Sunday, 13 February 2011


This is a photo showing airplanes from Emirate...Image via WikipediaThis excellent article in the New York Times got me thinking about Dubai's greatest success story - its airline, Emirates. I've been flying with Emirates since the 1980s and it's long been my airline of choice. I'm a fan and I don't mind letting you know it.

One thing that has always amazed me about Emirates is how the management team, based around the near-legendary figure of Maurice Flanagan, has managed to turn two leased 'planes into one of the world's leading airlines. I don't care how much of Dubai's money was poured into it or how much support from the government EK has had in the past - the sheer achievement of creating the organisation, facilities and partnerships needed for something on this scale within one man's lifetime is breathtaking.

I've had my off moments with EK, alright (one story ended up with me being flagged in their reservation system as a 'Rude Pax', which made it into Arabian Business magazine, thank you very much Rhys bloody Jones). But I have had very many more satisfactory experiences and even occasionally been delighted.

Which is what it's all about, really. Exceeding high expectations is so hard to do - and yet EK so often manages just that.

You listening, HSBC? Good, just checking...
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Mich said...

It is a great achievement. I think I heard about EK before hearing about Dubai!

Dave said...

From a commercial and growth perspective you are absolutely correct that EK is a magnificant example of success.

As a traveller who has flown EK more times than I care to remember I think it is the world's most well-marketed but over-rated airline. Late planes, bus trips around DXB Airport, patchy staff, crap food.... I could go on and on but what's the point as most people believe the hype that goes along with Emirates BS advertising. Give me an SQ flight any day of the week.

Rootless said...

I heartily agree with Dave.

Going into my sixth year as a gold card holder and I dread every encounter with Emirates - not that they are all bad (or even often bad) but they do have an alarming propensity to be absolutely awful. And they are so sickeningly pleased with themselves.

The truth is that their business class is now so so far behind even mediocre competitors (except for the car service and some out-station lounges - NOT the DXB cattle-station) that it's getting alarming. But their schedule and reach and prices (yes they have to be cheaper when they go head-to-head in J/D than even BA, let alone SQ or CX) mean I usually end up using them.

They especially need to sort out the awful seats in every class - Etihad are streets better and manage to equip all of their wide-bodies with the seats that Emirates only offer in the A380. Aside from their limited network, the problem with Etihad though is the dodgy car service. While it does not take that long to get to AUD from Dubai, it's the eye-watering horrors of the journey with their psycho "chauffeurs" (or else the bizarrely refrigerated bus for economy) that deters me.

Mrs Dubai said...

I have to agree with Dave. While Emirates is clearly a commercial success, every time I fly EK, I end up disappointed. HOW can it win awards for the appalling slop it calls food?

Case in point: last week flying Business Class. My own vegetarian breakfast was so unidentifiable the cabin crew couldn't tell me what it was. The child meal I had pre-booked for my daughter was not available because "we don't carry children's food in Business Class." (but you're happy to sell children business class tickets).

And as for that thing they do where they shut the blinds and ignore you in the middle of a short daytime flight just so you don't bug them for a coffee - don't think we haven't noticed...

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