Following my daily routine of checking my phone as soon as I open my eyes, I had this one interesting e-mail in my Inbox (Yes, apart from the Twitter related emails:p). This was inviting Skyward members to come visit the home of Emirates A380 opened as an extension to Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport. I don’t know why it got me so excited but it sounded fun. Not much details were given in the mail or the site but knowing the step to step procedure beforehand was actually no fun also.
So yes, I got myself and my mom registered for this. They asked for too many details in the form. Too many because they needed the passport copy and all to be uploaded and all of that. All done, we got a SMS confirmation that our application has been received and they will let us know if we are selected. The closing date for registation was 9th December 2012. There were two trials to be held, one on 15th December 2012 and the other on 22nd December 2012. The one today, i.e., on 22nd was called the Advanced trial. We couldn’t go for the 15th one because of our busy schedules so 22nd was selected.
Days went by and I got no SMS or call or E-mail for the same and I had almost given up on it. And only when I stopped thinking about it I got an SMS followed by an email on late Wednesday evening about my cofirmation. I work on Saturdays, but this being a busy season for us Auditors I doubted I would get a leave. But God knew I was keen and my Manager for a change decided to be sweet and granted me a leave. So there I was all happy and excited.
We had to reach by 8:30am and the registrations were to start at 8:45am. I got up on just one wake up call that day. But the morning laziness made me take time to get ready. There was free parking organized but we thought Metro was just a better option. We managed to reach around 9. Not bad I feel.
Stepped out from the Airport Terminal 3 Metro station and with the help of the signage we were guided to the Registration Desks. We had received a Unique reference number in the initial SMS and accordingly we got into our respective queue. We were so excited that we never noticed that the queues were divided as per the reference numbers. we chose the shortest line and stood there. It turned out to be just where we were supposed to be. From these counters we were supposed to collect our passes and an arm band. We then got into another long queue to have some refreshments which were quite good and light, aptly chose to keep us going.
We then had to collect our boarding pass and the trial script which we were supposed to follow. The staff was adequate and spread over to assist us in our queries.
We were given a meal voucher each which could be used at some specific outlets mentioned in the script. Having had refreshments just then, we decided to go on to the Departure gate B28. It was 10:15 am already. We had no clue where did time fly. Gates were to close at 11:00 am so we had ample of time to sit the at the Departure lounge and while away our time. The newspaper gave us some company and I tried my hand on some Photography. Also, since this was an end to the First part of our trial, we had a feedback form attached which we were supposed to fill up and give. Also the Dubai Airports blessed us with free Wifi so I was happy. In the feedback form we were instructed in the end to visit the Dubai Airports site and write down the Reference number we get from there and rate the internet service.
Now, the count of the volunteers who had registered for this trial went up to 10,000. Yes, 10,000. So as per the flight capacity the volunteers were segregated and made to go through different departure gates.
We were also offered 10% discount at the Duty Free shops. Not many made use of it though. mainly I guess due to time constraints.
This was our flight from Dubai to Kuwait. Yes, that was what was mentioned in the boarding pass. I am sure every gate took volunteers to different countries. No we were not made to sit in the flight and all of that. That would have required us to go through the Immigration and the ‘real’ passengers would not have been happy about the long queues. We were to be in the Airport at all times during this trial.
We then got out from this departure gate and were instructed to go to the arrivals and then to Transfers. We were now getting transferred to Lahore. We had this Boarding pass for that, fake one with fake details.
Now this is where a little confusion started. The staff which was assisting us till now was nowhere to be seen. The information desks were at quite a distance so many did get confused on where to head. Since I had this meal voucher I decided to get a coffee from Starbucks and to my disappointment they refused to entertain us. Lack of coordination it was, I say. We and many many of the volunteers landed up at the same boring Mc Donalds where again long queues were formed. Our next departure was at 12:40 p.m. so we really had to rush. We had a train to catch.
Yes, now we were heading towards the Departure gates of A380 and we had to take the Train to reach to it. Unseen and unheard of this, it got me even more excited. We were at Concourse A till now. We now had to head to Concourse B.
This place was a sight. Newly built up places do look fascinating. yeah.
The blue and red signage could not be missed.
The Duty Free shops were still coming up but some were ready. We headed to our gate A1. There again we were made to sit as passengers and fill up yet another feedback form.
There were people divided into Business and Economy and the boarding announcements were made accordingly. There were also wheel chair passengers, like some were actually meant to be on it while some had volunteered just to make an example.
All this felt so real only if now were were made to board the flight and fly away the experience could never have been forgotten. But that is a little too much to ask for.
We then had to take the Train and head back to Concourse A, which is the original Terminal 3 and claim our baggage Naturally we did check in anything so we had to head to the Exit, where we had to collect a gift bag as a memento Wow! Another long queue was faced but what all we got in return was just amazing. It made up my day, like really. Although they took away our pass and Armband which off course was due to security reasons.
In this people from all age groups, all nationalities had signed up. This was not restricted to only Skywards members as the number was nowhere asked while registering.
Now the email with the instructions had mentioned as quoted ‘Please also bring some carry-on luggage’. To my surprise, people had been obedient enough to carry a small hand bag or a trolley bag. They really had come prepared to fly. Haha!
Overall the experience was wonderful but just too tiring as we had to walk a lot. But it was something different and totally worth it. Except for our Metro fares we didn’t pay anything for this.