Over the Top of the World

We booked on Emirates Air for our flight from Durban to Los Angeles via Dubai. The flight plan called for 24.5 hours of actual flying time plus a three hour layover in Dubai. We would be traveling a total of  14,700 air miles… half way around the world. From Durban to Dubai, we'd fly on a Boeing 777-300ER, a big plane. On the non-stop leg from Dubai to LAX, however, we'd be flying on an Airbus 380, the world's largest passenger jet at close to the speed of sound (.8 of Mach 1). a380

The flight to Dubai was uneventful… the best kind. I'd stopped in Dubai on my way to and from Boston in December, but David had never been. Like me, he was impressed with the opulence and class of the airport. We particularly like the back-projected “tourist guide” in flowing white desert garb offering information to airport visitors. He was a bit unnerving as his eyes seemed to follow our every move as we passed.

animated tour guide

After a coffee and croissant at Starbucks which put us back about $16 US and a stroll around the airport shops to stretch our legs, we headed to our departure gate. I got a kick when we got our seat assignments to Los Angeles. We were in seats 84H and 84K. Who knew any plane had that many rows? Talk about being in the back of the bus!

boarding passes

We left on time and had a chance to view Dubai from our 84K window seat. It looks to be a lovely city and we're hoping to have a little extra time on our return leg to explore, though a 14 hour layover from 8PM to 10AM doesn't afford the best touring times of the city.

view of dubai from plane

We wondered what our flight path would be … east to west or west to east. Well, it was neither. It was over the top, flying the Great Circle Route. Take a piece of string and a globe, and place one end on Dubai and the other end at Los Angeles. The quickest, most direct route is over the North Pole and that's just what we did.

great circle route

We watched several of the 400 movies offered aboard. We played games on our iPads. We dozed fitfully. We read. We noshed. Every meal and snack served was gobbled up. After what seemed like an eternity, I checked the time to destination … only 11 hours left. Time was flying … literally. When we neared the North Pole, we kept an eye on the flight map. We tried to get our iPad GPS to locate us, but to no avail. We had to rely on the flight map. By the way, there was no sign of Santa at the North Pole. We're thinking he might have been vacationing in the Carib somewhere.

over the north pole

We arrived in Los Angeles right on time. Waiting to debark the plane from our hinterland seats took awhile. All our luggage arrived with us and Immigration and Customs were a breeze. We still had a 4 hour drive to Las Vegas ahead of us. We knew we'd be tired and had booked a room in Barstow, California, about half way to Vegas. We picked up the rental car and headed out into the cool, brown haze of an LA afternoon.