How Emirates filmed their incredible Burj Khalifa flypast stunt

Jan 23, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for TPG daily newsletter.

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.

— 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

— Emirates Airline (@emirates) August 5, 2021

Featured image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.