Vietnam / Cambodia – October 2017

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Most great excursions abroad starts with a trip to the airport and your chosen airline sets the tone for the holiday ahead. This post will cover all the flights we took.

Travel = Plan + Budget + Execute.

Thanks to the “budget” portion, we get to travel Business Class thank you very much, but that also explains why we only get to travel every second year. As you can imagine this is a large portion of the holiday expense. I guess if we are willing to drop some standards and heaven forbid, we fly Economy, we can probably afford an overseas holiday every year, which means we also would need to sleep at 1 or 2 star places and have continental breakfasts … and there you are losing me. What exactly is the point of getting up each morning and drag yourself to work to earn a living and one cannot at least enjoy the fruit of your labour? Why go on a holiday if you have to scrape by? No. Rather then stay home and youtube about the locations you always wanted to visit. By doing this, we have saved a lot of money thus far, and redefined our bucket list a few times over.

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Up to this holiday, our airline of choice was Emirates with many fond hours in their careful hands (we are not paid to promote them and state this independently and out of our own free will). As we traveled Business Class before, we knew exactly what to expect and was looking forward to be spoiled. Regrettably, two crew members were not  going to allow us a pleasurable flight from Cape Town to Dubai and – simply put – did nothing spectacular to uphold the great brand they work for. The disappointment stem from 2 broken items in their hard product and service delivery failure on three aspects of their soft product. We even managed to snap a pic of one of the duo dishing out Economy service … LOL, not really. She was just working in the background, by accident.Beware a travel nerd, his notebook and a long stern complaint upon return! Emirates’ Customer Service is awesome and all is good between us again. (I suspect the pair now work baggage handling and see the sun rarely.)

Officially, we labeled the holiday “Vietnam-Cambodia”, but in fact we visited Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, Bangkok and Dubai. I did say “nerd”, so I even had a t-shirt made for the four Emirates flights…

Against all odds the same driver who collected us from home, dropped us off again. Don’t think it was planned, but a nice touch nonetheless.

Apart from the chauffeur service, Emirates’ Business Class also afford you more luggage allowance, an extended drinks selection, the flatbed seat and of course the food;

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Dubai International Airport is busy. For the calendar year 2017, some 88 242 099 passengers passed through its doors. October 2017 alone, saw 6 865 296 passengers (or almost the entire population of Paraguay, the 107th largest country on earth). Plus, Terminal 3 – exclusively reserved for the state owned airline – is the second largest building on the planet, at 1 713 000 square meters of floor space. Can one be blamed for finding solace in the many quiet business class lounges scattered throughout the airport?

The flight from Hanoi down to Ho Chi Minh City in the south was with a local airline and seeing that it is – in comparison – such a short distance, in Economy and thus immediately forgettable. I am sure you can relate. It is stuffy and you can smell your neighbour. Check-in in Hanoi was however entertaining. Old people are the same the world over. So there was this old lady with a polystyrene box on a trolley that literally pushed her way to the front of the queue shamelessly, to reach the counter and then started to scratch for her ticket and proof of identity, only after the check-in staff asked for it. Like this was her first flight ever?

The international flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap was with this prop job, followed by a short stroll to the terminal building.

Siem Reap-Bangkok was also in a small plane. Below is a time lapse from the terminal to my seat … on foot nonetheless.

We are Airbus A380 fanboys. A such, it is worthy of a separate post – also there was an incident on the Bangkok-Dubai flight and some insight that followed from that.

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In Dubai, Business and First Class check-in at a complete different building and their check-in counters have way bigger conveyor belts. The Emirati family who checked-in next to us looked like they are taking a luggage shop with them on holiday. The friendly staff member even had the nerve to ask us if this was the only baggage we are checking in. As if 67kg was not enough. But fair. We had an allowance of 64kg PER PERSON. So OK fine, we are suitably ashamed for being under achievers.

The flight home to Cape Town was, however, a pleasure. And here’s why. The normal Emirates uniform is sand coloured, but if you ever spot a person wearing a dark brown uniform, oh do stop them for a friendly chat. They are the cabin crew’s manager. In the air they have no authority – every crew member reports to the captain via the purser – but down on the ground these managers have about 6 crews each. Their purpose on the flight is to observe and I guess the fun starts when they land. The crew is noticeably nervous whenever there is one of them on the flight, as the manager freely roam through the different classes and struck up random conversations with the passengers. Needless to say,  we had several fun engagements with the manager (mainly because he enjoyed the “nerd t-shirt”) and the service overall was as-per-brochure.

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The drivers lined-up upon arrival to whisk the chosen few home, with the compliments of Emirates.

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