Flight Report:  DXB-AMM on Emirates Flight EK 901 (27 March 2019)

Having seen us safely and comfortably through the skies from Manila to Dubai, Emirates was now ready to take us to our final destination – the Jordanian capital, Amman. Let’s see if they’ve done as well on this leg as on our first segment.

Welcome aboard Emirates flight EK 901.

Note: Schedule/route information, equipment type, pricing, and other details are accurate only for the specific flight reviewed here. This information might not necessarily apply to previous or future flights, even by the same airline under the same route and flight number.

This report covers the second half (EK 901 / DXB-AMM) of a MNL-AMM journey (DXB layover), which in turn is the outbound half of a round-trip MNL-AMM-MNL itinerary. Click here to read my review of the first segment (EK 335 / MNL-DXB). Separate reviews of the remaining legs will also be published in due course.

For the sake of brevity, I’ve used the airline’s IATA code (EK) throughout this report, instead of the full name “Emirates”.

ROUTE MAP

OVERVIEW

Note: All times are local. Please note that on the day of our flight, Amman, Jordan (GMT+2) was two hours behind Dubai, United Arab Emirates (GMT+4). Jordan switched to summer time (GMT+3) a few days after our arrival.

ITINERARY OUTLINE
Outbound : Start MNL – EK 335 – Transit DXB – EK 901 – AMM End
Return : Start AMM – EK 904 – Transit DXB – EK 332 – MNL End

FLIGHT DETAILS
Airline and flight number : Emirates (EK) 901
Route : Dubai, United Arab Emirates (IATA code: DXB) to Amman, Jordan (IATA code: AMM)
Ultimate origin : Manila, Philippines (IATA code: MNL)
Date : Wednesday, 27 March 2019
Scheduled departure time : 08:00 DXB
Scheduled arrival time : 09:40 AMM

EQUIPMENT AND CABIN
Aircraft : Boeing 777-300ER
Manufacturer : Boeing
Registration number : A6-EGG
Cabin configuration (seat maps) : Official Site
Travel class flown : Economy

Here’s a small gallery of pictures featuring A6-EGG, all taken after our arrival at AMM.

At roughly 7 and a half years, A6-EGG was the second-oldest of the four EK B777s I boarded across this itinerary.

BAGGAGE

Depending on the route, either a weight system or piece system will apply to checked baggage. Further details are available on the official website.

My ticket came with a complimentary checked baggage allowance of 30 kg under the weight system, applicable to all four segments of the itinerary. Note that the different Economy fare tiers offer varying allowances, ranging from 15 kg for Special fares up to 35 kg for Flex Plus (different limits are imposed if the piece system applies).

Carry-on/cabin bags for Economy are limited to one piece weighing 7 kg. Refer to the official website for more information on restrictions, exemptions, permitted dimensions, etc. Note that enforcement of carry-on limits may vary from nonexistent to strict, even between flights boarded from the same airport. Taking our DXB departures as an example, I don’t remember any checks for our AMM-bound flight, but large carry-ons were individually weighed at the gate for the MNL-bound segment.

AT THE AIRPORT (BEFORE DEPARTURE)

EK’s hub and key transit point is Dubai International Airport (IATA code: DXB), the main gateway of the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

After disembarking from our initial MNL-DXB flight, we set off down a series of long passageways leading to the transit security checkpoint.

We already had our onward DXB-AMM boarding passes (issued at MNL), so there was no need to get them printed at the transit service desks. Straight to security, through metal detectors and baggage scanners, then up into the general departures area to wait for our connecting flight.

Truth be told, DXB doesn’t quite live up to the prominence suggested by its position near the top of the world’s busiest airports. It is, to put it bluntly, a shopping centre with aerobridges bolted to the walls. There’s plenty of merchandise and expensive food on offer, but not much else. The basic facilities that are now deemed essential to the airport experience – charging points, toilets, a variety of seating and resting options – aren’t available in the quantity and quality required, at least not for passengers who lack lounge entitlements. (Paid options abound, complimentary options are scarce.) Even the architecture is appallingly bland, and the building’s layout isn’t particularly well thought out.

DXB’s ethos can be summarised thus. Got money to spend? We’ll take care of you. Don’t want to spend any money? Wallow in misery until you board your next flight.

Oh, and have I mentioned that their electric cart operators drive like maniacs? Every step I took in this airport was taken in fear that one of those would shock me to death from behind with an unexpected honk, or just run me over flat.

Ah, but it gets worse.

Let’s go down even further – literally and figuratively.

We were assigned to Gate 43, one of several bus gates concentrated in a seemingly forgotten backwater of the terminal. Boring the main structure might have been, but this section was an absolute disgrace. Forget shopping centre – think abandoned hospital with zombies lurking in the shadows.

Goodness me, that ceiling. And the rainwater buckets on the floor. And the drab furniture, the plain walls, the bad lighting … okay I’ll stop here. I thought MNL T3 was a heck-hole but DXB seems to have overtaken it in the race to the bottom.

CHECK-IN AND BOARDING

As mentioned earlier, we already had our onward boarding passes in hand so there was no need to check in again at DXB. Off to the gate with us, then.

When the call for boarding was broadcast, everyone started streaming through the exit and down a long series of ramps to one of the waiting buses. No sequence was imposed – it was a free-for-all amongst Economy Class passengers (though not altogether disorderly).

The bus set off on a long journey to the remote parking stand where our bird stood waiting. We went up via a set of stairs and into the plane through the rear door…

…but not before I stole this shot from the top step.

Sweet.

Let’s head inside.

CABIN INTERIOR AND SEATING

The cabin was in good shape, with carpets and panelling free of large stains or scuff marks. Mood lighting wasn’t employed (unlike on the previous leg), but I wasn’t surprised by this since we were bathed in full daylight.

Now for the seats. EK’s 777 Economy Class cabin is fitted with 10 seats to a row, configured 3-4-3.

Reasonably comfortable, with adjustable head pillows and sufficient recline. Legroom and width were adequate for my needs, though I should point out that I’m not a particularly tall or wide fellow. If memory serves, the armrests could be fully raised, which might be relevant for those sitting in otherwise empty rows who’d like to spread out a bit. (That said, I’m not certain if the cabin crew would permit passengers to stretch themselves across multiple seats, especially with the occasional risk of turbulence.)

A rather small PTV screen was fitted into the seat back, with a pop-out controller mounted underneath (tethered to its berth by a retractable cord). USB port, headphone socket, and coat hook on the right. The tray table was of a bifold design, which freed up more real estate on the seat back for the in-flight conveniences above it. There’s also a foldaway cup holder mounted on the table’s exterior, with a tilting inner ring that’s probably designed to help keep containers level even when the person in front reclines their seat (though I can’t say how effective it is in practice).

My window seat wasn’t equipped with a power point, but the middle seat to my right had one. Bizarrely, it also had a modular connector, the purpose of which I couldn’t quite fathom (at least not in this particular setting).

There were two seat pockets (instead of the usual single compartment): a smaller space for the safety briefing card, and a larger one behind it for everything else. This set-up proved extraordinarily useful, as the separate storage areas made it easier to segregate the various bits and bobs that I needed to stow during the flight. For example, I kept my mobile phone in the front pocket where it was easily accessible, and also more noticeable (thanks to the pocket’s shallower depth) which made me less likely to leave it behind on disembarkation.

For comparison, let’s have a look at shots I took of bulkhead rows 37 and 17.

And for another comparison, a peek at the Business Class seats. For an airline with a fairly good reputation, EK uses a rather disappointing Business Class cabin on its 777s. 2-3-2 layout, with no direct aisle access for window or middle seats.

THE VIEW FROM MY WINDOW

I was seated above the wing, and the window wasn’t exactly clean. You can imagine what this did to the view.

That said, with the right angles and proper lighting, I did manage to grab more than a little peek beyond.

So much for the view. Let’s tuck into the food!

CATERING

Now for a peek at what’s on offer.

The DXB-AMM segment was much shorter than our initial MNL-DXB leg, so there was just one meal on the menu (and no mention of in-between snacks).

By the time the cart reached our row, there was nothing immediately available except the omelette. The main course was served with side dishes and cupped water, along with the usual selection of hot and cold beverages. The bundle on the right of each meal tray consisted of a disposable table napkin and a plastic bag containing real metal cutlery, a small coffee/tea stirrer, and sachets of salt and pepper. A plastic compartment above the main course held creamer, strawberry preserve, butter, and a moist towelette.

This was an improvement over the omelette we were served on the previous flight, thanks to the inclusion of flavourful sausages and filling hash browns. I was also delighted to have more than the usual dose of bread on my tray, with some flatbread in addition to the standard breakfast croissant.

One of the side dishes was a mini-cheese plate served with fresh vegetables. Here we have a slice of kashkaval and a ball of minted labneh.

There was also some fresh fruit, listed as an appetiser on the menu, though I consumed it at the end of the meal as a dessert.

Now I wrote earlier that there was nothing immediately available except the omelette. One of my travelling companions asked if he could have the mfarakeh instead, saying that he was willing to wait. The cabin attendant obliged, retreating to the galley and returning a few minutes later with the selected main course.

My companion said afterwards that he was very happy with his choice, so the extra wait paid off for him.

AMENITIES AND IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

Headphones were laid out on each seat prior to boarding. No pillows, blankets, or amenity kits were supplied.

As for the service … well, regular readers of this blog are probably aware that I’m something of an introvert, and that I try to minimise interactions with cabin attendants to the barest minimum. This unfortunately means that I can’t comment much on whether the crew were friendly or prompt with attending to requests or whatever else, given that I’ve effectively insulated myself from both good and bad aspects of their behaviour. Having said that, I observed nothing that would give serious cause for concern, and I was met with satisfactory levels of politeness and professionalism during those few moments when I had to exchange words with them (such as during meal service).

SEAT POCKET CONTENTS

Let’s reach into the seat pockets and sort through what’s inside.

A small rubbish bag, a printed guide for the in-flight entertainment system, a duty free catalogue, a donation envelope for EK’s in-house charity, and a safety briefing card. Except for the safety card in its own little pocket, everything was inserted into a plastic sleeve before being tucked in – a nice touch as this kept the items organised even with me repeatedly shoving in or pulling out other objects that I wanted to keep in the larger pocket.

There was no magazine in the seat pocket, but I vaguely recall seeing something on the PTV about this being available on request. In any event, given the variety of content available on EK’s excellent IFE system (more on this below), I suspect there aren’t many passengers who’d rather flip through a printed publication.

IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

EK’s IFE suite – marketed under the brand name “ice” (information + communications + entertainment) – contains a wide range of content, including new movies and even a small selection of live news broadcasts. Unfortunately, the outdated PTV prevented me from making full use of the IFE. There was also an issue with the supplied headphones, which had two jacks against the three holes in the seat socket; they still worked but the audio only came out of one earpiece.

AT THE AIRPORT (AFTER ARRIVAL)

EK 901 landed at Queen Alia International Airport (IATA code: AMM), which serves the Jordanian capital Amman.

The airport initially opened in 1983, but its present terminal is quite new (inaugurated in 2013). Much smaller than DXB, yet far more pleasant to look at, with an elegant modern design drawn up by high-profile architectural firm Foster + Partners.

The departures level features the same clean lines and well-chosen colour scheme, but let’s save that for another post. I’ll say this much for the moment: AMM had issues of its own but still managed to offer a much better departure experience than DXB.

(Ugh, DXB. Never again, if I could avoid it.)

There were long queues at arrivals immigration, but special arrangements were made for our pilgrimage group (which already had a pre-arranged collective tourist visa) and we were through to baggage claim in fairly short order. Unfortunately, it took forever for our bags to make it onto the belt, so whatever time we may have saved at immigration was quickly whittled away. To make matters worse, one piece of luggage belonging to another member of the group was mislaid by EK, so we were delayed even further whilst the necessary remedies were being discussed.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

EK’s excellent performance on the long-haul MNL-DXB leg was maintained on the shorter DXB-AMM flight, with a comfortable seat surrounded by well-maintained interiors. There was even something of an improvement in the catering, despite there being just one meal on this comparatively brief hop. That said, a few points will need to come off due to the outdated IFE hardware, with the not-fully-compatible headphones giving rise to some user frustration.

The biggest letdown of all was the airline’s hub at DXB: a large, busy airport that contributes very little to the passenger experience, unless one happens to be a big shopper with deep pockets. AMM was better, though not without issues as our experience with baggage reclaim amply illustrates.

Nonetheless, I’m still happy to give Emirates a favourable rating for their performance on flight EK 901, chiefly on the merits of the airborne experience. Let’s just hope that something will be done to address DXB’s many problems, and sooner rather than later!

Cheerio.

4 responses to “Flight Report:  DXB-AMM on Emirates Flight EK 901 (27 March 2019)

  1. Pingback: Terminal Report: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Amman, Jordan | Within striking distance·

  2. Pingback: Flight Report:  AMM-DXB on Emirates Flight EK 904 (03 April 2019) | Within striking distance·

  3. Pingback: Flight Report:  DXB-MNL on Emirates Flight EK 332 (04 April 2019) | Within striking distance·

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