Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)
Review: Air Canada Premium Rouge 767 Tampa To Toronto
Review: Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport
Review: EgyptAir Business Class 777 Toronto To Cairo
Review: Cairo Airport Lounge Terminal 2
Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class Embraer 175 Cairo To Amman
Review: Grand Hyatt Amman
Review: Royal Jordanian Lounge Amman Airport
Review: Royal Jordanian Business Class 787 Amman To Kuala Lumpur
Review: St. Regis Kuala Lumpur
Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Kuala Lumpur
Review: Royal Brunei Business Class A320 Kuala Lumpur To Bandar Seri Begawan
Review: Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
Review: Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan
Review: Royal Brunei Business Class 787 Bandar Seri Begawan To Dubai
Review: W Dubai Al Habtoor City
Review: St. Regis Dubai
Review: Emirates Business Class Lounge Dubai
Review: Emirates Business Class A380 Dubai To Los Angeles
I’ve reviewed Emirates first class many times before, though this was my first time in their A380 business class, so I was very excited to see how their business class product compared.
Dubai (DXB) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Tuesday, January 10
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 18A (Business Class)
Since I decided to board through the gate rather than the business class lounge, I actually boarded through the door on the lower deck, walked up the staircase through first class, and then found myself in the business class cabin.
Emirates’ A380 business class cabin is massive, with 76 seats. There’s a forward business class cabin with 58 seats, and then a rear cabin with 18 seats. As you can see, the forward cabin is huge.
Emirates’ A380 business class product is in a staggered configuration, with each fully flat seat featuring direct aisle access.
I had assigned myself seat 18A, which was the window seat in the fourth to last row of the forward cabin. Emirates’ business class seats are staggered, meaning that in each row they alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window. As I explained in a previous post, you’ll want to select the seats closest to the window, if possible. That’s because these seats have significantly more privacy, and really feel like cocoons.
As you can see below, the seats closer to the aisle don’t have nearly as much privacy, and feel quite exposed.
Meanwhile I was in love with my little cocoon.
Generally speaking I find this type of staggered configuration to feel pretty claustrophobic, especially the area for your feet, which is often too small to be able to move your feet when in the reclined position.
That wasn’t a problem in this configuration, as the area for my feet was quite large.
I loved the fact that I had two big bins along the fuselage of the plane just for myself. These staggered configurations often lack storage, though that wasn’t a problem with these seats, thanks to the bins. I was able to store all my cords, headphones, laptop, etc., in there.
Meanwhile to my right was the entertainment controller, seat controller, minibar, power outlets, and more storage
As you can see, there’s a small minibar at the back corner of the seat, with still and sparkling water, orange juice, and two types of soda. In order to remove a drink from it you need to lift the metal shield in front of it. This is of course a total gimmick, though still very cool.
Next to that was the entertainment controller, which was easy to use. You could browse the entertainment selection on there, or simply use it to control the actual IFE screen.
Above that was the reading light, two USB outlets, a 110v outlet, and a headphone jack.
Then there was a tablet of sorts that can control just about everything, from the entertainment to the seats to the reading light. It can be removed from the console and held as well.
Then the tray table could be extended from the right console.
I also appreciated that there were individual air nozzles above the seat. It’s something far too many airlines don’t have, but makes such a difference in terms of the overall cabin comfort.
Also waiting at my seat on boarding were a pillow and blanket. While the pillow was fairly comfortable, I didn’t really like the blanket — you’d think an airline like Emirates could do better than a scratchy, light blanket in business class.
Also waiting at my seat were noise canceling headphones. They were fine, though not as good as the Bose ones I use.
Also already at my seat was a plastic package with socks and eyeshades.
Inside the pouch there were also some stickers you could use if you didn’t want to be disturbed, wanted to be woken for a meal, etc.
Lastly, the menu for the flight was already waiting at my seat.
Business class boarding was pretty efficient, and within about 10 minutes the cabin was pretty fully. Initially there were only about 25 people booked in business class, though economy was oversold by about 50 people, so the cabin ended up going out completely full due to operational upgrades.
Once I was settled in, the flight attendant who would be taking care of me introduced herself — “I’m from China and I will be taking care of you. Have you traveled with us in the business class before?” When I said I hadn’t, she explained the seat features, and told me to let her know if I need anything.
She also offered me a pre-departure beverage from a tray, with the choice between champagne, rose champagne, apple juice, or orange juice. I had a glass of champagne, and was also asked if I wanted the wine list for the flight.
A few minutes later the crew distributed amenity kits for the flight, which were very similar to what you get in first class.
The kit was well stocked, and featured Bulgari amenities.
Then the crew came through the cabin with warm towels.
At around 3PM Captain Anders (who I believe was Dutch) made his welcome aboard on behalf of himself and first officers Sebastian, Peter, and Jay, and informed us of our flight time of 16hr10min. He informed us that we’d initially be cruising at 31,000 feet, and would eventually climb up to 41,000 feet. He also told us we’d have a slight departure delay due to the airport only using one runway, meaning we’d be delayed pushing back, and then would have a 20-30 minute taxi.
He still anticipated that we’d arrive on-time, given that our flight was blocked at over an hours longer than our flight time.
At around 3:20PM the door closed, at which point the Moroccan purser made her welcome aboard announcement and screened the safety video.
At 3:35PM we began our pushback. Fortunately Emirates’ IFE works on the ground, so I could already start watching TV shows. However, I decided to watch the airshow and tail camera, which is one of my favorite parts of the A380.
We were holding short of runway 30R by around 3:35PM, though had about a 10 minute wait before we were cleared for takeoff.
At 3:55PM we were cleared for takeoff, right behind a FedEx plane.
Our takeoff roll was long, and during our initial climb out we had a stunning view of the Dubai skyline, which almost looked like a silhouette.
Five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. The purser informed us that the crew came from 20 countries and spoke 16 languages — as usual, Emirates has among the most diverse crews out there.
After takeoff I checked out the lavatory. All four business class lavatories are located at the very back of the cabin, behind the bar. That really isn’t very many bathrooms for 76 passengers. However, there still wasn’t much of a wait, except for shortly before landing.
Once back at my seat I lowered the automatic window shade — it’s pretty cool that Emirates has automatic shades even in business class.
I then checked out the the entertainment system. Emirates’ ICE system is the best in the sky, with an incredible variety of movies, TV shows, etc. Inflight entertainment simply doesn’t get better than what Emirates offers.
I also appreciate just how many episodes they have of each show.
My only complaint about the IFE is that the audio portion of the entertainment doesn’t have any Shawn Mendes songs. That’s a real shame.
About 30 minutes after takeoff meal orders were taken. The lunch menu read as follows:
The beverage list read as follows:
About 10 minutes after that I was offered my first drink after takeoff. I ordered a glass of champagne — Emirates serves Veuve Clicquot in business class, which is quite nice.
It was served with some mixed nuts.
About an hour after takeoff tablecloths were distributed, and then about 75 minutes after takeoff the appetizer and salad were served. Unlike Etihad and Qatar, Emirates doesn’t offer dine on demand in business class.
For the starter I selected the mezze, which was quite simple. Personally the stuffed vine leaves are my least favorite part of a mezze, though seemed to be about half of this one.
The side salad was quite good, and I appreciated that they had a simple vinaigrette to go along with it.
I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket, and chose some garlic bread.
About 45 minutes later the main course was served. Most people don’t realize this, but most of Emirates’ main courses in first and business class are the same, but just plated differently. I ordered the chilean sea bass, which was fantastic. It was one of the best fish dishes I’ve had on a plane.
Then about 45 minutes later dessert was served. I had the decadent chocolate mango torte with a cappuccino. I was also offered a small box of chocolates to go along with it.
The meal was done about 2hr30min after takeoff, which is quite long for a three course meal. Then again, it’s not like there’s much of a rush on a 16+ hour flight.
As far as the service goes, I think the crew was friendly, though I think Emirates’ service procedures in business class are way off. The entire experience feels like an assembly line, and there’s no personalization. They first serve the cabin through row 16, and then once that’s complete, serve everyone in row 17 and back.
You really feel guilty asking for things “out of turn,” since the crew is so stressed during the service, and has a very specific procedure. Perhaps part of the problem is that Emirates has a pretty big business class cabin, but at the same time Etihad and Qatar have big cabins as well, and manage to offer a personalized dine on demand menu.
So while it’s not the crew’s fault, there’s room for improvement on Emirates’ part.
At this point we were approaching Russia, and I decided to check out the bar at the back of business class.
This required walking through the mini cabin in the back of business class, which had another 18 seats. I’d do everything in your power to avoid the last few rows, because there’s not much separation between them and the bar.
The Emirates A380 bar is such a fun place to go and stretch your legs. You can order a cocktail, snacks, etc., and there are even two benches where you can sit down.
It’s amazing how small of a world it is, because once at the bar I recognized the lead business class flight attendant, Ali. I had flown with him from Dubai to Manchester a bit over a year ago, and he was so awesome. Emirates has about 25,000 cabin crew and I don’t fly them that often, so it’s a pretty amazing coincidence that I ended up on his flight again.
We chatted for a while, and it was so great to catch up with him.
After that I decided it was time to get some sleep, so I went back to my seat, fully reclined it, and got some shuteye. I found the bed to be extremely comfortable, and as noted above, found there be plenty of room for my feet, which isn’t usually the case in a staggered configuration. I also wasn’t overheated, thanks largely to the individual air nozzles.
I slept for a solid six hours, and woke up as we were approaching northern Canada. I felt like I got really solid sleep, not just in terms of the amount of time I slept, but also in terms of the quality.
I checked out the tail camera, and at this point we seemed to be in a sort of permanent dusk. While it was dark earlier on, for the next several hours it stayed slightly light.
While there’s no dine on demand for the two main meals, there’s a flexible “light bites” menu, which you can order from at any time. That menu read as follows:
I ordered the chicken caesar salad, which was tasty, and a small portion (which I appreciate, because I wasn’t that hungry).
I then ordered the chocolate cheesecake for dessert, which was once again excellent. I had a mint tea to go along with it.
For the next few hours I tried to get some work done. Rather frustratingly, Emirates offers nearly free wifi. Everyone gets 10MB for free, and then it’s $1 for an extra 500MB. The problem is that it’s almost unusably slow, presumably due to how many people use it. So there’s almost no point in trying to use it for emails, but rather I use it mostly for texting, WhatsApp, etc.
Eventually it got a bit lighter again, before getting darker again.
About three hours before landing the pre-arrival meal service began. The dinner menu read as follows:
Once again, service began with an appetizer and salad.
I selected the chicken tikka appetizer, which came with curried lentil salad and mint yogurt.
The side salad was decent once again.
This time around I had a glass of wine with the meal, rather than the champagne. I decided to have the Spanish white wine.
For the main course I had the prawns with garlic and coriander, served with vegetables. The dish was excellent.
Given that I already had two rich desserts earlier on the flight, I decided to have a cheese plate this time around. It was excellent, and was even served with a card explaining each cheese, as well as another box of chocolates.
After the meal I had another cappuccino.
At around 6:30PM Pacific Time, Captain Anders was back on the PA to provide us with updated arrival information, informing us that we’d soon commence our descent. Our descent was smooth (as was the whole flight). We came in over inland California, then turned east over Malibu, before eventually making a 180 degree turn to line up for landing at LAX.
We had a very tough touchdown on runway 24R at LAX at 7:05PM.
From there it was a quick 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate at Tom Bradley International Terminal.
I bid farewell to Ali and the crew. I was both happy about what a good flight it was, and also happy to get off the plane — 17 hours on a plane is a long time!
Emirates A380 business class bottom line
There are things Emirates does exceptionally well, and also some areas they can improve.
What impressed me most was how comfortable and spacious the seat was, the fantastic storage bins, the incredible entertainment, the quality of the food (for the most part), the onboard bar, the air nozzles that meant the cabin wasn’t hot, and the friendliness of the crew.
At the same time, there are some areas where Emirates could improve. I thought the blanket wasn’t very comfortable, the service process felt a bit like economy (they need to either do full a la carte dining, or use carts, so the service is a bit faster), and the wifi is almost unusably slow.
So overall I had an excellent flight, though now I’m excited to try Etihad’s product on the A380, so I can compare.