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How Emirates filmed their incredible Burj Khalifa flypast stunt

Jan. 23, 2022
4 min read
Emirates Burj Khalifa advert. Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube
How Emirates filmed their incredible Burj Khalifa flypast stunt
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated to correct the height of the Burj Khalifa and the nationality of Nicole Smith-Ludvik. 

What do you get when you cross an Emirates flight attendant with the world’s tallest building and add an A380 jumbo jet?

Answer: A tear-jerkingly expensive, but spectacular, airline promotional video!

Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube

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In Emirates’ latest commercial released on Jan. 14, a woman dressed in the company’s iconic uniform stands on the uppermost pinnacle of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa holding a sign that reads: “I’m still here.”

The joke, of course, is that she's been standing there in the swirling winds of the earth's troposphere for five months since the last time Emirates did a similar stunt for an ad last August.

Related: Get 2,000 free miles just for signing up for this lucrative mileage program

Then – in what is surely a nod to Bob Dylan’s 1965 "Subterranean Homesick Blues" music video or maybe that scene in "Love Actually" where Andrew Lincoln tells Keira Knightly he loves her while her boyfriend watches TV – she pulls away the card to reveal another: “Wow! I can see Dubai Expo.”

The world’s greatest show brings friends together on top of the world’s tallest building. Enjoy a free @Expo2020Dubai day pass with every ticket. Fly Emirates, Fly Better.
@EmaarDubai pic.twitter.com/JyKebztZaF

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— Emirates Airline (@emirates) January 14, 2022

And as if it weren’t terrifying enough to see her teetering, and smiling, over half a mile above ground, an Emirate’s Airbus 380 booms into the shot, so close that you think she could reach out and touch it.

Related: 14 things that caught me off guard in Emirates’ new premium economy

Before the advertisement ends, she manages to get through a few more cards explaining that the reason she’s up there is to tell you to fly the Emirates A380 to the Dubai World Expo, that’s currently taking place in the UAE’s millionaire’s playground.

It is a genuinely jaw-dropping piece of filming, that took weeks to organize, plan and execute.

And to prove there were no green screens involved in the making of the ad, Emirates has also released a “making of” video to show how it was really done.

Emirates Burj Khalifa commercial. (Courtesy of Emirates/YouTube)

The star of the ad is American skydiver and stuntwoman Nicole Smith-Ludvik, who climbed the iconic tower before sunrise to get to the top in time for the dawn light on Oct. 14, 2021.

Related: What it's like dining in the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa

She and the crew took the lift to the 160th floor of the Burj Khalifa, and then spent an hour climbing a narrow winding staircase to get to the very top.

There, she was attached by a safety harness to a specially-designed platform, where she stood for five hours while the A380 flew past 11 times (at 145 knots) to get the perfect shot. The flypast required the colorful A380 to fly at 2,700 feet, the same height as the Burj Khalifa.

Emirates Burj Khalifa advert. (Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube)

Dubai’s air command even closed down the air space above the city so no other planes might get in the way of the jumbo jet as it circled the city for just over three hours.

Emirates Burj Khalifa advert. (Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube)

It's the second time the airline has pulled a stunt like this, coming five months after it filmed a similar advert without the A380, which you can view below.

Reconnect with your loved ones or take a fabulous vacation.
From 8th August travel to the UK gets easier.#FlyEmiratesFlyBetter pic.twitter.com/pEB2qH6Vyo

— Emirates Airline (@emirates) August 5, 2021

Featured image by Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

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  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023