Emirates A380 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from Los Angeles! I just flew Emirates’ A380 business class for the 15hr10min flight from Dubai to Los Angeles. I’ve flown Emirates first class a countless number of times, though this was my first time in their A380 business class, so naturally I was curious how it compared.

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Emirates’ business class cabin on the A380 is large — there are 76 seats, spread across two cabins on the upper deck. The cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, with staggered seats. This means that in each row seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window.

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Generally my issue with these staggered configurations is that the foot cubby is small. However, I found Emirates’ staggered configuration to be the most comfortable and spacious yet. I got a solid seven hours of sleep, and it felt like “legitimate” sleep rather than airplane sleep. I really felt like I was in a cocoon thanks to being in a “true” window seat.

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I also loved the fact that there were bins along the side of the aircraft where you could store things, electronic window shades, a personal minibar, and a huge TV.

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Of course Emirates finishes are an acquired taste, and won’t be for everyone. Would I ever want to furnish a home like that? No way. But when flying Emirates I sort of like it.

Unlike their Gulf rivals, Emirates doesn’t offer dine on demand. There was a lunch service after takeoff, then a snack in the middle of the flight (which could be ordered at any time), and then another meal before landing.

The food quality was above average, though not exceptional. The offerings are also fairly limited — you get a side salad and then your choice of an appetizer or a soup, then a main course, and then a choice of desserts.

For the first meal there was a side salad and choice of three appetizers — I chose the mezze.

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Then there was a choice of three main courses. My Chilean sea bass was excellent. Fun fact — Emirates largely uses the same main courses in business class and first class, but they’re just plated differently.

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Lastly there was the choice between dessert, fruit, or cheese. I chose the dessert, which was a rich chocolate mango torte.

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As you’d expect, the drink selection was pretty good, ranging from freshly made cappuccinos to Veuve Clicquot.

As far as the amenities go, Emirates is tough to beat in that regard. Emirates has the most extensive entertainment selection in the sky, you can get 500MB of (really slow) wifi for $1, and the onboard bar is always fun to hang out at.

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There was a great BVLGARI amenity kit, though the bedding didn’t impress as much. I liked the thick pillow, though the blanket was cheap and scratchy.

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The service is what I’m most conflicted about. The crew itself was friendly and attentive, but I think Emirates business class service procedures are way off. There’s not an airline in the world where I’ve felt as much like I’m part of an assembly line in a premium cabin as on Emirates. I’ll get into more details of this in the trip report, but I really think they need to modify their service protocol, because it’s so inefficient and impersonal.

To clarify, that’s not the crew’s fault, they were great. Rather it’s the procedure they follow for service, which is so inefficient. Ironically this is in spite of the fact that Emirates doesn’t offer dine on demand, unlike their rivals, Etihad and Qatar.

So overall the Emirates A380 business class experience exceeded my expectations. Having flown first class on them so many times I was expecting to be somewhat disappointed, though I wasn’t.

The seat was more comfortable than I was expecting, I slept very well, the bar was fun as always, the amenities were pretty good, and the crew was friendly. However, there’s definitely some room for improvement when it comes to their service process.

Stay tuned for the full report!

Comments

  1. With 18A you we’re lucky. Spent a 15h-flight overnight two rows away from the bar and didn’t sleep a second because of all the loud talking in the bar.
    Made the same experience with the service: robotic and procedures like in economy.

  2. I tried the $1 wifi last time and it wasn’t even worth $1. It just was so slow and didn’t load even basic websites for me.

  3. When comparing Emirates Business Class to the competition, it is important to stress, that Emirates has Chauffeur-Service included, even in Business Class. Qatar has pyjamas, dine on demand and Al Safwa Lounge when connecting in DOH to Dubai, but no one picks you up at home and drops you at the destination in a private limousine. In my eyes, thats a real advantage.

  4. Lucky I’d love to get your take on how you found such a long flight without some of the distractions you otherwise have in First class like the extended meal service and the shower etc (appreciate you still had access to the bar). I’ll be travelling DOH-AKL later this year in Qatar business class on their 772 which is blocked at ~16hrs and am a little nervous I will go a little stir crazy, although I will definitely sleep on the flight.

  5. I flew EK in business (for the first time) in October from DXB to ICN and very much felt that it was an assembly line approach to service. For a flight blocked at 8hrs, leaving at 3:40am DXB time, the service pattern felt very odd. It was well over an hour into the flight before the first meal was served. And then they began the second meal service about 2 hours before landing. For both services they would turn on all the lights, allowing for only 4 hours sleep on the oddly timed flight. The crew were always friendly, but seemed very scattered. If you missed the time a crew member passing your seat, a refill for water or coffee was often overlooked (and took several requests). Nevertheless, despite the hiccup-y service, EK business is still a good way to travel. And for fantastic service, the bar in the back never disappoints.

  6. Agree with pretty much everything you said. Just flew A380 J last week to JFK and this was the first time I’ve had a full J cabin on the A380 and the service/attention to detail was noticeably less than on the 777. In fact, the best crews I’ve ever had are always NBO-DXB on the 777 in J (not sure why they never seem as happy on DXB-NBO).

    On another note, did you get the new grey blanket or was it the the old cream one? I find the new one miles better, even the Y one got an upgrade recently.

  7. That is A LOT of business seats, depending on staffing levels would see it difficult to provide expected service rather than almost robotic performance.

  8. I’ve found the Emirates entertainment system disappointing in that many of the films were edited, with entire sequences cut out and many words blanked out, not just swear words but others eg hell. It was pretty disruptive. Did you notice that?

    I also found it strange that the crew did not create a night time feel for a 13 hour overnight flight DXB to MEL. I had to beg them to turn down the lights! I also didn’t like how they came around and scooped up the blankets an hour before landing (this was in Y though).

  9. You should a side by side comparison between first and business. Seems like if you don’t care about the shower the business class is a better value?
    What’s dine on demand? You can eat whatever you want as much as you want or you still get the same course choices but only any time you want?

  10. Excellent review. I couldn’t agree with your review more. I find Emirates on the a380 to be a stellar product and really one of the best ways to travel in business class long haul. But just as you said, their procedure does feel assembly line like. The seat, food, service, on board bar areas are top notch. Although of course I prefer to fly F, and enjoy the F amenities, their business class product is excellent on the a380.

  11. Personally I was more impressed with the seats on the Etihad a380 in business (of course the apartments win hands down). They seemed larger and newer. Also the food on Etihad seemed a but better and more varied. I don’t think the fine on demand is just about I eat when I want but that you had a lot more options from what I remember.

    Of course the bar on emirates is way better and that social space is a good way to break up the flight. I found the Etihad lounge on the a380 to be a bit dark and almost always empty (lack of a proper bar will do that).

    Lucky I’d love to see you compare the biz on all the ME3 (compare a380, then 777 as I think those are standard across all 3 fleets) my experience with biz and first on those ones so far is they vary a lot depending on the model of the plane.

  12. Well, now that you have tried both first and business class it is time to fly coach and then compare them all. 🙂

  13. Am I the only one who thinks the style of Emirates premium cabins is ridiculous? Even though it’s a matter of taste of course, but still… I mean if they wanted to create something classy and let’s say conventional luxury (e.g. St. Regis or Shangri la) they clearly failed. This cabin has nothing to do with being classy, it looks cheap and simply disgusting. Those seats and wall panels finishes, my goodness, is it possible to make it worse and look cheaper? I don’t think so.

    I can’t wrap my head Emirates is such a commercially successful airline and really strong in premium segment. Their business class hard product on all types except A380 is 10 years behind competitors. Their premium cabins style is fleet wide disgusting.

  14. Did you redeem 105k AS miles for this flight? I still think that’s too expensive. Given that AS often sells miles at ~2 cents each, that flight cost ~$2k.

  15. “Emirates largely uses the same main courses in business class and first class”

    Sometimes it isn’t just the main courses…you’ll sometimes see the same appetizers and desserts offered in both classes as well.

  16. I agree with Mavis on the entertainment system — the editing and censoring on EK is ridiculous.

    So what if they have 100,000 movies; watching Lethal Weapon and hearing Joe Pesci say “mother ducker” to Mel Gibson just doesn’t have the same effect.

    The best entertainment in the sky is still KrisWorld or StudioCX. And lately, the U.S. carriers are doing a decent job now that their aircraft have caught up with the times and offer on-demand hardware.

  17. Here’s what irks me. Emirates is, fairly or not, perceived by many travelers — frequent and ill-frequent — as the world’s best premium airline. That’s debatable, of course, as probably all of us readers and lurkers know. What’s annoying, however, is the inconsistency in the Emirates business-class experience.

    There is no excuse for the difference between the A380 and 777 experiences. Business-class on the 777 is what 2x3x2? The last time I checked, airfares for 777 business-class were not cheaper than airfares for A380 business-class — despite a vastly different experience.

    I would argue that Emirates’ 777 business-class is nothing more than glorified premium economy.

  18. Ben,
    How does it compare with the other ME3 business? Not sure you did EY A380 business but at least compared to QR A350.

  19. If that’s your argument fnt delta diamond… then you really need to spend some more time flying premium economy and maybe even some economy to gain some perspective….

  20. Such an awful color, I believe the technical name for that wood finish is ” baby diarrhea yellow”.

  21. I definitely agree. The EK business product on A380 and 777 are vastly different and I will not pay a business class fare for a premium economy product. I read that they’ve improved their new 777 seats but it’s still the 2-3-2 layout without the now standard aisle access. Also I did 2 connecting daylight flights and didn’t get amenity kits on either. When I asked why, the crew said only on night flights. The crew were friendly enough but don’t interact well. They just do their job. I felt that EK want the look but not the personality. Many good points but a lot of room for improvement. Definitely the product needs to be standardized throughout their fleets.

  22. All of the EK flight reviews I see on LAX-DXB route are for afternoon departure. I have an upcoming flight which departs at 9:30 pm. Is the food service similar there? Would they serve dinner after takeoff? Asking, as I need to know if I should have dinner before boarding. Thanks.

  23. I have been flying the JFK to Dubai route a few times a year since 2012.

    1) The reserved seats always fill up from the front first, moving towards the back. If your flight is confirmed around two weeks before the departure date, you will be sitting near the back.

    2) Because of the large volume of seats on the A380, the restrooms are in a horrible state near the end of the flight. Also, near the end of the flight, all the complemetary toiletries and the paper towels in the restrooms are empty. The airline needs to do a better job restocking mid-flight, but they won’t.

    3) I have found that most of the people that rave about Emirates’ service are those who are just retelling what they heard word-of-mouth about the brand in its early days, or rarely travel business class to offer knowledgeable comparisons. Here are my comments about the service:

    The complemetary drive to and from the airport is indeed a benefit. Emirates subcontracts this. Other than this service, Emirates’ actual in-flight service is not up to what I find on other airlines such as British Airways’ business class. This is because of Emirates’ training (Bloomberg just had an article about this recently) and also because their flight attendants are much younger on average. Almost every flight attendant is well under 30 years old and does not have the experience to offer the type of service that comes with more maturity and confidence. There are posts elsewhere about Emirates’ poorer industry work conditions, and maybe this is part of the reason as well. I once had service from an Emirates flight attendant who was in her older 30s and she was very sarcastic to the point that I felt she was worn out by the job. She spilled red wine on me and didn’t even know it. When I complained, they did nothing to help, other than offering a towel.

    Also, Emirates’ frequent flyer program is far from ideal. I find the upgrade to first class is not worthwhile, and I can’t redeem these miles for anything good unless I want to holiday in the Middle East. Last year, before a big number of my Skyward miles expired, the only option I found was to open a Heathrow Rewards Card, transfer the miles to my new Heathrow Rewards Acocunt, order Heathrow Rewards cash vouchers, and use them to buy something at Heathrow Airport.

    Lucky, I’d be interested to hear what else you can suggest about accumulating miles when flying with Emirates.

  24. @Denis

    Luxury in cars is all about the wood grain… but that wood grain is from the 70s/80s… but as the Middle East in particular Dubai bargain their emergence as wealthy they went mental on the wood grain, stuck to it and works for this clientele. I prefer Etihad’s luxury as well as Virgin Australia Business class offering with sleek, soft and silver colors…

  25. Nice review. Regarding the “fun fact”, in my experience Qantas, BA, and Thai all serve pretty much the same menu in Business and First, just with a few minor tweaks.

  26. @FNWHA?, I have flown plenty. In 2016, I did 160,000 miles of which 125,000 miles were international flights in both business-class and premium-economy. My premium-economy flights were on Virgin Atlantic’s 787. Yes, obviously an angled-flat or lie-flat business-class seat — no matter how many per row — is better than a premium-economy seat, but there’s no way one can say the middle seats in Emirates business-class on a 777 with its 2x3x2 configuration is “better.” Yes, the sleeping experience is going to be better. Yes, the food will be marginally better. But overall, you are paying for a “premium” Emirates experience and receiving a value that is worse than premium-economy on airlines such as Virgin Atlantic.

  27. We travelled from Dubai to Milan on the A380 Biz class last month. Don’t remember getting the amenity kit. Wonder if its only given out on longer flights.

  28. The meals and food in business class really aren’t a la carte? How would you compare this to flying business class on the 777? I didn’t realize how large the business class on the A380 is. I wonder if the smaller sized business class on the 777 makes that robotic service protocol feel better.

  29. In the U.K., Emirates have recognised that not everyone lives in London, so I regularly choose their A380 business class from Manchester. Their offering is “good” rather than “exceptional”, and I think this is down to the sheer size of the business class cabin. In the early days, it felt “special”, but increasingly business class is the new economy. Emirates have a great product, and great infrastructure, but they need to address their service shortcomings if they want to stay ahead of the game. In my opinion, the 777 business class offering is VERY poor (no flat beds on overnight long haul ?), and I refuse to use it.

  30. Fascinated by the comments, thank you for this. I’ve flown First once on A380; the environment is superb (real cutlery and napery, wow 😉 and the in-flight shower is a real bonus. Everyone’s right, the service is ‘disinterested’, is maybe the best word. Business class I’ve done two or three times (I use an Emirates MBNA card and I’ve been able to trip the opening bonus and spend-based bonuses just when I needed them); the big win with business class is of course the flat seats and extra space, which lets me sleep the long hauls. The food is of course a step up from economy. But those two points are the only standouts.

    My big beef with Emirates (and I’ve heard this from many others) is that if something goes wrong, you’re toast. I missed a connection in Dubai (because the Emirates flight in was delayed, congestion) and I spent, along with a lot of fellow passengers, a number of hours milling around the terminal trying to get information and some movement on a hotel stopover. Eventually they shipped us out to a half-decent hotel but the attention and information from customer service ground staff was pretty non-existent. I tried on my next trip to get an upgrade on account of the awful experience (and I had Skywards points I would have surrendered towards it) but the attitude of the check-in staff was “Why should we?”

    I’m travelling again shortly, and if I have another negative experience I’m off to another carrier (I’ve blown all my Miles on upgrades this time around so I have less to lose), even though probably it’ll be a less convenient route and I’ll have to start again with the loyalty scheme…

  31. @EthaninSF, I completely second your experience. @Tom, you couldn’t have described Emirates’ service more accurately than “disinterested.” I just flew J with them for the first time on one of their BKK-DXB red-eyes, taking them up on a last minute paid upgrade. Were it not for the French chap manning the bar (more on him later), I would feel like a total SUCKER for doing it. The cabin crew made me like I was flying United cattle class. In fact, I’ve had MUCH more hospitable, personable FAs on domestic premium class UA metal than what I experienced on EK the other night. Got the nastiest look from a young woman who snapped at me for asking if they were going to feed us: “you’ll be served breakfast before landing!” Serves me right for forgoing a real meal in Bangkok of all places to save room for a business class meal that never came. Thankfully, made it to to the bar where they had some finger foods (small sandwiches, olives, etc). But the real saving grace of the entire flight was the French bartender, who was just as cool, nice, and welcoming as could be. It is only because of him that I’ll even consider flying Emirates again.

  32. Just stumbled upon your site and love it! I appreciate how much information and details you embed into each post, makes for interesting reading, so thank you!
    After scrolling through some of the posts, I wonder if the crew/passengers give you strange looks given how many pictures you must be taking?

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