Introduction: A Hop to the Maldives
Review: Park Hyatt New York
Review: Emirates Lounge JFK
Review: Emirates First Class A380 JFK-DXB
Review: Park Hyatt Dubai
Review: Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Review: Emirates First Class 777 DXB-MLE
Getting to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa
Review: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Review: Etihad Business A330 MLE-AUH
Review: Etihad First Class Lounge
Review: Etihad First Class A380 AUH-JFK
Review: American Business A321T JFK-LAX
At 3:30 in the morning, after many many hours playing in the Emirates First Class Lounge, we finally made our way to our airplane. The trip from Dubai to Male, the capital of the Maldives, is not long, only about 3.5 hours, covering 1,800 miles, about the distance from Los Angeles to Chicago.
It strikes me how Asian and Middle Eastern carriers use such large airplanes on routes that would generally be restricted to small narrow body aircraft in the US. This was a middle-of-the-night flight between the Gulf and an Island nation, and yet we were flying a 777-300ER, one of the biggest planes in the sky, replete with first class suites and full service dining (for some, at least).
When American took delivery of its first 777-300ERs, I found myself on a positioning flight between Los Angeles and Dallas. Even though the flight was only about 1,000 miles, we were on a fully decked out wide body international airplane. And I loved it. I find the experience of traveling on large planes to be immensely more exciting and relaxing than flying on smaller ones. Even when I’m back in coach, there’s something special to getting on big birds like these. (Once I flew a 747 from Chicago to Denver and I was giddy like a child. Actually, I was a child.)
But I digress.
Emirates’ fleet is made up entirely of 777s and A380s, and they do a good job of standardizing the passenger experience across their fleet. The biggest difference in their planes is in Business Class, which is made up of flat bed all-aisle access seats on the A380 and angled, not all-aisle seats on the 777. Remember that, if you ever fly Emirates business.
We did not need to worry ourselves with such common concerns, as we were in first class, which had a suite almost identical to what we had enjoyed on the A380 a few days earlier. This suite was noticeably older than the A380 – you could tell based on the touchscreen controls next to the seat – but otherwise the seat was absolutely the same.
The cabin on the 777 has eight first class suites, making for a much more intimate experience. Also, because there are no overhead bins (who needs them when you have a closet!), the ceiling is super high, making for a very spacious feel. I never appreciated just how high up the fuselage is on a 777.
The suite had a large television, as well as a vanity, a nice lamp, and fresh flowers. I was brought a glass of champagne immediately after sitting down. It seemed like a good idea at 4 in the morning, so I gladly accepted.
To my left was the touchscreen that controlled all the suite’s features. The setup was just the same as the A380, only the device was a little bulkier.
Just in front of the touchscreen was my mini-fridge, which I again did not touch during the entire flight. #Emirates
I wanted to get into something comfortable, so I headed to the lavatory and changed into pajamas for my night’s sleep (read: nap). The lavatories on the 777 are (understandably) nothing like the Shower Suites on the A380, just normal, albeit fancy, airplane bathrooms, so no picture is necessary.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the cockpit door wide open, so I peaked in for a view. Win!
Within minutes we were ready for take-off, and we started our short taxi. The plane had been parked at a remote stand, so despite Dubai International Airport’s immense size, we didn’t have far to go to reach the end of the runway. The engines fired up and we were off.
There’s something that you’re just going to have to take my word for: The views upon take off from Dubai when your flight path heads south are absolutely stunning. After a take-off to the northwest, we banked to the left and followed Dubai’s coast south. I’m no pilot, and it was 4:30 in the morning, and I was in a city I’d never flown from, but I think this is basically the route we followed:
Given Dubai’s downtown and architecture, that made for some fantastic views of Dubai in general and the Burj Khalifa specifically. You gain a new appreciation for just how insanely tall the Burj Khalifa is when after flying for a few minutes you’re still barely as high up as the building itself! I was nowhere near the left hand side of the plane, so a picture wasn’t possible, but thanks to our friends at the Daily Mall here is, more or less, what we could watch during take-off.
The seatbelt sign was turned off a few short minutes after we were in the air (my general experience is that foreign carriers are very quick to let you out of your seat and to start service after take-off) and we were brought more champagne and warmed nuts. The nuts were cashews with some sort of Indian spice on them; it was a different taste than I’m used to, and it got my taste buds excited for the destination ahead!
The cabin lights were never turned on, given the wee hours during which we were traveling. The ceiling had a nice stars display.
And, with that, I was ready to sleep. I passed out for an hour or two and then, soon enough, the sun was up and we were nearing the Maldives! I ordered some coffee, and then some more, and then some more.
The weather wasn’t good – cloudy with light rain – which was a shame because the views on approach to Male are absolutely stunning. I moved over to the empty suite on the window, so I could watch.
We hit some light turbulence as we passed through all the clouds, but otherwise, landing was uneventful. We landed in Male on time, and within minutes were on our way to get our bags.
This was a short flight at an ungodly hour, but Emirates still managed to impress. The 777 provides a more intimate experience than the 380, without the luxuries of a shower or on-board bar, but otherwise just as fantastic.
Coming up: We still were far from the Park Hyatt, and getting there is anything but easy.