Global Traveler: The starlit ceilings in the first-class cabins of Emirates’ A340-500s caused quite a buzz when they debuted earlier this year. What’s the back story for that innovative idea? How did it come about? And how does it work? What are some of the highlights of passenger feedback to date?
Nigel Page: The concept was developed internally in Emirates. We wanted to relate the interior lighting of the cabin with the local time of the aircraft in-flight in order to reduce jet lag for international travel. The lighting is controlled by the cabin crew and replicates dawn, daylight, dusk and night time. So far, feedback has been very positive.
GT: Emirates offers complimentary chauffeur service to/from the airport to its first- and business-class passengers. The service is currently available in select cities in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Which cities? Any plans to expand the roster? How much advance notice does the airline need to arrange the transfers? What’s involved in making the arrangements?
NP: We currently offer complimentary “Chauffeur Drive” to our first- and business-class passengers at 26 destinations…Auckland, Abu Dhabi, Birmingham (England!) Brisbane, Christchurch, Doha, Dubai, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, Nice, New york, Paris, Perth, Rome, Singapore, Sydney, Vienna and Zurich.
Yes, we will expand the service as and when we add new online points. We need 48 hours notice to book chauffeur drive and this is easily done by contacting our reservations department.
GT: Emirates has earned more than 250 international awards for excellence since its launch in 1985. Highlight a few of the key awards over the years. What new innovations are planned to ensure Emirates remains at the forefront of the industry?
NP: We have received awards from most of the major travel and airline industry publications in the World. Airline of the Year, Best Airline to the Middle East, Best First Class, Best Economy Class are just some of the awards. Emirates was recently recognized by the readers of Travel & Leisure in the 2004 World’s Best Awards Issue as one of the “World’s Best Top 10 International Airlines” as well as by the editors of Robb Report who named Emirates as one of the best airlines in their 16th Annual “Best of The Best” issue.
Our new A340-500 has 500 channels of audio and video on demand, personal 19-inch screens in first-class, individual cabin doors in first-class for privacy, WiFi, massage systems on first- and business- seats, and the list goes on. The Emirates first-class dining is a gourmet experience, prepared by international chefs, each meal carefully paired with a fine wine. What’s more, the “dine-on-demand” service allows passengers to order what they want, when they want it. We have always tried to be a technological leader in the airline industry, and were the first airline to have inflight entertainment in all three cabins of the aircraft, the first airline with fax machines, etc.
GT: The Emirates first-class lounge in Dubai offers private single-occupancy bedrooms with shower facilities — an amenity that greatly appeals to passengers facing extended layovers. Are there plans to expand that amenity to other airports? The lounge in Dubai is also chock-full of other appealing amenities. Review some of them for our readers who may not yet have had the opportunity to visit the lounge.
NP: We are building a new 9000 square foot lounge at Terminal 4 at JFK. This facility is in preparation for A380 Super Jumbo operations in the future.
Both the first- and business-class lounges in Dubai offer execptional amenities including 42-inch plasma televisions, 24 hour food service, free Internet access and massage seats. In first-class the lounge has double guest bedrooms with private shower facilities; In business-class, there are single bedrooms with bathroom and shower facilities.
The Dubai I nternational Airport also features G-Force Health Club, a fully-equipped state-of-the-art health club facility open 24-hours a day. First- and business-class passengers receive three hours of complimentary use of the club as well as a free 30-minute massage.
GT: Some of our readers with business in Dubai may want to extend their stay to explore the area. What are some of the sights, attractions, places — in the city and within a two-hour drive of the city — you’d recommend as not-to-be-missed destinations for first-time visitors? Any recommendations for readers who may already be familiar with the region, but may want to explore some more off-the-beaten-path destinations within a couple of hours’ drive of the city?
NP: A trip on an abra water taxi across the Dubai Creek is a unique experience. The shopping malls in Dubai are breathtaking and most goods have nil tax. The Gold Souk is another must. All gold is minimum 18 carat and is some of the cheapest gold in the world. A four-wheel desert drive is another unforgettable experience. It is really the only way to see the true beauty of the country.
So many of the hotels in Dubai are fabulous, from the Burj Al Arab to the new Al Qasr Madinat Jumeirah. If there is some time, I recommend experiencing Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa — a unique resort set on a conservation reserve in the desert, about 45 minutes driving time from Dubai.
GT: Heading into 2005, Emirates is about to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding. Any specials plans, events, promotions on the horizon to coincide with the anniversary?
NP: We are still awaiting to hear what is planned.
Over the last three–four weeks, Portugal made significant strides in slowly, but surely, reopening the country for travel. As of May 18, Portugal further loosened restrictions by ending the country’s COVID-19 State of Emergency status while continuing social distancing.
The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.
United Airlines introduces United CleanPlus, a partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic. The company is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of the entire customer experience, and hopes to deliver an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. This partnership brings together Clorox and some of the country’s top medical experts from the Cleveland Clinic to help guide United Airlines’ new cleaning, safety and social distancing protocols.
At FXExpress Publications, Inc., we can’t wait to #ComeBacktoTravel, and we can’t wait for the travel industry and others to #ComeBacktoGT. Join us over the next several weeks as we entice you with photos from some of the places we’re most excited to visit. Take a visual journey through some of the Florida Keys’ most breathtaking sights with us, just in time for the June 1 reopening.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
A first of its kind in the region, The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi launched a safe and clean certification program. The program seeks to uplift and standardize cleanliness and hygiene levels across all businesses and organizations in the tourism sector, including hotels, malls and other attractions. DCT Abu Dhabi will offer certifications that ensure compliance of standardized hygiene levels, and the program will roll out in phases, with the first dedicated to hotels.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is celebrating the heroes. Travelers can nominate the unsung heroes in their lives for a chance to be selected for one of 25 complimentary, seven-night European river cruises for two through July 31.