This year we decided that we’d combine our family summer vacation with just a bit of business, so we’re heading to Amman, Jordan and Dubai, UAE. We’ll be traveling with my youngest daughter, her 22 month old son, and two grandsons ages 7 and 13. The kids are all seasoned travelers so the long plane rides from Honolulu have never been an issue.
When we travel to Dubai we always take Emirate Airlines, they have some of the newest planes in the industry, direct flights from many major US cities, and excellent in flight service. This year would be no different, we knew we’d be traveling with Emirate Airlines out of Houston, it was finding the time to book tickets that was the issue.
The other day I finally got around to looking online for airline tickets, with a lot of kibbitzing from my husband. He had plenty of second hand advice regarding flight schedules, lay overs, and so on, advice he heard from his buddy who left last week on a similar itinerary. Needless to say everything he’d heard was wrong and only served to complicate the booking process.
Frustrated I gave up booking online at Emirates.com, none of the itineraries that popped up matched the schedule my husband had been told about. Every itinerary had long lay overs and I couldn’t figure out how to supposedly get a free hotel room due to the long lay over. It was time to call the airlines.
I was a bit worried when I decided to call their 800 number, calls to other airlines have often ended in even more frustration with endless hold times, language barriers (I fail to understand why I must converse with heavily accented people in some far off call center when I’m calling a US based airline), rude agents, and generally poor customer service.
I dialed the 800 hundred number and of course got the recorded message, “Thank you for calling Emirates Airlines….press 1 for the rewards desk…2 for new bookings…” I pressed 2 and was pleasantly surprised that it was answered immediately by a live person! No holds, no canned music, no waiting! I was talking to a live agent! I knew there was a reason they’re always rated one of the top airlines in the world.
He introduced himself and asked how he could help me. I told him my online issues. He said he’d be happy to either walk me thru the online process or he’d make the booking for me. He did inform me that internet fares were the lowest, phone booking would cost slightly more, however, he would match the internet fare for me.
We proceeded with the booking, we choose flights, he was concerned about the long layover because we had children, but promptly informed me that once the tickets were issued he’d see if we were eligible for the free hotel room. Apparently Emirates offers courtesy hotel rooms for travelers with long layovers but the itinerary must meet certain criteria. I’m not sure what all the rules are, but booking a flight when the long layover is the only itinerary available is one of them.
As I was giving him our information our call got cut off. I went into a panic because I didn’t want to start the process again, but the agent immediately called me back and we were able to continue with the booking. Once he got all the information he told me he would request bulkhead seats and a bassinet for the baby and kid meals for the all the children. He informed me that it would take 24-48 hours to request the seats and that I needed to call them back to check on it.
He took my credit card information and informed me the booking was complete but the tickets would not be issued until their security department verified my payment, that could take up to 6 hours. He was quite concerned about our time difference and knew it was quite late where I was calling from, he was in Dubai where it was noontime. I told him I’d be up for another couple of hours at which point he told me that if he got verification within that time he would call me back and he would also know if we were going to get a hotel room. If not then he would send everything via email.
He called me back an hour later, the etickets had been issued and we were eligible for the hotel room. Unfortunately we couldn’t confirm the room at that time because he needed every traveler’s passport number, I didn’t have that on hand. I was told to call back when I had them and they’d get the room, by then perhaps we’d have word on the seat assignments as well.
I called the same 800 number the next morning and got a different agent, again no waiting, no hold time, just a live agent right away. This guy was just as helpful. He booked 3 rooms for me and told me transfers to and from the airport to hotel were included. However there was still not word on the seat assignments.
I called 2 days later and got the agent who made the booking for me, surprisingly he remembered my name. He was able to confirm bulkhead seats for us and added the birthday treat form my grandson.
Children traveling on their birthday get a surprise that includes a birthday cake and a picture with the flight crew.
We’ve flown with Emirates several times and have always had amazing in flight service; but we’ve usually flown business or first class where good service is expected. This is the first time we will be flying coach, there’s just too many of us flying, any other class of service is cost prohibitive, at least for us. I was a bit weary about flying coach, but after my phone experience I’m sure we will have an excellent trip.
My daughter and grandsons are already excited about the flight in spite of the long hours we will be enroute. Emirates promises to take great care of the kids, they will be giving each child a furry “monster” and other travel packs to keep them busy, they have free entertainment for them as well.
They advertise great services and amenities for their young fliers, they even provide baby strollers to use at their airport! They seem to be truly family friendly!
To be fair I had to opportunity to book flights with Delta’s phone agent a couple of months ago. I had to book my 2 grandsons unaccompanied minor tickets from Atlanta to Honolulu. The number to call is specific for unaccompanied minors so there really wasn’t a wait time, the agent answered right away. He was very helpful and caring. We got those tickets booked without fuss or bother; but Delta is one of the few US companies that make the world’s top airlines list. We try to fly Delta within the US and sometime to Europe, I have to admit in my opinion they are better than most US airlines.
I’m looking forward to our flights to Dubai and Amman on Emirates. I’m sure it will meet my expectations. I’ll tell you all about it this summer!
One of my favorite things about traveling is eating. I love trying new foods and new restaurants. It’s even more fun to wander around a new place find that special little place where the food is fantastic and the staff is friendly.
Over the years we’ve found many great restaurants in many of the places we’ve visited, and Dubai is no exception. There are many great restaurants in this city, from simple fast food to opulent fine dining you’ll find it there. You don’t have to spend a month’s salary on a great meal, although in this city I’m sure you won’t have to look too hard to find a fine dining restaurant where you can!
You’ll find many of your favorite chains in Dubai as well as others from around the world. Here are some of our favorites.
on Al Dhiyafha Road in the Satwa District serves good Lebanese street food at very reasonable prices.
They serve sandwiches and plates of shawarma, kebobs, falafel, hummus, and more.
A plate of Shish Tawook (chicken kebob) complete with french fries, hummus, pita, and salad costs about $9.
It’s a great place for a quick snack, lunch, or a casual dinner.
They have 2 other locations in the city:
Mamzar next to Al Mamzar Mosque on Al Khaleej Road
Qusais Al Tawar 1 opposite Free Zone Metro station
Located near Al Fahidi Street this quirky cafe has a nice courtyard where you can sip mint iced tea and munch on a fresh salad or date and walnut cake served with plain yogurt under the shade of an old tree.
Prices start at $13
You can enjoy cocktails in either the indoor or outdoor lounges where they serve an assortment of tapas reasonably priced from $11 – $20.
The ala carte menu in the main dining room ranges from $25 for an order of vegetable gnocchi to $70 for a whole lobster Thermidor or a Wagyu fillet. In a city where fine dining at one of the luxury hotels is usually over-priced, the fine cuisine at Celebrities
is a good value. The restaurant is open for breakfast daily and for dinner everyday except Saturday. Children over 8 are welcome.
Kan Zaman in the Heritage Village area in Bur Dubai serves Lebanese cuisine. Out door seating is right on the creek and offers wonderful views of the abras crossing back and forth.
They have an extensive menu of Lebanese dishes from soups, tapas, sandwiches and entrees and a very small kids’ menu. They dabble in European specialties including Chicken Cordon Blue, Chicken Escalope, and pizzas, but I’d stick to the Arabic mixed grills, tapas, pastries and other Lebanese specialties.
They also have a large drink menu that offers fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, and an assortment of teas and coffees. You can relax after dinner and enjoy the creekside view with a shisha pipe.
Shawarma sandwiches start at $4. Main entrees start at $8 for a chicken shawarma plate and go up to $65 for the Royal Seafood Stand that includes lobster, fish, prawn, and calamari. Or you can work your way thru their tapas menu and enjoy a fine assortment of dips, fried bites, and meat and veggie pastries.
in the Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah
is a unique Dubai hotspot. It’s located on the Al Qasr Hotel property and is accessed from the beach at the end of a long wooden pier. There are 2 pods along the way to the restaurant, the Chic Bar and Chic Lounge.
This restaurant is over the water and offers exquisite views of the Burj Al Arab, the Gulf, Jumeirah Beach, and Palm Jumeirah. It’s a high end eatery specializing in seafood including lobster, oysters, salmon, and more.
It is very trendy and the place to be seen. Entrees start at $31 for a salmon dish to $245 for a Hot Seafood Platter for Two.
in The One & Only Royal Mirage
features Moroccan Cuisine in a sumptuous setting complete with lanterns and oriental rugs. There’s also live music provided by a Moroccan Duo.
They offer a variety of Moroccan specialties including Couscous, Tagines, and grilled kebobs which are prepared with different types of meats and vegetables. Tagine dishes are $29, Couscous dishes are $27, and kebobs are $26.
If you have a hankering for meat then the Meat Co. on the sea front of Souk Madinat Jumeirah is the best place to go.
Serving lunch and dinner they serve burgers, steaks, and seafood. Outdoor seating is right on the water and has views of the Burj Al Arab.
Burgers start at $20 and steaks at $42 for a Rump steak from New Zealand.
AL HADHEERAH tucked away in the desert dunes in the Bab Al Shams Resort & Spa serves a buffet of traditional Arabic food in a desert fort atmosphere. Guests are entertained by dance performances and other cultural activities.
Weekday dinner buffet/show cost $115 per person
Thursday & Friday nights are $135 per person
Kids 5-12 are discounted 50%
Kids 4 and under are free
|Courtesy of Budget Places
Dubai is the epitome of luxury and excess.
The city is home to the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest mall, The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest sweet shop, Candylicious, and the world’s only 7 Star Hotel, The Burj Al Arab.
The hotels and resorts in Dubai compete to be the most luxurious, most family friendly, and pretty much the most of everything. They entice guests with gold ipads to use during their stay, free admission to their waterparks, underwater suites, and much more. There’s no doubt these luxury hotels scream opulence with their decor and provide impeccable service; but of course all this luxury comes with a steep price tag.
It may seem that a visitor to Dubai needs the purse of an oil sheik, and you do if you plan to stay at the Burj Al Arab’s Royal Suite at $20,000+ a night, but there are many budget friendly hotels in the city. They may not be on the beach or on prestigious Palm Island, nor will they have fabulous views, they will more likely be in the older section of the city; but they will be clean and comfortable, and have courteous staff. Here’s a list of budget friendly hotels in the city.
*Clicking on hotel name/photo will take you to an affiliate link.
The Marco Polo Hotel in Deira is efficient and comfortable. Rooms have a coffee maker and free Wi-Fi.
Rooms start at $45/night
The Grand Midwest Tower Hotel Apartments in Media City have studio, one bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments. All units are equipped with kitchens and Wi-Fi. There a pool, and gym with sauna and steamroom. It’s next door to Burjuman Mall in the heart of the city.
Rooms start at $54/night
This hotel chain has more hotels around the city for about the same price
The Rose Garden Hotel Apartments in Al Barsha has Studios, 1 and 2 bedroom units. All apartments are equipped with kitchen and Wi-Fi and they have a pool and a gym.
Rooms start at $45/night
Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road is a 4 star hotel is located in the city just 5 minutes away from Jumeirah Beach. The hotel has Wi-Fi for a fee, swimming pool, gym, and spa.
Rooms start at $68/night
Ibis Deira City Centre Hotel is located in the heart of the historic old city. All rooms have internet access and Wi-Fi in the lobby.
Rooms start at $76/night
The Winchester Deluxe Hotel Apartments in Bur Dubai has studio and 1 bedroom apartments. They have a pool and a gym.
Guests receive complimentary internet and airport transfers.
Rooms start at $67/night