Stretching Your Travel Dollar

A shower in the sky: Part 3

By Elaine JS

The first class lounge in Dubai International Airport is unique. It’s not really a lounge as it is the entire fourth level of the terminal.

The lounge is quiet and sparsely populated. It’s almost like having a whole terminal to yourself. When it’s time to board, you don’t need to leave the lounge; you simply board through private gates that let first class passengers board separately. Places to relax, work, eat, and have a drink are liberally distributed throughout the lounge. Workers greet you as you walk past, and offer you a drink or a snack as soon as you sit down. A sleeping room is filled with recliners and beds with pillows and blankets. In one corner there were four different brands of bottled water available. The wifi is quick. You could spend a very long layover there in complete comfort.

There is also a spa that’s attached to the lounge. Passengers get a free 15 minute massage, and I took full advantage of that offering. Despite it being midnight, the spa was staffed, and I got an extraordinary back massage, during which I momentarily fell asleep.

Emirates’ first class experience seemed to be emblematic of the reputation its home city had: ambitiously striving to become world beating by being just a tad outrageous.

My flight to London was delayed by an hour, and by the time we boarded I was dying. I had been awake for over 24 hours, after two consecutive nights where I averaged three hours of sleep. I was running on fumes and wanted nothing more than to sleep, which I would have done but for the fact that the highlight of the trip was still to come.

Not only did I want to try the shower, I desperately needed one. After wandering around in the Dubai sun for a whole day, I’m sure I wasn’t smelling like a rose.

As soon as I boarded, I asked a flight attendant whether I could book the shower. She asked, “When would you like to take it?”

“As soon as possible.”

I fell asleep during the take off roll and was awoken a few minutes later by the flight attendant who nudged me. “Your shower is ready, Mr. Loh.”

Trying to shake off the wooziness, I grabbed my bag and she led me over to the bathroom to give me a tour of the facilities. I knew how it all worked already. I had read about it online and watched the numerous YouTube videos. But now I was physically there and I patiently let her explain away while I soaked it in.

The bathroom is large. On one wall, there is a full length mirror and an amenities cabinet with a hairdryer inside. A TV screen shows where the plane is over the world. Next to the toilet, there’s a large padded bench, on which a box of shampoos, conditioners, and lotions is placed. The sink is large and has two mirrors?—?a normal one and a magnifying one. And then there’s the shower compartment. It’s large enough to bend over in to wash your toes, and it comes with a bench (in case of turbulence) and a removable shower head. The cubicle door needs to be closed before the water will flow.

I would get exactly five minutes of water. A knob controls the water temperature and a button toggles the water flow. A row of lights shows how much time I had remaining. The water automatically shuts off at the four minute mark as a warning, and I would need to press the button to get the last minute’s worth of water. I would then step out of the shower onto a mat which they’ve placed on the floor, and dry myself off with a towel they supply. By the time I got back to my seat, flight attendants would have made up my bed and provided me with a plate of fruit and a cup of tea. I would grab a few hours of solid sleep, land in Heathrow, and then be whisked off into the city by another Emirates chauffeur in a black Mercedes.

The flight attendant finished her spiel and closed the door behind her. The TV showed we were somewhere over the Persian Gulf, about ten kilometers high. I undressed, entered the cubicle, set the water temperature, and hit the start button. I tested the water with my hand. Perfect temperature. Impressive water pressure. I stepped under.

It was glorious! THE END

Article penned by: Stuart Loh, A lawyer with a passion for tech, travel & tucker
Posted by: Elaine JS

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