Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back in Dubai *

The trip back to Dubai took two days this time! Left home at 5pm on Sunday, arrived in Dubai mid-afternoon Tuesday.

The Emirates A380 eased back from the gate right on time, just after 9pm, then just sat there for ten minutes. The captain came on to say there was a technical problem, an engineer had been called to have a look at it and we were taxiing back to the gate.

Engineer arrived, captain told us it was an air-conditioning problem and they were working to fix it.

Then he told us they were talking to Dubai about the problem.

Around 11pm, dangerously close to curfew at SYD, the captain said spare parts would have to be flown in, so we were being disembarked, would be put up in a hotel if necessary and told our new arrangements asap.

Getting out again was quick and painless, the luggage arrived quickly, people were on hand to guide us back through the deserted and half-closed airport to the original check-in desks. Emirates staff were there to arrange a hotel if pasengers needed it. I assume they arranged taxis for people living in Sydney to go home to wait.

Next day, Monday, I discovered I was on the red-eye on Tuesday morning, which meant a 4am check-in. They'd put me in Rydges hotel, which is literally across the road from the international terminal so it was a 3.30am wake-up call.

Managed to doze a bit on the flight so it wasn't too bad, and arrived at 2pm.

At DXB the SmartGate had decided to play games with us again.

I swiped my card, the gate opened and I went in. The recorded voice was a good way behind me, because it told me to swipe my card and enter.

That's what the old E-Gate used to do, get all out of sequence and go haywire. The SmartGate obviously has the same glitch because it refused to recognise my fingerprint and told me to go out and start again.

Second time it was exactly the same result. Third time it told me only one person was allowed in the gate at any one time. As I was completely alone, and I've lost some weight, that was a surprising development.

Anyway, it told me that as there were three of me we should report to the officer on duty.

So, as happened so often with E-Gate, I had to go to the Immigration officer and hand over my passport and smartcard. No problem then of course, she just stamped me in and I was free to go.

But even with the glitches it's still a hell of a lot faster than going through the non-smart Immigration desks. Last time I did that it was over an hour of queueing - not what you need after a fourteen-plus hour flight I can tell you.

Dubai's not as hot and sticky as is normal in September, which is usually the most humid month. Temperature is around 37C to 40C and with relatively low humidity, that's comfortable for me.

A few days to get over the jetlag and tiredness and then, on Monday, we're off to Vienna again for a week. We enjoyed it so much last time we decided to fit in another visit before the cold weather arrives in central Europe.

* 'Back in Dubai' by Sal Davis was a local hit song back in about 1978. We played it at every gig we had with our mobile DuneBeat Disco and it always went down a storm. It's on YouTube now and you can hear it right here.

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