Emirates, conducting reciprocal flights between Istanbul and Dubai since 1987, started flights to Istanbul airport with the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, as of October 1, 2021.
Emirates, which has 123 A380s in its fleet and took delivery of the last 272 A380 aircraft in Airbus’ production line on December 16th, offers its passengers Economy, Business and FirstClass options with this iconic double-decker superjumbo jet, providing the highest level of comfort and safety. With a capacity of 519 seats, the aircraft has 14 First Class & 76 Business Class cabins and 429 spacious Economy Class seats.
Emirates Airlines, which operates 3 flights a day and 17 flights a week from Istanbul during the winter period, added A380 aircraft to its previous B777-300ER flights as of October 1, 2021. I was one of the special guests of the press tour prepared for the first flight from Turkey with the A380 aircraft. I was quite excited for this new experience as I had never traveled with an Airbus A380 before.
Before this travel, which will take 4 hours and 15 minutes from Istanbul IGA Airport to Dubai, there are some special procedures that you must follow. First, you need to be fully vaccinated for flight. In addition, as per the COVID-19 measures, the United Arab Emirates asks you to present your negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken at most 24 hours before flight, to the officer at the passport checkpoint on your flights from Turkey. Likewise, you are subject to a PCR test again at specially prepared counters at arrival.
The UAE, in addition to the necessary procedures related to COVID-19 measures that have become part of our lives, requires visas from passengers with Turkish passports, so don't forget to contact your airline and apply online from its website after purchasing your ticket. Emirates completes this process for you in a very short time.
For this travel, our Business Class tickets were booked and seat selections were made previously. Emirates recommends and frequently reminds their passengers to make online check-in to minimize contact during the pandemic.
Emirates Business Class seats consist of 3D cabins that give the feeling to each passenger having their own room. In the 3D cabins, the passenger has his own 23-inch TV and a mini-bar filled with soft drinks. It has wide and comfortable seats that turn into a fully-flat bed when you want to sleep.
The cabin crew welcomes you on board with a glass of high-quality champagne or fresh juice and this gives you the hint that your journey will be enjoyable from the first minute.
Emirates prepares its entire food menu from halal certified products and works with the best chefs in the world to create an amazing menu.
I had the chance to monitor the entire take-off from the screen in front of me, as I did not know how I would feel at the time of take-off with the excitement of flying such a large aircraft. Emirates, which employs highly experienced pilots among its staff and contributes to the development of its pilots increasingly with frequently repeated flight trainings, is one of the most reliable airlines.
I felt relaxed from all reasons above, and while we were excited to take off with an aircraft of this size, we suddenly found ourselves in the sky even without understanding how we took off. Being up in the clouds in the world's most reliable aircraft was more than a pleasure.
There were delicious starters, main courses and desserts that can be selected from the menu just before the start of the meal service, of course, a carefully selected wine menu from the most famous brands of the world, champagne and other alcoholic beverages, as well as soft drinks were served.
Just before I started my meal with classic Arabic appetizers, my tray table was turned into a stylish restaurant table in seconds with a white cloth spread over it. Hummus, muhammara and other appetizers prepared in a high-end restaurant quality started to increase my appetite. For the main course, I chose fish and seafood, but chicken or meat options can also be selected.
After your table is cleared, a quality chocolate served with a delicious coffee makes you feel like you are in France. The last flavor of the meal service, desserts, relaxes you even more before sleep.
The service given in Emirates Business Class is not limited to food service only. The on-board lounge, exclusively designed for Business Class and First Class passengers, with its spacious seating areas and specially designed bar, offers passengers the opportunity to have a drink and taste delicious sweet and salty snacks while socializing.
If you want to lounge and watch something to relax a little before arriving in Dubai, there is an in-flight entertainment system with over 4500 movies, series or TV channels. In addition, for a small fee, you can connect to the Wi-Fi on the plane during the journey to be online or check your e-mails in order not to fall behind at your work.
Free COVID-19 test is offered to Emirates passengers upon landing in Dubai. Then you pass to the passport control. The testing made in Turkey only allows us to board the plane, so this test is also mandatory. You can check the results online, since quarantine conditions vary, it is useful to check before the travel.
While the average temperature is 46 degrees in the summer period from April to October in Dubai, it varies between 14 and 23 degrees in October-March period. Of course, it is quite difficult to luck into 14 degrees in such a hot geography. The temperature is rarely at these values in February. In general, we can say that Dubai is always very humid and hot. Considering that the air conditioners are used in all vehicles, hotels, shopping malls, briefly in all closed areas, you should take a sweatshirt or jacket with you in order not to get sick.
With an area of 83,600 square kilometers, United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates, namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, UmmAl Quwain, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. The capital of the country is Abu Dhabi, but the country's entertainment, tourism, service, finance, trade and investment center is undoubtedly Dubai. The Emirate of Dubai, the country's second largest emirate, is not rich in natural gas and crude oil reserves. It derives almost 90% of its revenues from finance, tourism, free zone and trade. Dubai is preferred more than other emirates with its tax-free zone, luxury hotels and restaurants, ease of establishment of offices and businesses, international fairgrounds, advanced transportation facilities, reliable finance and other services it offers to foreign investors.
You can be sure that you will see something different in Dubai every time you travel, as the city develops and grows rapidly.
There are lots of things to do in this metropolitan city, but of course, the priority should be getting to the top of the tallest building in the world. After all, you can't shout 'I am on top of the world' anywhere else. Burj Khalifa is a 160-storey building at an altitude of 828 meters. Since it takes 1 minute to reach the 124th floor by elevator in Burj Khalifa, which offers different options to its visitors from dinner organization to teatime, even someone who is afraid of heights like me can get to the top of the tallest building in the world with the elevator decorated with a visual show, easily and without discomfort. There you can see all of Dubai with a panoramic view, with the excitement of being at the top.
Burj Al Arab and, certainly, Palm Jumeirah are the first places that our eyes are searching for with excitement. When you come down from the highest point in the world, you can find all the brands of the world at the Dubai Mall, which is right next to it, and you can have the chance to do some shopping and taste some world flavors. The famous U.S. cheesecake brand, which you cannot go and eat since the U.S. is far away, has branches here as well. Take your time and drop by.
If you prefer to have dinner at a nice local restaurant, especially in Dubai Mall, you can watch the fountain show here. This show, repeated every half hour, has been transformed into a visual feast by using sound and music effects in the shadow of Burj Al Arab, which rises in all its majesty on one side.
On another day in Dubai, you can visit the Dubai Jumeirah Mosque, see the Zabeel Palaca, take a water taxi ride from Dubai Creek to the Deira side, visit the traditional bazaars and do some spice shopping. Or if you're in Dubai for a vacation, you can surf or watch the surfers at Sunset beach with the iconic Burj al Arab structure behind you. In addition to being a 7-star luxury hotel, Burj al Arab is also known for its Michelin-starred restaurants.
The night safari, which should certainly be preferred for spending more traditional time, is a completely different experience. During the safari, you can ride on camels, do sand boarding, taste specially prepared Arabian dishes when you are tired, watch exciting shows and even end the night watching a belly dancer.
If you are looking for a wonderful meal and an interesting environment while you are in Dubai, Ossiano inside the Atlantis hotel, which is a restaurant hidden under the sea, will be the right choice. You can have a high standard meal by watching the small sharks and the variety of colorful fish swimming.
The world's most comprehensive Expo, Dubai Expo, which was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, opened its doors to its guests on October 1, 2021. As the guests of Emirates, we were one of the first visitors of Dubai Expo and we had a pleasant experience. It can be visited between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
In the Dubai Expo, the main themes of which are sustainability, mobility and opportunity, there are the pavilions of 192 countries, including the Turkish pavilion. These pavilions, offering the opportunity to get to know the culture of the countries, and which are prepared in accordance with the theme of business life, as well as family and vacation, appeal to all visitors.
Our first stop during the expo tour, the Emirates pavilion, allowed me to make literally time travel into the future. Sustainable energies of the future, clean fuel options, airports and unmanned passenger aircraft were the mind-blowing technologies for future. The most important issue for Emirates airlines is fuel options. Environmentally friendly zero-emission hydrogen is the most popular one. We have learned that liquid hydrogen, which is called the fuel of the future, does not occur naturally in convenient reservoirs on earth although it is one of the most common elements in the world, but can be extracted from fuels such as methane and will be a tremendous power source when it is used in aircraft engines.
You can visit the pavilions of 192 countries, including Turkey, at the Expo, which is surrounded by the technology of the future. At the time we visited the Dubai Expo, the Turkish pavilion had not been opened yet, but many European and Asian countries had opened their pavilions. During such visits, you can learn about the cultures of the countries and enjoy the feast of taste with the traditional dishes of the countries in the restaurants. You can watch traditional dances in front of most pavilions or attend concerts in the evening accompanied by the spectacular light shows. You will also be given a one complimentary Expo day pass at your Dubai flights with Emirates between these dates, don't forget and make a note of it. But I must admit that one day is never enough.
We were unhappy to leave the Expo when it was time for our return, but we were excited to make another amazing journey with the A380. I can't help saying that the Business Class Lounge meals we ate before boarding were of French quality. I must say I felt the fact that the cooks were either French or trained in France after every single food I tasted.
I must say that the ground handling staff, the staff in the Lounge and of course the cabin crew are all very well trained, smiling and successful in what they do. You feel special and safe in each service you receive. The A380 Business Class makes you feel special from the moment you step into the cabin until you get off the plane. The freshness of the food, the selection of drinks, the taste of the snacks...
On my return flight, I had the opportunity to have a short interview with Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, International Affairs - Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, who was traveling with us to attend the launch of the Emirates airlines jumbo jet, which will fly to/from Istanbul. I asked him about Emirates' future investment and growth plans, technology and eco-friendly practices, expectations from EXPO and more, for our readers.
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: We Look Forward to Hosting Visitors in Dubai and Dubai Expo 2020
Şebnem Akalın: Mr. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, thank you for making this interview with us in the A380’s onboard lounge. It’s amazing to think that we are literally soaring through the air right now, thousands of miles up on this exceptional flight from Dubai to Istanbul. Emirates launched A380 flights from Dubai – Istanbul and the opening of Dubai Expo on the same day…and as Emirates Airlines guests we had the chance to visit the Emirates booth and experienced innovative airplanes, the future of air travel and the Dubai airport.
Emirates Airlines is an official sponsor of the Dubai Expo. Can you share a bit about your aircraft and the expo as far as what’s in store for your guests at the Emirates booth? What will visitors experience and see at this year’s event?
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: This is an exciting time as we are launching the A380 to Istanbul and at the same time we are opening Dubai Expo 2020. As you know this is a huge event with more than 190 participants and Emirates airlines is proud to be part of this expo and is one of the main sponsors. As part of our promotion our customers flying to Dubai receive a one-day free pass to the Dubai Expo and can safely experience the expo and the Dubai airport as we have implemented all recommended COVID measures and are making travel touchless during the flight and in the airport. At the Dubai Expo you will experience what we will be offering in the future.
Şebnem Akalın: The A380 is mostly a long-haul aircraft but Emirates airlines will fly on a short line from Dubai to Istanbul? Did your customers request this kind of service? Because it’s really an incredible experience flying with the A380.
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: Istanbul is one of the main points of our network. We have seen tremendous growth, especially after the initial COVID outbreak when flights were back to normal operations. We recognized that lots of people from Dubai wanted to fly to Turkey and that’s why we were considering it, and we have wanted to fly to Istanbul with the A380 for a while, but the airport was not ready until now. When the airport was ready we felt that it was the right time to start our flights. Our customers who travel all over the world can connect directly A380 to A380 from Istanbul. I have met with some passengers who are flying right now and had a little talk with them, and they told me that they are really very excited. We also thank the Civil Aviation Authority and the government of Turkey for making this happen.
Şebnem Akalın: With increased global awareness on the environment, individuals as well as companies are shaping the future now for a greener tomorrow. Yesterday at the Dubai Expo we saw that Emirates airlines is focusing a lot of attention on creating a greener world and working on new technologies like aircraft fuel, environmentally friendly customer service and green airports. What can you tell us about this?
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: The fundamental aim of Emirates airlines is net zero carbon emissions. We are also striving to use less plastics to protect the environment as well. Our aircraft are all new and this means less fuel consumption. We are one of the main global airlines trying to use all the new technologies to protect the environment.
Şebnem Akalın: Mr. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla thank you for your time. What would you like to add for our readers in closing?
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla: Turkish people are always welcome to our country. The UAE is their second home, and our services will strengthen relations between our two countries. We are excited to welcome new passengers aboard the A380 and we look forward to hosting visitors from across the globe in Dubai at Dubai Expo 2020