Emirates Auckland - Melbourne Flight Report

September 11, 2016

When I booked this flight, the anniversary of 9/11 did not come into my mind. Perhaps those are a distant emory although life has not yet gone back to normal these days, with persistent threats of terrorist attacks, liquid bans on hand luggage, and enhanced security everywhere.

I wanted a cheap flight back to Australia after my week-long excursion around New Zealand. Prices out of Queenstown were incredible, and it was only marginally more expensive to fly up to Auckland and cross the Tasman. Curious what Auckland is like, I decided to do this route, and picked Emirates' very reasonably-priced 5th freedom Tasman flight on the A380. It was a fairly last minute booking, but I was able to score a seat, with luggage included, for only about NZD 235.

Skybus offers a frequent airport service from downtown Auckland, I missed a bus and only needed to wait 10 minutes for the next service, which was fairly quick in light Sunday afternoon traffic. The bus first dropped off most passengers at the domestic terminal, and terminated at the international terminal.

Emirates has an incredible 3 flights leaving Auckland at around the same time. These are all 5th freedoms heading to Australia - Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, before continuing to Dubai. Despite all these flights, I was surprised the lines to check in were all very manageable. Emirates still uses traditional check-in counters rather than the disastrous kiosk then bag drop machines Qantas uses. Passengers line up once and get a human to do all the work in 1 shot. There were many counters open and I immediately got processed.

Auckland is not a large airport and I didn't see many big jets when I arrived yesterday, so the prospect of 3 flights to Dubai within an hour of each other was a bit odd for this fairly small city. I didn't expect the flight to be full, which I confirmed with the check-in agent.

Emirates occupies a fairly large section of the international terminal. Qantas has a tiny section next door while Air New Zealand has a number of kiosks scattered around their area with thin human presence.

Departures are upstairs from the check-in counters. There were a few restaurants, including the fast food poison chains like McD, Pita Pit, etc. Selection wasn't spectacular but again, this is a small airport.

There were minimal lines for immigration and security and soon I emerged air-side where there were many shops and restaurants. I peeked out the windows and didn't find much inspiring spotting opportunities.

The terminal wasn't particularly busy but many were eating at one of the many dining options air-side. On the other side of the terminal are 2 Emirates A380s, which is an amazing sight with so many turboprops and narrowbodies taking off and landing here. I made the long walk to my gate, which seemed newer than the rest, presumably built to handle the A380s.

Seems the signage has been prepared in anticipation of more mainland Chinese tourists coming this way.

This parked plane would serve my flight today. Eventually, another parked A380 on the tarmac was towed next to this.

Fairly quiet down here today despite all the Dubai departures.

Boarding was separated into stages and things happened efficiently, presumably due to a lighter load. It started at about 10 minutes to 5 and by 5:15, we were all seated and ready to go. The flight deck announced they had to unload some bags due to no-shows, but we eventually pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule.

Auckland's airport is not so big, and it was a short taxi and wait for a few landings, before we quietly roared into the sunset. It has been a few years since my last A380 flight and I forgot just how stable and quiet the plane gets.

Wet naps were distributed, followed by menus with arrival cards for Australia. For those flying into Dubai, they would eat 3 meals - dinner on the way to Melbourne, and 2 more meals on the next sector to Dubai. Imagine heading to Europe - they would also get 2 more meals on the Dubai - Europe leg for a total of 5 meals.

The flight was very smooth and I helped myself to a seemingly refreshed IFE interface. The earphones have been upgraded to a simple noise-cancelling type, although still not as good as Etihad's which I tried late last year. Considering Emirates priced this 5th freedom competitively against Jetstar, I think I made a good choice especially with a free checked bag and full meal.

The meal wasn't too big and I was still slightly hungry after, but the main's presentation was quite decent.

The skies turned bright red as we were half way to Melbourne.

Emirates' A380 has some classy touches, such as wood paneling in the bathrooms, which I would never get on the competition for this route.

The sun had set by now and I roamed around the Economy Class cabin in the dark. Loading wasn't that light after all but there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

I will miss the wonderful weather in the past few days.

3 hours later, which didn't feel so long at all, the announcement came that we were descending. The plane smoothly headed over the city and turned towards landing. Etihad parked their A380 nearby today as well.

I particularly liked the digital clock on the IFE so I can keep track of the jet lag.

While some passengers lined up to process their biometric passports, I opted to go through the manual line, where there was nobody at all. Automation doesn't always result in efficiency.

Soon, I emerged land-side and ready for the bus ride into the city.

To re-use these photos or notify of errors, please email me. Thank you.

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