And then, the Emirates lounge. It's a bit of a trek to the bit where gates 1-7 are - the advice from the check-in guy was fine, and I had no real reason to disbelieve him - but, well, I've never been to the Emirates lounge and don't know if I'll ever get to go there again; whereas the BA lounge is within reach through shiny card earning.
The Emirates lounge was empty. Literally, 100% empty. I was the only passenger in the whole place. There were about 8 members of staff and tons of empty chairs. I guess everyone else was heeding the advice. This meant I could take a whole bunch of photos without being remotely self-conscious, as most of the time even the staff were absent from view - they were all crowded around the cold food, hence no pics of that.
By 11am one - genuinely, just one - other passenger had arrived and I couldn't deal with the crowds, so I left. After all, the first class BA lounge at T3 was still new to me and I did believe that it was closer to the boarding gate. Blimey, what a contrast. Crowded, dark, but with hot food and a much wider booze choice. The hot food buffet was still in breakfast mode: a fry-up (without beans). Woohoo!
In an instant, I'm ensconced in seat 3A and Robin introduces himself to me. Would I like a drink? Well, a champagne would be nice, wouldn't it?
We're on the ground for a fair while before setting off, so I'm online chatting merrily to Mark and Chris and looking things up on Google and whoa, this champagne is £100 a bottle! How many flutes in a bottle? Five? That means I've drunk £40 worth already because, a refill to go with my almonds and marinated olives? Why the fuck not.
Robin says he'll fetch me an amenity kit and pyjamas. Two other members of staff pop by, welcoming me and delivering food menus and stuff. With each "Mr Foreman". I'm surprised how much difference it makes to my impression that this is done without them consulting a list of names on a clipboard/iPad.
People in the centre seats are scoffing canned beer and already changed into their pyjamas, but mine are yet to materialise. The cabin service manager gets on the tannoy and says we have staff who speak fluent Polish and German onboard, as well as 3 trained sommeliers. What!?
I'm asked what drink I'd like once we're airborne, to which I respond: might as well stick to the champagne. Oh, and can I have an amenity kit?
Robin's face drops. He's fucking mortified, like, seriously distressed that he hasn't delivered one to me yet. He disappears off, and returns with a forlorn look on his face. There's an amenity kit, which is fine, but two pairs of pyjamas. He's afraid they've only loaded L/XL. I'm like, hello, fat bloke here, surely that's fine - but he goes to pains to tell me I probably need a medium, because these are made for 7ft giants and they'll hang off me.
I convince him they'll be fine, but he still looks really unhappy, like he's failed at his job and life by not being able to supply me with the right size swag. Poor bloke.
Airborne, some champagne arrives, of course. I'm pondering why I'm so addicted to the stuff, and I think there are two primary reasons:
- the representation of a deep-seated capitalist inferiority complex, lodged in my psyche since childhood
- it's fucking lovely
Let's stick with number two here.
Right, the seat. It's the same as last time, in case any readers can recall my debut Qantas first class trip back in March 2014. There's masses of room and an incredibly detailed - not to mention heavy - handheld controller for the entertainment, window blinds, lighting, and seat/suite. I love this shit.
The safety video - and I can scarcely believe I'm saying this - is fantastic. Lots of bonzer bona fide Australians from all over delivering a sentence or two each. Hard to explain, and doubtless the bubbles were having an emotional effect on me anyway.
Ooh, canapes! These are tiny but utterly gorgeous. I forget what they are, but they're on the menu.
I plug my headphones into one of the 3 sockets that weird airplane seat headphone sockets use, and have to have it hanging halfway out to get sound in both ears. This displeases me, so I use the provided set instead. They are cheap and make my ears sweat.
Deadpool annoys me within about 5 minutes so I sack it off and watch Concussion instead, which is a fantastic film about the battle by a few people in the medical profession to expose the links between concussion and serious illness amongst NFL players. My usual caveat of film reviews when drunk and on a plane applies: at some of the heart string tugging bits, I am really welling up. God damn it! Tell you what, it's graphic 'n all. Bits of brain being sliced and stuff. Eww.
Ooh, more bubbly. And the meal, chosen from this menu.
Cheese and quince and oat cakes. NOM NOM NOM.
More champagne sir? Actually, I'll have a port. But then you might as well top the fizz up too.
The cabin lights are all down by now. It's "only" a 7 hour flight, all day time and landing at 11pm local time in Dubai, but nonetheless everyone wants darkness and a bit of kip, except me. So I move on to watching last week's WWE Smackdown downloaded from Sky, and promptly fall asleep 3 times missing a bunch of matches. Bloody hell. Rewind, watch Cesaro come out, fall asleep, wake up, rewind, watch Cesaro come out, ...
I need to make a better fist of staying awake, so I go to the loo - which has the best view in first class, since it has a window, and all the seats in the cabin are so far away from the side of the plane - and admire the stairs. Shall I go to the "lounge"? Nah, not yet.
Returning to my seat, I sit up and start typing this post. Robin comes to ask if I want anything else and I go, y'know what, can I have a beer? He returns with two bottles, but it's too dark to see what either of them are. One of them is a dark ale, he says, so I have that. But I never do find out the name so I can't put it on Untappd. Grr!