Experiencing life up at the pointy end of the airplane – my review of flying Emirates first class.
On our trip home from our recent vacation, all the planets magically aligned and we got to fly two legs of the journey in Emirates first class. This is not an opportunity I’d ever thought to experience, so was pretty excited (in a very unsophisticated fashion) and am happy to share my thoughts on this luxurious mode of travel with you.
Endless queues and security checks mean that actually getting to the airplane is a tedious chore these days, but not for those travelling in the pointy end. We were schmoozed through first class check-in immediately and given access to fast lane service at security, so all the ugly bits are over and done with in the blink of an eye.
We travelled from Rome to Dubai, then from Dubai to Singapore in first. Emirates don’t appear to have a premium lounge in Rome, so we were ushered into the Alitalia lounge which was pleasantly comfortable and offered a buffet and bar of very impressive proportions, with easily the best food I’ve ever seen in an airline lounge.
The Emirates first class lounge in Dubai is really something to experience. It is ridiculously massive – almost the same size as the whole of Adelaide airport (well, not quite, but pretty bloody huge) with staff ready and eager to cater to passengers every need. The Bloke was keen to try their a la carte breakfast offerings, which he pronounced splendid.
The actual boarding of the plane is done through completely separate gates, meaning that the first class traveller avoids any and all contact with the great unwashed. 😉
We flew in the A380 and first class seats are contained in individual compartments (suites), with doors that can be closed for privacy. As you’d expect, there’s no crowding here, with plenty of space and lots of bells and whistles – ambient lighting, a snack basket and private bar in each suite, a vanity table with lighting, large screen ‘private cinema’, telephone, wifi (which I was unable to get to work at all) and a spacious, comfortable seat that converts to a completely flat bed, with a mattress.
First class and business class passengers have exclusive access to the onboard lounge/bar which offers premium spirits, exclusive wines, champagne, cocktails and beers alongside hot and cold beverages.
The bathroom is enormous and includes an onboard shower spa which offers a large range of gorgeous Bvlgari and organic Voya products. Passengers book their time to indulge in refreshing themselves prior to landing, so there’s really no excuse to arrive at your destination looking scruffy.
On boarding, passengers are greeted with refreshing beverages of any type desired and are presented with the menu which offers several selections for each course – all of which are available on demand. The wine and drinks service is generous, with a range of top-end wines. I was happy to make the most of the vintage Dom Perignon, but was thrilled to see an Adelaide Hills wine from my locals, Shaw and Smith, on the wine list. The food was good, but not exceptional, and tasted very fresh.
While, in general, I found the the service to be extremely attentive, it was a little inconsistent with one or two glaring holes.
On our first leg, a 6 1/2 hour flight from Rome to Dubai, we were not offered any toiletries bags or pyjamas – the former a convenience that is even offered in economy class. The attendants were very generous with the wine, but never got around to showing me how to operate the seat, the wifi or the ambient lighting (the reason I was unable to take any decent photos of the meals). Neither did they return when I asked to purchase something from the duty-free catalogue.
On the second, slightly longer leg, we were given slippers, pyjamas and a toiletries bag – which contained some gorgeous Bvlgari products. My Flight attendant was much more accommodating on this leg, explaining how to work the various aspects of my suite. However she too failed to make good on her promise to help me connect to the wifi.
Annoyingly, the television screen in my suite went a little bonkers halfway through the flight and kept coming on, despite being switched off. The glare from the screen made it impossible for me to sleep and eventually the attendant had to drape the whole thing with a duvet – not vey posh at all.
Did I love it (on the whole)? Hell, yes!
Would I travel this way again given half a chance? Hell, yes!
Was travelling the final leg, from Singapore to Adelaide, in the second-to-last row of economy a major come-down? Hell, yes!