Whichever way you look at it, 7.10am is a cruel time to fly. Invariably it means a 3.30am wake-up call followed by a rushed shower and a hasty, last minute luggage check, none of which is easy before the first cup of coffee.
On the plus side, the roads are empty and so is Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3, home of Emirates Airline. At least the departures area is. Once you get beyond the calm realm that is the business and first class check-in area, Dubai’s airport is a non-stop hive of activity. Whatever time of day you visit, DXB hums with the chatter of travellers of all shapes and sizes, some in suits with closely-cropped beards and others in flip-flops with three days of sunburn radiating from loose-fitting shirts and the waistbands of bulging leggings.
It is a teeming cauldron of humanity, where the common objective of not missing one’s flight is constantly jeopardised by a barrage of high-end boutiques selling all manner of luxury products that tempt the unsuspecting traveller. Surely a $14,000 watch is an investment that requires more thought than the short period between check-in and boarding. Who can afford to buy all of these luxury goods on a last-minute whim?
These are the things that fill your head in the pre-dawn hours, when all you really need is coffee and a pillow. At least that’s all that fills mine. That and pyjamas. I hope to all the deities that Emirates provides pyjamas for the 19-hour flight to Buenos Aires. It troubles me intensely as the Señorita and I sip Moët in the business class lounge and nibble on hash browns and baked beans – standard travel brekker.
Pleasant distractions in the form of free WiFi, complimentary shoe-shine service (sadly useless in suede trainers) and copies of magazines like Brownbook and the January edition of Destinations of the World News – my last as editor – offer light relief, but in my pre-dawn half-consciousness, I can only think of pyjamas.
It is always a pleasure to turn left when boarding a plane, but alas, it is quickly apparent when we take out seats that there is no loose-fitting cotton attire to smooth out the next 19 hours of intercontinental. I doff an imaginary hat to the sunburned ones at the airport, then quickly forget about the jim-jams as a smiling Brazilian lady hands me a menu, a wine list and a glass of Veuve Clicquot. It’s bang on 7am. The journey begins.