The Only Way To Fly: Emirates Business Class
We reveal why Emirates Airlines is one of the biggest, and best, business classes in the airline biz.
Having spent three years living in Dubai, there are many luxuries that I got used to during my time there. Beauty treatments available 24/7, enormous brand-spankingly new malls, just about every single bit of glitz and glam you could think of, and of course, flying Emirates. As the nation's carrier, Emirates is one of Dubai's biggest success stories, and when you consider that this is a country that built a snowdome in the desert, that's no mean feat.
I left Dubai in 2011 and there are many things that I miss about the great Gulf state, with travelling Emirates being one of them. So when I got the chance to fly with them earlier this year I was excited, but of course, hesitant. My time in Dubai is peppered with memories of travel, having a job that meant I flew at least twice a month and the enormous slew of 17 weddings to attend in just shy of three years, I seemed to be constantly with Emirates. Not forgetting the fact that I flew Emirates to my wedding in Italy where my inner Bridezilla took over and I bombarded the attendants with a million instructions on how to keep my dress safe and they not once batted an eyelid, even presenting us with a bottle of champagne to congratulate us, or subdue me, the jury is still out on that one.
So would Emirates Business Class be everything I remembered? Read on to find out.
One of the main things that Emirates really gets right is the free chauffeur service from your home (or hotel) to the airport. You pre-book your transport well in advance and a branded luxury car is ready and waiting with chilled water and cold towels to take you to your terminal. Checking in is pretty seamless too, with Singapore having ample check in desks for all cabins, meaning you never have to wait too long to get that trip started. If you leave from Dubai it's even more swish with Emirates having their own check in terminal with hundreds of desks, and thankfully, eager porters to help you with your luggage and take you to your desk. One more thing about the chauffeur service, it is available at each touchdown where you exit the airport, putting the little luxury cherry on top of a superb trip.
Airline lounges are a big deal these days and one of the things I always remembered about Emirates is how nicely they kept theirs. Eight years on and standards have most certainly not slipped. The lounge offers all the usual amenities such as wi-fi and showers, it's kept sparklingly clean and the Arabic treats start right away with a smorgasboard of Middle Eastern dining options. But it's the lounge in Dubai where Emirates really come into their own. Only for Business and First travellers, the lounge is like an airport away from the airport. There's dozens of dining options and stations, from snacks to hot meals, showers, play areas for children, games areas, charging areas and, best of all, you actually board the aircraft straight from the lounge, meaning virtually no queueing to get on the plane or long walks to the gate - perfect.
Cabin and Seat
So, after a seamless journey, check in and wait, you find yourself boarding the plane (in my case the A380) and one of the first things you will notice as you walk through, if you haven't flown Emirates before, is how big the Business Class area is. With 76 seats, it's one of the biggest business classes out there but as its spread over several cabins, and thanks to the seamless attention from the staff, you don't really notice once you are happily ensconced in your seat. With a configuration of one, two, one, I personally prefer the seats on their own (if travelling alone of course, otherwise this might come off as standoffish to your loved one) as not only are they next to a window, but they also feel slightly more private. Each seat lies flat at an impressive 48 inches of pitch and 18.5 inches wide.
I was happy to see that Emirates still offer the mini bar with there being a melonge of drinks at your disposal within your seat and they haven't scrimped on the storage, with side and bottom storage available to fit anything and everything you might need during your trip. Then of course you have your usual Business Class perks such as charging station, socks and eye mask and a luxe Bvlgari wash kit to keep you fresh for your travels.
One of the reasons that I always loved flying with Emirates was due to the high standards of flying experience, and this, I'm glad to report, hasn't changed one jot. Let's break it down.
- Once you are happily settled in your seat, your cabin crew will come and introduce themselves to you with a cold towel to refresh yourself and a choice of drinks including champagne, juice or water. Then, once you've had some time to sip your beverage, they come back to take your meal order and ask what time you want to eat which, when you are travelling with little ones, is pretty handy. And while we are on the subject of little ones, as every parent will know, travelling, no matter what class you are, is not always the easiest with the tiny tykes in tow but thankfully Emirates handle the ankle biters with aplomb. Not only did we get a polaroid of us to remember our trip, but when I needed toilet breaks or just a break in general, the cabin crew couldn't have been happier to take my little one off my hands for a couple of minutes. They even offered to help me settle him in the spare extra seat if he wanted more room to play - which, no matter how big our seating area, of course he gladly crawled over to.
- The bar. Yes that's right, Emirates Business has a bar on board. Serving delicious snacks and drinks throughout the flight, the bar area has ample circular seating for you to take a break from your, well, other seat, and just enjoy a little something to help the time go by. For me on this trip it was especially helpful as I could let my little one crawl around while I guzzled cake.
- The Food. I'm a picky eater, I know it's annoying but I just can't grow out of it and at three months pregnant (with my second baby) at the time of the flight, I was suffering a mild case of pregnancy sickness with some serious food aversions, making feeding myself even more of a nightmare. Well, with a range of comfort and healthy options, including sandwiches and cakes, I found several options to keep me going, and upon telling the crew of my condition, they rather sweetly kept me stocked with shortbread biscuits (a god send for morning sickness) and plenty of water.
- The Entertainment. It's called ICE and it's ACE. With over 4,000 channels of TV, music, games and entertainment, you can't get bored on board and depending how serious you are about your entertainment, you can even pre-load your playlist through the Emirates App before you fly. No wonder the ICE entertainment system is one of the most awarded in the business.
Getting some shut eye
I took an overnight flight to London, with a short two-hour transit in Dubai and on both planes was keen to get some kip. Sensing your enthusiasm to sleep, or maybe I just looked wretched, the crew quickly assembled the baby bassinet and while I popped to the bathroom, helped put my seat flat, lay the padded seat cover and set up my bed for the next seven or so hours. As I said I was travelling with a child, so all hopes to drift off in my comfy bed in the sky for the whole flight were soon dashed, but even with the little man spread across me, I've had worse nights sleep in my bed at home, making it a big win for Emirates seats.
So as most flights transit in Dubai, Emirates are pretty, pretty good at transit. Not only is the whole process quick and painful to get through transit, once in the lounge you have all the wonderful amenities I mentioned before. Plus, with nearly 4,000 a week leaving from Dubai, the schedule is always pretty good too, meaning you can nearly always find a flight with minimal dread waiting time.
Well this trip was very special for me. I was going to London for a family reunion and then to Dubai for a friends, who are like family, reunion. As I hadn't been back to Dubai in several years I was honestly a bit worried everything wouldn't have been as I remembered it to be. But from the flight to the great city, the whole experience was wonderful. Dubai is as busy and bustling as ever and Emirates is every bit as efficient, luxurious and seamless as I remember, and with another trip planned in December, I'm already looking forward to my flight - this time I'll be sure to leave the kid at home though so I get some much-needed luxury time.
For more information on flying with Emirates, see here. Emirates have recently launched a Premium Travel sale with a wide range of special Business Class fares to Dubai, Melbourne, Paris, London etc. For more information, see here