Despite the common perception that veterinarians make a lot of money, those of you who are in the profession can appreciate it is really quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong; it can be a highly rewarding career but it is not a path I would recommend to someone who aspires to be rich! While many of my non vet friends frequently travel for their jobs, work travel of a veterinary nature is much less frequent and usually has to be self-funded. This year my continuing education expenditure has ground to a halt as I poured all my spare savings into our magical wedding in Thailand. When I saw a brochure for the World Feline Veterinary Congress in Barcelona, I consoled myself that there would always be other Congresses. So I’m sure you can imagine my complete gratitude and surprise when our company offered to fund a trip for me to attend. A whole week of cats, tapas and Spanish sun. I felt like I had won the lotto!
I have always heard such glowing reviews of Emirates but have never wanted to lose out on my Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Now with Qantas’s new partnership with Emirates this means they code share most flights allowing QFF members to accumulate flying miles while on Emirates flights. Emirates also give economy passengers a wonderful 30 kg of checked in baggage in addition to the usual 7 kg of cabin luggage making my agonising experience of trying to choose which shoes to pack much easier as I could bring more shoes with me!
The Boy and I have been together since our early twenties and although we have both done a lot of travel together I had never travelled alone overseas without him. As I kissed him farewell at Perth International Airport I think both of us were secretly a bit nervous about our eight day separation from each other across opposite ends of the world. Not wanting to cry I quickly grabbed my hand luggage and powered through immigration to make a bee line for the Qantas Club Lounge. Once I downed a few vodkas my anxiety morphed to excitement and I made my way over to the gate for departure.
The Emirates flights from Perth to Barcelona use their smaller Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The seating arrangements on these planes is a bit squishy with most of the cabin’s seat configuration being a 3-4-3 layout. At the rear of the aircraft the triple seats near the windows are reduced to just double seats and seem have more room. In the weeks before my flight I went online to their website to choose my preferred seat at one of these doubles.
Each seat has its own touch-screen which is loaded up with over 200 movies ranging from new releases to old favourites from Hollywood, Bollywood and many foreign films. In addition to the movies there was also a wide range of TV series, music and games. After flicking through them for a few minutes I could see I wasn’t going to get much sleep…there was too much to watch! I noted there was a USB port to charge my mobile devices just in case I got bored of all the television.
In the seat pocket in front of me was a cute little amenities bag containing socks, eye mask, toothbrush and tooth paste. Not bad for economy class and the toothbrush came in handy for my overnight stopover in Dubai as I forgot to pack mine in my hand luggage.
On the Perth to Dubai flight we were served two meals. For my gluten free breakfast I received some reasonably fluffy scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach, fresh tomato and baked potato, plus a small bowl of fresh seasonal fruit, some Yoplait yoghurt and a couple of plain rice cakes. There wasn’t much to spread on the rice cakes so I piled some of the spinach and eggs on top of one and clumsily tried to eat it without covering myself in crumbs.
I was determined to watch the whole Pirates of the Caribbean series from beginning to end before I touched down in Barcelona. Charmed by Captain Sparrow the time flew away quickly and before I knew it lunch was being served. My gluten free lunch included a surprisingly succulent roast chicken breast. This was a first as I cannot recall having chicken on a plane that wasn’t dry. It was served with some roasted vegetables and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. There was also a grated vegetable salad, another fruit salad, a piece of cheddar cheese and gluten free crackers. A couple of plain rice crackers were plopped on there too.
Emirates provides economy passengers with free hotel accommodation in Dubai including all your meals if the layover between your connecting flights is between 8 and 24 hours. My flight to Barcelona didn’t depart until the following morning so I took Emirates up on this offer. After a very long wait at the airport I was transferred to the Copthorne Hotel just ten minutes from the airport. The hotel room was very basic but it was clean and comfortable. Personally however next time I’m stopping over in Dubai; I would prefer to pay and stay in a nicer hotel in a better location. I didn’t bother eating any of the hotel’s complimentary meals so I cannot comment on them.
For my flight onwards to Barcelona I received two meals again. I quite like the fact that Emirates ensure their passengers don’t go hungry! For my gluten free breakfast I received a “deli platter” with thinly sliced roast beef, light pesto chicken, cheddar cheese, marinated potato salad and fresh crudités. Some reconstituted orange juice and a fruit salad were also provided. The gluten free bread was sealed individually to ensure there was no cross contamination however it had a crumbly hard texture and a slightly mouldy flavour.
My gluten free lunch was much better than the breakfast although I was starting to get a little sick of chicken for every meal. My main consisted of roasted chicken breast with creamy mashed potato and green beans. A sweet chilli chicken salad with thinly sliced cabbage salad and some more of that mouldy gluten free bread was also provided. The best part about this meal was the dessert. A smooth vanilla pannacotta with white chocolate and strawberries cleansed all the mildly unpleasant mouldy flavours from my mouth and left me fairly full, content and ready for Barcelona.
Overall I was very happy with my first experience flying Emirates Economy Class Perth to Barcelona. The seats were reasonably comfortable, had an adequate amount of recline and provided plenty of leg room for me although bear in mind I’m not exactly tall. The in-flight entertainment kept me amused for most of the flight and although the food wasn’t amazing it was better than most other gluten free meals I have been served on other airlines. I look forward to trying their business class when we eventually set off for our very belated honeymoon.
Emirates fly daily from Perth to Dubai with connecting flights to Barcelona also daily.