Emirates Airlines is the stuff of legends, defined by luxurious service, culinary treats and stewardesses with cool scarfs draped from their hats. I spent a day exploring that world and seeing a movie that has changed how I feel about traveling by air forever.
About six years ago, Director, Brian J. Terwilliger started working on a new view of air travel. His ideas coalesced in a script that encompasses how mankind has traversed the world through history. Much more than a history lesson however, the movie, Living in the Age of Airplanes, enlightens. Air travel touches our everyday lives and has created a “Portal to the Planet” that our forefathers could never have envisioned.
The story took Terwilliger to over 18 countries and across all seven continents. Along the way he swept the composing skills of the Academy-Award-winning composer, Jim Horner, into the mix to create an original score that soars with strings and tribal touches. National Geographic Films embraced the idea. Even the actor, Harrison Ford, lent his keen narration skills. Watching it was a simple thing but heart-poundingly moving even on the 30” screen in my seat. I can’t wait to see it on a big screen.
My flight really began as I walked into the Emirates Lounge in the International concourse at LAX. As film crews set up to capture the event, graceful servers tempted me with tray after tray of artful bites created by the Dubai based, Catering Manager, George E. Banks. His culinary concepts were understated visual as well as tasty treats. I only wish I had his frequent flier miles!
We were introduced to the Director of Cinema Ventures for National Geographic Society, John Wickstrom, and Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Divisional VP Customer Experience who helped navigate the event. UAE citizen, Captain Captain Saeed Al Maktoum spoke to us briefly about flying the largest plane in the Emirates fleet, the A380, considered one of the most advanced airplanes in the skies today.
Soon it was time to board. I was led to a window seat but ‘seat’ doesn’t describe the cocoon of comfort that was mine for the next few hours.
The screen and audio options were dizzying with hundreds of movies, podcasts, news and entertainment on their signature ICE system. My favorite was watching the plane move along the tarmac from one of three vantage points: the pilot’s, looking down from the wing or from the top of the tail. Our movie began shortly after a whisper of a take-off and I listened on complementary noise cancelling headphones. The cocoon had a convenient footrest. I could adjust the seat forward and back, tilt to lay down fully even without bothering the passenger behind me. The window shades operated with a touch.
The large airplane has a lot to explore. There are two stories with a comfortable Economy section below the Business and First Class sections. On the stair landing there’s a tea pot with a soothing Lemongrass herbal brew.
Two First Class showers open to the stairs and throughout there’s burl wood paneling touches, even on the iPad waiting at my seat.
It was all over too soon. My airborne aspirations now include a long-distance flight with the Emirates crew in no less than Business Class!
Thank you to the National Geographic and Emirates Airlines teams for the delightful day and for supporting independent films like Living in the Age of Airplanes.