Trip report: Milan-Dubai in Emirates A380 economy class
Almost funnier than the Dubai Airshow 2021 experience was getting there.
Once I found out that I would be covering the event for Aviacionline (by the way: we were the only Latin American site to be there, and I urge you to watch our fabulous work there) , I started doing the math to see what plane I would take to move from Italy, where I live, to Dubai.
It turns out that from the beginning of November Emirates had returned by deploying the A380 on the Dubai-Milan route, so it was the simplest calculation ever.
I arrived in Malpensa about three hours before my flight and there were already crowds around the Emirates check-in counters. I had already checked in online, so I just needed to drop off my bag. There was no one in front of me in the bag queue, so I was called.
The guy who shipped my bag was the best ever, and soon my bags were on their way to the UAE.
A terrible problem with Milan Malpensa Airport is the passport control area. It took me 45 minutes in line, with several passengers cutting the line as they would lose their flights, which left the atmosphere very, very miserable.
There were a lot of extra-Schengen flights leaving that night, so that more or less explains the long queue; Still, it shows a certain lack of planning on the part of airport management.
Anyway, I arrived at the gate with more than enough time to spare – the crew were still waiting at the gate to get on the plane. It was amazing how many crew members there were – 24 flight attendants and two pilots – and that’s because it was a “short” flight, with only one group of crew members in. service.
The inbound flight was a bit late which would certainly affect the clearance for our boarding as the evening flight from Emirates to Milan makes a short return trip to Dubai.
Once boarding started, there were a lot of people; the check-in agent told me that 350 passengers would be on board tonight, but since my boarding area was one of the last, I was able to settle in for a bit.
But very quickly it was my turn to get on the plane. I was incredibly happy to finally be able to board an A380 after so many years admiring this bird.
And I was lucky that the plane deployed in this Dubai-Milan-Dubai race sported a special livery, the one that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates.
According to Planespotters.net, the A6-EOE has serial number 169 and was delivered new to Emirates in December 2014. In December 2018, it was painted in Expo 2020 orange colors and was stored at the Dubai Al Maktoum Airport in February 2020.
In August 2021, it was transferred to the main airport in Dubai, where it was painted in the colors of the âYear of the Fiftiethâ, leaving storage on November 3, nine days before my flight.
Boy, this plane is insanely huge. I couldn’t believe I was on an A380. The upper deck boarding deck has direct access to the Emirates lounge, as this deck only has Business and First seating.
So naturally the plane had feel brand new. And he did. This is how we found my seat.
I don’t usually like the amount of trash airlines throw at you in economy class on long-haul flights – mainly because there’s nowhere to throw it if you don’t use it and the others seats are occupied – but in the A380s the seat pocket was so large that you could easily throw everything in it.
Emirates provided a pillow and blanket, both standard size in economy class. Anyway, I only use them if I use an empty row for sleeping, which was the case on the return flight but not this one because both seats next to me were occupied. These therefore went directly into the pocket.
What really caught my eye, however, was the helmet, definitely miles ahead of anything I’d seen in long-haul economy class travel.
Boarding progressed slowly, the captain, who was also Brazilian, apologized for the delay, attributing it to the flight back to Milan. He also stated that taxiing to the runway would be quite slow due to the fog.
I loved the feel in the cabin, despite the red eye flight; mood lighting always helps in this regard.
The legroom was good and the seat was comfortable.
The following two photos were taken just before landing, hence the different light conditions.
And the seat has been designed for the comfort of the economy class passenger, as the electrical outlets and USB ports aren’t hidden under the seats – they’re located right next to the screen, so you don’t need to to do a contortion show to charge your phone.
The screen, by the way, was huge.
At 10:03 p.m., 28 minutes after the scheduled departure time, the crew finally received the order to close the doors.
The Emirates safety briefing video, which appeared to outlast Titanic, was then released in both Arabic and English.
At least the video was clear and well thought out. After it was finally over, I turned to the famous rear camera to watch the rest of the taxi and take off.
At 10:30 p.m. A6-EOE finally lines up on one of the Malpensa slopes. All four Engine Alliance GP7000 engines entered the take-off position in what appeared to be surprisingly smooth acceleration.
Oscar Echo slowly turned and took to the skies in what – again – was a surprisingly smooth flight. I don’t know if that’s just my impression, but the A380 was super slow and smooth in motion. And this is not a reproach, of course. It was so comfortable.
About half an hour later the service began. Prior to the flight Emirates offers a digital menu so you are more familiar with the options, while on board we had a choice of beef patties and chicken.
I chose the chicken and this is how I received the meal. Which is quite impressive, Emirates distributes real cutlery, which is much better than plastic cutlery.
The meal looked good for economy class standards and it was also delicious.
The drink options were also quite extensive; in fact, my whole row – myself included – asked for Jack Daniel’s, which was served in those little plastic bottles usually sold on board by many airlines.
Anyway, when boarding, I had asked to speak to the flight attendant if he was available – I wanted to talk about the incredible aircraft that the A380 was from his perspective. After the service we spoke very quickly and he said when he was free he would go in my place.
During this time, I started exploring the Emirates ICE system, and it didn’t disappoint. I had always read it was the best in heaven, and it was true. There are so many options that I got lost, but eventually I settled into a Brazilian film with an interesting synopsis, âLoopâ.
This one came out this year – so, new enough to be in an aerial entertainment system. The movie was quite cranky at times, but not particularly bad. The premise was quite interesting, indeed.
Halfway through the movie the flight attendant called me, so I went on the upper deck to the cocktail bar, which, given the flight schedule, was empty, and we spent some time talking. Emirates, driving the A380 and the role of the flight attendant in the flight handling such a large crew … until he was called because a passenger in the row behind me was dizzy .
Fortunately, it was nothing serious and soon everything was resolved rather quickly.
Since I was already on foot and didn’t want to sit down to sleep, I asked for coffee on the kitchen.
It impressed me how heavy the workload of the flight attendants was throughout the flight; it almost seemed like they never stopped, always checking passengers, passing carts and smiling and so on and so on.
Before returning to my seat, I checked one of the A380 toilets; it was kept clean, although it was quite narrow.
Most everyone was asleep, and passengers who weren’t lucky enough to have a window seat could at least see the starry skyâ¦ sort of; this is one of the folclorical characteristics of the Emirates A380s, and I was happy to see it with my own eyes.
The very sweet and lovely flight attendant in our aisle spoke Italian with us throughout the flight. I don’t remember his name, but remember he said he was from Moldova.
After my movie ended, I went to see if there was any music that I like to listen to. There was: George Harrison’s 1970 masterpiece, “All Things Must Pass,” which this year saw the launch of a remaster for its 50th anniversary.
The Emirates ICE didn’t offer the newest version, but even the old one is a masterpiece, and if you haven’t heard it yet, go ahead now (after you’re done reading this trip report obviously).
Here is an overview of the seat back.
And even the control itself has a touchscreen where you can play movies or just about anything from the ICE system, although I’m not sure why anyone would do that with that giant screen out there. But it is useful, for example, to follow the rear camera while watching a movie or selecting music while looking at one of the cameras on the main screen.
Approaching the United Arab Emirates, another round of drinks for the morning, no more coffee but, above all, great views from the monstrous window of the A380.
Ambient lighting behaves accordingly, generating a cool atmosphere to slowly wake passengers up.
Besides, I’ve always thought that the A380’s window would be bad with the way it’s built – it still has that ‘framing’, so to speak, but I barely noticed it, both its size. was great.
Despite the much longer departure delay, at 7:09 am we landed in Dubai, just 19 minutes past the scheduled time, ending an incredible first flight on the A380.
The flight attendant showed me around First Class (no photos are allowed, as it was very messy) before I waved to him: I was the last passenger to leave Echo Oscar, who traveled to Frankfurt ten hours later.
And damn it, I still hadn’t finished being amazed by the size of this plane.
It was possibly the best economy class experience I have witnessed so far. Besides the delay, which was almost made up on arrival, Emirates did everything right.
The flight attendants all did a very professional job despite the long shift in a bad time – albeit a time they are used to, as a lot of Europe-Dubai flights leave at roughly the same time. Food was generous for economy class standards and even real metal cutlery was provided.
Enough has been said about the ICE system, its great variety for all tastes, with recent releases and classics too.
And to top it off, flying the A380 was a real treat. Despite the enthusiasm, this is truly the best plane I have ever flown, and although it is a shame that it is an endangered species, I hope I can fly it again – I hope in Business or, who knows, maybe First – very, very soon. It was cool from start to finish.