A sterling experience
There’s no doubt about it – Silverjet’s silver lounge at the Al Majlis VIP terminal tucked far from the madding crowd at Dubai International’s frenetic airport next to Airport Expo is a major plus.
The exclusive use of the lounge for its scheduled flight times means a maximum of only 102 other passengers to contend with – a relief when it comes to the air travel stakes especially among frequent travellers.
The executive terminal is reserved for private jets, and Silverjet, the British all business class airline, is the first and only commercial airline in the world to use the the area for its customer arrivals and departures.
Logistically speaking, it is about five minutes drive from the main Terminal 1 (used by Emirates, British Airways and Virgin), and worth bearing in mind is that it is not possible to walk to Silverjet’s terminal from Dubai’s Terminal 1 or 2.
Also worth a mention is the small duty free shop in the executive terminal, as well as a prayer room.
Delays beset every airline, and should this be so at least passengers can wait in comfort, well fed and well watered by a range of complementary refreshments in the style of a continental breakfast.
Nothing is over the top. Service is not gushing but efficient and friendly. When the flight is ready for boarding, customers are invited downstairs and pass through the terminal’s own security channel and then passengers are bussed a short distance to the aircraft.
On board the friendliness was personified by the recently trained flight attendant serving me who had the honesty to admit he had not seen where the entertainment system had to be plugged in to get it working (as a first timer, I couldn’t find it either) but together, and with a laugh, we found out.
Being 6’ 2” has a few set backs, and one of them is fully relaxing on any aircraft. (Another is finding long enough jeans.) However, the 6’3” flat beds made it possible for me to stretch out to full length for the first time - in the air anyway.
For practical business people there’s another plus – the irritation of having to wait while one woman spends hours powdering her nose can be off-set by Silverjet’s provision of a ladies only toilet. Hopefully such an offender would have the decency to use this facility.
The food is classically presented and varied and there’s enough of it. Particularly tasty were the British fish pie followed by strawberries and cream. If I had wanted I could have ordered a different meal online prior to departure, but I prefer surprises. I could also have taken my breakfast in a doggy bag upon departure.
Luton private terminal
At Luton Airport’s private arrivals terminal passengers sailed through in a blink of an eye, their baggage not too far behind either. If you need to wait or freshen up, there’s a separate lounge dedicated to Silverjet passengers only, also tucked away from the stampeding crowd outside the main terminal. Worth a mention in this lounge is a fabulous feature - a silver fuel (or oil) tank from a 1920s Fokker aircraft serving as a drinks table. As in Dubai, complementary drinks and snacks are available.
Access to north London and beyond couldn’t be easier, and to the south there’s a great train connection – First Connect - straight through to St Pancras, London Bridge, Gatwick and onto Brighton without having to change trains.
There is of course, Silverjet’s chauffeur driven service which you can order beforehand for a small fee or is complimentary on certain ticket categories.
Silverjet launched its Boeing 767 daily service between Dubai and London in November last year, and was the first airline to do so. Now there is competition. Yet Silverjet’s CEO Lawrence Hunt is philosophical, and he told me recently.
“The announcement that EOS is to start flying to Dubai is testament to the level of demand for premium air travel beyond what is currently offered by the legacy carriers operating on this route. Dubai has become an acclaimed destination for both business and leisure travellers alike, with air-traffic to the emirate growing at around 20 per cent year on year.
“Following on from our successful launch in November – and the strong support we continue to receive from the UAE’s business community and from our discerning clientele – we are very confident that we will be able to continue to outpace any of the new or existing competitors in this fast-growing market. During October and November Silverjet was, according to official statistics published by the CAA, one of the most punctual airlines in the industry, reflecting the strength of our offering.
“With a private terminal at London Luton and as the first business class carrier to start flying to Dubai, Silverjet is the only commercial airline in the world to use the 5,000 square foot executive terminal at Dubai International Airport.
“In addition, dedicated security enables Silverjet's customers to arrive just 30 minutes prior to departure. We wait with interest to see if EOS is able to offer this level of customer service and match Silverjet’s ticket price of Dh7,450 return,” he said.
by Cheryl Mandy