First Leg - Second Attempt

August 29, 2017 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Well here we go - a second attempt at leaving Australia.

We enjoyed our little stopover in Coogee even if it was unscheduled and very cold. Our meal allowance from Emirates meant we could charge yesterday's lunch, dinner and drinks last night and breakfast this morning. Without keeping track of our spending we managed to spend $164 of our $160 credit and the hotel absorbed the $4 over-run.

Yesterday, in anticipation and on the advice of a somewhat cynical Concierge, we booked a 6.15am shuttle to the airport for a 10am flight. An email from Emirates told us of another delay and we were now on an 11.30am flight. Later we received a note from the hotel to say the Emirates shuttle would leave at 7.30am so we elected to leave the organisation (and possible fault) in the capable hands of the airline and cancelled the earlier shuttle booking. That at least meant we could have breakfast before trying once more for a flight to Dubai.

The bus arrived in due course and we were off through the streets and roundabouts of Coogee to go to the airport. Not so fast. One of the passegers rushed up to the driver and spoke quietly to him. We thought it may have been because his wife was sick. No it was to tell him they had left their passports and travel documents back in the breakfast area so we turned back to the hotel. We could hear one side of the telephone conversation as the driver rang to report our progress, or lack of it. It was difficult to remind ourselves that it was now in Emirates hands. Outside of our control, not our concern.

As it turned out we were delivered in plenty of time to do the check-in. A much shorter line there today, but immigration and security was much busier this time. We patiently shuffled along and submitted ourselves for Immigration scans. Shove everything through the Security X-Rays, including me this time. Three times they tried my Whole-Body X-Ray and eventually patted me down to find - nothing! Oh well we met up and collected our things from the luggage screening and I got asked to go round for the exposives residue swabs. Yet another stop. I said yesterday it was because we looked like the least amount of work but maybe today we were looking a little anxious. We chatted amiably to the chap doing the checks and when we said Emirates had cancelled yesterday's flight he shook his head in amazement. 'Emirates never cancels', he said. After the expected negative result on my swab we headed off through the Duty Free maze where I discovered I had left my glasses back at one of the security screening stations. Our turn to cause a slight reversal this time. Luckily the tray with my glasses had been put aside and they were easily retrieved and we were eventually at the departure gate by about 9.30am, where we settled down to wait our turn. At least we had a seat and could wait in relative comfort.

Time marched on, as it inevitably will, and we were called to board. It seemed a small line for a big plane and we found our seats and settled in to wait for the plane to fill up. That, apparently, was not going to happen. An announcement told us we would have a very lightly loaded plane. We were in the forward area of the A380 Economy class and in the centre section so we had four seats to spread ourselves out. In fact many of the centre rows were empty so several passengers stretched out for a sleep. Maybe we should have asked if there were empty spaces upstairs as well.

So off we went. We left the ground at 12.05pm and set course for Dubai. Margaret and I watched 'The Zoo-keeper's Wife' with an intermission for lunch. I moved to the other end of our row and Margaret stretched out for a sleep. I tend to snatch more sleep sitting up. I filled my time by watching 'Jasper Jones' and playing trivia games, reading, snoozing and walking the aisles in a very empty plane. I would think that there were only 25% of the Economy Class seats filled, if that.

We landed in Dubai at 8pm local time (2am Sydney time) so we were happy to have a fairly simple walk through immigration and customs and then walk out into the Arrivals area where we started scanning for a driver with Margaret's name held up to the crowd. We must have been what he anticipated because he actually called to us before we saw the sign. Aussie, tired, somewhat disoriented, and definitely bleary eyed. That may have been what he was looking for. Perhaps he made a game of trying to spot the passenger in advance.

He handed us on to a driver who took Margaret's bag and lead us out into the Middle Eastern atmosphere. Nothing in Dubai is particularly Middle Eastern except the weather. It was perhaps 45 degrees and very high humidity so after about 18 hours in air conditioning it was a bit oppressive. We slipped in to a luxury car of some description (Ininiti perhaps) and more air conditioning as we were whisked along to Jumeirah Beach and the Sofitel Palm.

As we emerged again into the humid atmosphere we were both rendered blind by fogged glasses but were led inside and to the reception desk while our bags disappeared in the other direction. Our reservation was in Margaret's name as is usual for our travel bookings, but the clerk expected to find it under the name in my passport so we had to modify his old fashioned ideas before we could complete the details on the new-fashioned iPad check-in. Ever tried to make some recognisable signature with your finger. The clerk upgraded our room as some compensation for missing one night of our stay but I think we will get a refund anyway. It seems strange that the upgrade  from an Ocean View Suite is to a Palm View Suite (read City View) but there you go. Obviously the man-made stuff is more highly prized in Dubai, they seem more fixated on the petrochemical dollar and the bling it brings than places like Abu Dhabi and certainly more than Muscat or Doha.

We were led up to and introduced to our room's facilities by Rio, a specialist in anticipatory hovering, who duly received a small gratuity and finally disappeared so we could collapse into bed. A very smart room room with a balcony but I could get lost on the way to the bathroom in the dark.

Stage 1 is complete at last.


Room to move
A very empty A380
Sofitel Palm resort in Dubai
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