Review: Emirates First Class Dallas to Dubai

Introduction
Emirates First Class Dallas to Dubai
Two Suites At The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Exploring Abu Dhabi
Exploring Dubai
High Tea At at.mosphere In The Burj Khalifa
You Can Take Your Mom To Singapore But You Can’t Make Her Eat
Thoughts On Traveling With Infrequent Travelers


As I mentioned in my introduction, I’m not really going to review the flights in-depth for this trip report. Our flight from Dallas to Dubai will be the exception, as it was really the highlight of the trip. Ben has reviewed Emirates ad nauseum, so if you’re looking for more details on the flights and amenities just head over to his Trip Report Index.

I had flown to Dallas the night prior (the Dallas > Dubai flight doesn’t really leave at a convenient time for connections from San Diego), so I stopped into The Centurion Lounge to get some work done while I waited for mom’s flight to arrive.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-1

She wanted to see the Centurion Lounge as well, so after spending a few minutes activating the “Soundscape art” at the foot of the escalators we headed upstairs so I could work a bit before boarding our flight. Of course, Mom then asked if she could “use my computer for just a minute” and spent the next twenty reading Facebook posts to me.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-8

So I went for a manicure and called it a day.

Emirates First first impressions

We headed back downstairs as boarding began, and were the first passengers to board in First. My mother, for whom there are no strangers, just best friends she hasn’t met yet, promptly became BFFs with the purser. I didn’t even have my bag stored before they were trading lipstick tips.

The combination of that and the near-empty cabin meant the purser arranged three of the suites for my mom. The one next to me for dining/lounging, one by the window for sleeping (“It will be more private”), and a third (“For a closet. Let me move your things.”). Absolutely above and beyond, and brought my mom to actual tears.

Once the tears had subsided, and the champagne had arrived, mom then decided the best thing to do was to call Ben.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-7

And that, folks, is why he’s my best friend — he spent five minutes enthusiastically listening to mom describe every minute detail of her seat as though he hadn’t experienced it himself a dozen times (“There are noise-canceling headphones! And Mars bars! Those are so hard to find in the US! And I have my own little stock of drinks!”) and then took her on a ten-minute audio tour of the rest of the plane.

I mean, there are other reasons too, but stuff like that just warms my heart.

Enjoying Emirates First

There were only two other passengers in first, and the service commenced immediately once we were airborne. We both ordered the caviar and mezze, and then mom, in her excitement, also ordered a salad, soup, one of the mains, and so on.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-053

Obviously that’s far more food than anyone can eat in a single sitting, which brings me to my first Emirates First Tip: the menu is based on a dine-on-demand concept, and there’s really no reason to order everything at once. An amazing crew might stagger the requests to the galley, but in this case they started preparing all the items right away, so her lamb sat under the warmer for about three hours while she nibbled on everything else.

And of course, my mom was just adorable during the entire meal. My favorite moment by far was when she turned to me and said “I feel so badly wasting this entire half a lemon. They’re so expensive!” while squeezing said lemon on a plate of caviar, which was accompanied by a glass of Dom Perignon.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-052

Yes mom, it’s the lemon that’s expensive 😉

After lunch and a movie, mom wanted to go back and have a drink at the bar.

We made our way through the nearly-empty business class cabin to the aft of the aircraft, where the bar was packed with business class passengers. There were maybe twenty people in business class in total, and a dozen of them were boisterously enjoying the bar. As the entire compliment of business class consisted of past-middle-aged men, my mom quickly decided that scene was not for her, and we retreated to the first class bar area between the shower suites.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-060

While that area is self-serve, it was nice to be able to stretch our legs in relative quiet.

I was more than ready to sleep at this point (I generally like to acclimate myself to destination time as soon as I board the plane, and it was well-past 2AM in the UAE). The crew cheerfully made up my bed, and I settled in for the night.

This is as good a point as any to mention my second Emirates First Tip: if you are flying a low-occupancy route like Dallas > Dubai, you may want to ask the crew to turn off the IFE and lamps in the empty suites. This isn’t standard practice, but if you are at all light sensitive, this will be enough light to be disruptive. Even with eyeshades. After about an hour of trying to figure out why I couldn’t fall asleep I got up and turned all the excess lights off, and then promptly conked out.

I slept for about six hours, then had a cappuccino while being irritated at the WiFi.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-6

Truly, it’s so slow. By the end of the flight I was willing to pay nearly any amount of money for a useable connection. So I eventually gave up, and made my way to the shower spa.

Showering in the air

Y’all are probably not going to believe this, but I think Ben has been underselling the awesomeness of showering in the air.

It’s not just the actual shower of course. The whole concept is just effing ridiculous. The entire existence of the shower spa is just so unnecessary, which, of course, makes it awesome.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-5

So I think it’s impossible to do anything other than cackle with glee the entire time. Not just because of the shower, but because the shower exists to begin with. I couldn’t even keep a straight face while the attendant explained the setup and gave instructions on what to do should the Captain turn on the seatbelt sign (“Please just have a seat on the bench and wait for the turbulence to subside.”)

Which turned out to be good advice, given that about 30 seconds into my shower we did in fact hit a pocket of turbulence. And when you’re covered in soapsuds at 30,000 feet over Saudi Arabia and the Captain turns on the seatbelt sign you really have limited options.

So given the limited entertainment options available, I took advantage of the enforced bench time to shave my legs. Which is how I know that Emirates stocks really nice razors. The shampoo though is basically dishwasher detergent, and is probably best avoided.

Overall

Outside of the charming interactions between the purser and my mom, I felt the crew was a little robotic, which isn’t really unusual for any UAE-based company. The rulebook seems to discourage innovation, and it shows in the nuances of the service. So small things like bringing a glass of still water with the meal service even if you already have a glass of water going, or not turning off the lights in the unoccupied suites, are part of the “procedure” and there just really isn’t much deviation from the rules.

There’s absolutely nothing to complain about, of course, but the service didn’t necessarily feel personalized, if that makes any sense.

But my mom had a great time on the flight, and it was absolutely the highlight of our trip.

While I don’t have an exhaustive sample size, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one, ever, has been as impressed by the “bling” factor on Emirates.

She loved the makeup mirror. The snack basket (who loves the snack basket?!). The polished crew (“Where were they keeping him [the Senior Flight Steward] the entire flight? He looks like he just stepped out of a catalogue!”). Having the private bar in the front of First converted to a Spa display after the shower.

Each of the little details that might seem superfluous and borderline-unnecessary to others were just amazing to my mother.

Emirates-First-Class-Mom-2

So while I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to fly Emirates First, if you have someone who doesn’t understand why you shuffle dozens of credit cards, or chase every promotion, or go on flights just for the miles, Emirates is a darn good way to demonstrate the perks of playing this game.

And my mother absolutely loved it.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. Isn’t it awesome when you can have your parents enjoy themselves? Great report. Tiffany! I must say the thing that suprised me most, was the lack of Mars bars in the US. Never thought some candy would be hard to get over there 😉

  2. On these lightly loaded flights, is it possible to have two showers? I mean do they load just enough water for the amount of booked passengers, or is the tank filled regardless?

  3. Nice post Tiffany, glad to see your mom enjoying herself. Wouldn’t think using sharp blades during turbulence would be the best idea, glad you made it through safely :).

  4. Hello Tiffany,

    Thanks for the review. I want to do the same thing as you did, taking mom to the first class. But only one question, how do I check Emirates’ inventory? Can I use flyerexpert to see how many award seats?

    Thanks

  5. I really enjoyed flying Biz EK 777 300 from DXB-DFW last year (before they switched to the a380). I will definitely fly them again soon!

  6. Thanks for sharing Tiffany! As someone who just has a few experiences with elite/business class flying, I still giggle when I take a shower in the lounge before a flight or between two flights. I can’t imagine how excited I would be to take a shower at 30,000 feet!

  7. I love these travel with parents trip reports! I had fun showing my mom around London and Paris when I lived in London a few years ago, but this fall I’m taking her on her first points-funded trip. KE F on the A380 out and JL F on the way back. We’ll use Hyatt certificates to stay at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. I suspect that she’ll “get” my hobby after that. I cringe thinking what might happen if I took her in EK F or SQ Suites on her first trip!

  8. I flew my parents business class to London once and they absolutely loved it. They didn’t want me to “waste” my miles on them but they’ve been talking about their experience ever since, so it was totally worth it!

  9. That is my dream, to fly that route and in first class. I rarely experience that type of class on flight and to have an opportunity for a long haul is a dream. Thank you for sharing! Now to win the lotto 🙂

  10. @ Troy — You’d think so, but it wasn’t proactively offered. And as y’all know (or are learning), I hate asking for things.

  11. @ Mitch — Sounds awesome! We took my in-laws to Japan last year, and they *loved* the Park Hyatt. The pool at sunset was especially popular 🙂

  12. @ Patrick — No worries! I used 100k Alaska Mileage Plan miles for each of us, and then Singapore KrisFlyer miles for the return.

  13. Great to see how much fun your mom was having and how she appreciated all the little luxuries. Nice touch to share the video of your mum and her reaction. She seems like a wonderful and fun lady. My dream flight would be to bump into you, your mum, Ben and his dad at the bar and toast with you as a thank you for all the great reports and hours of enjoyment and the thousands of dollars I have saved from reading this blog.

  14. @Tiffany. Such “straight from the heart” article . Love it. !! Question- between Etihad and Emirates is the mileage redemption the same using Alaska points?

    Andrew

  15. Just had my first Emirates First Class experience on this route a little less than two weeks ago, also with a relatively light load in F (3 of 14). I would agree the service isn’t as polished or anticipatory as you’d have on Singapore or Cathay, but it was good and didn’t detract at all from the experience.

  16. Hey Tiffany, great report here!

    I was looking forward to a little section (probably found at the end) that you promised, “…and what I’d do differently the next time”, and I believe this could apply to special flights like EK F (especially the EK A380 F).

    Is there anything different you would have done to enjoy your EK F flight?

  17. Emirates First Wi-Fi Tip: Don’t bother with it if you’re flying polar routes, which is what pretty much all of the transatlantic flights are. On the equatorial routes, funnily enough I’ve been able to carry out VoIP calls. And the web surfing is decent, too.

  18. Awesome post Tiffany, I’m loving your style of writing. Looking forward to the rest of your trip report 😀

  19. Thank you for a lovely report with a personal touch!
    Now I sense a challenge coming up… can Ben shave his legs, in an Emirates shower suite, up to the same standard as you?

  20. OK the lemon thing cracked me up because I could totally see members of my family saying something similar.

  21. Awwwh Tiffany 🙂

    Your mom is lovely (but I guess that is no surprise given how you come across – like mother, like daughter), so glad you had such a great trip.

    I have posted here previously that I put Emirates 777 somewhat ahead of it’s A380, because service felt more personal on the 777 (and I’m not so wowed with the shower as some, while still loving the First bathroom on the A380 – so much space!). I’ve changed my mind however, as I’ve recently had another Emirates A380 flight and noted that their A380 ICE now offers English Closed Captions on some of the English language movies (which, being hard of hearing, I really appreciate) – something the ICE system on the 777 doesn’t offer (and the range of movies is extensive on the A380, more limited on the 777).

    I’ve got another ultra long haul Emirates A380 First flight coming up later this year, and much looking forward to it now. Now, if only Etihad would follow suit and offer English closed captions for their English language movies on E-Box…

  22. Tiffany
    Your way of describing is straight forward and clear. I totally laughed out loud at the lemons comment.
    Keep up the great writing. I cannot imagine this blog without your writings and your comments

  23. Hey Tiffany,

    Great trip report ! I really like the way you focus on different aspects of the trip than Lucky .Really looking forward to reading more about your trip.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Andrew

  24. You’re a good daughter Tiffany and glad to see your Mom enjoy herself so much. I think we all tend to get a bit jaded and this is a refreshing perspective.

  25. Just one question; occasionally when looking for space on the Alaska website, mixed cabin itineraries show up. What is the deal with that?

  26. One a slightly different, more #firstworldprob note, is that a bottle of Hennessy Paradis I’m seeing in your photo? I recall reading that they were in the process of phasing those out on EK F. Perhaps that had a pretty large stock of them?

  27. @ Tiffany — that’s awesome! Unlike you, I actually had a hard time getting my mom to start flying in premium cabins on miles but now she absolutely loves it (well, except a pretty horrible UA IAH-NRT flight after which she got even more appreciative of the SQ flights she usually takes). She shed a few tears on NRT-LAX flight (SQ R) but it was more because she hated leaving Japan.

    BTW, does your mom fly domestic a lot? Mine travels mostly internationally directly out of Houston and she had a rude awakening flying LAX-IAH on a regional jet in “first”. It was kind of amusing (“Why is the food cold?”; “Where is the menu?”; “Why is there only one course”; “Where the TV?”).

  28. @ Mitch / @ Tiffany — PH Tokyo is pretty great (awesome views; nice bar), but don’t forget to look into GH or Andaz. My mom & I stayed in suites at both PHT and GHT thanks to DSUs. I thought that GHT was slightly better but my mom didn’t like PHT at all due to its dark/gloomy design, changing of elevators, hard beds, and she even preferred breakfast at GHT lounge as opposed to PHT restaurant. Can’t speak of regular rooms but suites at GHT are also newer so have better technology (automated shades, better bathroom, etc.).

  29. The razors on Emirates are amazing! I am on my last one from the 3 or 4 I swiped on my last flight. ;-). I wish I could buy some of these razors. Oh well, will just have to take another Emirates flight soon.

  30. Tiffany, Somehow I’d missed this post. Makes sense as I was moving from Central America….. The video of your mom brought me to tears! FANTASTIC post!

    Great Job!

  31. Tiffany, Great review! I have a few questions about emirates as we’ve never flown. We too are based in Dallas so would be taking emirates from DFw to Dubai to JNB (South Africa). I wish we could pay for first class but are going to have to take economy. You mentioned this flight was pretty empty. is that fairly common for Emirates DFW to DXB route? same for the return? We would love extra room.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *