Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.
Today (November 19, 2014): Trip report: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Business Class from Dubai to Brussels.
On November 11th 2014, I flew Business Class in an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER from Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU). Flying the Boeing 777-300ER is a totally different experience as compared to Airbus A380, since Emirates has installed a different Business Class product on both aircraft types. While the Boeing 777 still offered a pleasant onboard experience, its Business Class is somewhat inferior to the one of the Airbus A380 fleet, with the latter featuring full flat-bed seats, lots of private space, and a well-appointed bar on the upper deck.
- Click here to read my review of my Emirates A380 Business Class trip from Dubai to Sydney.
- Click here to read my review of my Emirates A380 Business Class trip from Brisbane to Dubai
Emirates features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the most luxurious First Class suites in the sky, the best Business Class amenity kits in the sky, and the most delicious airline food.
- Trip: DXB-BRU
- Airline: Emirates
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft ID: A6-ECT
- Flight Number: EK183
- On time departure: yes (07.05 am)
- On time arrival: yes (12.05 pm)
- Miles: 3202
- Flight time: 7 hours
- Seat: 9K
- Class: business (D)
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):
- Emirates Business Class Lounge at Dubai Airport
- Business Class Cabin
- Business Class Seat (best & worst seats)
- Other inflight & ground experiences (crew, lavatory, WiFi, views, flight path, chauffeur service)
- Comparison with other Middle Eastern carriers (Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways)
- My verdict
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1. EMIRATES BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Although conservative and functional in design, the airline’s lounge at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 is vast and impressive, overlooking the main concourse and its shops. It’s so huge that you will never have a problem finding a quiet spot to relax. A tasty breakfast available from various (warm & cold) buffet stations, as is Moët & Chandon Champagne. The shower rooms are a real treat if you want to refresh while waiting for a connecting flight. Treatments can also be booked at the lounge’s Timeless Spa. An office space caters to those working as they travel. Evidently, free high-speed WiFi is available. The lounge gives direct access to most gates.
2. THE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Business Class on the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER is located in the front of the plane, between First and Economy Class. A first Business Class mini-cabin contains 2 rows of 14 seats and feels quite intimate, while a second and larger cabin contains 28 Business Class seats spread over 4 rows. In between the 2 cabins is a galley kitchen, the Business Class lavatories and the main exit doors.
The 2-3-2 layout in Business Class means not all passengers have aisle access: those in seats A, E and K will have to scramble over their neighbour’s legs. Nevertheless, this “traditional” layout is quite good if you are traveling with a group of friends or family (in comparison: the A380 with its staggered 1-2-1 configuration seems to be designed with the solo traveler in mind).
The cabin offers a warm feeling, with a lot of classy burled walnut veneer, gold trim and pearlised plastic that frames the seats (some may find it kitsch though). The mood lighting during the flight was very enjoyable: the colors of the ceiling changed with the local time. Quite impressive are the stars on the ceiling. Called StarLight, this amazing feature is unique to Emirates and it is pretty amazing lying down in your bed bed at 35,000 feet, opening your eyes and seeing stars.
For a seating plan of Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER, click here.
3. THE BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
All Business Class seats on the 777 are identical with a width of 20.5 inch (52 cm) and a pitch of 60 inch (150 cm). There is plenty of storage space in the overhead bulkheads but storage space around the seat is rather sparse (just a small box in front of the seat to store your shoes). All seats come with in-seat power supply (so you can use your laptop for the duration of the long-haul flight). Each window Business Class seat has 3 windows that come with 2 electronically controlled shades: one paper-type shade and then a black-out shade. When not travelling with a partner, a privacy divider can turn your seat into a little self-contained pod. All seats can be reclined into a flat-bed: while it is not a full lie flat-bed but an angled lie flat-bed, it is very comfortable nonetheless. A duvet is provided by the crew to enhance the sleeping comfort for those who were in need of that.
What are the best Business Class seats on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER?
- Seats in row 6: at the front of the small first cabin, these bulkhead seats immediately behind first class have a little extra legroom for manoeuvring (and hopping over the aisle passenger if in a window or middle seat). In addition, the smaller cabin is quieter and further away from the noise and bustle of Economy Class.
- Seats in row 8: at the front of the larger second cabin, these bulkheads again have a little more legroom. But they are also bassinet crib seats, so business travelers are slightly more likely to be moved for a passenger with an infant.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER?
- Seats 7A & 7K: these window seats are missing a window, so if you lean back you’re just looking at a wall.
- Row 11: all the way at the back of Business Class and separated from Economy by only a thin wall and curtain, these are right in front of the Economy Class bassinet crib spots.
- E seats: avoid these middle seats if flying alone, and if flying with a partner aim for the window pairs (A&B or J&K) instead.
Each seat comes with a thin but comfortable blanket, a decently sized pillow, a lovely duvet (provided by the crew during the flight), a noise cancelling headphone, flight socks and earplugs. Unfortunately, no amenity kits nor pyjamas were offered.
Forty minutes after take-off, a light breakfast was offered: mango juice, a palette of fresh fruits, fruit-flavoured yoghurt, butter croissant and a pastry.
Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice or Veuve Cliquot. Before take-off, I also received a refreshing hot towel with a nice texture. Amazingly, hot towels were also served on 4 (!!) other occasions during the flight … felt so good.
Two hours before landing in Brussels, lunch was served. As an appetizer, I choose the seared tuna, accompanied by marinated asparagus and caper vinaigrette sauce. It tasted excellent. Instead of the salad, I requested the lentil soup served with crisp toasted Arabic bread croutons. Unfortunately, the soup was cold. The main course was very good: lamb cutlets, marinated and fried, served with herb butter roll, assorted vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. As a dessert, I choose the mascarpone mousse served with mango compote and garnished with fresh berries: excellent!
Emirates entertainment system, called ICE (information, communications, entertainment) is amazing albeit a bit overwhelming when you are using it the first time. You have three options on how to control the system: touching the screen (problematic given the seat pitch), using a small wired remote, and/or using a touch-screen monitor that is about the size of a small tablet (and also has the seat controls).
ICE has an extensive range of new-release and classic films, television shows, box sets and audio options to choose from. You can choose from up to 1,800 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on demand and in multiple languages. You can also relax to music from around the world or play our range of fun games.
My favorite feature is the outside camera that you can access on your screen. The Emirates 777 has one facing forward and once facing straight down (no tail camera like on the A380). When not in a window seat, it can be handy watching the aircraft take off via the cameras.
7. OTHER INFLIGHT & GROUND EXPERIENCES
#CREW: this was the best and most friendly crew that I ever encountered during all my years of flying around the globe: they addressed me by name at every single occasion during the flight, presented themselves individually before take-off, thanked me in person for choosing Emirates, and they explained the features of the cabin and seat to all passengers individually. They were doing all they could to make the flight as enjoyable as possible. Emirates: if you read this, kudos to them!
#LAVATORY: the 2 small lavatories for Business Class passengers are located between the 2 Business Class cabins. All lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.
#INTERNET: WiFi was not available during this flight.
#VIEWS: normally, the flight path from Brussels to Dubai goes straight over Syria and Iraq, but the plane detoured around the current ISIS conflict area by flying over eastern Iran, which offered some of the most breathtaking scenery that I ever witnessed from 35000 feet.
# CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: one of the great things about flying Business (or First) class with Emirates is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight. It is always great having someone greeting you with your name on a sign that escorts you right to your front door in a Town Car.
8. COMPARISON WITH OTHER MIDDLE EASTERN CARRIERS
The 3 major Middle Eastern carriers (Etihad airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways) are known for their excellent Business Class. There are some differences however that distinguish one from another (click here for more info):
- Chauffeur service: both Etihad and Emirates offer complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers, while this is not the case with Qatar Airways. A huge plus for Emirates and Etihad!
- Pyjamas: Qatar Airways offers pyjamas on overnight medium- and long-haul flights, while Etihad and Emirates only offer them in First Class.
- Duvets: Qatar Airways and Emirates offer duvets on medium-haul flights (to increase sleeping comfort), while Etihad only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Fleet-wide consistency: Etihad offers a consistent Business Class product across it wide-body fleet (with the exception of its superior Dreamliner B787 & Airbus A380 products, which were recently introduced), while Emirates and Qatar offer a more variable Business Class product across their wide-body fleets.
- Cabin interior & design: Etihad’s Airbus A380s & Dreamliner B787s feature an extremely elegant decor in their Business Class cabins (it doesn’t get any better at 30.000 feet), while Qatar’s A380, B787 and A350 cabins are very sexy with a red/white theme. Emirates features rather bombastic interiors, with lots of walnut veneer, gold trim and pearlised plastic, which is not to my liking.
- Cabin layout & seats: the best wide-body Business Class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre): (1) Etihad B787/A380; (2) Qatar B787/A350/A380; (3) Emirates A380; (4) Etihad A330/B777; (5) Qatar B777; (6) Emirates B777; (7) Qatar A330. So bottom line is to take the aircraft type into account when booking a flight on one of the 3 Middle Eastern carriers.
- Flat beds: Etihad Airways is the only carrier to offer flat beds (with 180 degree recline) across its wide body fleet. Contrary to their A380s, Emirates’ B777s have angled lie flat-beds (although they are still comfortable). Qatar Airways is currently replacing the (very uncomfortable) angled lie flat-beds on its Airbus A330 fleet by true lie-flat seats (after which the whole Qatar fleet will offer flat beds).
- Food: meals are delicious on all 3 carriers, but my best gastronomic experiences (so far) were always on Qatar Airways, followed by Etihad, and then Emirates.
- Number of meal services: on longhaul flights, all 3 carriers offer 2 meal services (one after takeoff, and one 90 minutes before landing). On medium-haul flights though, Etihad and Emirates only offer one meal; Qatar Airways used to offer a second light meal before landing but now seems to have skipped that as well. So there’s no difference here.
- Inflight entertainment: Emirates is the winner when it comes to the inflight entertainment product, with large screens and an extensive range of films, television shows, and audio options (but Etihad and Qatar offer plenty of choices as well).
- WiFi: onboard WiFi is offered by all 3 Middle Eastern carriers, but with a different price tag: Emirates offers the cheapest WiFi, while Qatar’s WiFi is just way too expensive, with Etihad somewhere in between.
- Amenity kit: Emirates has by the far the best amenity kit of the 3 airlines, with Etihad offering the least impressive Business Class amenity kit. Unfortunately, Emirates only offers them on longhaul flights, while Etihad and Qatar Airways offer amenity kits on both medium- and longhaul flights.
- Onboard bar: an onboard bar, exclusively accessible for passengers flying the premium cabins, is only present on the Airbus A380 aircrafts, which are now operated by all 3 carriers. But your chances of flying an Airbus A380, and thus socializing with other passengers in a fantastic onboard bar, are highest with Emirates, which has no less than 60 of these megaplanes in its fleet (Qatar Airways and Etihad own only 4 and 2 Airbus A380s respectively).
Read here to read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
Read here and here my reviews of Emirates’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
Read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
9. MY VERDICT
- Seat : 7/10
- Food: 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 10/10
- Amenity kit: NA
- Service: 10/10
- Cabin atmosphere: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10
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