EMIRATES AIRLINE FIRST CLASS REVIEW BASICS:
Not many people I know get too excited at the prospect of a 14-hour flight that leaves at 6:00 AM. But when travelling in first class, even the 4:00 AM wake-up call is cause for excitement. I was recently fortunate enough to experience the first class product on-board Emirates’ A380 from Sydney to Dubai.
Most Emirates’ departures from Australia to Dubai are timed to leave at night; this did not appeal very much to me as when traveling first class I like to make the most of the experience, rather than just sleep though it. Luckily, Emirates had recently introduced the A380 product on their EK415 service, which departs Sydney at 6:00 AM with a 1:20 PM arrival to Dubai. This service is primarily targeted at connecting traffic onto the afternoon European services, which allow for a same-day evening arrival into Europe.
I was happy to be staying at an airport hotel, meaning that I could afford to sleep in a little longer. Check-in at Sydney was completed with minimal fuss, and I was on my way to security within five minutes of entering the terminal.
Given the Qantas Emirates partnership, first class passengers traveling on Emirates flights have access to the Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney. Sadly, the lounge was still closed at this hour of the morning. I had to make do with the Emirates lounge – while it is still of a very high standard, it is not as good as the Qantas’ first lounge.
On board, I was welcomed by the purser and escorted to my seat. As this was my first time flying Emirates First Class, I was given a very comprehensive walk-through of all of the seat and cabin features. At this time, I also received my bvlgari amenity kit along with pajamas and slippers; all of this was very nicely presented in an Emirates-branded tote bag. This is probably the best and highest quality of in-flight amenities I have received on any carrier.
For the welcome drink, I selected none other than the 2004 Dom Perignon. This was accompanied with warm nuts, dates, and Arabic coffee.
As with many other carriers, Emirates has adopted an a la carte dining option for its first class passengers. This means you can dine anytime during the flight, although hot meals can only be ordered up until 90 minutes before landing. There was a wide selection of dishes on the menu to suit any palette. The highlight on the menu for me would have to be the Iranian caviar – it is nice to see Emirates still offer this, as a number of carriers have done away with the caviar service in their first class cabins.
Whilst the quality of the catering on the flight was of a very high standard, I did find that unlike other carriers in the middle east, there did not seem to be as much care taken in the presentation of some dishes. This, I believe, is brought on by the fact that Emirates do not employ a dedicated chef on the flights.
Emirates has adopted a suite cabin design for its First Class product on the A380. The suite is probably one of the best equipped in the industry today. There is ample room to store your belongings as well as a mini closet to hang coats, etc.
The suite is also equipped with a non-alcoholic mini bar and a snack basket, which come in handy when watching movies. There is a very large Panasonic IFE screen, which together with the active noise cancelling headphones and the award-winning Emirates ICE system makes for a truly excellent experience.
All of the suites features including IFE, seat position, and even the window blinds are controlled by a tablet. What I like about this is that you can be watching a movie on the main screen and have the airshow going simultaneously on the tablet. The suite doors are also controlled by the tablet; this I found to be a bit annoying, as moving the doors electronically seemed to take a bit too long and there was no way to manually control them.
Unlike other carriers, there is no second seat in the suite, meaning that it is not possible to dine with a partner. The seat converts to a lie-flat bed and the crew will more than happily make the bed for you, complete with a duvet and mattress. This makes for a very comfortable sleep after a few too many glasses of Dom.
Overall, the Emirates A380 First Class experience is of a very high standard. While there is room for improvement in terms of catering presentation, it really is hard to find anything at fault with the experience. Except, perhaps, with the decor of the cabins; I myself am not a huge fan of the faux wood and gold finishes used throughout the cabin, and Emirates really does tend to overdo it with these finishes.
The use of mood lighting is also very welcome, and it is a shame more airlines do not more actively engage the use of this type of lighting.
There were two features of the A380 first class experience I was looking forward to more than the champagne and caviar. The first was the on-board bar located at the back of the business class cabin. The second being the on-board shower/spa; this is exclusively for the use of First Class passengers. I will cover both of these in the second part of my review.