Author Topic: Aaaron's UAE TR  (Read 7526 times)

Offline Aaaron

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Aaaron's UAE TR
« on: September 10, 2015, 07:19:01 AM »
A Quick Jaunt to the UAE

(I don't think this'll be big enough for a trip report, so I'll post the Dubai part here and the AD part in the respective Master Thread.  Dan or a mod can move it if they feel it's appropriate.)

The idea for this trip began on Christmas Day, 2014 at 4am, when I received the following text from Mordy1987:  "Dan just posted a glitch to Abu Dhabi, let's go Labor Day"
I sleepily responded: "ok"

Flights:

We both got up and booked outbound from JFK-AUD for 10:30 Saturday night, September 5, returning at 2:55am, Wednesday the 9th.  He was nice enough to invite me for Shabbos so we could go straight to the airport.  We'd have 2+ days in the UAE; it would be quick, but the wives and our respective Roshei Kollel were OK with it, especially with the impending YK to absolve us of our sins.

Shortly thereafter, we realized that ~14 hours in coach isn't worth it, not even for $350, and 2 days would be too short, so we booked the return (AA redemption) in J and F for Thursday morning, 10:55am to IAD.  We still anticipated flying to AUH on our revenue tickets.  That lasted until August, with the flight approaching.  I was really apprehensive about even 12 hours in coach, so the week prior to the flight we accumulated some AS miles and booked J and F outbound, but on the EK A380 to DXB.  What started out as a budget trip was now something very different. 






Emirates Chauffeur Drive gave us a ride to our hotel.
Hotel:

We anticipated spending 2+ days in DXB, with a short stop in AUH to see the Mosque and catch our return flight.  Mordy really wanted to stay on the Palm Jumeirah, so that ruled out SPG properties (which there are a ton of in DXB) and we chose the Fairmont for the first three nights (Sun, Mon, and Tues) for about $650.



The hotel is a little left-of-center in that picture.  The Atlantis (which has a great water park) is visible at the top of the "tree."

Beautiful property, although the lobby has an overbearing scent, kind of like a Middle Eastern A&F.  They couldn't find my upgrade certificates in the system, so they gave us a basic city-view room.  I was concerned about noise from supercars flying up and down the palm all night, especially since we were on a low floor.  I called Fairmont and they put my certificates in my account immediately; we went back to reception and they gave us a nice sea-view room on the 8th floor.

The views from the beach in front of the hotel, looking out to the Dubai Marina area, and from our balcony:









The hotel at night, from the beach:




Activities:

This was going to be a mostly move, move, move vacation, try to see and experience as much as we could over 3 days.  Being procrastinators, neither of us really planned an itinerary ahead.  We really wanted to skydive over the Palm, but that's the one thing we couldn't as it was booked for the entire month.

The first day I wanted to see the desert/Arabic side of Dubai, and Mordy wanted to go skiing in the Mall of the Emirates, so we booked a dune bashing, camel riding, see the desert type tour for the afternoon/evening and headed out to the mall.  [There a dozens of such tours and they're all about the same price.  It includes a buffet dinner and some shows, but we obviously can't report on the food.]

The skiing was ok.  It's an experience skiing (I snowboarded) indoors, but there are only two slopes that converge to one, and it got boring pretty fast.  We paid 200 AED (about $55) for 2 hours, including all gear, pants, jackets, socks, etc.  You have to buy your own gloves which were a reasonable 25 AED for a fleece pair.  We had a good time, and it was pretty empty so no line for the lift.  But we got bored and left after about an hour and a half.  Walking around the mall was pretty cool as well. 










We then went back to the hotel and relaxed until the Desert Tour operators were to pick us up between 3:30 and 4.  We made our way to the lobby and met a Welsh couple that would be on the tour with us.  A few minutes later a Land Cruiser pulls up, we load in, and we were off.  There was a German couple already in the vehicle.
After 40 minutes of driving he pulls over at a local tourist shop where they push the Arabic dress stuff on you.  We haggled and bought some souvenirs before heading out to the desert.  10 more minutes of driving and they pull off the road (which was coated with sand anyway).  Dozens of Land Cruisers are parked and letting air out of the tires.  Our driver, Akhmed, was one of the nuttier ones, racing and trying to overtake all the other.  I absolutely loved the dune bashing.  The couple in the back row kept getting thrown from their seats and hitting the roof.  This wasn’t timid driving over the dunes.  It was full out flying and getting air on many of the jumps.  Pics don’t do it justice.  After 30 minutes he pulls over so we could all get some picture for 10 minutes, then we continue on to the camp where they have camels, ATVs, a flacon to hold, henna tattoos, and the meal.  During the meal they have a “dude in a dress” show, and a belly dance show (not tznius at all).  We were back at the hotel by about 9:45.











The Whirling Dervish, started out lame but was pretty cool (it’s a dude):



The next day we decided to start with a water park.  It was a tough call between the one at the Atlantis, and Wild Wadi, which is at Jumeirah Beach right across from the Burj Al-Arab.  We chose the latter, for no real reason.  Our hotel concierge had 30 AED coupons, bringing the price down to 255 AED.  We had a fantastic time, and there are some crazy rides, many of which have a view of the Burj.  Notably, they have a huge series of “water blasters,” where you sit in a tube and you get shot up slopes that bounce around.

Taken from the stairs up to a 110foot water slide:


We then rented a car from Hertz in the Marina [returning at the airport in AUH], and went to see old Dubai, including the Spice and Gold Markets and the old port area.  Pretty sketchy area, but plenty of tourists.  In the Spice Market the shopkeepers ALL try way too hard to get you in their shop, very similar to the Straw Market in the Bahamas.  I found it very annoying.  The God Market was more enjoyable.





Then we headed over to the Dubai Mall, a huge mall (one of the biggest in the world?) which is adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.  They have an attraction called “At the Top,” which is an observation deck on the 124th floor.  “At the Top Sky” is at the 148th floor, the highest observation deck in the world.  We splurged on the higher one, for the heck of it.  It was truly incredible, but I’m not sure it was worth the extra dough.  Mordy thinks it was.  It also includes a tour and some other VIP treatments.  It was about 6pm and our tickets were for 7:30.  We went out to watch the Bellagio-style fountains and get some pics.  The timing was great as the fountains had been off for the prior 3 days as a show of solidarity with 4 UAE soldiers who dies in Yemen.  We got to see the Burj in daylight and at night, and it was truly incredible.  IMO, the Bellagio show is cooler.








Looking up from the 148th floor:



The fountain show from the top of the world:



That was pretty much the end of Dubai for us.  We chilled the following morning before checking out and heading to Abu Dhabi.  I’ll post that part in the AD master thread.

In summation:  Dubai is truly incredible; I’ve never seen anything like it.  There are hundreds of skyscrapers, all built very recently.  It feels truly amazing there.  The roads are wide with lush landscaping, true opulence everywhere.  We really enjoyed, and had zero negative experiences.  I like Dubai much more than AD, but Mordy liked AD more.  In Dubai, the foreigners seem to outnumber the Emiratis, with local dress being the minority.  There are just so many expats and tourists there.

Feel free to ask any questions or request any specific pictures, we have loads.

Sigh, 10 hours left in the air.



« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 11:42:15 AM by Dan »

Offline D93

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2015, 07:35:59 AM »
Nice write up!

Offline Emkay

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2015, 07:45:32 AM »
So you lost the money on the price mistake you booked or upgraded?

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 07:47:41 AM »
So you lost the money on the price mistake you booked or upgraded?

Forgot to mention.  We were willing to eat the cost, but Priceline/Etihad fully refunded us.  Our reason was that they made the flight 10 minutes earlier and changed it multiple times.

Offline Emkay

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2015, 07:57:18 AM »
Forgot to mention.  We were willing to eat the cost, but Priceline/Etihad fully refunded us.  Our reason was that they made the flight 10 minutes earlier and changed it multiple times.
Nice! I like the way it morphed from a quick budget hop into a full all out vacation.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2015, 09:03:41 AM »
Pretty cool TR. I was only there on a layover so i did not get to do as much, but looking forward to the next time i fly through.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2015, 10:01:15 AM »
Sweet!
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2015, 10:04:30 AM »
Pretty cool TR. I was only there on a layover so i did not get to do as much, but looking forward to the next time i fly through.

I will probably pass through in the future, not sure if I'll ever spend time there again.  Too many other places to see.  The only thing I even semi regret is not spending a night at the Burj.  We found a rate of $1,100/night, and we probably should've done it.  It's a lot cheaper when you're splitting everything with a friend rather than paying with a spouse.  If I have a long layover there I'd probably do it.

Offline DMYD

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2015, 02:53:20 PM »
Nice thanks for the report!!!

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2015, 03:49:56 PM »
Nice thanks for the report!!!

Yep  :)   I got him out of there in one piece.  Despite him almost getting arrested a few times.

Offline MEIR613

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2015, 07:02:25 PM »
I have the same routing as you for my MLE trip, just I'm returning to JFK on the a380 despite needing to be in the Baltimore area for Shabbos ;D

Offline DMYD

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2015, 07:30:32 PM »
Yep  :)   I got him out of there in one piece.  Despite him almost getting arrested a few times.
Lol I can imagine. but I would have definitely come visit him :)

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2015, 03:49:43 AM »
I have the same routing as you for my MLE trip, just I'm returning to JFK on the a380 despite needing to be in the Baltimore area for Shabbos ;D

I had to beat you to the punch :)

And you're really lucky, I didn't love the 787 and next time I fly I'll go through JFK just for the a380.

Btw, once I've flown F on both, I think J isn't really much of a step down. The only real difference is privacy (and the shower).

Offline AJK

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2015, 09:38:59 AM »
Did you fly EY F 787 inbound? You didn't really specify. If is, why no pics?
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2015, 09:53:02 AM »
Did you fly EY F 787 inbound? You didn't really specify. If is, why no pics?

Yes, I posted that report from the plane.  Haven't gotten around to the AD part of the trip yet, nor the return flight.  I'll post it in the AD Master Thread.

Offline D93

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 10:10:42 AM »
I had to beat you to the punch :)

And you're really lucky, I didn't love the 787 and next time I fly I'll go through JFK just for the a380.

Btw, once I've flown F on both, I think J isn't really much of a step down. The only real difference is privacy (and the shower).

You're comparing EK a380 F to J or EY 787 F to J? Either way, i'm not sure how you can even start to compare F to J on those planes, it's literally 2 different worlds.

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Re: Dubai Master Thread
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 10:12:37 AM »
You're comparing EK a380 F to J or EY 787 F to J? Either way, i'm not sure how you can even start to compare F to J on those planes, it's literally 2 different worlds.

F to F and J to J.  I flew F both ways and Mordy flew J.  Both had their pros and cons, and I'll get to them.

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Aaaron's UAE TR
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2015, 12:35:02 PM »
Backing up a bit, I want to discuss the airline logistics.  This installment will discuss JFK => DXB.  The airport, the lounge, and the plane.

Emirates officially does not provide a chauffeur service on awards tickets, so a neighbor gave us a ride to the airport,  We pull up to the terminal, and I thought the list of airlines was comical:



Inside the terminal was the last time we saw any Jews for nearly a week.  Right inside the door we were directed to this:



They had no problem checking Mordy in too, although they said he wouldn't have lounge access and he wouldn't be able to come in with me since I'm not a plat.  Fine, we'll deal with it later.  (They let us both into the lounge with no issues).

We proceeded through the quicker security line and soon found the lounge.







We hang out a bit, check out the plane (boarding is directly from the lounge), drink some, and envy the food options.








Finally, we board.  And this is where my opinion is going to differ from most.  As I mentioned earlier, I don't think F offers a significant advantage over J.  Could be because I'm a kosher traveler and wasn't traveling with my spouse, but still, that's my opinion.  The seats are the same length (the middle J seats are an inch longer, while the window J seats are about 8 inches shorter than F), and they're only about ~4" narrower.  Granted, I'm a smaller guy but next time I'll probably fly J.  (well, probably not, but whatever).  The shower experience is just that, an experience.  Did I need a shower?  No, we were heading straight to the hotel and it was evening.  DIFTS.

F:






I had issues with the controller, and the privacy doors wouldn't shut.  The head FA tried multiple things, and kept offering me a different suite but I was too lazy to move.  Also, I felt the clarity/resolution of the controller and screen were lacking, especially compared to Etihad's, which were crisp.






The shower:  You're allowed 30 minutes in the "Shower Spa Suite," with a total of 5 minutes of water.  I thought it was more than enough.  The floor was heated, which is a nice touch as well.  One thing they warn you about is the water won't work unless the shower door is completely shut; I had read about that in advance so I was prepared.














This is waiting at your seat after your shower:



J:



I don't have pictures of the rest of the seat, maybe Mordy will drop some off.

The amenity kits were similar too, just mine came in a leather Bvlgari case and his came in fabric.  Also, I got some cozy pajamas.

After the flight, we walked through the overly-mammoth airport and bought Sim cards from Du, they cost 35AED and we spent about another 50 on data and minutes.  A total of about $25 and we had plenty to spare.  Then we made our way to the Emirates Chauffer Drive desk where they gave a car, without checking whether our tickets were award or revenue.






TBC...


Offline lubaby

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Re: Aaaron's UAE TR
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2015, 12:48:04 PM »
Emirates officially does not provide a chauffeur service on awards tickets, so a neighbor gave us a ride to the airport.
Emirates DOES provide Chauffeur service on award tickets, albeit they need to be booked through Emirates directly (not partner redemptions).

Offline Aaaron

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Re: Aaaron's UAE TR
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2015, 12:50:22 PM »
Emirates DOES provide Chauffeur service on award tickets, albeit they need to be booked through Emirates directly (not partner redemptions).

Good call.  But I have a feeling most members here would be using AS to book.  From their T&Cs:

Quote
Chauffeur-drive service is not available on reward tickets booked via Emirates Skywards airline partners for travel on Emirates (with the exception of Qantas).