50 Hours Of Emirates First Class: Too Much Of A Good Thing?

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I just finished flying an Emirates first class ticket from Vancouver to Milan, which I booked late last year when Emirates had an incredible fare sale. Essentially I could route from Vancouver to Los Angeles to Dubai to Milan and back, with the Vancouver to Los Angeles flight on WestJet, and the Los Angeles to Dubai to Milan flights on Emirates.

The ticket cost ~$3,170, which is a lot of cash, but for that I was earning:

  • 15,850 Membership Rewards points (5x points on airfare by paying with The Platinum Card® from American Express, $550 annual fee), which I value at ~270USD
  • 101,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles, which I value at ~2,020USD (I’m an MVP Gold member and earned 450% redeemable miles)

Based on my valuation of those points, I was earning about $2,300 worth of points, which is huge. And that doesn’t even account for the elite qualifying miles that I was earning, which will help me requalify for status with Alaska.

So, how was 50 hours of Emirates first class?

I love Emirates first class. In my ranking late last year of the world’s best first class products, I ranked Emirates first class as the world’s third best. I’d actually argue that their new first class is the world’s best, though I didn’t fly that on this trip. One thing I’ve always argued, and continue to believe, is that Emirates’ A380 first class is the world’s most fun first class, between their onboard showers, bar, and general bling.

I’ve flown Emirates first class many times before, and up until now I’ve argued that it never gets old. I always look forward to flying Emirates first class, and even on a 15 hour flight I feel like I don’t have enough time to enjoy everything.

What’s not to love about this blinged out cabin?

Or the showers?

Or the onboard bar?

Or the caviar?

Or the choice of two types of Dom Perignon?

However, I’ve also never spent 50 hours in Emirates first class over the course of two weeks. Is there diminishing enjoyment there?

I’m surprised to admit it, but… yes! We loved the Los Angeles to Dubai flight, and the Dubai to Milan flight. Then the Milan to Dubai flight was awesome as well, especially as it came after three intra-Europe flights, which can’t exactly compare to Emirates first class. 😉

Then came the Dubai to Los Angeles flight…

Then we boarded the Dubai to Los Angeles flight, with a flight time of 15hr20min.

Oh my goodness, this was probably the second longest-feeling flight of my life, after my flight on Saudia last year from Jeddah to Riyadh to Los Angeles. There were a few other things working against us here:

  • Every seat in first class was taken, which actually makes the cabin feel more claustrophobic; when the cabin has some empty seats you can store your bags in other suites so that you have more personal space, but when the cabin is full you have to put bags by your feet, as there’s nowhere else to put them
  • This was my first time having a completely full Emirates A380 first class cabin, and they also recently reduced staffing, so the crew was constantly overworked, and I almost felt like I was inconveniencing them; the crew was great, but passengers kept them busy, as one person apparently ordered one of everything on the menu (there are 27 things on the menu)
  • We had no interest in drinking or over-indulging in food at this point, given that we had so much of the Dom Perignon and other drinks on previous flights
  • Even if we had interest in drinking, the bar was full the entire flight, as every seat in first and business class was taken

So I figured “great, I’ll just get lots of sleep on this flight.” But my mind always likes to screw with me, because when I actually want to sleep I never can. After being up for a few hours I decided to take a nap. When I woke up I felt good, and figured “boy, it can’t be that much further.” Nope, we had another 10hr40min to go.

I stayed up a for a couple more hours, and then tried to sleep again. Once again I slept for less than an hour, and woke up as we were over the North Pole, with over 7hr remaining in the flight.

The problem is that I suck at sitting still. I was tired in the sense that I didn’t feel great, but wasn’t tired enough to actually sleep. Usually I’d just work then, but Emirates’ wifi is painfully slow, to the point that it almost doesn’t even make sense to try using it.

Obviously this post isn’t a complaint in the slightest, but rather when I first booked this I raised the question of how long it would take me to get over Emirates first class on this trip. I think the answer is about three flights in two weeks did the trick for me. 😉

Even though the Dubai to Los Angeles flight wasn’t as enjoyable as the rest, I do have to say that it was easily the most comfortable way I’ve ever earned Alaska miles.

More thoughts on Emirates’ staffing cuts

This flight also made me realize that I think Emirates made a mistake with their staffing cuts in first class. Emirates has 14 first class seats, and they used to have four flight attendants and two shower attendants on longhaul flights, and they finally cut one flight attendant. When I first heard that I figured it wasn’t a big deal, since I’ve rarely found the first class cabin on the A380 to be more than half full.

But when all 14 seats are taken, it’s a completely different story. There are three flight attendants in the cabin at the very beginning and end of flight, but in reality all the first class passengers were eating in the middle of the flight (well, except for the one passenger who was eating the entire flight). So during those times there were at most two crew (the other one was on break), and the problem is that almost all passengers seemed to order food around the same time. One person would open their window blind, then everyone would wake up, then the smell of food would cause other people to order food, etc.

The both times we ordered food the flight attendant apologized profusely and said that she’d get us food as quickly as possible, but she was backed up due to the number of passengers who had just ordered food. That’s not exactly the experience you’d expect in Emirates first class.

On the plus side, I was impressed that they never ran out of anything. With such a huge menu and a full cabin I figured they’d run out of some food, but they never ran out of a single thing.

Bottom line

There’s a law of diminishing returns with just about everything in life. I figured it didn’t apply to my beloved Emirates first class. Suffice to say that I was wrong, because by the fourth flight I for the first time thought to myself that Jennifer Aniston had lost her mind when she wanted the plane to fly for another hour.

What an awesome trip all around, though, and what a comfortable way to earn miles!

Have you ever found yourself on a flight where you felt like too much of a good thing was a bad thing?

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Comments

  1. This was great sale AMD I am kicking myself for not partaking.

    But the point is you used funny math to rationalize. Like rationalizing getting your paycheck in grocery coupons because you have to eat anyway? The coupons have value only when you have money.

    Similarly the miles have value if/ when you travel. Easy for someone that travels pointlessly anyway not for others

    Anything else is just rationalization.

  2. I was getting antsy the last two hours of my DXB-SEA flight in Emirates First Class. It’s a nice experience but it really is hard to sit there that long. NRT-LHR or SFO-HKG are about my upper limit even in First/Business Class…

  3. I will be flying the same route for the very first time on Emirates in September. Hopefully the first class cabin won’t be as full! I so look forward to this trip.

  4. Yes, I felt the same on SQ first class suites 22 hour flight Singapore-Frankfurt-NewYork.

    It was while on that plane I decided to fly economy class on a direct flight with the shortest flight time, if I cannot afford or find availability on the fastest available flight (give-or-take 1-2 hours).

    Time is the ultimate luxury, and I’ll never do anything like positioning flights, crazy long routings etc just for the sake of getting on a business/first cabin, if a direct flight exists that I can only afford in economy.

  5. lol on the Jennifer Aniston reference. You know, you could have swapped your First Class seat with someone in economy the same way Jennifer did — even if it’s only for an hour. 😉

  6. I’m more curious about the person who ordered one of everything on the menu. That’s ridiculous.

  7. How many of the 50 hours were on WestJet? Do you have a separate review of those flights?

  8. @Miklo and @B:

    Same exact sentiments on nearly the exact same flights.: SQ SIN-FRA-JFK and EK JNB-DXB-SFO. I only watch movies on planes anymore yet I still find I run out of options that actually appeal to me. And you can only drink yourself drunk so many times or take so many showers or eat so many meals or sleep for so many hours. It truly is an embarrassment of riches. I find myself so eager to deplane just to be on the ground again.

  9. You guys probably can’t relate but when I was younger I loved flying Emirates economy on long haul from the U.S. to Asia (I rarely traveled outside the country). I would always stay up the entire time and watch movies and eat food and by the end of the trip I would be so tired but it was worth it for me.
    Fast forward to my fifth trip and I was out of movies I wanted to watch and I was just too tired to enjoy it and was waiting for the 16 hour flight to Dallas to be over. I never thaught I’d feel this way until this.

  10. I am interested in if I’m going to experience this on an upcoming trip I have. I’m flying J from DOH to IST (TK), IST to SIN (SQ), SIN to NRT (NH) and HND to SYD (NH). I have an 8-hour daytime layover in Tokyo, which will give me time to refresh, but the total travel time is 44 hours (including the 8-hour layover). It seems like it will get old quickly.

  11. Lucky, did you throw away (i.e. not fly) the last leg LAX-YVR?

    I booked YYC-JFK-DXB-MXP-DXB-JFK-YYC, and I am worried that if I don’t fly the last leg (JFK-YYC), I would not be getting those Alaska miles, as this might be considered a breach of the purchase contract.

    There also seem to be a no-show fee written on the ticket. Would they charge me the fee if I ditch the last flight?

  12. I routinely fly 16-17 hour flights and outbound I’m fine with everything. Coming back (flying West), the last two to three hours drag on endlessly – tired, restless, bored and unable to sleep. And food and wine taste “off” as the trip progresses. Long haul isn’t for sissies!

  13. The picture of the Arabic mezze brings up a question I had on a recent Emirates flight: How in the hell do you people eat so much on a plane?? After the mezze course I was STUFFED, and I only ate like half of it. And mind you I’m a 185-pound man with a very large appetite. But holy cow, after the mezze I told the flight attendant to delay the rest of my food for a couple hours.

    Airlines serve so much food in business and first, not to mention all the liquid calories you get if you order drinks. Lucky, I’m genuinely impressed that you make it through all these courses. Usually after the appetizer, I’m ready to recline and sleep it off.

  14. I haven’t had the “too much of a good thing” experience in flight, but I once spent 9 hours in the Sydney Qantas F lounge. As nice as that lounge is, 9 hours was too much.

  15. “We had no interest in drinking or over-indulging in food at this point, given that we had so much of the Dom Perignon and other drinks on previous flights”

    …dude, this comment is ridiculous. You sound like an ass.

  16. My house and my hotel are both nicer than Emirates. Better shower, better wine (house at least), better bed, etc. Service might not be as good.

    9 hours in Emirates first vs 9 hours on BA first – awesome. 48 hours on Emirates first vs. 24 hours and another 24 at home or in hotel or in the fresh air? The extra time on the plane seems like punishment.

    Same answer for the route you took vs a direct one stop routing. (Triple punishment if there was a positioning flight to YVR)

    But it’s your job.

  17. I’ve got a similar itinerary coming up and fully expect the last long haul to feel looong. A while ago I stopped flying first class on the way home since by then the vacation is over and I’m getting anxious so first is wasted. The EK route I’m flying isn’t as busy as Los Angeles so hopefully first isn’t full.

  18. I dont know…I think you need another crack at this.

    Why?

    Consider – from what you describe, this is your first time in an Emirates first class cabin that was full. Thats a step change from what you are used to. You are also feeling the effects of recent staffing changes at Emiratess. Thats another step change. And you are coming off a whirlwind trip, meaning you were probably more fatigured than normal.

    I think you need a few more data points before you declare the law of diminishing returns is in effect. 🙂

  19. i didn’t jump on this fare even though it was a great price for EK F. I’m trying to re-qualify for AS 75k again, so when I book premium deals, i focus more on the amount of EQMs earned and the EQM cpm. When doing the math, the elite cpm on this itinerary was way too high for me to feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger. I wish the earning rates when flying EK were the same as BA. I mean, i think offering just a 50% COS when flying F (or 25% when flying J) is pretty pathetic. If EK had a COS of 150% like BA….i would have jumped on this fare faster than you can say Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkung!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. I’ll never forgive myself for doing:
    LAX-DOH-SIN QR J
    Work 1 day in Singapore, fly at night SIN-HKG
    Work one day in Hong Kong, fly at night HKG-TPE
    Work one day in Taipei, train to Kaohsiung
    Work one and a half days in Kaohsiung
    KHH-HKG-SIN-DOH-JFK CX / QR J

    The outbound as awesome. The return was nice at first – the new CX F lounge in HKG was beautiful. The rest was just so tiring. Once night arrived in SIN, the next 24+ hours were spent in almost total darkness (flying west at night time). That and the insane work schedule caught up with me and I was sleeping in fits and starts on the long haul legs. It took me a couple weeks to fully recover from that one!

  21. Two questions:
    First, how have you not already gotten tired of EK F given how ridiculous and gaudy everything looks?? 😉 I’m gonna come out and say it—it’s ugly and I can never bring myself to get excited about it, solely for aesthetic reasons.
    Second, have you ever considered a sleep aid like Ambien or even just melatonin? Easy to fix the problem of not being able to sleep!

  22. I love reading all the travel hacks and experiences, it gives me as a commoner something to aspire to on my once a year splurge on long haul biz travel (always saver or off peak). But to whine that the first class cabin was full? Really, that’s your complaint? Sometimes I wonder if the aristocrat royalty has lost touch with reality

  23. Ideas for future posts:

    – 50+ hours in economy basic
    – 50+ hours of ordering one of everything on the menu (does not need to be on a flight!)
    – 50+ hours of reading OMAAT “themed” comments (i.e. comments need to be a particular theme… e.g. Politics, “This article is clickbait”, specific commenters
    – 50+ hours of slow WiFi
    – 50+ hours in a seat without an individual air nozzle
    – 50+ hours listening to the same Sean Mendez (spelling?) song
    – 50+ hours on a tarmac waiting for a gate (no compensation)

    Others?

  24. @Jeff: Alaska will honor all flights you did actually fly on. I’m in San Francisco and recently booked ORD-HKG-CMB, CMB-HKG-SFO-ORD on Cathay, throwing away the last SFO-ORD leg. I got all the miles I was due.

    (Although CMB-HKG-SFO didn’t show up for 10 days. I emailed Alaska, sent in boarding passes and a copy of my itinerary to get the miles credited. So that’s a good reminder to always save your boarding passes!)

  25. A valuable lesson in life.
    Too much if anything becomes boring. Or at least mundane

    Ask anyone who has been affluent for a long time. After a while what others think of as extravagant becomes your baseline.

    Heck. Everyone reading this blog is in this situation. You just might not realize it

    How many of you think, “wow, I have such an amazing house” or “wow my car is so breathtaking?”
    Most of us say “yeah, I have a car and house. They’re fine”

    But if a poor rural kid from Uganda saw your house and car? They would be gobsmacked at the level of luxury, that you think is just “normal”

    I’m reminded how “rich” I am every time we return from a developing nation. (I do not stay in Luxury Hotels when I travel)

    As someone else said, as you age TIME often becomes your most precious commodity

    I will go a LITTLE out of the way to fly J over Y if flights are >5 hours
    But that’s because I have a neck issue and have issues with the seats in Y

    I won’t detour at all for F

  26. The old QF1, SYD-DXB-LHR. The same seat on the same aircraft for over 24 hours. We did get off for an hour in DXB. Thanks be that it was seat 2A, not 62A!

  27. Haha, welcome to the world of the travelling Australian or New Zealander. Not the first class part but the long haul traveller part. Sleep never comes as easily as when you want it regardless of the Ambien as previously mentioned. First class is one thing but have a thought for the great majority travelling, or should that be crammed, in economy or even business. And this is our norm and I haven’t even mentioned babies, drunks etc to share the experience with!! Serious travel warriors down under!

  28. “The ticket cost ~$3,170, which is a lot of cash” – uh….not really, especially for Emirates First, which a RT ticket from LAX can cost more than $20K!!! thats one hell of a deal you got there.

    BTW LOVED ur drunk Ben instagram story videos….specially you bothering Ford while he was sleeping. Too funny!

  29. Gotta agree with debit on this one. Value of points is highly subjective give especially in a case like this one where you had to pay out of pocket for a trip to nowhere. Of course it makes sense for you as this is your job, but with that much $$$ I could buy 10 bottles of DOM Perignon and have change to spare for a couple meals at Osteria Francescana (just voted best restaurant in the World again). Good for thought.

  30. My feeling is this is in part due to your reason for travelling. Your life is mostly about the trip and not the destination. Flying is about positioning me to somewhere I really want or need to be so the anticipation is different. Flying for flying sake gives you an income but after a while you will question the point of it…

  31. Two points: if you drink a lot i.e. more than two glasses of wine or more than a mixed drink, you will get sleepy but then you’ll detox and have insomnia!
    Second, the Emirates first class seats are absolutely business class in appearance and cuisine, or at least seem so in a three cabin plane.
    Did I miss something?

  32. OMG! Emirates had a full cabin and so Lucky couldn’t keep his luggage at another seat! The horror!

  33. Yah, kinda feel like this whole post falls into the ‘spoiled brat’ category. Many of us will never fly in Emirates First, way to rub it in that you grew tired of the opulence. These types of articles really border obnoxious and ‘pompous ass’ all too closely.

  34. When I fly first class which is not so often now I am retired, I never get tired of it. Or business class !!
    Maybe a few more flights in economy of LCCs like Ryanair or Easyjet will get you to appreciate first class more.

  35. @Airways and Travels uhhh no.. unless you can find dom for less than $100 a bottle? and that meal would have to be free so…

    @Evan M Torch, M.D. yes you must have missed a lot since no sane human would classify more than one drink or two glasses of wine as “a lot” and there is absolutely nothing about Emirates F that is business at all. Lastly, if you put letters after your name on a blog you are the pinnacle of douchebag and probably the doc (lol, like you actually are one) that prescribes a person as soon as they walk in… get that commission amirite

  36. I travelled with Emirates last year from Sydney to London with a stop over in Dubai. On the Sydney to Dubai leg my entertainment system failed about 30 minutes out from Sydney, then the seat also failed. The purser was very good, tried resetting it all many times but to no avail. Then on the Dubai to London leg, it all failed again !! I was able to have a shower (intentional) at 44,000 feet though. The window blinds when coming into land had to be opened, but mine failed !!

    So travelling that distance with nothing to look at other than a blank screen is incredibly boring. Emirates Customer Services were worse then useless, as they just did not want to know about my problems. Unfortunately I have accumulated quite a few points with Emirates, so it does mean that I will be flying with them again at some stage. That is when I can work up the enthusiasm to do so.

  37. “one person apparently ordered one of everything on the menu (there are 27 things on the menu)” “… one passenger who was eating the entire flight” – Mr. Creosote?

  38. please let us know when you are traveling on the LAX – YVR segment and that you will be finishing the terms of the ticketing contract when you bought your “positioning” flight

    I know of some travellers who took a similar route who have not been able to receive the Alaska miles and others who have received legal notices from the airline for not honouring the terms and have been asked to pay the full amount of the ticket.

    happy to have your thoughts – especially as you are encouraging this sort of “loophole”travel”….

  39. I think he’s only blogged this so he could write off the ticket purchase cost as a business expense.

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