Morpheus explores the world of luxury from his home base in Athens, Greece, and shares some of his experiences with the readers of TravelDailyNews.
In this story: Review of Emirates Business Class on board the A380
Here is the recipe for happiness when travelling halfway around the globe: Board the most advanced aircraft available and opt for business class if you can afford it (or have somebody pay for it) in order to avoid the pain and hassle associated with those long-distance flights. Even better: Choose the best in class! That’s what happened to me when I recently flew with Emirates in Business Class aboard the new Airbus A380. As this was my first trip on the world’s largest aircraft operated by one of the best airlines around, there is plenty to write about. Here’s the story.
My trip started in Athens on board an Airbus A330 heading to Dubai. I enjoyed once again the familiar high standards of Emirates’ Business Class service, however I was impatiently looking forward to my connecting flight with the A380 that would take me to my final destination in the Far East.
I had plenty of time to kill in Dubai before boarding my onward flight, so I went to the Business Class Lounge on the upper level of Emirates’ shiny Terminal 3. There I found ample of space to relax and work, a wide array of amenities ranging from video games and Internet access to showers and a full-service spa, not to mention the many food options with salad and fruit bars, sweet and savoury snacks as well as Western, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. As everywhere else in Dubai, there was plenty of helpful staff at hand taking good care of me while I did some work in the lounge.
Finally it was time to take my onward flight. Walking up to the gate I glimpsed through the windows of the airport and there it was! A double-deck giant of the skies measuring 73 metres in length, able to fly hundreds of people across continents. It took several boarding bridges on two levels to funnel all these people into the airplane, strictly separated by class of travel.
Being greeted by name upon embarkation was the proper way to start my first journey on this behemoth. The Business Class cabin occupied the entire back of the upper deck right behind First Class. Thanks to the high staff-to-passenger ratio, I enjoyed prompt and cordial service throughout the flight.
I swiftly got through the welcome-drink and hot-towel routine and was given a well-stocked overnight kit complete with everything needed to look and feel fresh after having a sleep on this nine-hour flight: toothbrush and toothpaste, comb and shaving kit, body lotion, deodorant and perfume.
I got rid of my shoes – each seat has a dedicated shoe box for storing them away – and put on a pair of socks provided to all passengers together with eyeshades. Business class passengers enjoy plenty of storage space on the Airbus A380. Each seat has its own overhead bin large enough for two small suitcases as well as several smaller compartments and pockets holding anything from books and magazines to eyeglasses and phones.
Business-class seats on the A380 feel like self-contained pods offering more comfort and privacy than on other aircraft. Everything I needed was at arm’s length – from a satellite phone to a private minibar stocked with soft drinks, an amenity previously available only to Emirates’ First Class passengers on smaller aircraft.
And, of course, there is plenty of space. With only four seats per row, Business Class passengers on the upper deck feel far less crowded than people flying Economy one deck below that features ten seats abreast.
I quickly started exploring the technology I had at my fingertips before food was served. In Business Class, all features are controlled through the passenger’s private detachable touch-screen remote control, such as switching lights on and off, typing e-mails, putting the fully motorised seat into the desired position – from upright sitting to flat bed – and even operating the five massage zones incorporated into the seat. Several adjustable lights allow passengers to do anything they wish when the cabin turns dark – such as dining or bedtime reading – without disturbing other travellers.
Emirates seems to be especially proud of ICE, the airline’s advanced entertainment and communication system that makes the best use of each passenger’s private wide-screen TV monitor. A phone set complete with keyboard allows to place calls and to send messages during the flight. I especially appreciated the power outlet at my seat allowing me uninterrupted use of my laptop. There is even a USB connection for browsing through files on the TV monitor.
The selection among audio and video programmes is mind-boggling. Choices range from Hollywood to Bollywood and from the latest box office hits to classic movies. Popular TV shows are also on offer as are hundreds of audio channels with radio programmes, playlists, entire CD collections and podcasts. ICE also offers games, news, inflight shopping as well as information on the services of Emirates and the destinations it flies to.
Before I could even start exploring all this fun stuff, it was time to eat. On this flight we had a light meal and breakfast. We were handed the printed menu and a separate wine list detailing our choices. I liked the way the flight attendant addressed me again by name while taking my order and then served each passenger individually. The wine selection included a choice of two reds and two whites from Australia and France together with bubbly (Moët & Chandon) and a port wine.
The so-called light meal proved to be a full-blown three-course dinner. I started with the spicy salmon and tuna combination beautifully arranged on fresh salad and picked the baked tilapia fish fillet with wild rice and a thyme broth among the five main courses on offer. I was so full that I just had to skip the chocolates, cheese and the citrus cheesecake that came with spicy chocolate drops and sweet strawberry compote.
Several hours later it was again time to eat. Warm breakfast items included an Asian rice dish with chicken and pumpkin served together with a Korean Kongnamul guk soup as well as two rich egg dishes. I picked the Norwegian-style poached eggs served on spinach with sauce hollandaise, all in the happy company of smoked salmon, grilled lamb loin, chicken sausage and mushrooms. Yummy, but don’t tell my cardiologist…
The warm breakfast course was preceded by fruit, yoghurt, cereals and several other breakfast classics. At the end I sampled the cheese selection. Four types of cheese, attractively arranged on a wooden platter, were served together with grapes, some vegetables and crackers.
Overall, the food was attractively plated and lovingly served on linen tablecloths by the crew, however some dishes were too tame for my taste. Care has been taken even of the smallest detail such as the cute salt and pepper shakers, the flower-shaped clot of butter as well as the toothpick with the dental floss.
A feature of the A380 that I very much liked was the lounge with the stand-up bar right behind the Business Class cabin. Here I could stretch my legs, have a drink and a bite and chat with fellow passengers. Beverages and snacks are on offer throughout the flight.
The bathroom experience on the A-380 is quite similar to the one offered on other aircraft types, for Business Class passengers that is. Those flying in First Class can make use of the beautifully appointed shower spa, the rest of us appreciate the thoughtful little extras such as toothbrushes with toothpaste, combs and all those other accessories and toiletries.
When the lights are trimmed, stars on the cabin ceiling start to sparkle – a nice touch for wishing passengers a good night’s sleep. Sleep is especially enhanced by the fully reclining seat that turns into a bed long enough even for basketball players.
First, I thought I would rather work after dinner. But then I saw the flight attendant putting mattresses on top of the fully reclined seats of fellow passengers and I changed my mind.
So I slept. Deeply.
And I arrived relaxed and full of energy despite the nine-hour flight. I was a happy person that day.
Was there something I couldn’t do on board the A380? Not really! I could eat and drink, sleep, work on my laptop for hours without worrying about the battery running low, be entertained with over a thousand audio and video programmes and games, communicate with the outside world, shop from the extensive inflight catalogue and even stretch my legs and socialize with other passengers at the bar. All this while I had my private space, was being looked after and without feeling crowded.
Was there something I missed? Yes, there was. Not in the air, but on the ground, as the free limousine service offered to Business Class passengers has been discontinued in Athens, but is still available at dozens of destinations that Emirates flies to. I made use of this service on several occasions in the past and I must say that this was a smart and most effective way by Emirates to impress and boost the ego of its premium customers, at least the vain ones like myself.
Based on the best traditions of Arab, Asian and Western hospitality, Emirates has developed its own highly commendable service culture which includes, among others, the policy of addressing business class passengers as often as possible with their names during their flight. This is a company investing not just in technology but also in the human factor and it shows.
To make a long story short: Emirates’ Business Class on board the A380 is a great way to manage those tiring long-distance flights. On this trip I was provided with great service by people who take pride in their job of pampering their customers and by a company that truly seeks to exceed expectations and to set new standards in the airline industry. With its very reasonable Business Class fares, Emirates is also offering a value that is hard to beat.
Don’t you just love ’em? I certainly do!
Morpheus wants your feedback! Let him know about your happy or unusual moments in the air. You can send him an e-mail ([email protected]) or hook up with him on Facebook (he goes under the name Morpheus Morfeas). Some of the letters sent to Morpheus (or excerpts thereof) may be published here.