New York to Dubai is about a 12 and a half hour flight, so comfort is key. This was my first time flying Emirates airlines and it definitely won’t be the last. As airlines go, it’s fairly fancy even in economy class. I flew on one of their massive A380 planes with business and first class on the top level past the roped off stairs and economy on the main level. Hot towels, real cutlery, travel kit, comfortable headsets and a great selection of TV and movies for distraction. Because I have food allergies, I typically bring food onto the plane with me because I never know if the vegan meal will actually be vegan or if it will actually be there – and I’m not up for being hangry (hungry/angry) on a plane for more than six hours. I was pleasantly surprised with my two meals – shockingly good and more than I could eat.
When I arrived at Dubai airport, it was about 10:00 p.m. and fairly quiet. Passport control was quick, grabbed my luggage and headed to the main area to find my cousin. As we made our way to the taxi line, she said that we were heading to the women’s taxi line. We hopped in and headed to a close downtown apartment where I would spend about seven hours – enough time for a quick chat, shower, reorganization and a little sleep before another full day of planes so that I could reach my final destination of Kinshasa, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
I left Dubai as I arrived – in the dark. It was about 5:30 a.m. I had a silent taxi ride to the airport but once I emerged from the taxi, I heard the call to prayer, stopped for a minute to take in my surroundings and headed in to the airport for another long day of travel. Though I did find coffee and a snack near my gate, I did not find any electrical outlets so I did a little work and what I like to call pleasure reading, which means anything that isn’t mandatory for classes and my thesis.
For the next round, I flew Turkish airlines to Istanbul/Ataturk airport, then on to Kinshasa. The experience was similar to Emirates as far as food and amenities. The flights were reasonably priced and they partner with other U.S. based airlines so I was able to add miles to one of my frequent flyer programs. The Istanbul airport is shiny and new, and the international security check for connecting flights was fast, great shopping and food options as well. Their monitor system for gates reminded me of UK airports, where everyone stands and waits for their gate to come up on the screen and then they sprint to their gate because there is only a short period to board. My main complaints about the airport is that while waiting for gate announcements there really is nowhere to sit and once you are at a gate, no electrical outlets – the theme of my day… So much for working on my long flights — instead mindless entertainment.
I boarded my second flight of the day at about 3:00 p.m. Luckily for me the flight was not full and I had a row to myself. I watched a movie, ate some food, pulled on an eye mask, curled up on the seats and passed out for the majority of the flight. There was maybe an hour and a half left when I woke up; it was dark again. I arrived in DRC around 10:00 p.m.
You’ll have to wait for the next blog for my DRC adventures…