EK 415 A388
Boarding: 0530 Gate 57 Seats 2E/F
Takeoff: 0613 to South
The great unwashed
Let me be very clear. The overwhelming majority of my travels have been in Economy. I don’t particularly like going without sleep or being crammed into a seat that I can only leave once or twice in half a day, but it’s bearable. I’ve had some long trips in Business – mainly because if done right, it’s a quick and comfortable way to elite status – and international First is a snow-in-summer rarity for me.
So, if I’m making a meal of this trip, it’s for entertainment and information. I’m not setting myself forward as a jet-setter playboy. I’m a retired cab driver, for Pete’s sake!
“When would you like your shower, Sir?”
I’d done my research. Emirates is one of the few airlines to offer passengers showers in the air. Only for First (so far, but there is talk of allowing Business passengers to pay for a shower) and only for five minutes of water flow at a time.
Still, it wasn’t something I wanted to miss. I find having a shower between flights one of the advantages of lounge access, and having a shower in flight just takes the refreshment to a whole new level.
“As late as possible,” I replied. With only three passengers in First and two showers available, I figured I had pretty much any time slot I wanted. I’d already had a shower in the hotel, and one just before landing would set me up nicely.
I was allocated an hour before arrival and given good warning. This suited very well, as I’d had my dinner/lunch and a post-prandial nap, and could use the time to change out of my pyjama top.
I gathered up a few things in the Emirates goodie bag – there was something I wanted to smuggle in – and walked forward.
The shower suite
Emirates has two bathrooms for First passengers, both forward, one either side of the small, private and beautifully stocked self-service bar. They are easily the biggest bathrooms I have seen on an airliner. Rooms rather than closets.
No windows – unlike the Business facilities at the other end of the upper deck – but a widescreen display showing the plane route, and doubtless able to conjure up any of the 1500 channels of the ICE entertainment system. You want to keep watching your movie while using the facilities, you can.
I was met at the door by my coffeepot pourer flight attendant, who pointed out the features of the shower, stressing that I only had five minutes of water, and there was a gauge indicating how much was left, starting at a healthy green, through amber, to a warning red.
It is perhaps lucky that I didn’t spot the plaque reading “Maximum Occupancy: 2 persons” otherwise my sense of humour might have gotten me into very hot water!
I put my clothes on the hanger provided, removed my socks and exulted in the heated floor. This was better than being at home!
I had my own shampoo and soap, but the Emirates supplies were top-notch, and I enjoyed my shower as long as possible, lathering up and rinsing off.
I may have sung a little bit in the shower. I generally do when I’m feeling happy.
On that note, there was room for two – barely – in the shower cubicle (it was more like a cylinder, actually) but you’d have to be close friends.
I stepped out when the gauge hit the red sector. Onto the fluffy white bathmat on the heated floor. Bliss!
I had time for a shave, dressed back into my street clothes and felt ready to face whatever Emirates and Dubai could throw at me. (Though I suspected the challenges of six hours in the First lounge would be minimal.)
I had one more task before I left…
In my research, I’d found that all the work of preparing, cleaning, stocking and looking after the bathrooms wasn’t performed by the flight attendants, but rather by dedicated maids, who wore different uniforms, weren’t paid as much, and generally flew under the radar.
Before leaving Canberra, I bought a small box of chocolates, scrawled out a thank-you note with my calligraphy pen, and stashed it into my carry-on. This was what I had smuggled into the suite.
I left it in a prominent place before returning to my seat, and in due course received a pair of smiles from the maids. Job done!
And from then on, I began referring to the Business passengers – who had no shower access – as “the great unwashed”.