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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 September 2018

Executive travel: Late start but Emirates at Dubai has it covered

Despite waking up late, the carrier's services meant flight was not missed

Emirates Boeing 777-ER. The carrier makes transiting to aircraft easy for business travellers - even when they are late. Adam Schreck / AP
Emirates Boeing 777-ER. The carrier makes transiting to aircraft easy for business travellers - even when they are late. Adam Schreck / AP

Waking up late for a flight is every business traveller’s worst nightmare - but Emirates Airline’s efficient organisation and Dubai International Airport soon had me sorted out for my morning dash to make the 8.50 to Budapest this week.

It helps that the chauffeur is always a much better timekeeper and, thankfully, also used to patiently waiting for passengers, too.

We whizzed down the Sheikh Zayed Road, mercifully empty after the busy holiday weekend, and I was dropped in the dedicated First and Business Class terminal with my not inconsiderable haul of baggage.

It’s not far to push a trolley to the Business Class check-in and there was no queue. The smiling check-in lady quickly issued my boarding pass 1A, and told me to go directly to the Business Class lounge for boarding at Gate A7.

There is no First Class on this Boeing 777 300R flight so I got the front seat. A flash of my passport in the Smart Gate and a glance a the green light and I was through the security check in a matter of a few minutes.

Then I glanced at my watch. Remarkably it was only 30 minutes since leaving home on the Palm Jumeirah and I had time for breakfast in the lounge.

I last missed a flight about five years ago at London Heathrow when I just could not find the car rental return, having left the timing a bit too tight.

Heathrow to Dubai is not such a big issue as there is always another flight coming in a couple of hours, and the penalty for changing was not that enormous then.

But Budapest would have been a matter of waiting until the next day and missing an important business meeting. Still, I could relax a little in the huge Emirates’ Business Class lounge right across the top level of Terminal 3.

It’s a reminder of just how globalised travel has become these days.

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I actually had to ask for the location of the Western breakfast section as there are so many different options from Asian to Arabic and Indian; for some reason people do like to start the day with food from their own culture and I am no exception.

It was not great. No sign of a toaster and tired scrambled egg and chicken sausages. Perhaps I should not have bothered. We did get a perfectly fine continental breakfast on board.

Seat 1A offered extra legroom and less distraction for working. There’s a multi-plug in the seat for adaptors and the table is fine for a laptop although there was no internet connection.

Instead I read a physical newspaper for the first time in ages. The Business Class also has its very own investment magazine called Portfolio, an early spin-off from the Gulf Business magazine I founded 22 years ago this month.

You are always spoilt for entertainment options on Emirates with its ICE system. I watched two new feature films, LBJ and Darkest Hour, both about the bleakest historical moments in recent US and UK history, respectively - the Kennedy assassination and Churchill in 1939.

I also enjoyed charming and attentive service from the cabin staff. For full-service lunch I took the Arabic Mezze, Asian prawns and European cheeses for a truly cosmopolitan experience.

Our Brazilian pilot landed ahead of schedule. However, unlike the Dubai airport, there is no fast track for Business Class or a Smart Gate at the Liszt Ferenc International Airport.

I certainly got off the plane first from my front seat. But then I had to queue for an hour to get through the immigration as a large aircraft from another Arabian Gulf country had just beaten us to the gate.

Still, I would have been even further at the back of the queue if travelling in the rear compartment. It is was obviously just not destined to be on on-time sort of day for me.

That said, a swift taxi ride deposited me in the centre of Budapest just in time for my meeting.

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