Luxury…at 35,000 feet in the air.

Emirates A380-800 arriving in Pearson
Emirates A380-800 arriving in Pearson

June 1, 2009 marked a new relationship between Toronto and Dubai, as Emirates flight EK241 made a historic landing at Pearson International as the first ever Airbus 380-800 (aka. the “super jumbo jet”) to grace Canada.  The massive double-decker aircraft can carry up to 555 passengers on its Toronto-Dubai route. Its wing spans are the size of a football field.  With the widest aircraft cabin space in the world and a range of 15,000 km in the air, it’s also one of the most environmental and quietest planes in use.

Now those are the technical details. It is by far one of the most luxurious flights in the world. During the nearly 13 hour flight from Toronto to Dubai (and back), passengers are treated to the luxuries that Emirates Airline is famous for.  First class passengers are treated to an unlimited flow of Champaign the moment they board, on demand meal service with an à la carte 7 course meal, in-flight amenities such as robes and slippers and not to mention an actual bar/lounge on the aircraft.  First class passengers travel in 14 private cabins. Each cabin offers you a fully reclinable bed, closet space, a mini bar and a 23 inch LCD screen linked to the aircraft’s entertainment system (which by the way hosts over 1,200 entertainment channels for your viewing pleasure and the hostesses each teach you how to utilize the system as it takes close to 10 minutes to describe).  To top it off, and the crème de la crème of the whole experience: 2 fully equipped (and marble, mind you) bathrooms with fully operational showers! Yes, showers with hot running water!  So you can look your freshest when you arrive at your destination after that long (yet pampered) flight.  The only downside is that they limit water flow to only 5 mins for each passenger.  But they make it up by offering Bvlgari bath and body products and a large fluffy towel.

Now, not everyone can fly first class and passengers are not disappointed with business or economy as well.  Business class passengers travel with their own reclinable bed and a 5 course meal with access to the bar/lounge in first class.  Economy class passengers can expect the entertainment system (same as first and business class) to keep them occupied for the 13 hour journey.  To top it off, they have the ability to text (SMS), email and phone from their personal in-flight system all at their seats.  All classes will enjoy the same pampered treatment as soon as they board to when they disembark the aircraft.

It took over 10 years for Toronto’s Pearson International to retrofit everything from runway to gates to accommodate this aircraft.  But at the end, it looked like it paid off as Toronto is now among the exclusive and few cities (currently 1 of 5 airports in the world: London’s Heathrow, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi, Auckland Airport, Sydney’s Kingsford Smith and now Toronto’s Pearson).  Emirates Airline had a NY-Dubai route on an A380-800 but scrapped it and replaced it with the Toronto-Dubai route instead.  This currently makes Toronto the only North American city to serve the airline’s A380-800.  Currently, Emirates will fly Toronto-Dubai-Toronto on the A380-800 three times weekly but has been in negotiations with Transport Canada to increase the frequency and expansion into other Canadian cities.  Emirates predict at least an 80% ridership for this route and there are rumours that they have expressed interest in a future model of the A380, potentially seating up to 1,000 passengers.

“We are extremely pleased to provide the A380 for our Dubai-Toronto service, which has had consistently strong demand since the three-times weekly route was launched in October, 2007.  In fact, the demand has been so high it will only allow Emirates to address some of the unmet need of the Toronto market.” Emirates President Tim Clark

It can’t get any better than this.  Sipping Champaign and filling yourself up with pâté de foie gras at 35,000 feet in the air.  And for the curious minds: a roundtrip ticket to Dubai from Toronto on first class is about $9,000-$13,000 CDN; $4,500-$9,000 CDN on business class and $900-$2,500 CDN on economy.

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