Lady Pene­lope f lies home f lat out

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

Air­line: Emi­rates Date: Fe­bru­ary 5 Flight no: EK412 Route: Dubai-Syd­ney De­par­ture time: 10.45am (30 min­utes late) Seat: 8G Class: Busi­ness Air­craft: A380. THE busi­ness-class seat­ing pods on Emi­rates feel like mini en­ter­tain­ment ar­cades, with their but­tons and switches and dat­a­port tech­nol­ogy; or, per­haps more ap­pro­pri­ately, tiny cock­pits. I fancy I am as gad­geted-up as Lady Pene­lope from Thun­der­birds in her cus­tomised Rolls-Royce (num­ber­plate FAB1; colour pink) with its pop-out wa­ter skis and radar-as­sisted steer­ing.

Clearly the al­ti­tude is go­ing to my head, but telly en­ter­tain­ment with heaps of old-time fave se­ries is very much a fea­ture of Emi­rates’ flights and on this 12,056km jour­ney I will al­most end up squa­reeyed, thanks to the air­line’s com­pre­hen­sive ICE en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem.

I know the pre­cise dis­tance of the jour­ney thanks to the Airshow chan­nel, a must-watch for planespot­ter types. It is oddly mes­meris­ing gaz­ing at that lit­tle plane edg­ing its way pur­pose­fully across the globe. But don’t reach Syd­ney too soon, please, as I have a Mod­ern Fam­ily marathon to gig­gle through.

The crew speaks a wide ar­ray of lan­guages, the purser tells us, from Ro­ma­nian to Swahili. I have been in Kenya for 10 days and, should the need arise, I can de­clare in the lo­cal di­alect that I have en­joyed my­self very much: Nimepen­dezwa sana.

Lunch is served about two hours af­ter take-off, start­ing with lit­tle canapes ( oily olives and mini-pep­pers stuffed with feta cheese) and ap­pe­tiser of Ara­bic mezze or honey and gin­ger-cured salmon. There’s a se­lec­tion of five main cour­ses, in­clud­ing veg­e­tar­ian, low-kilo­joule and re­duced-fat op­tions. The slow­baked tilapia is per­fectly ad­e­quate if a lit­tle dry, served with fen­nel in a thyme broth with Proven­cal­style veg­eta­bles and wild rice pu­lao. I don’t have dessert, al­though the blue­berry crum­ble cake looks fine, as does the trol­ley’s vast cheese se­lec­tion.

Cof­fee lovers should note that espres­sos and cap­puc­ci­nos are avail­able; snacks served at any time in­clude veg­etable fried rice, cor­nish pasties ( with chicken tikka fill­ings, oddly) and, from the ice-cream menu, in­ter­est­ing choices such as quince or pineap­ple.

Af­ter over­dos­ing on back-to­back episodes of the hys­ter­i­cal mock­u­men­tary se­ries Parks and Re­cre­ation ( which Chan­nel 7 chooses to show just af­ter mid­night at home, for some un­earthly rea­son and, hello, Rob Lowe has been a re­cur­ring guest star), I exit Pawnee, In­di­ana, and ask the at­ten­dant to make up the seat into a lie-flat bed. Which she does in a prac­tised snap, with mat­tress over­lay and plumped-up pil­low.

At hand on a shelf in a cor­ner of the pod is a bev­er­age cabi­net with bot­tled still and sparkling wa­ter and soft drinks, which is a nice idea and means less call-but­ton press­ing, but of course the bot­tles and cans are at cabin tem­per­a­ture and not par­tic­u­larly palat­able.

I sleep very well al­though the aisle po­si­tion means I am bumped a few times dur­ing the ‘‘night’’ by pass­ing pas­sen­gers. I rec­om­mend ask­ing for a win­dow seat for op­ti­mum pri­vacy, as you are tucked away com­pletely. Couples or friends or col­leagues trav­el­ling to­gether could re­quest a cen­tre pair with­out the mod­u­lar pan­els that sep­a­rate sin­gle seats.

I es­chew break­fast in favour of a detox drink of car­rot, cel­ery, ap­ple and gin­ger. We land at 7am and I feel sur­pris­ingly rested. Nimepen­dezwa sana. Tip: Emi­rates has par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous bag­gage al­lowances of 30kg in econ­omy and 40kg in busi­ness. Best deal: The air­line has stopover pack­ages in Dubai from $US39 a night, de­pend­ing on the sea­son, and reg­u­lar on­ward con­nec­tions to ports in Africa such as Nairobi. More: 1300 303 777; com/au.

emi­rates. About My Last Flight is an oc­ca­sional col­umn by T&I staff and key con­trib­u­tors.

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