuela or a previously undiscovered tribe found in Papua New Guinea but as the unmapped world dwindles these are becoming increasingly rare.
So when the opportunity to join the Inaugural Emirates airlines flight into Adelaide arose I jumped at it, this was one way to be a first. The time spent travelling was almost as long as that in destination however it still seems too good to miss, especially as Emirates were offering business class as an added incentive.
The journey would require flying by A380 into Dubai and then Boeing 777 into Adelaide as the airport apparently does not currently receive these planes. A stopover in the futuristic city of Dubai on the return trip further added to the appeal.
“To the true traveller the destination is merely an excuse to make the journey”
This quote may appear to have little relevance in the jet age of travel, it harks back to an earlier period, a golden age of travel? Lengthy delays, security checks and long flights in cramped cabins are unlikely to inspire many to make the journey the focal point of travelling. On this occasion however the flight really was the main reason for packing a bag, the whistle stop tour of Adelaide and South Australia was just the icing on the cake.
Checking in at Manchester and the subsequent passage through the airport was relatively quick and pain free and before long I was acquainting myself with my private cubby hole in the business class section of the flight to Dubai. The complimentary champagne helped all passengers relax. A private reasonably large screen, small but usefully stocked mini-bar with water and juice and an highly adjustable seat would help the flight pass quickly.
A succession of cabin crew introduced themselves to me throughout the flight and whilst this was probably due to the ‘media’ tag, on all of the flights we were well catered for by a courteous, friendly and helpful team.
Service and facilities are unsurprisingly excellent, complimentary drinks including cocktails and high quality aperitifs were offered throughout and the on board meals were far removed from the usual in flight fare. They were actually a pleasure to savour and mine went down particularly well with an a very good red wine and an after dinner cognac.
The A380 also has an on-board bar which as anticipated proved quite popular and was enjoyed by numerous passengers. There was a good selection of canapés dotted around to munch on which could be washed down with an good choice of cocktails, wines, beers or spirits.
Apart from a good selection of films and other entertainment there was pay as you go WiFi available for those that need to remain connected or just want to ‘smoast’ to friends from 30,000 feet.
Arriving in Dubai all passengers taking the inaugural Adelaide flight were met and escorted by a member of the Emirates ground crew. It meant that our passage through the airport was eased if slightly slower due to ‘herding’ us through security.
Whilst boarding the 777 to Adelaide didn’t make me feel particularly pioneering there were plenty of excited and intrepid passengers taking the flight. Therefore it was a shame WiFi was not available on this plane too as there would probably have been some frenetic tweeting and smoasting going on from these modern day pioneers.
The experience is slightly different from the A380 (sounding like an anorak now) without the bar but still included great levels of comfort and service throughout. This maybe from a business class perspective but taking a peek at economy, it seemed passengers here were still surprisingly content.
There were a number of VIPs on board, probably from Emirates and there was a small contingent of media along to cover the auspicious flight. It is hoped this new route will prove extremely important for South Australian tourism. A great deal of negotiating and hard work had gone in to making the flight possible and everybody on board seemed to think it was worth the effort.
To emphasise the significance of this, the following day there was a press conference in the city with short speeches from the South Australian Premier and dignitaries from Emirates. I have a feeling this partnership is going to be very successful and grow even stronger in the future, offering further opportunities to be a modern pioneer.
I am grateful to Emirates for giving me the opportunity to join this flight and travel in great comfort but all views are my own formed over a complimentary cocktail or two.