I used to ask myself if Business Class was really worth it. Triple the price for more leg room and nicer food and booze. I guess I can’t give a definitive answer on that because I’ve never paid for it but one thing’s for sure, flying will never be the same again following my time in Emirates Business Class.
Perhaps the best part about flying Emirates Business Class is not the Verve Cliquot, the hot towel or the lie-flat seat, but the absence of stress. When flying Business everything is easier. I’m a person who gets so flustered by flying. I worry about getting to the airport, about whether or not my aisle preference has been confirmed, about my erratic movements during flight (I get up constantly) and most of all whether my carry on luggage will fit into the crowded compartments above forcing me to tuck it under the seat in front, rendering my already sparse legroom non-existent. This is what you pay to avoid in Business Class and Emirates add the finishing touches, and do so better than I could have imagined.
From the moment you step out your front door the Emirates Business Class experience begins with a complimentary chauffeured car to deliver you to the airport. At 3.45am (for the 6 am flight) the hire car is a godsend. Checking in is, of course, a breeze because there are more desks manned than necessary at the Business Class check in. Then before you know it you’re sitting in the cosy lounge taking your pick from the breakfast buffet and the Champagne selection.
Boarding the plane is done via a separate ramp for First and Business Class which leads to the top floor of the plane (on the A380 only). First Class passengers turn left, and the curtain is closed instantly. It’s a healthy reality check after walking up the glass-walled ramp watching the Economy passengers file onto the plane below you. For a moment you feel on top of the world and then you get put in your place. The class system is well and truly alive in the air.
That reality check is only short lived as you find your seat and sit down to enjoy a beverage and a scorching hot towel. For the trip to Brussels from Sydney, the first leg is on the A380 with the second smaller leg on the 777. I don’t think anyone who’s flown the two would argue with me saying the A380 is a far superior experience. The Business class seat on the A380 has a private mini bar and small side table with extra storage room under the nook where your bed extends to. It is essentially your own little self-contained area whereas the 777 is just the reclining seat which lies flat but does so at an angle (the A380 bed lies parallel with the floor of the plane).
While you’re waiting for the plane to take off, you can peruse the food and wine menu. Orders are taken shortly after the seat belt lights are switched off and your three-course meal is served roughly half an hour later. There’s a choice of two appetisers and four mains with three desserts on offer, two sweet and a cheese board. The wine menu is very solid featuring two whites and two reds from around the world with a fortified option as well. The food and wine selection changes as you leave different cities, out of Australia I ate a Peking duck appetiser followed by a stir fried chicken with cashew nut main, out of Dubai I ate an Arabic Mezze plate and lamb biryani, both inspired by the local cuisine.
Following your meal you can dive into the ICE entertainment system or head to the bar for a whisky and a walk around. The ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) system is fantastic, easily the best I’ve used on any carrier. There’s thousands of hours of music and films both classic and new, and there’s lots of TV series which are great to watch on the plane. Both the A380 and the 777 offer detachable screens to control the system and smaller handheld remotes that pop out, the main screen is also touch operated.
The Bar on the A380 is the plane’s greatest asset. I like to spend a lot of time out of my seat on long haul flights and where better to spend it than in a bar?! There’s a great selection of whisky and cognac including Hennessy Paradis ($799 a bottle) so it’s worth taking advantage of that. The bar is attended to at all times throughout the flight and offers cocktails and drinks and a selection of small nibbles, as well as larger snacks like fruit and sandwiches which you find yourself needing 10 hours after your first meal. Naturally, the bar is a great place to meet new people or people from your travel group and you can easily loose a couple of hours over a few drinks and a good conversation.
First Class passengers might argue that the Bar isn’t the plane’s greatest asset, but they’ve got access to two onboard showers. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the First Class facilities, and I was amazed at how large the shower was, and how good the selection of drinks was in the walk up mini bar, (located outside the shower) noticing Ron Zacapa, Glenfiddich 21 and Vintage Dom Perignon.
After five legs on Emirates Business Class (and becoming a consequent Business Class veteran) I’d like to offer the following tips with this map, I annotated from Seat Guru.
1. In an ideal world, you’d pick a seat as far away from the bar and the food preparation areas as possible. On my first leg to Dubai my seat was in the last row with the bar directly behind me, it’s quite loud, and foot traffic is high. If you’re someone who likes to sleep, I’d recommend avoiding this area.
2. Make sure you book a flight that has an A380 leg on both your departure and return flight, ideally both the long hauls. Emirates offer flights to Brussels with both legs in the 777 which I’d avoid.
3. If you’re travelling alone, I think the ideal seat on the A380 is one where the lie flat bed sits directly next to the window.
4. If you’re going as a couple and would like to sit together you’d want to go for two centre seats sitting side by side (not separated by the two mini bars as seen in the image above). The central partition can be electronically lowered so you can talk to each other and eat together. If you’re flying alone and want to maximise on space (like I did), you can eat on the table in front of you and watch a film from you laptop resting on the table on the empty seat next to you.
5. Spend some time in the bar. There’s loads of magazines, a constant supply of sandwiches and snacks and of course plenty of delicious drinks. It’s a fabulous feature on the A380 and an excellent way to break up your flight, have a walk around and also meet people. It’s definitely surreal standing in a bar on a plane!
6. The A380 has more than enough bathrooms!
7. While I haven’t made a First Class trip on Emirates, after my tour it didn’t seem the difference between the hard product on the A380 Business and First Class was that substantial, on the 777, however, it appears to be significantly better than Business Class. It’s certainly something I’d keep in mind if paying for a ticket on a single leg flight.
It’s easy to see why people pay to fly Business Class and why people speak so highly of the Emirates Business Class service. It’s an undeniably epic experience delivering you to your destination with a spring in your step rather than on the verge of death from Economy. The on board bar on the A380 is a highlight for flyers who like to venture away from their seat while the entertainment system and true lie flat bed caters for those who like to stay put. Complimentary airport transfers are also a lovely touch reliving one of the biggest stresses of flying. After my Emirates Business Class experience, I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to put up with an Economy flight ever again. I tried to indulge at every moment possible and savour each of those moments till the dying seconds of my last flight. Does flying get any better? A trip on Emirates First Class should answer that question.
To book Emirates Business Class head to Emirates.