Details matter

Flying with family is stressful. Despite best efforts bags are inevitably hanging from every shoulder and kids, rudely awoken at 4am, are short on patience. So it doesn’t take much to trigger a minor crisis which can have a ripple effect on the entire journey as moods sour.

This morning we were informed that Emirates had, in the past four days, discontinued their policy of providing bags for checked-in buggies. I was sent to have the buggy wrapped, for which I was expected to pay with cash which I did not have. And so began the hunt for an ATM, which I found only to realise my card was back with the check-in clerk. 20 minutes of running around later and stress levels are high before we have begun our journey, and only because a cost saving measure had been implemented without consideration for the customer’s experience.

Companies are getting much better at making investments with customer experience in mind. But few realise that the same methods can be used to implement a cost saving initiative. In this case, any measure which could have prevented me hunting around the airport at 6am would have been preferable, including simply charging us for the plastic bag which was once offered for free. We also discovered in this instance that we had the option to take the buggy to the gate, but only when another clerk stepped in after we had paid for the wrapping service. Another detail which matters: staff training.

Check-in experience aside we are now safely on board a 777 headed for Tokyo waiting for our take off slot. Little M is fast asleep which is wonderful for me but tough for Lucy who is holding her in the most awkward of positions. Big M is rattling through the first 10 minutes of every film we downloaded to his tablet and at this rate will have exhausted his entertainment supply before the landing gear is up.

We arrive late in Tokyo and have a 30 minutes taxi ride to the hotel. I’ve set up an account with the Uber-like Japan Taxi app, which I look forward to sharing my thoughts about. For now we have 9 hours to look forward to in the air, hopefully including a little time to reflect on the coming weeks and our arrival in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo.

Leaving Dubai

Tomorrow we travel to Japan. After 4 days of stifling heat in the cosy embrace of family here in Dubai, our adventure will gather pace as we trace a path over Asia, and will hit full swing when we touch down in Tokyo tomorrow evening.

I can’t deny being apprehensive about the flight. 6 hours from Copenhagen to Dubai was far better than we expected, even if little M slept less than we may have hoped, but we’re both wary of false confidence or complacency and so we’re managing our expectations carefully!

Emirates were fantastic on the way over. I’m not sure they could have done much to improve. The hostesses were all incredibly friendly, and we had some genuine conversations about our travels. The bassinet, although ineffective for our hyperactive 9 month old, was great for the 40 minutes in which she slept. Both kids were given a blanket and toys; big M was given an activity set and little M a handy bag with wipes, bib and spoon. The baby food was Ella’s organics (a meal pouch and a fruit pouch – perfect!), and the kids meal was a tasty tomato pasta which big M ate pretty well. Another nice touch was the personal Polaroid photo which a crew member snapped of us and presented in a neat card with a message from Emi, our Japanese hostess from Osaka. The only issue we had was the Emirates policy preventing kids from sitting on the floor during the flight. The bassinet seats provide ample space for kids to play and stretch out so its frustrating to be unable to let them. Otherwise full marks for an airline who have been recognised within the industry for their exceptional service.

On arrival in Tokyo we head to “The Knot”, a neat looking hotel in the shadow of the Metropolitan government building in Shinjuku. The location should give us easy access to one of the iconic districts of the city while we shake off any jet lag, while the transport links are close enough to explore before we move on to less central accommodation for a taste of authentic Tokyo life.