Got up about 730. Ugh.
It was not an auspicious end to our PK adventure. The Club had another big wedding Sunday night and it provided us with non stop Muzak at high volume until 1230 at night. It was a big fancy party in the same garden as our wedding and it was much louder with a rocking beat pounding through the block walls of our room over 200m away.
To add to the annoyance, the three ladies, Alex, Katie and Meghan have a 5am flight to Abu Dhabi and I wanted to be up to see them off safely. They left at 2am, and that cut into our sleep time as well.
730 am came too soon. Cheryl and I both got up, finished our packing, and headed to the Bistro restaurant for some toast and a needed cup of coffee.
We gave the Club staff some small tips for their help over the week. Tips are strictly not required by the club, and so I was discrete. I asked our hosts what was appropriate, and they suggested that 250-500 rupees a was good for wait staff and more for managers. We
Jinnah International Airport
The drive to the Jinnah International Airport airport was through the now familiar Karachi traffic. Traffic was tight in a few spots and Salman was a bit worried, but it turned out that we were going against the morning traffic and we arrived earlier than expected with plenty of time to spare.
There is very high security presence and the airport guards checked us and searched the boot and hood of our car. Lots of armed guys with guns and lots of anti-vehicle measures like large iron spikes.
The lanes shift as well from one side to the other so there is no direct path through.
Lots of airport security guys with Two armed guys in bunkers just down the road 20m or so, keeping an eye on the entrance. There also are X-ray(?) scanners for the whole car as you pass through.
Cheryl reminded me that its a good idea to have your paper ticket and passport ready at entrance to airport for the security police to check if needed.
You finally get to the departure entrance for international flights. Salman got us a baggage porter. He should help all the way thru.
You go to the first counter to get bags weighed and the baggage guy should help you get tags. The weighing for us was perfunctory, with the porter lifting the bags and guessing low!
Then you have to go thru first X-ray and then a customs check point. The customs guy asked me what we had in the bags. I said clothes and he was happy.
Ok back to the airport. You next go through immigration and there’s only one line for foreign passports. May take your pic and will stamp exit stamp on visa page. The line was long with unaccompanied women, foreign passports, and business class all going thru the same desk.
Then there is a final immigration exit point where they will check your boarding pass and stamps one last time prior to walking to the gate area.
When you get to the actual gate area for foreign travel, there is a second, more strict X-ray and security check, although I have to say that I got my bottle of water through both no problem at both check points.
Oh. And more thing. We were instructed that you should give your baggage guy 1000 rupees after the bags are on the belt. And only then.
We were quite early to the airport, so we looked around the airport at boot and then headed to the Emirates Lounge and found out what we already suspected, that an upgrade on Emirates just buys the pre-boarding, the seat and the onboard meal.
Emirates Upgrade, Sort of
Don’t get me wrong, The upgrade was for the most part good.
We were warned at the onset. No Lounge, no Chauffeur Drive at your destination, no status. And in reality. not getting access to everything but the lounge would be fine.
But I think Emirates missed an opportunity to up-sell on the upgrade, say, another $50 to give us lounge access. That is definitely that would have been very much appreciated when travelling long distance and we would have paid that in a moment.
So next time, we will only consider the upgrades for the long haul and skip it otherwise. Somewhat disappointed in Emirates, as every thing else was great, and the seats would have gone empty otherwise, so they at least got something for them.
This scenario proved the same on the Dubai to London flight.
We took off a bit late from the KHI. I had planned a bit ahead, so I had the window seat AND my Fuji camera ready to go with the 27mm pancake, a lovely little lens. I managed to get some pictures outbound that capture the city and its challenges.
We landed in DXB after about 2 hours flight time. We headed to the Connections section to get to the next gate and at this point had decided not to go to the Lounge.
We were looking to get moving after the flight, so we decided to walk the length of the terminal to get some steps in . DXB has a huge Duty Free section, so I took the opportunity to pick up some Apple bits for my phone as well as a USB stick to backup some of the pictures.
The terminal is a huge glass structure with offices in the middle top. The window coatings on the class seemed to be affecting our cell phone or our eyes as the colours of the screens seemed to have a serious pink hue when you look at them in the terminal.
The Emirates staff opened up the initial gate almost 2 hours early to allow us to get to the waiting area. much to our surprise. It turned out the reason for this was to allow for a secondary, more elaborate set of security screening, including body searches for the women and swabbing of all the electronic gear for the men.
I don’t know if there was a security alert, whether the airlines considered the A380 a target, or it was just that flights to London had enhanced screening, but they were pretty efficient and thorough.
We had seen a notice earlier in the terminal that stated that passengers to the US, UK and Canada could be subject to additional screening at various points and this may have been the result.
It was interesting to note the contrast between the take off in Karachi, with the landing in Dubai. In Karachi the air was dusty and brown with a crowded The takeoff brown on KHI to DXB, with the city brown and hazy to landing to the sand and odd green oasis in Dubai.
The boarding was efficient. We were one of the first on board and had to go up the stairs to the first and business class deck. The A380 is like having two regular planes stacked one on top of another.
The business class has an interesting stagger location of seats. We ended up with two across the aisle, although the seat plan looked like we were right across from each other.
It was a longer flight back to LHR than it was outbound, due to the headwinds, although while it ended up shorter than forecasted, the traffic congestion at Heathrow made it about 8 hours total.
While the local clocks said we arrived at 8 local time; it was 1am body time for us, and we were definitely groggy.
Emirates Business Class
As we expected, the Emirates Business Class food and accompanying service were great with a wide selection of entrees and desserts and wine.
Cheryl and I both tried the braised lamb, mash and vegetables which was covered in a very tasty sauce. While Cheryl only had a glass of white wine, I had a scotch starter, a class of wine and a very lovely 1992 port. Only problem was a slight headache!
Dessert was a very good three cheese and cracker tray for dessert. Served on a slate plate.
The business class seats are quite flexible with a landing, reclining and almost flat configuration. Not really lie flat, but close and they give you a blanket, pillow and a seat topper mattress that adds to the comfort.
I found I was able to lie on my side quite comfortably and catch a few minutes sleep after dinner.
There is a foot box with a little compartment for shoes. Each seat has a little cubby with water, soft drinks, a bottle of Perrier and a glass. Lights are white, with a little mood light that’s blue that you can use while the cabin lights are off.
It was a day into night flight. The attendants turned down the cabin lights off as service finished. Some people went to sleep and we settled in to a light nap and reading.
Landing at LHR was a bit backed up due to other air traffic and we circled around a bit prior to landing. We had a bit of a crosswind on landing, and since the A380 has a flight camera at the back on the tail and we were able to get a great view of the landing on our seat monitor.
After a nice chat with the British immigration officer about our Karachi wedding, we went to claim our luggage and head out to find Ailsa for the trip back to Guildford.