Travel Saver rates do not apply

Hello. I’m somewhere over Iran. And I’ve just got this message on my cellphone:

Network On Air (Aerospace) is a satellite. Travel Saver rates do not apply. We encourage you to make calls at R23/min for int’l calls rather than receive calls at R150/min, R2.75/SMS & R128.00/MB for data. For T&Cs and rates visit

I’ve already checked that my mobile data is switched off, but if you could all avoid calling me for the foreseeable future, that would be just great. Thanks.

Flying things on flying things

I’m travelling again in a few weeks time. And it will be the first international flight I will have done since I got Florence, my little Mavic.

It’s been a wonderful few months together. I can’t imagine being without her, and so, obviously, she must come with us in September.

The rules for carrying drones on planes are pretty much universal. The danger here (such as it is) comes from the lithium ion batteries. Because of its compact size, the Mavic’s batteries are only 43.6Wh a piece. But you still need to follow the protocols, so you discharge them, you cover their terminals and you take them on in your cabin baggage.


But we are (thankfully) flying Emirates. And their rules are slightly different.

Now, Emirates are the only airline I have heard of that have this policy. I don’t understand why they need to be different, but (and I am saying this in hushed tones) I’ve never really worked out how you were allowed to take a drone on a flight anyway, given that it could be easily used as a dangerous weapon (those propellers can get up to 8000rpm). Eina.

Still, having checked with other drone owners online, there are various anecdotes about getting through DXB and not getting through DXB with a drone in your cabin and/or hold luggage. And I’m not massively happy about Florence being gooied around in a suitcase. I’ll give the airline a shout.

One thing we won’t be taking with us is the beagle. Three reasons here:

1. A week apart is good for everyone concerned (most especially me).
2. The beagle is not a falcon.
3. We’re not going to certain destinations in Pakistan.


Presumably, this isn’t just any falcon. You can’t just turn up with a falcon you snatched from your local National Park the previous day. Or with a beagle disguised as a falcon.

So majestic – see how it soars on the breeze! Such effortless grace!
[crashing sound, frantic barking, further crashing sounds]

I can’t believe you can take a falcon into the cabin, but not a Mavic.
It can even go in a cage if it needs to.

I’ll give the airline a shout.

Boxes ticked

Wait – could this be a timelapse [tick] video of an Emirates [tick] A380 [tick] being repainted?

Yep, and obviously, as with every A380-related thing, it comes with some ridiculous stats:

Seven coats of paint weighing 1,100 kilograms were applied on ‘Echo Delta Delta’, covering an area of 3,076 square meters. The entire exterior of the A380 including the fuselage, wings, engines as well as vertical and horizontal stabilizers received a makeover. The paint coats on the fuselage comprised of one layer each of a primer and sealer, followed by three coats of Brilliant White, which is the custom Emirates color, and then two layers of clear coat and decorative paints for the Emirates insignia and logo.

There’s a full description of the process here.

And right on cue…

I was moaning yesterday. Sorry.
I was tired.
And justifiably irritated and disappointed.

Having said that I wouldn’t be using BA’s services for my Cape Town related air travel again (at least until they source some new aircraft to use on the LHR route) (and remembering that they have suggested that there will be 777-300s on the new LGW route from the end of the year), I received this missive from Emirates in my inbox this morning:

Dear Mr 6000,

When you’re planning your next adventure, choose a travel time that suits you. Our third daily flight from Cape Town to Dubai starts on 4 July 2016, so you’ll have more flexibility when it comes to exploring the world.

Good timing, Malcolm.
And it’s a bit of a gamechanger. That previous lack of flexibility was the reason that we didn’t use Emirates for our flights this time around, meaning that we missed out on:

  • Decent food
  • Wider seats
  • Bigger (working) touchscreens
  • Inflight wifi
  • Inflight live news and sport
  • 2,400 extra inflight entertainment options
  • Choosing seats when booking your flight
  • 30kg baggage vs 23kg
  • Flights to Manchester (handy for Sheffield)

(and that’s before my frequent flyer benefits)
But we gained:

  • 2 hour delays due to broken equipment
  • Cabins last updated in 2000
  • 7 pieces of broken trim visible from my seat in a quick check
  • Leaking air con system dripping on family sitting next to me
  • My armrest held together by duct tape

But now, with EK778 and 779 (to go with EK 770 and 771 and EK 772 and 773), things are easier still.

From 4th July, you’ll be able to do CPT-DXB like this (all times correct at local airports):

EK773 departing 1325 (arrives DXB 0110)
EK771 departing 1805 (arrives DXB 0530)
EK779 departing 2005 (arrives DXB 0735)

and come back:

EK772 departing 0350 (arrives CPT 1125)
EK770 departing 0850 (arrives CPT 1630)
EK778 departing 1050 (arrives CPT 1830)

And, in the bigger picture: more seats = greater flexibility, greater competition and that means prices should be kept in check as well.

It’s a win, win, win situation.

Hi, Honey

I’m home!

And I have made the decision never to fly British Airways to or from Cape Town ever again.
We were nearly two hours late leaving Heathrow last night because yet another of their aging (G-BNLP is 26 years old) 747s had broken down. And then, once you’re on board, you have to deal with a cabin that was last updated 16 years ago. My armrest was held together by duct tape. Genuinely.

And don’t start me on the rest…

Emirates all the way for me from now on. Even if it does mean taking an extra day’s leave (as it would have done for this trip). It’s worth it.