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Emirates review: Sydney to Christchurch

Read about a quick jaunt across the Tasman aboard one of the world’s top airlines.

After hearing incredible things about the likes of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines, I’ve always wanted to test out one of the Middle Eastern airlines. Plus, the airplane nerd in me wanted to finally experience flying on an A380.

But with no plans of heading to Europe in the near future, which is where the majority of Australia-based travellers fly to with those carriers, I thought I was out of luck – until I discovered that some of the Gulf carriers’ New Zealand-bound flights stop over in Sydney.

Spending the break around Christmas and New Years on a road trip around New Zealand’s South Island, I flew with Emirates from Sydney to Christchurch, a short three-hour jaunt that was packed with the perks of a long-haul flight.

Flight Details

Route: Sydney to Christchurch
Duration: 3 hours, 5 minutes
Dates Travelled: 25 December, 2017 - 2 January, 2018
Class: Economy
Flight Number(s): EK412, EK413
Aircraft Type: A380
Frequent Flyer Program: Emirates Skywards (Also, Qantas Frequent Flyer)

What did I like?

  • Scheduled flight time. My flight was scheduled to depart Sydney at 8:45am and arrive in Christchurch at 1:50pm, with the return departing Christchurch at 6:45pm and arriving back in Sydney at 8:05pm. These times meant the two travel days weren’t going to be a wasted vacation day, but also meant no crazy-early airport arrivals. Unfortunately, there was a long, six-hour delay on departure, which meant my first day in New Zealand was more like a first night.
  • Customer service during delay. Emirates was incredibly good at communicating the delay. As the flight originated in Dubai and was delayed there due to weather, Emirates sent me an email with a revised schedule as soon as the flight was delayed and a follow up email a few hours later. I also received a phone call to ensure I had seen the emails. Upon arrival at the airport and before I even had a chance to ask what had caused the delay, Emirates staff also gave me a $25 voucher toward food and drink at the airport as an apology. Important to note, the departures section on Sydney Airport’s website said my flight was on time for hours after Emirates had contacted me. The two unlucky men next to me on the flight had only checked the Sydney Airport website and showed up at the airport for the original departure time – and had an extra six-hours to sit around and wait.
  • Entertainment. Emirates is known for having one of the best in-flight entertainment systems, and I can definitely see why. The screens were larger and clearer than any other in-flight, seat-back system I have ever seen. There were enough movie and TV series options available that I would have easily been entertained on one of the long-haul flights the airline is known for.
  • Inclusions. Although only a three-hour flight, the trans-Tasman passengers were treated to the same perks as those coming from Europe or the Middle East. I was presented with a printed menu, served drinks and an in-flight meal.

What didn’t I like?

  • Long delay with no alternate options. While not a fault of the airline, bad weather in Dubai prevented the aircraft from leaving its Middle Eastern base on time, which then caused a delay for passengers travelling between Sydney and Christchurch. As it was the lone Emirates flight on this route, there was no opportunity for the airline to use a different plane or to transfer passengers onto a different flight.
  • Double-booked seat. I’m a stubborn traveller who much prefers a window seat, and because of this I always plan ahead. I book my seats as early as possible. Upon arrival at the airport, my boarding pass had a different seat than I had pre-booked. This was quickly changed once I pointed it out; however, upon arrival at my pre-booked seat, I found another man in the seat with a boarding pass assigning him to the same seat as myself. I questioned this to a flight attendant who then relocated him. For all I know, he had planned ahead and pre-booked a seat as well, which isn’t fair to either one of us.

Would I use Emirates again?

Definitely. My flight was comfortable, the entertainment options were plentiful and my wine glass was full. While I can’t say what exactly happened with the pre-booked seat, the only other fault with Emirates was a weather delay that was out of the airline’s control, and they dealt with it perfectly.

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