By WALLACE IMMEN
I’ve finally discovered what it’s like to be a pampered cat purring in the lap of luxury. And of all places, it’s on an airplane.
It’s bed time on my Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai and one of the great beauties of the universe is offering to tuck me in. She’s just delivered a mattress that fits over my seat, so that with the push of a button I could be on a flat bed as plush as any in a hotel.
Would I like something to eat before I turn in? How about a drink from a list of vintage wines? If not right now, just let her know when.
Stars appear to be twinkling in the ceiling in the upper deck of the vast A380 airliner as the lights dim. With barely a whisper from the engines, the loudest sound is the soothing splashing of a decorative water fountain. There are so many adjustments and controls possible, there’s a multi-page manual for personalizing what will be my nest for the next 13 hours. Even the foot rest has a built in massager to give relief to my road-weary tootsies at the touch of a button.
Now I’ve got a choice. I can either savor a few hours of shuteye or watch one of the 1,600 films and shows on the entertainment system–all the Academy Awards winning films, entire seasons worth of comedy series, the latest Bollywood extravaganzas and challenging video games. Or I could retreat to the lounge and a drink or snack at the fully stocked bar, that’s tended by a chipper bartender.
I haven’t seen anything like this on any other airline, and in fact I was skeptical when I’d first heard of Emirates building lounges on its vast double-decked Airbus A380s. and even more remarkable, spa rooms with in-flight showers for first class passengers.
When bigger airliners were designed in the past, there were always promises of more leg room and unheard of luxuries in all that extra space, but it never actually materialized. The late Pan American World Airways was famous for promising a piano lounge in the upper deck of its early Boeing 747 airliners, but in reality they just squeezed in more seating upstairs.
Now, in an era in which other airlines seem to think leg room is an option and if you want water and peanuts they expect you to pay extra for them, this all-frills- included flight from Toronto to Dubai was an eye opener.
The flight included two, four-course meals with a choice of four entrees, snacks any time on call, and there was a built in mini-bar at my seat, in case I chose not to ring for that ever-vigilant attendant to come by to take my order.
Even economy class has more seat room than many airlines devote to business seats. I expected to feel comfortable on my Emirates flight, but I didn’t expect to have the feeling I never wanted it to end. I was watching the time and thinking: oh no, only four more hours to go. I better not take a nap because there are still three Oscar winners I haven’t yet seen on the video.
Yes, it all seemed magical and when I arrived, I was in Dubai, which also looks like it was all created with the wave of a wand.