EK 415 A388
Boarding: 0530 Gate 57 Seats 2E/F
Takeoff: 0613 to South
Takeoff for Adventure
The start of a flight, I have my little routines. All the times I fly, you’d think that like so many passengers, I’d go to sleep, or bury myself in a book, but no. I like to keep a handle on things. Very much the nerd, me.
I have a Moleskine notebook – the pocket size – to record the details. Date, times, events, seats, to and from. That sort of thing. I now have a record stretching back over a decade, but writing this stuff down soothes my racing mind.
Safety is important. I’ll read the card in the seat pocket – except this time, when it took me a while to find out where the seat pocket was actually located – and I’ll watch the safety video and follow whatever the attendants do.
Air travel might be the safest form of transport, but I’m haunted by videos of airliners cartwheeling down runways, and if I can improve my chances, then why not?
I keep my shoes on. If I have to evacuate and run across wet, jagged, burning, dirty ground to get to safety, then I’d rather not do it in my socks, and I might not have time to find my shoes and lace them up in proper bows.
I check out the exits. Apart from the Boeing 747, every passenger on every airliner has a choice of four, two ahead, two behind; two one side, two the other. I want to know the best direction to run and avoid the other panicked passengers.
The lifejacket. Usually under the seat, but sometimes not. I locate the handle, so I know. The cabin might be dark, or full of smoke. I give it a little tug.
The seatbelt, done up low and tight. I give it a tug as well, making sure I’m secure, but still able to breathe. If we stop suddenly, I don’t want to have a webbing strap cut me into two neat pieces.
Not for me, you understand. I glance over at my wife. She’s only a tiny thing. I can sling her over my shoulder and be on the far side of the runway before the third “Brace” hits the air.
The window view
We have side-by-side seats in the middle of the plane, but for once, the cabin isn’t full of other people. I can sit wherever I want.
I move over to an empty window seat. Emirates First seats have three windows apiece, and I can point my camera out of them all.
We pass the Qantas end of the terminal, dominated by a red-tailed A380 and the familiar windows of the Qantas First lounge perched on the roof.
My favourite place for planespotting, watching the birds come and go through those huge windows, a glass of bubbly before me, the towers of Sydney in the distance.
Ready to roll
We wait at the threshold to the main runway. 0600 and curfew lifts. Our pilot wants to leave on the stroke of six, just as a whole bunch of long-haul flights want to land at the same time. As it happens, we have to wait, and I watch plane after plane on the tail cam view.
There are three cameras available. One high on the tailfin, one under the fuselage looking ahead – good for anybody keen on watching the plane take off and the undercarriage retract, which is usually me – and the third looking straight down. A splendid view in the air, on the ground not so much.
I’ve got three cups of coffee aboard. Hope this show gets on the road smartish. I send “hurry-up” thoughts in the direction of the control tower.
When we finally wheel onto the runway and the captain plants his boot – or whatever he does to make the thing go – I’m recording the action. I’m not much of a movie-maker, so you’ll just have to trust me that the big plane leaps into the air like a block of flats taking flight, we turn right, point the nose towards Dubai, and the sun rises about the clouds as I contemplate the fourteen hours of Dom Perignon ahead.
And fifteen days of Iran. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months, wanting to return to that beautiful land and its friendly inhabitants. This will be a long day, but at the end of it, I’ll be in Tehran.