x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

No savoury snacks on the A380? Well that takes the biscuit

A luxury aircraft it may be, but deprived of his usual treat our man on the Dubai-London flight feels distinctly let down.

The great mark of a man, it is said, is whether you turn right or left as you board the plane.

Left means you’re in business class, and a pleasant few hours of diversion await you. On the Dubai-to-London flight, or vice versa, it also means some sleep.

If you turn right, on the other hand, you have seven hours of airline torture – cramped seats, screaming children and snoring.

I thought all this would be solved with the introduction of the new Airbus A380 to the Emirates fleet. The plane is the most technologically advanced in history, and boasts the height of luxury, in business class at least.

(I’ve never even been near first class. It seems like a desert mirage, something that appears enticing and near, but that you know is unattainable.)

But even on the A380, the rules do not apply if you turn right. Purely because the plane is so big – it can take some 530 people – the normal standards of service seem to be suspended.

You can understand why. Feeding, watering and keeping that many people happy is a daunting task in any circumstances. But at 38,000 feet in a thin tube of aluminium and plastic, it appears nearly impossible.

I sympathise with the cabin crew, I really do. Attending to the basic needs of a travelling mass of humanity while keeping that smile firmly attached to your face must be very difficult.

But there is one thing above all else that bothers me in economy class on the A380. Where are the little crunchy biscuits that used to be served?

On nearly every flight I’ve ever taken, before the advent of the A380, the thing you had to look forward to after take-off was a packet of savoury biscuits served with a drink. I found tomato juice went perfectly with them.

But the bikkie-and-virgin mary routine has been abandoned on the A380. I asked why recently.

“Most of our passengers just want to sleep,” said the beautiful Ilya (no, not her real name) in one of the 14 languages spoken by the cabin crew that night, with grimace firmly attached.

Well not me, Emirates. I want my bikkies. And a gag for that two-year old in the row in front.


It’s time for a quick rummage in the “deleted items” box. Which one of these gems deserves the occasional Frank Kane Award for Bad PR?

Is it: the company that “rises to become top three global TV brand”? Maybe.

Or how about: the new “head of sales, Middle East” discussing “the Construction and Infrastructure Industry’s future in the Middle East”? Definitely a contender.

Or what about: the chap “appointed as ... country manager for Qatar”. Nice.

These three have all the essential ingredients of useless PR email, including complete inappropriateness for the receiver, in other words, me. But the winner this time has been selected purely for its total ­inconsequence: the release for the company that has launched “three All-in-One photo printers with extensive cloud printing services”.

Well done. If you contact me, I will arrange for your prize to be delivered personally.


“Overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevator” gets better and better. Here’s my latest favourite via Twitter:

Executive number one: “Your place in history depends on what you do for others, not on what others do for you.”

Executive number two: “I want a place in East Hampton, not history.”