It took a long time before I managed to get myself into a proper first class cabin on a long-haul flight. I still haven’t actually done it all that often. And now I believe myself wholly spoiled from enjoying it in the future. I’ve had the great pleasure of flying in the Emirates A380 First Class Suite.
Coming home from Sri Lanka actually involved two flights in Emirates First, one on a 777-300 which is a proper F cabin and pretty impressive on its own. The seat is huge and offers a decent amount of privacy, though the 2-2-2 configuration does mean that the outside pairs involve climbing over someone or having someone climb over you for window/aisle access. As we were a couple traveling together it wasn’t a huge deal.
The other amenities on the 773 are comparable in many ways to the A380. Each seat has a private bar, though the good stuff comes from the flight attendants, not pre-stocked at the seat. And the ICE entertainment system is awesome in so many ways. Huge screens and options for both movies and music.
My only minor complaint on the first flight is that there was no meal service at departure. It is only a 3:30 flight and it leaves around 3am local time from Colombo. Still, the food options in the airport sucked and I was hungry. I chose to sleep through breakfast to try to actually get a couple hours of sleep so I basically had no food on the flight. Other than that, lots of fun.
Our layover in Dubai was just long enough to get lost in the lounge (I’ll post about that later) and then it was time for the crown jewel of the trip: A380 Suites.
The 773 provided a lot of space and privacy. The A380 bested it by far. The closing doors on the suites, in particular, was a nice touch for privacy. Also the 1-2-1 layout allows for isolation quite well, Sitting in the middle we were unable to actually see out the windows at all which was slightly annoying, but that’s how much privacy it afforded passengers. The photo below shows just how much space there is; my 22" TravelPro fit nicely under the desk at my seat, with plenty of room for the seat to still recline into bed mode.
The service started with the purser presenting our menus for the day and offering up some quite lovely advice, "The champagne today is, of course, Dom 2002." Suffice it to say, a bottle or two of that ended up in my belly. There’s a 21 year Single Malt and an 8 year rum, too, if that’s your thing. And the wine list was pretty impressive as well.
The food service was also at the top of my experiences, with a couple minor caveats. I liked the meals better than those I had in Lufthansa First last year. There were more choices, we were served more of them, and I thought that the quality of the food was slightly better.
My wife did remind me that the Lufthansa options are a bit more of a stretch in terms of providing a fine dining experience – fancier preparations and presentations – but I think that Emirates is nearly at the same level there and delivered on the attempt much better. Even the caviar service appeared better to me on Emirates.
You can eat anything you want off the menu whenever you want to. I understand that there is some flexibility to that effect on Lufty but they weren’t nearly as happy about providing it. And when I couldn’t make up my mind between the lobster and the lamb, the flight attendant solved that problem quite quickly, serving up both. They were delicious, though the lobster truly shined.
Oh, and then there was the shower. At roughly 35,000 feet over Ankara I stepped into my "spa experience" and enjoyed a quick rinse. We had been on the go for about 30 hours at that point and the shower was quite refreshing. I was somewhat concerned about the 5 minute limit on water but I ultimately found that by turning it off when soaping it was more than enough for me. There are a full set of shower amenities provided and the flight attendants are happy to explain the process to you, including the instructions to sit down on the bench should the plane encounter turbulence.
The flight attendant also made sure to ask what beverage I’d like to have when I finished my shower, and I came out to not only the aged rum that I had requested but also a fruit plate to have as a snack. She was top notch.
While she was great I cannot really say the same for her colleague across the aisle. My wife and I received notably different levels of service. Even when we specifically requested to dine at the same time we had issues with the timing of the food. Not the end of the world by any stretch, but it was a bit annoying. She was good, but not effusively so like the FA on my side.
There are some other things that are a little different with Emirates. There isn’t a proper amenity kit, per se, in that there is no little bag to take home with you.That said, everything you need – and then some – is provided either at your seat or in the lav.
And then, all too quickly, we were on final approach into London. The flight was only 7.5 hours. They were 7.5 hours of aerophillic bliss, but it was done. And now I am spoiled rotten. Flying in First will never be the same (though I’m more than willing to try just to confirm that concern).