Having spent an incredible week in the Holy Land, the time has finally come for us to set off on the long journey home. In this report, we’ll check in on the airborne experience of our first return leg, a hop from Amman to Dubai en route to our final destination of Manila.
Welcome aboard Emirates flight EK 904.
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 first half (EK 904 / AMM-DXB) of an AMM-MNL journey (DXB layover), which in turn is the homeward half of a round-trip MNL-AMM-MNL itinerary. Click here to read my review of the first segment (EK 335 / MNL-DXB), and click here for the second segment (EK 901 / DXB-AMM). A separate review of the final DXB-MNL leg 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”.
Note: All times are local. Please note that on the day of our flight, Amman, Jordan was on summer time (GMT+3) and therefore one hour behind Dubai, United Arab Emirates (GMT+4).
Airline and flight number : Emirates (EK) 904
Route : Amman, Jordan (IATA code: AMM) to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (IATA code: DXB)
Final destination : Manila, Philippines (IATA code: MNL)
Date : Wednesday, 03 April 2019
Scheduled departure time : 18:00 AMM
Actual departure time : 18:05 AMM
Scheduled arrival time : 22:00 DXB
Actual arrival time : 21:29 DXB
EQUIPMENT AND CABIN
Aircraft : Boeing 777-300ER
Manufacturer : Boeing
Registration number : A6-EPL
Passenger capacity : 8 First Class, 42 Business Class, 310 Economy Class = 360 Total
Cabin configuration (seat maps) : Official Site / SeatGuru
Travel class flown : Economy
Here’s A6-EPL berthed at AMM before our departure.
A6-EPL was just 3 years old (perhaps even a couple of weeks under) on the day of our flight, making this the youngest of the four EK B777s I boarded across this four-leg itinerary.
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)
Our starting point was Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (IATA code: AMM) – the largest airport in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Further details about AMM – including an extensive gallery of pictures – are available in a separate report.
CHECK-IN AND BOARDING
Separate lanes were provided at AMM for First and Business Class passengers, with us steerage folk sharing one long snaking queue (though this was distributed between several counters).
Boarding passes were issued at AMM for both segments of our homeward trip: AMM-DXB on EK 904, plus DXB-MNL on EK 332. Our luggage was checked through all the way to MNL.
We spent the remaining time poking around in AMM’s shiny new terminal – click here to read my detailed report about the facility – before eventually parking ourselves near the gate.
At the gate, separate lanes were set up for premium passengers and everyone else. The main Economy Class queue wasn’t organised according to the usual back-to-front, zone-by-zone sequence – it was essentially first-come, first-served.
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. Granted, this was a relatively new aeroplane, but poor maintenance can age things prematurely and there was thankfully no sign of that.
Now for the seats. EK’s 777 Economy Class cabin is fitted with 10 seats to a row, configured 3-4-3.
Not much use for mood lighting on a short flight, but I did enjoy the LED star-spangled ceiling that came on when the cabin lamps were dimmed for nap time.
My assigned seat was 27A, right above the wing. Unfortunately, this meant that I didn’t have much of a view to the outside.
Reasonably comfortable seat, 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. 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 generously sized touchscreen PTV – the largest fitted in any of the 4 EK B777s I used on this itinerary – occupied most of the upper seat back, with a pop-out controller mounted underneath (tethered to its berth by a retractable cord). You can tell that this equipment is new from the controller alone, with its own mini-touchscreen interface and gaming console-style design.
USB port for streaming video on the left, plus a headphone socket. On the right, a power point with both a USB outlet and a conventional plug socket designed to accept a variety of prong arrangements. (From what I observed, aisle seats aren’t equipped with a power point; we didn’t check though if there was one under the seat.) And the usual coat hook, of course.
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 was 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).
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, here’s one of the bulkhead rows.
And here’s a picture showing one of the exit rows. I’m not sure I want to be the chap who sits right by the door, given how it intrudes upon the otherwise generous legroom.
Now for a few images taken as we were passing through the Business Class cabin. 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.
All settled in? Excellent. Time to tuck into our meal.
Now for a peek at what’s on offer. Our time in the air was just 2.5 hours, so only one meal (dinner) was served.
I chose the braised beef, which was served with the usual assortment of side dishes and accessories. That’s our date pudding dessert (delicious!) on the upper left, with a mezze of loubieh bil zeit (green beans cooked in oil) in the bowl next to it, and a sealed cup of water in the corner. 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 cheese and crackers, with a moist towelette underneath. Rounding off the tray was a clear plastic bag holding three small pieces of flatbread.
A wide variety of complimentary beverages was available, including red and white wine. I’m not much of a wine drinker myself – just a glass or two on special occasions, preferably sweet rather than dry – but I wanted to give the EK cellar a try and asked for some red.
Not bad, but nothing special. Good enough for an Economy Class meal run I suppose.
Let’s have a look at the main course.
Rich, flavourful stew and nicely cooked rice. My compliments to the chef. (Or to the industrial assembly line that put together this mass-produced, oven-reheated dish.)
One of my travelling companions ordered the chicken Alfredo, served with penne and cheddar. I sampled his pasta and found it nicely firm, with good flavour in the sauce.
AMENITIES AND IN-FLIGHT SERVICE
Headphones and pillows were laid out on each seat prior to boarding. No blankets or amenity kits were supplied. Our previous AMM-bound flight didn’t even have pillows, but then again, that was a morning flight and sleep probably wasn’t high on the priority lists of most passengers.
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 donation envelope for EK’s in-house charity, a printed guide for the in-flight entertainment system, a duty free catalogue, 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.
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. The printed guide in the seat pocket may be of use if you’re determined to dig into all of the available options, but I was content to merely browse through the dozens of menus and sub-menus until something caught my fancy. The fact that our aeroplane was also fitted with state-of-the-art hardware helped with taking full advantage of the system offerings.
WiFi is advertised as being available on board, free up to 20 MB (2 hours) with paid options for more data or longer periods. That said, I found it practically unusable on a previous EK flight and didn’t even try to sign on.
But no matter; the regular IFE system was one of the best I’d seen of late, and it was more than sufficient to fill up whatever time I had left between eating or sleeping.
Emirates delivered a great performance on this relatively short AMM-DXB flight, with an aircraft featuring shiny new interiors and well-equipped seats. I was especially pleased with the massive, state-of-the-art PTV screen, which was larger than anything I’d used in Economy Class up to that point; my only regret was that our brief time in the air didn’t offer much of a window to really play around with the equipment! Good food in satisfying portions, and a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to wash everything down.
The modern, up-to-date terminal at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport gave us a comfortable pre-departure experience, thus contributing to the positive impression this flight left on me.
So yes, a job well done. If I’m on this route again at some point in the future, Emirates will certainly be on the list of airlines I’ll consider giving my business to.