Dubai: It was a historic day for the UAE as the country celebrated its aggressive COVID-19 vaccination programme with a special Emirates flight for fully-vaccinated crew and passengers on Friday.
EK2021 – as the flight was aptly called – not only celebrated the success of the UAE's vaccination programme that has administered close to nine million vaccines doses to date, but also highlighted Emirates' progress in vaccinating its staff, pilots and cabin crew. It was also a celebration for the passengers who took the flight as a sign of return to normality as most of them were not able to see the inside of a plane since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
The one-off flight EK2021 cruised over various areas across the UAE and returned to DXB airport Terminal 3 at 4.30pm local time.
Passengers disembarking Emirates A380 following the historic EK 2021 flight.
Back on the ground
The flight was a total of four hours in duration. It took off from DXB at 12.30pm and landed in Dubai at 4.30pm.
With cheers and applause, EK 2021 just landed at Dubai International Airport. Flight was a success.
Travel blogger shares his experience
Dubai-based Chinese aviation and travel blogger Sam Chui shares his experience flying EK 2021
Enjoying the flight
Passengers enjoying onboard entertainment, including latest Hollywood movies.
Hot meals at 10,000 feet
Hot meals are now being served at 10,000 feet above sea level the UAE aboard special flight EK 2021.
Passengers in the economy and premium economy sectors are given a choice of Grilled chicken in tomato sauce with mashed potatoes or Prawn Machboos
In a huddle
EK crew in a huddle. Before serving refreshments to EK 2021 passengers, the purser gave a pep to the flight crew. She said: “Let’s give passengers an unforgettable experience.”
View from up above
Up in the air
We are now up in the air at 10,000 feet above the ground, hovering around the UAE.
EK2021 is taxiing off
Flight is heading towards the northern emirates before returning back to DXB Terminal 3 after three hours.
Gulf News team has just boarded EK2021 and were given Premium Economy seats. Emirates has safely and gradually restored its network over the past months, bringing back signature experiences onboard and on the ground with comprehensive measures in place for the health and safety of its customers and employees.
All set to board EX2021 flight
Business class passengers are readying for boarding. All passengers on EK2021 were able to experience all services and amenities at Dubai International Airport, including the use of Emirates Business lounge, before boarding. They were also able to try out first-hand all the latest measures to help travellers enjoy a safe and smooth journey, including the new biometric and contactless technology, which Emirates has recently implemented at the check-in areas and boarding gates at Dubai airport.
All passengers had to undergone rapid PCR test before checking in. They also presented their vaccination card. At the check-in counter, everyone was handed out a travel hygiene kit plus a green pin, indicating that the passenger has been vaccinated.
Emirati Ali Abdullah, 23, is one of the passengers. He told Gulf News before checking in: “This is a really exciting flight. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a flight. This (EK 2021) proves that flight is safe even during the pandemic if you follow the health and safety protocols.”