Emirates A380 Flies 13 Hours From Dubai To Dubai

Emirates A380 Flies 13 Hours From Dubai To Dubai

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Auckland Airport is having weather issues, and that’s having quite an impact on flights.

Auckland Airport is flooded & closed

Auckland Airport (AKL) is experiencing some horrible storms right now, which have caused flooding. We’re not just talking a little puddle here and there, but rather the check-in facility is covered in several inches of water.

For the time being, all flights into and out of Auckland Airport have been canceled until at least 12PM on Saturday, January 28, 2023. As you’d expect, at any given point there are many flights enroute to a major international airport, and that causes some issues when airports close. Some passengers are experiencing the consequences of that right now.

Auckland-bound Emirates A380 returns to Dubai

Emirates operates flight EK448 from Dubai (DXB) to Auckland AKL). The flight is operated by an Airbus A380, and is one of the longest flights in the world, at 8,824 miles. The flight was scheduled to depart Dubai at 10:30AM on Friday, and land in Auckland at 11:20AM on Saturday. Unfortunately for passengers, that’s not how things are working out, though.

As noted by @AirlineFlyer, the Emirates A380 had to turn around midflight due to the closure of Auckland Airport.

The flight took off from Dubai today at 10:57AM, and for 6.5 hours it flew southeast over the Indian Ocean, touching the coast of India and Sri Lanka. At that point the decision was made to return to Dubai, given the closure of the airport.

An Emirates A380 is returning to Dubai

The plane is still currently flying, and Emirates suggests it will arrive in Dubai at 12:21AM on Saturday morning. That means in the end, passengers will have spent around 14 hours on the plane, only to deplane where they departed from.

Flight status for this Emirates flight

Presumably Emirates will regroup, and hope to get passengers on their way ASAP, once they know the airport will reopen.

It goes without saying that for most passengers, turning around midflight sucks. People typically travel because they have somewhere to go (or so I’m told!), whether it’s a vacation or an important commitment. Having to fly 13 hours to nowhere isn’t ideal.

That being said, if I were booked in first class and wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere, I wouldn’t mind getting two ultra long haul Emirates first class flights (and two showers, and double unlimited caviar) for the price of one. 😉

I’m down for some extra time on an Emirates A380!

Many might (logically) pose the question of why the flight doesn’t simply divert to another nearby airport, rather than returning all the way to Dubai. Ultimately this just comes down to logistics.

A layover would have been required wherever the plane would have landed (since the pilots couldn’t keep flying), and finding 500+ hotel rooms in a station not ordinarily served by Emirates is complicated. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want to land in a different country, given that many travelers might not be eligible to enter, causing a logistical nightmare. Lastly, the A380 is the largest passenger plane in the world, and not all airports can accommodate it.

So while returning all the way to Dubai is expensive and wasteful in terms of fuel burn, it’s probably the most practical option. Emirates has no shortage of crews, A380s, or hotel rooms in Dubai, making it easy to get people on their way when it’s possible again.

Bottom line

Auckland Airport has been shut down due to flooding, which has major impacts on airlines. However, no flight was impacted quite as much as Emirates’ flight from Dubai to Auckland. The flight was nearing the halfway point of its journey when the decision was made to return to Dubai.

While the flight could have probably diverted elsewhere, at that point the logistics are just easier of returning to a major hub.

What do you make of this unique Emirates A380 flight to “nowhere?”

Conversations (67)
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  1. Fassy Saleem Guest

    Why didn’t the Emirates flight divert to any major airport in Australia? It’s very short flightier from there yo Auckland.That would have been the very best option logistically .

  2. SDS Guest

    Aircrafts Divert all the time and visas are never considered during diversions. No decision is right or wrong.
    But in this case was emirates thinking logistics and costs rather than disruption to passengers.
    Imagine the passengers having to get back on a plane to commence the entire journey.
    I could be wrong but a more practical alternative must be in place for future occurrences.

  3. N Batista Guest

    Forgive my lack of knowledge, but there are so many questions like did NZ authorities have an opportunity to warn incoming flights before their departure? Could the flight not land elsewhere in NZ as an alternative given the circumstances? Would beat heading all the way back. Alternatively could the flight reach Australia if Australia could accommodate them temporarily? Or is there too much red tape and legal barriers?

    1. Thomas Junior Guest

      This emergency came to the knowledge of EK at convenient phase of the flight- early enough before the fuel balance reached critical level to warrant a diversion to alternate airport. So the option of returning to DBX, given sufficient fuel, wa the best operational decision for wellbeing of passengers and aircraft.

  4. Mona Guest

    Best decision to return to Dubai, reasons given by the airline is sufficient

  5. Ward Dossche Guest

    Airlines are insured for such events

  6. Frog Guest

    You do know that it’s possible to just by all the caviar you want and eat it at home for far less than the price of a first class ticket right?

  7. Louise sonnekus Guest

    It makes sense to me to turn back to destination

  8. Kofi CK Guest

    Are they no other airports in Australia to accommodate this aircraft?

  9. Merlion Guest

    Well diverting to Singapore is the obvious choice distance and facility wise, but probably not very logical in this case since the flood impact might take days to resolve.

  10. Crabbykrab Guest

    They could have diverted to Australia (Sydney/Melbourne) or nearby SEA countries (Singapore/Kuala Lumpur). Emirates has daily flights to these cities and there are plenty of hotel rooms.

    1. Bb Tt Guest

      Even if one passenger cannot enter that country without a visa, they cannot divert there.

    2. Frog Guest

      You do know that it’s possible to just by all the caviar you want and eat it at home for far less than the price of a first class ticket right?

  11. iamhere Guest

    Wonder how people were credited for the loyalty program. If it's based on weather then it may be a while before the bad weather stops and it is cleaned up.

  12. OliverBoliver Guest

    EU261 would most likely apply for some of the passengers onboard, if they were flying on a ticket that originated in the EU and then connected in Dubai. However, the flooding would be outside the airline's control so it would not trigger EU261 in any case.

  13. Abdul wahad beg Guest

    It is an upfront fatigue to add to idle time. me being ex swissair had to reach saudia for umra from Karachi via Zurich where air time use to be more than 14 hrs and dry idle in transit around 5 hr, I still enjoyed know why it is was free of cost.

  14. Real KK Guest

    Prompt decision.making is crucial in such situations.
    This was well handled.

    Sorry for the passengers who could not reach their destinations as planned.

  15. Doug DeNunzio Guest

    We will see how the passengers fare on the airline.

  16. Sam Guest

    Wise decision. It cheaper than having to accommodate 500+ passengers even in India (which requires prior visas) to enter.

  17. Nyakoojo Hirario Guest

    That’s why I have chosen to Trevel with emirates.they are class above

  18. Ryan Gold

    "if I were booked in first class and wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere, I wouldn’t mind getting two ultra long haul Emirates first class flights"
    That was totally my first thought, if I was in F I'd be like meh...more Dom please....if not that would suck

  19. Paul Robson Guest

    I would have thought Perth would have been more suitable, assuming their local Perth staff could check if accomodation would be possible, A380 can land there, Emirates have staff there, and after a 24hr rest period for crew, continue on to Auckland?

    1. John Phelan Guest

      Yes, PER, SYD, MEL or BNE would be the possibles, and all are EK ports - but finding 300+ hotel rooms and organising transfers would have been problematic.

    2. Elliot Johnston Guest

      Christchurch was the best option, no visa issues, a 1.5hr internal flight up to Auckland the next day and lots of flights available or fly the A380 up the next day. Crew could have been replaced by an A380 crew dispatched from Dubai within a few hours. ChCh hotels still should have loads of rooms available post Covid quarantine finishing.

    3. vlcnc Guest

      Yep or Wellington. To me that would have made more sense, but guess EK made the call it be cheaper overall to accommodate people in Dubai.

    4. Bb Tt Guest

      Ah, yes, random people on the internet definitely know more about the airline and its expenses than the airline itself.

  20. Barry Scott Guest

    Emirates operate flights to Christchurch, 60 minutes from Auckland and A380 capable, so a diversion back to DXB doesn’t make sense

    1. Weymar Osborne Gold

      I was thinking this same thing. Others have mentioned diversion points like Australia or Indonesia, but landing in a different country than the one you are bound for can cause problems with visas and immigration. I can't really think of many reasons why Christchurch wouldn't have been the best option. I guess maybe because EK isn't servicing CHC at this very moment (resuming in March) so they may not have the staff yet? Perhaps issues...

      I was thinking this same thing. Others have mentioned diversion points like Australia or Indonesia, but landing in a different country than the one you are bound for can cause problems with visas and immigration. I can't really think of many reasons why Christchurch wouldn't have been the best option. I guess maybe because EK isn't servicing CHC at this very moment (resuming in March) so they may not have the staff yet? Perhaps issues with crew timing out as well. I don't know the specific rules of crew rest but I have to assume one of the longest flights in the world would have reserve pilots rostered. Can resting onboard while the secondary crew rests count towards crew rest requirements?

    2. SD Guest

      Air NZ were diverting some international flights to Christchurch. Peak holiday period here in NZ, its possible there is insufficient hotel accomodation available in CHC to also take in this EK flight.

    3. John Phelan Guest

      I think the 300+ hotel rooms in CHC would have been the issue.

  21. Peter Guest

    Seems like they were only a few hours from Perth, and even closer to Jakarta or Denpasar. EK operates to all three of those cities, they all have a hotel or two. I’d really love to know the decision making process!

    1. Wise Woman Guest

      What about the visas? Even if 1 single passenger doesn’t have a visa for Australia or Indonesia, the plane can’t land. And I don’t think that emirates would be able to pay for 200+ hotel rooms. The cheaper, safer option is to go back to dxb since everyone has (at least) a travel visa if they stay in uae

    2. Wise Woman Guest

      And the fact that Auckland airport flooded makes it worse, since if they made a decision to land there, everyone would be drenched, if not, soaked! And the airport itself was closed due to flooding as well.

  22. Patrick Guest

    Logistics or not, the decision to fly back halfway the 14hr journey has to be re-thought again and again. The flight lands in Dubai at 1am Saturday, what time is it in akl?_--11am. The airport opens at 1230pm in Auckland, an hour difference. Very wrong decision to fly back to dubai. Solution would have been to make a techstop on Sydney, fuel and proceed to all land when airport is open.. simple.

    1. Petri Diamond

      Simple, if at the time of making the desicion on how to proceed there was already information that the airport is definitely going to open at 12.30.

    2. Pete Guest

      True, if not you'd have a plane-full of people stuck at Sydney (or even Melbourne) without the required electronic pre-clearance for Australia. The Kiwi passport holders and the crew (obviously) would be fine, but everyone else...

    3. Alex Guest

      In hindsight, very right decision. The airport is still flooded and won't open for international departures until 7am Sunday 29th.

      So had EK continued that flight on, the A380 would have been stranded in a flooded city for days

  23. classcair New Member

    "People typically travel because they have somewhere to go (or so I’m told!)" -- Cracking up at this @Ben. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Julian Guest

      I actually lol'ed at that line.

  24. Vinod Mirchandani Guest

    I would presume that we are not talking about just one single flight being diverted. There must have been several more. on route and then being forced to turn back or divert to another airport (depending on fuel issues and pilot flight hours) Any information on those?

  25. MurrayF Guest

    Prob the worst flooding I can recall in 50 yrs in Auckland. Had to pick up my wife from cancelled elton john concert and the were several land slips and lots of flooding. worst thing was going around a corner and see manhole covers popped from water pressure. check out www.nzherald.co.nz

  26. Gravelly Point Guy Guest

    So did AAL 35.

    1. Ryan Gold

      And they were on AA not EK, so realistically they suffered far more!

  27. DuaneU2 Gold

    It seems like the airport flooding and closure should be the main story here, not a single flight that was affected.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Because AKL can't even compete with the Emirates' novelty shower and AYCE caviar.

  28. Todd Guest

    AAL 35 last night diverted back to DFW after maybe 6 hours in flight

  29. Sean M. Diamond

    A lucrative day for those passengers originating from the EU though! €600 compensation. Ka-ching!

    1. Grey Diamond

      The EU law only guarantees accommodation and meals and the right to refund if you choose not to continue the journey. Compensation is not provided if an aircraft has to turn around because the airport is closed. That is hardly Emirates' fault...

    2. Eskimo Guest

      I'm going to guess that airport closure due to flooding falls under "extraordinary circumstances".

    3. Icarus Guest

      Dubai is not in the EU. So a flight operated by a non eu carrier departing a non EU country to a non eu country isn’t covered. If you’re connecting from the EU via dxb it still doesn’t apply if it’s beyond the airline’s control. emirates isn’t responsible for the closure of AKL.

    4. Quinten Guest

      Wrong. EU261/2004 does apply when starting your journey in EU member states, Switzerland, Iceland or Norway AND flying on 1 ticket. The compensation part probably does not apply. But the other rights (duty of care, right to be flown back to starting airport, full refund, rerouting, etc) do.

    5. Tom K Guest

      Not at all, for two reasons

      EU261 would apply only to a flight that originated in EU (for non EU carriers) and this one originated in Dubai (and there are no direct flights form EU to Auckland)

      Even more important, it des not apply to delays / cancellations which our out of airlines control, and a flodded airport is definitely not in their control

    6. Klaus Guest

      But EU261 would apply for a trip from EU via DXB to AKL (?).
      (If it wouldn’t be for the weather)

    7. TomK Guest

      @Klaus

      No it would not. EU261 applies on all EU carriers (irrelevant if the flight is within, from or to EU) and foreign carriers on flights from EU only (so not to EU)
      It does not work for onward flights from third countries.

    8. OliverBoliver Guest

      Sorry TomK but you have this totally wrong. EU261 does apply to a single itinerary originating in the EU. It does not matter if the connecting flight is operated by an non-EU airline in an non-EU country. This was tested in the ECJ at the start of 2022 and the judges confirmed EU261 does apply in this situation. The case in front of them concerned United Airlines and a flight from Brussels to San Jose...

      Sorry TomK but you have this totally wrong. EU261 does apply to a single itinerary originating in the EU. It does not matter if the connecting flight is operated by an non-EU airline in an non-EU country. This was tested in the ECJ at the start of 2022 and the judges confirmed EU261 does apply in this situation. The case in front of them concerned United Airlines and a flight from Brussels to San Jose (USA). The delayed flight was from Newark to San Jose, and United were found to be liable under EU261.

    9. Sean M. Diamond

      There is no blanket exception for "extraordinary circumstances" under EU261/2004, nor for issues "outside the airline's control". It is strict liability.

      The exception exists for "extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken".

      It does not specify that these reasonable measures needed to have been taken by the airline. If someone else could have taken a reasonable measure to avoid the extraordinary circumstance from occuring, then compensation...

      There is no blanket exception for "extraordinary circumstances" under EU261/2004, nor for issues "outside the airline's control". It is strict liability.

      The exception exists for "extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken".

      It does not specify that these reasonable measures needed to have been taken by the airline. If someone else could have taken a reasonable measure to avoid the extraordinary circumstance from occuring, then compensation is still due.

      It is not unreasonable that someone should have designed an airport that would not flood like Auckland airport did. Ergo, all reasonable measures were not taken. Therefore, Emirates owes compensation to passengers who originated in the EU. Emirates can sue Auckland airport for reimbursement if they so desire, but they must pay the passengers.

      Ka-ching!!

    10. Eskimo Guest

      Careful with your Ka-ching @Sean M.

      Your argument means nothing is ever "extraordinary circumstances".

      You remember Eyjafjallajökull? It is not unreasonable to expect an active volcano to erupt, ergo all reasonable measures were not taken.
      Ka-ching!!

      You know terrorists are out there. It is not unreasonable that someone should have designed a way to prevent an attack. (By invading Afghanistan?)
      Ka-ching!!

      If you know an act of god will delay your...

      Careful with your Ka-ching @Sean M.

      Your argument means nothing is ever "extraordinary circumstances".

      You remember Eyjafjallajökull? It is not unreasonable to expect an active volcano to erupt, ergo all reasonable measures were not taken.
      Ka-ching!!

      You know terrorists are out there. It is not unreasonable that someone should have designed a way to prevent an attack. (By invading Afghanistan?)
      Ka-ching!!

      If you know an act of god will delay your flight, it is not unreasonable that someone should have prayed to god, or made some tribute. Ergo you should get a new god?
      Ka-ching!!

      It is not unreasonable for NYC to have few more airports or design LHR to be more efficient. Ergo any delay from NYC or LHR could have been avoided.
      Ka-ching!!

      It is not unreasonable to expect snow storms in the winter. So delays in the winter should have been avoided. Ergo, all reasonable measures were not taken.
      Ka-ching!!

      If you already know the outcome, everything can be avoided.
      Ka-ching!!
      Ka-ching!!
      Ka-ching!!

      Now maybe could you provide some reference that EK did paid out to at least one passenger on this flight.
      Ka-ching???

    11. Sean M. Diamond

      @Eskimo - Now you are being ridiculous.

      The test is "all reasonable measures". Whether something is foreseeable is not the test. The question is whether it is avoidable. There is no reasonable measure available presently to prevent volcanic eruption or snowstorms. Those would fall under the exceptions.

      There are however reasonable measures to protect against terrorism. There are reasonable measures to avoid airport congestion (not least that airlines could simply schedule flights to less congested...

      @Eskimo - Now you are being ridiculous.

      The test is "all reasonable measures". Whether something is foreseeable is not the test. The question is whether it is avoidable. There is no reasonable measure available presently to prevent volcanic eruption or snowstorms. Those would fall under the exceptions.

      There are however reasonable measures to protect against terrorism. There are reasonable measures to avoid airport congestion (not least that airlines could simply schedule flights to less congested airports instead). Similarly there are means to avoid flooding of airports. Those would certainly fall under EU261/2004 and require payment of compensation.

    12. Eskimo Guest

      @Sean M.

      Ridiculous maybe, but I'm just trying to apply your logic on other events.

      "foreseeable is not the test." / "whether it is avoidable."
      How can you avoid something you can't see?

      Also while you can't reasonably prevent volcanic eruption, you can always never route any flight near an active volcano. Just like avoiding Russia right now.

      If you can 'reasonably' avoid flooding, I'm sure you can 'reasonably' avoid snowstorms.
      And all...

      @Sean M.

      Ridiculous maybe, but I'm just trying to apply your logic on other events.

      "foreseeable is not the test." / "whether it is avoidable."
      How can you avoid something you can't see?

      Also while you can't reasonably prevent volcanic eruption, you can always never route any flight near an active volcano. Just like avoiding Russia right now.

      If you can 'reasonably' avoid flooding, I'm sure you can 'reasonably' avoid snowstorms.
      And all those effected in Bangladesh last year was unreasonable.

      Regardless, maybe could you provide some reference that EK did paid out to at least one passenger on this flight.
      Ka-ching???

    13. TG Guest

      There is already legal precedence and regulations were tested in court for extreme natural events and in this case, for the Iceland volcanic eruption. This was deemed to be an extraordinary circumstance outside the control of the airlines and the compensation was not required to be paid.

      The airlines however were still obligated for the "care" requirement of the regulations meaning accommodation, welfare, food etc was required to be provided for affected passengers however...

      There is already legal precedence and regulations were tested in court for extreme natural events and in this case, for the Iceland volcanic eruption. This was deemed to be an extraordinary circumstance outside the control of the airlines and the compensation was not required to be paid.

      The airlines however were still obligated for the "care" requirement of the regulations meaning accommodation, welfare, food etc was required to be provided for affected passengers however the finding also ruled that this is based on the specific circumstances of each case (ie. each passenger) and needs to be proved necessary, appropriate and reasonable.

      So unlikely to be a "ka-ching" blanket compensation moment for the passengers but Emirates may have to provide accommodation, food and care for the passengers until the flight can be made which, the form and quantum of the care obligations depends on the individuals circumstances (ie. if a Dubai resident was travelling from EU to NZ it will be different to an EU resident as it would be hard to justify accommodation costs as a reasonable expense. Food, transport etc during the wait however would be easier to claim).

    14. Hutch Guest

      Yeah mate, you can't always prevent flooding. Particularly the kind experienced by Auckland recently... Sometimes it just rains more than any reasonable measure can deal with.

      If you're out for compo in this situation, you are the problem.

  30. Alec-14 Gold

    That’s a lot of fuel to burn!

    1. Duncan Guest

      Surely divert flight to Sydney?

    2. Hutch Guest

      And then what? What about passengers who can't enter Australia?

  31. Adrian in NZ Guest

    I am in Auckland now. The airport is slowly drying out but the airport is closed until at least 12.00 noon Saturday 28th local time.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Tom K Guest

Not at all, for two reasons EU261 would apply only to a flight that originated in EU (for non EU carriers) and this one originated in Dubai (and there are no direct flights form EU to Auckland) Even more important, it des not apply to delays / cancellations which our out of airlines control, and a flodded airport is definitely not in their control

3
Sean M. Diamond

There is no blanket exception for "extraordinary circumstances" under EU261/2004, nor for issues "outside the airline's control". It is strict liability. The exception exists for "extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken". It does not specify that these reasonable measures needed to have been taken by the airline. If someone else could have taken a reasonable measure to avoid the extraordinary circumstance from occuring, then compensation is still due. It is not unreasonable that someone should have designed an airport that would not flood like Auckland airport did. Ergo, all reasonable measures were not taken. Therefore, Emirates owes compensation to passengers who originated in the EU. Emirates can sue Auckland airport for reimbursement if they so desire, but they must pay the passengers. Ka-ching!!

2
OliverBoliver Guest

Sorry TomK but you have this totally wrong. EU261 does apply to a single itinerary originating in the EU. It does not matter if the connecting flight is operated by an non-EU airline in an non-EU country. This was tested in the ECJ at the start of 2022 and the judges confirmed EU261 does apply in this situation. The case in front of them concerned United Airlines and a flight from Brussels to San Jose (USA). The delayed flight was from Newark to San Jose, and United were found to be liable under EU261.

2
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