#920738 by honey lamb
02 May 2016, 20:38

honey lamb flies Economy! I last flew Economy longhaul in 1997!!!!! :-O

Those of you who read my TR about my return from Chicago will know that on the train from Dublin to Cork I learned of my sister-in-law’s demise and I knew that almost as soon as I arrived back home I was going to have to turn around and fly to South Africa. In addition, her daughter, who lives in Dublin, was in no fit state to travel on her own and needed me to accompany her. As a result, almost the minute I was in the door I was at the computer searching for flights for the following day. Her partner had made some preliminary searches but was making a bit of a dog’s dinner about it, so I offered to do the booking which task he gratefully handed over. As expected, the airline sites were expensive and Expedia was little better. Over then to comparison websites. Skyscanner wasn’t much better but Kayak showed some promising results - and interesting ones to boot! The price was acceptable for my niece and with a few strokes of the key we were booked DUB-DUR out on Emirates and back on Ethiopian Airlines! A new one on me - and most of you, I bet. To be honest, I found the whole process of booking a little unnerving. The site that was offering the fare was called gotogate.com and as I had never heard of it, I was a bit leery of the whole process but at that stage, it was either take this option or pay through the nose. If it had been just me travelling I probably would have taken the latter option - and in J if possible. Once I pressed the key to buy the ticket I was then presented with a list of add-ons to purchase which would have put Ryanair in the ha’penny league and guaranteed to have anyone not used to flying/airlines etc. pressing the Buy button. Want to sit together? €15 each. Insurance? €20 each. Cancellation protection? €65 each (which was obviously going to put them in the next bucket) What was more, these prices were not for the whole ticket but for each leg! I happily ignored them all knowing that we both had insurance and, crossing my fingers, pressed Buy. A confirmation email came through giving me reference numbers which may or may not have been PNRs and telling me another email would be sent giving me flight details which duly arrived the next morning with even more reference numbers. Not sure of anything, I printed everything off before unpacking and repacking ready to head off the next day.

The trip started badly. I was aiming for the 2.20pm train to Dublin or the 3.20pm which would get me there at 5pm or 6pm at the latest. The flight wasn’t until 10.25pm but I needed to get out to the airport about an hour away, link up with my niece J and check us both in. The times of the buses from home did not suit this plan and the friends that usually take me to the station if needs be were unavailable. A work colleague offered to take me but there was a last minute substitution as his wife needed to go to the city. By this time the 3.20pm train was the target but he had omitted to tell her this and it was only while we were en route that she realised time was running out. She dropped me there at 3.15 but because I was on free travel I had to get a ticket using ID. The ticket office was next to the gates but just as I stretched out my hand to insert the ticket they shut down as they close two minutes before departure. The official on duty was unable to override it so it was an hour’s wait till the next train and a 7pm arrival in Dublin. Ah well! Coffee anyone? Mind you, my plans for getting to the airport were a bit scuppered as the bus goes all around the houses picking up guests from various hotels in the city; Aer John couldn’t meet me as he was working late but the matter was resolved by my niece J and her partner taking a massive detour into the city to pick me up.

At the airport J and I fetched up at the Emirates check-in desk and I produced my passport and the masses of paper I had printed off, unsure about our PNR thanks to the complexity of the gotogate booking procedure. The check-in lady waved them away, simply requiring our passports. I heaved a sigh of relief as normal service was resumed but J became quite distressed as the reason for her journey hit her. The agent mouthed to me “Is she OK?” and I mouthed back that her mum had just died. At that point the dear lady, who had been niceness personified, ratcheted up the niceness even further. She told me that the loads were light for the flight; that she had been going to put us in a window and aisle seat with nobody in between us, but she offered us the aisle seats on a row of four in the middle. J was just about to say that she wanted a window seat but I immediately nabbed them explaining that we could raise the armrests and lie flat. Sold! Security was deserted simply because that was the only flight leaving T2 at that hour of night, the main activity being the arrival of flights ready for the early morning departures. Aer John joined us and we repaired to the Slaney Bar where he cheered his cousin up no end - good lad! We watched the Emirates flight arrive and in the fullness of time bade Aer John goodbye and headed for our gate where boarding had commenced. I wistfully passed through the J cabin but given that I had been in better ones than that, the pain was not too great. Once we reached our seats, it was obvious that the loads were light because lone travellers had a row to themselves. However a quick glance around the cabin told me that there were no empty rows of middle seats. D*mn!

We took off on time, which was a relief to me as we only had 1 hour 25 minutes connecting time in DXB and on my last transit through the airport I had missed my connection. J became very distressed on and off for the first part of the flight but then cheered up when the drinks round came - the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!! I had a G&T and I can’t remember what she had but it’s irrelevant for this TR! The meal service followed. I opted for the herb-crusted lamb and she the yoghurt coated chicken. Obviously I wasn’t used to having the full meal on one tray (I’m so shallow!) but the fact that we each had an extra table to put things on made a huge difference.
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The meal was surprisingly good
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and J enjoyed hers also. I suspect it was the first proper meal she had eaten for the past two days. Me too!

At this stage we had moved together to the middle two seats and at intervals J understandably, had moments of sadness. This had not gone unnoticed by the cabin crew. Our seats were two rows in front of the galley and when I got up to use the bathroom one of them asked me if she was my daughter (there is a resemblance) and was she OK. I explained that she was my niece and that her mum had died the previous day and outlined the unexpectedness of it. They immediately were sympathetic but just how much we were to learn later on. As I left the bathroom I was asked our destination and on learning that we were heading for Durban, asked for our names saying they would alert the crew there about our situation. They later came back to us to say that before the end of the flight they would move us up to Business Class so that we could leave the aircraft early. Knowing that this flight generally parks at a remote stand with a long traipse to the terminal, this was good news indeed (although better news would have been to move us there and then!) At this stage we were both worn out and lifting the armrests we were able stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours.

Once awake we partook of the breakfast which was tasty
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and once finished we were escorted to the business cabin about an hour before our landing, (with hugs all round for J). We were placed in the rear end of the cabin but the purser immediately moved us to the front saying we must be on the first bus going out. They pressed amenity kits, Godiva chocolates and a bottle of water on us and generally were kindness itself. The plane landed ahead of time and, glory of glories!, parked at a gate. No 45 minute trek around the airport biting our nails in case we were running out of time. Nope! It was going to be straight into the terminal. Once we had parked and the doors opened the purser held back the passengers to let us off first (I had seen the F cabins and there was no-one in them) so that it was so easy to transfer. One thing I did notice though was that on my previous flights with Emirates, before landing the IFE had shown the gates for onward flights. This did not happen on this flight but there was a board with information and following this we made our way to the A gates from whence our flight to Durban was departing.
#920740 by pjh
02 May 2016, 20:49
Let's be fair, we usually read HL TRs in anticipation of an amusing mishap or two. This time I was really, really hoping for none and so it has turned out, thankfully. You must have lightened your niece's emotional burden considerably by managing the whole booking and travel process for her.

Respect too for the EK crew. I have always had them down as efficient but rather process driven. Clearly they are more than that.
Last edited by pjh on 03 May 2016, 07:47, edited 1 time in total.
#920747 by Maximus
02 May 2016, 22:21
Sorry to hear about the circumstances HL but good news you managed to get the flights arranged. Hope everything else went well.

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