Flying from Auckland to Bali aboard Emirates

Grant Bradley flies EK451 from Auckland to Bali.

The plane:

A Boeing 777-300ER that was just over seven years old. Emirates is the largest operator of 777s with 190, which have carried close to 350 million passengers over 6.6 billion kilometres since 1996.

My seat: 6K. The Business cabin is in a 2-3-2 configuration. Our seats were a pair by the window behind the bulkhead between Business and First Class so the already generous 60 inch (1.52m) pitch was stretched even further. The pitch is such that you get three windows to look out of. The seats become an angled flat position (not quite 180 degrees) in a respectable 22 seconds, and are half a metre wide.

The price: Emirates offered Christmas holiday specials starting at $2499 for Business Class return and $999 in Economy. Into this year there are even better deals, Business return for $2349.

The airport experience: A breeze — we hit a sweet spot of calm before the storm in what is the busiest time to travel from Auckland Airport.

The lounge: Emirates’ Auckland lounge is huge, calm and uncrowded. It has an impressive range of food with a Middle Eastern skew, light and ideal before a flight and the best bar of all the premium lounges at Auckland. There’s Moet and a huge range of top-shelf liquor. The boxed dates are a nice touch in a place where there’s keen attention to detail.

There’s a great view of the new departure lounge and out to the airfield, and an ample business centre. The men’s bathroom has two enormous shower rooms, there’s an accessible one, and one shower in the women’s. All were were freely available in our two-hour stay. It also has a prayer room.

Wi-Fi: Excellent. Easy to get on to the 20Mb free for everyone over two hours, then there are a range of plans. Emirates was early among airlines to offer Wi-Fi and has more than a million users a month.

How full? A couple of spare suites at the very front but Business and Economy were full up.

On time: A delay of about 20 minutes — aircraft taxiing behind us during the pre-Christmas rush.

Entertainment: The ICE system is excellent. There’s a small tablet device and a handset to control what’s on the big screen in front. The system has more than 1000 movies and weeks of other content.

Crew: The 15 flight attendants represented 13 countries and spoke 10 languages.

Extremely polite and efficient around the meal and drink services but chatty in the galley.

Toilets: Two large toilets for the Business Class cabin. No queues. They were constantly replenished with toothbrush kits, hand cream, and fresh hand cloths. Bvlgari after shave and perfume if you wanted it.

Food and drink: Moet offered as a welcome bubbly, a long cocktail list and wine from around the world. The main meal — lunch — is offered about an hour after the 2.15pm departure and then there are “lite bites” about two hours before landing. Emirates doesn’t hold back with variety (there are 11 choices over four courses) and the meals are large.

Mains included beef tenderloin, mee goreng and dukkah seared chicken. Lite Bites included antipasti, a beef pie (the future of airline food?) and pumpkin penne.

The bottom line: A great way to get to Bali. You get five-star treatment in a Business cabin which is all about space. The lounge is the best in town and if you can get a lead-in Business Class fare it is one of the best value premium tickets around.

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