I recently enjoyed a relaxing long weekend in Dubai. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new Business Class Brussels to Dubai
- Review: Armani Hotel Dubai
- Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman)
- Review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels (today)
Today (December 19, 2018): Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels.
On October 10th 2018, I flew in an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER featuring the carrier’s newest and game-changing First Class product from Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU). With floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, virtual windows, beds with zero-gravity position, and a sleek design inspired by Mercedes-Benz, Emirates’ new B777 First Class suites take luxury and privacy to the next level. As of now Emirates’ new First Class is only available on newly delivered B777-300ER aircraft which operate flights between Dubai and Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Munich and London Stansed. It’s unclear if Emirates plans to retrofit its existing B777 and A380 fleet with the new First Class suites due to exorbitant costs (upwards of $30 million USD per aircraft). Also, it’s currently impossible to book the new Emirates B777 First Class suite with award miles and it’s not clear when that option will become available.
Emirates features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the most luxurious A380 First Class products, the world’s best airlines for in-flight meals, the best First Class lounges, the best Business Class amenity kits, and the best First Class amenity kits.
Have you ever flown Emirates’ First Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU)
- Airline: Emirates
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: A6-EQJ
- Flight Number: EK181
- Date: October 13, 2018
- On time departure: yes (3 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (7 pm)
- Miles: 3200
- Flight time: 7 hours
- Seat: 1K
- Class: First Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Emirates chauffeur service
- Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai Airport
- Facts & figures about Emirates’ longhaul fleet
- First Class cabin
- First Class suite (+ best & worst suites)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
- My verdict (score)
1. EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE
One of the great perks about flying First (or Business) Class with Emirates is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. The carrier whisks you to and from the airport at both ends of your journey. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight. Within the United Arab Emirates (home base of Emirates), the complimentary chauffeur-drive service is available for all destinations within the the country, and is provided in a fleet of BMW and Mercedes cars with free in-car Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on emails, browse your social feeds or send a message on route to your final destination.
2. EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI AIRPORT
All Emirates flights arrive and depart from Emirates Terminal 3 at Dubai International airport, currently the world’s largest airport terminal, with over 1,713,000 m2 (18,440,000 sq ft) of space. This terminal comprises two concourses: Concourse A (the world’s first A380 purpose-built facility, accommodating 20 air bridge gates) and Concourse B. Both concourses feature Business and First Class lounges. My flight departed from Concourse A, so this is a review of the Concourse A First Class lounge only.
The Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai is one of the most spacious, unique and innovative lounges in the world. In fact’s, it’s more of an ultra-luxe concourse floating above the terminal’s groundfloor rather than a defined space like you find in other First Class lounges around the world. The lounge is enormous as it spreads the entire length of the terminal, offering direct access to most gates with multi-level boarding. Immediately after you enter the lounge via the elegant reception area, you find yourself in a gallery lined by high-end, duty-free boutique shops, including brands such as Tiffany&Co and Bvlgari. From there, two walkways run along both sides of the lounge, offering a nice view of the terminal’s groundfloor below, and with plenty of seating areas along the way, most of them centered around the gates. At the opposite side of the lounge, the two walkways converge into the main seating area, which features a gorgeous chandelier. It’s pretty insane that this ridiculously overwhelming space and the large number of seats accommodate only a few First Class passengers, but I guess that is what Emirates aims to reach: impress their First Class passengers and make them feel very privileged.
Every seating area in the First Class lounge comes with its own food station, with food varying from light snacks, sandwiches and sushi, to desserts and cheese spreads. The main restaurant with its semi-open kitchen is located halfway the lounge, and offers both a la carte dining and an extensive buffet. The restaurant ambience does not feel very cozy nor intimate, due to the terminal’s incredibly high ceilings with gigantic pillars seeming to reach for the skies. During my visit, I had a light lunch (Italian burrata with heirloom tomatoes) at the restaurant, and it tasted excellent.
As an Emirates First Class passenger, you can also enjoy complimentary spa treatments at the Timeless Spa, which is located next to the First Class lounge entrance. The lounge also features a business center, a stylish decorated cigar room, a wine cellar, and two sleeping rooms (each featuring a dozen day beds).
As already mentioned, the lounge has direct gate access. When it was time to board, a staff member scanned my boarding pass, after which I took the elevator down to the Boeing 777’s jet bridge.
3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT EMIRATES’ LONGHAUL FLEET
Emirates is by far the largest Boeing 777 & Airbus A380 operator on the planet.
- With a current 105-strong Airbus A380 fleet and an order backlog for 57 additional aircraft combined, Emirates’ commitment to the A380 program is worth over $ 60 billion USD. All Emirates A380s are being fitted at the Airbus factory in Hamburg including significant cabin interior work and final livery, and are being delivered from Hamburg. The Emirates A380 program creates and supports manufacturing jobs across the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain. Airbus estimates that Emirates’ A380 orders alone support 41,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Europe, including some 14,500 in Germany alone. Emirates currently operates the A380 to 48 global destinations.
- Emirates has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet, one of the most popular and advanced wide-bodied aircraft in commercial operation today. The airline welcomed the first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft into its fleet in March 2005 and over the last 13 years, the 777-300ER has become the backbone of Emirates’ fleet operating currently to over 119 destinations across the airline’s global network. Emirates has operated one out of every five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft produced to date and the average age of a Boeing 777-3000ER in Emirates’ fleet is a mere 6.5 years. From 2020, the airline will start taking delivery of 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s. These next generation aircraft will have a more fuel efficient design and will feature larger windows, increased cabin pressure and humidity, higher ceilings, wider cabin and an advanced inflight entertainment system contributing to a superior customer experience.
4. FIRST CLASS CABIN
Emirates’ newly delivered B777-300ER planes feature only 6 First Class suites arranged in 1-1-1 layout: 2 window suites on each side and 2 suites in the middle aisle. That’s a 20% downscale compared to Emirates’ B777s with the old layout, which feature 8 First Class suites (4 along the windows and 4 arranged in the center).
The cabin itself feels a little claustrophobic and the aisle is very narrow, but that’s because the 6 suites – each one offering up to 40 sq ft (3,7sq ft) of personal space – take most of the cabin’s space. The suites are so large that they have ample space to change in the privacy of your suite even after the bed has been made.
The most remarkable cabin feature outside the suites is a magnificent artistic motif printed on the front wall of the first middle suite, which represents the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree, a figure that is used as a design highlight throughout the aircraft. An indigenous evergreen plant, the Ghaf is a considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and has deep cultural and ecological significance.
5. FIRST CLASS SUITE (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I had selected suite 1K for the 7 hour flight from Dubai to Brussels.
Each suite is fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, a first in the airline industry. This creates a level of privacy otherwise experienced only on a private jet. Contrary to Emirates’ older B777 and A380 First Class suites – which have a lot of walnut veneer and gold trim in their design – the new B777 First Class suite features a sleek interior with a soothing color palette of soft greys, cream and champagne, conveying a contemporary, open and airy feel. Above the three windows (which feature stylish curtains instead of traditional blends) as well as on the suite’s front wall, there’s another motif of the Ghaf tree.
The suite’s layout is very similar to Emirates’ old First Class product (which I reviewed here). It has an ergonomic soft leather seat at its center, which can be adjusted by a control panel in the arm rest into dozens of custom positions for optimal comfort, including the fully flat-bed position (a bed of 86 inches or 218 cm long with retractable armrest). The suite’s side (towards the aisle) features a personal wardrobe, which is large enough to hang a jacket or coat. The wardrobe’s external wall has another control panel, which allows you to adjust the suite’s temperature and lighting. On the other side of the seat (towards the windows), you find a tablet and another control panel, which can be used to command the inflight entertainment system or even to video call ‘room service’ (more on that below).
In front of the seat is a 32-inch Full HD LCD TV screen (the largest in the airline industry). There’s a non-cooled minibar on one side of the TV (containing non-alcoholic drinks) and a small cabinet on the other (with a glass and a bottle of Evian water). Below the TV screen is a large desk, which has a vanity unit on the inside (with mirror, writing kit, and an “inspiration kit’ with Breydo skincare products). The suite’s large tray table is hidden under that desk and you need to pull on a robe-like bar in front of you to release the tray table and slide it towards you. Underneath the desk is a lot of open space and another cupboard to store your belongings and hand luggage during the flight.
There are subtle differences with Emirates’ old First Class suite, such as the location of the private minibar on both sides of the TV screen instead of in the arm rest, but overall, the new B777 First Class suite’s layout feels very similar. That said, the new First Class suite does feature some new spectacular design elements:
- The soft leather seat reclines into a fully flat-bed that can be placed in a ‘zero-gravity‘ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness, similar to what astronauts experience onboard spacecraft.
- To ensure all First Class passengers have a view, Emirates introduced the industry’s first virtual windows for the two suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time technology with fibre-optic cameras. Wow! This is probably the first plane where I would prefer an aisle seat over a window seat.
- Passengers can easily communicate with the cabin crew or request ‘room service’ using a video call function on the suite’s tablet (similar to a 5-star hotel).
- The suite comes with a service window where you can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed after closing the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors.
- The suite features impressive temperature & LED lighting controls. There are different lighting themes available (with adjustment of the brightness within each theme), ranging from red, orange and yellow to green, blue and purple. Your chosen colour will appear throughout your suite, such as on the floor-level mood lighting, behind and around the curtains, and in the wall pattern.
What are the best First Class seats on Emirates’ new B777?
- As you can imagine, all 6 suites are equally excellent (especially since the middle seats feature virtual windows, allowing a view for all First Class passengers).
What are the worst First Class seats on Emirates’ Airbus A380?
- There are no bad seats in Emirates’ new B777 First Class cabin. That said, couples or travel companions may want to choose the pair of suites 1A&1E or 2K&2F since these suites have their entrances located in front of each other (so you can still communicate with each other when you leave the doors of these suites open).
Emirates First Class passengers receive the following amenities:
- The First Class amenity kit bags, made from fine leather, come in eight designs in charcoal grey for men and pale grey for women. The kit contains Bvlgari’s woody floral fragrance – Eau Parfumée au thé noir – in addition to the usual necessities – albeit in luxe edition – such as toothbrush, toothpaste, handkerchiefs, and deodorants. The men’s amenity kit also provides Gilette shaving foam and a razor, as well as moisturizers and aftershaves by Bvlgari. The First Class amenity kit’s content is not different from what you get as an Emirates Business Class passenger.
- In addition to an amenity kit, Emirates also offers an ‘inspiration kit‘ with Breydo skincare products to its First Class passengers. The kit, which is hidden in the desk’s vanity unit, includes a cleansing face towelette, facial toner, eye cream, chamomile roll-on sleep oil and chamomile pillow mist spray.
- Emirates’ First Class pyjamas are the world’s first moisturising sleepwear range to ever be developed for an airline. Designed to prevent skin dehydration, the pyjama’s fabric is crafted with the use of natural ingredients – Shea Buter and Argan Oil – which are released with every motion, keeping your skin moisturised and protected. The patented Microcapsule Technology locks in the natural benefits, allowing you to wash the pyjamas and use them again them again. Catering to female and male sizes – the pyjamas come in four sizes and in a jersey travel pack. The dark grey men’s pyjamas come with wide leg pant and ribbed collar, while the female’s pyjamas come in a light grey tapered pant and reverse darker colour collar. Slippers are provided as well.
- The inflight entertainment experience is enhanced with brand new Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones. These headphones were designed exclusively for Emirates to ensure the sound was optimised for the First Class cabin. The headphones are lightweight and made of aluminium and sheepskin leather for a comfortable fit. You cannot take the headphones with you after the flight since they can only be powered within a plane.
- In the suites located along the real windows, binoculars are provided in case you want to explore the sky outside their windows.
- When you want to sleep, the crew provides turn down service and will make up your bed with excellent bedding and plush pillows. This includes a cream coloured, furry blanket, which – when opened – has armholes and pockets to keep hands and feet warm. The blanket can also be converted into a travel pillow, providing comfort and support for the neck.
7. FOOD & BEVERAGES
After boarding, I was offered Arabic coffee, dates, and a hot towel. The crew also put a basket with several snacks (e.g. dried mango, chocolates, etc …) on the desk, which was removed during the takeoff and landing phase of the flight.
Lunch was served shortly after takeoff (although you could have your meal at any time during the flight). I choose the following selection from the impressive menu:
- Canapés: grilled venison with cranberries, smoked Scottish salmon with chives and avocado cream, and Bleu d’Auvergne on gingerbread with spiced apricot chutney
- Appetiser: caviar presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis
- Mushroom soup served with chives
- Seasonal salad with toppings including veal rashers, shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini, dressed with creamy French vinaigrette or olive oil with balsamic vinegar
- Main course: poached cod served with moghrabieh, saffron tomato salsa, grilled asparagus and vegetable julienne
- Dessert: chocolate truffle cake served with raspberry jellies
The food tasted excellent and was nicely presented. The caviar was an absolute highlight! During the entire flight, a walk-up bar was installed in the galley, which offered small bites and snacks (e.g. chips, sandwiches, etc …) . Shortly before landing, I ordered some more items from the menu for dinner:
- Appetizer: traditional Arabic mezze: a spread of local savoury dishes including herbed feta, sautéed spinach with chickpeas, aubergine salad, mujaddara, houmous, bamieh bil zeit, stuffed vine leaves, seafood kibbeh and harhoura Salmon gravadlax
- Main course: pan-fried salmon with lemongrass fumet Served with coriander pesto, shiitake mushrooms and pak choi
- Dessert: an assortment of fresh-cut fruit
Emirates entertainment system, called ICE (information, communications, entertainment) is the best in the industry, albeit a bit overwhelming when you are using it for 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, or using a touch-screen monitor that is about the size of a small tablet.
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 a range of fun games.
My favorite ICE feature is the outside camera that you can access on your screen. Emirates’ B777s are equipped with two cameras: 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.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
Emirates offers 20MB of free WiFi within the first two hours of log in across all your devices on board most of its flights. That’s enough data to browse your favourite social networks and send messages. If you like to use onboard WiFi for longer or you need more data, you can choose from one of Emirates’ data plans, with a pricing dependent on the fact whether you are a member of Emirates’ loyalty program ‘Skywards’ or not.
If you’re an Emirates Skywards Silver or Blue member, make sure you log in as a member and not as a guest so you can enjoy both the 20MB for free and then buy a discounted plan:
|Cabin class||Emirates Skywards tier||Plan options|
|First Class, Business Class||Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum||Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight|
|Economy Class||Gold, Platinum||Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight|
|Economy Class||Silver||Up to 150MB of data, for USD 4.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 7.99
|Economy Class||Blue||Up to 150MB of data, for USD 6.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 10.99
The following applies to non-Emirates Skywards members:
|Cabin class||Plan options|
|First Class, Business Class and Economy Class||Up to 150MB of data, for USD 9.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 15.99
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: the crew during this flight was excellent (as is always the case with Emirates). There were two crew members that took care of the only two passengers in the First Class cabin. They almost made me forget I was flying (although I am a nervous flyer), and genuinely talked about how they loved working for Emirates.
# LAVATORY: there are two decently sized lavatories for First Class passengers in the galley behind the cockpit. Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.
# VIEWS: we enjoyed clear weather for most of the journey, resulting in some great views (especially above eastern Iraq).
11. MY VERDICT
- Cabin design: 10/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 10/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 10/10
- Food (quality): 9/10
- Food (quantity): 10/10
- Inflight entertainment : 10/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10