Review: Emirates First Class A380 New York to Dubai (with 99 Pictures)

I got to fly from New York to Dubai on Emirates’ luxurious A380 First Class, and it was one of the most over-the-top in-flight experience I have ever had. Get ready for it, it’s going to be a looooong review!

This trip report/review is part of a series. See also:

  1. The Emirates Lounge New York JFK

You can also check out Adam’s review of the Emirates First Class from Los Angeles to Dubai (part one and two) on the A380, from Dubai to Male on the 777-200LR, from Dubai to Milan on the B777-300ER, and from Milan to New York on the B777-300ER.

Emirates (EK) Flight 204
New York (JFK) – Dubai (DXB)  |  Airbus 380-800
1120/0750+1 (12 hours 30 minutes)
First Class  |  Seat 2K

Booking the Flight

I booked the flight as part of an itinerary from New York to Singapore, which I redeemed 100,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles for. Alaska Airlines allows a stop-over even with one-way tickets, so I took advantage of that routing rule, and visited Dubai for a few days on my way to Singapore.

Booking my Emirates flight with Alaska pre-devaluation

Booking my Emirates flight with Alaska pre-devaluation

Unfortunately, Alaska has since devalued their award chart, and the same route now costs 180,000 miles for a one-way ticket. It’s still cheaper than buying a ticket outright, but no longer of noteworthy value. There are still a few ways you could redeem your points and miles for Emirates First Class. Japan Airlines is a partner of Emirates, and has a distance-based award chart. If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards card, you can also redeem points for Emirates First Class by transferring to Korean Air.

Emirates First Class Cabin on A380

The Emirates Lounge in New York has a direct connection to the jet bridge, so I was able to board straight from the lounge.

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK - Boarding Gate

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK – Boarding Gate

Emirates A380

Emirates A380

I was immediately welcomed as soon as I walked onto the plane, and a flight attendant led me to my seat suite. The Emirates A380 features 14 First Class Suites on the upper deck, in a cabin that’s decked out in gold and silver tones. There were no overhead bins, which created an open feeling.

Emirates First Class A380 Cabin

Emirates First Class A380 Cabin

All First Class seats have direct aisle access, and I selected a window seat, 2K.

Emirates First Class A380 Boarding Pass

Emirates First Class A380 Boarding Pass

There were indicator lights at the seat, which are used to signal flight attendants if I needed something, or simply didn’t want to be disturbed.

Emirates First Class A380 Indicator Lights

Emirates First Class A380 Indicator Lights

It’s not the most spacious cabin out there, since the seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. However, they are staggered in a way that maintains privacy. For instance, I couldn’t see any of my neighbors while I’m in my seat, even with all the suite doors opened.

Emirates First Class A380 Cabin

Emirates First Class A380 Cabin

Emirates A380 Stairway

Emirates A380 Stairway

The Seat

I don’t even know where to begin with this! I was overwhelmed in the most positive way possible as soon as I got into my seat. The seat is a large arm chair with gray leather, which converts into a fully flat bed. Because there are no overhead bins in First Class, the bedding supplies were tucked behind the seat.

Emirates First Class A380 Seat

Emirates First Class A380 Seat

Emirates First Class A380 Seat

It’s not the widest seat in the industry, at just 23 inches wide. For example, Cathay Pacific’s First Class seat is 36 inches wide. This is partly due to the fact that there is a minibar off the side of the seat! The minibar does not provide refrigeration, so the drinks were all room temperature. To be honest, it’s kind of a pointless feature, since the idea of First Class is that I wouldn’t have to help myself! But at the same time, one can argue that First Class is about pointless features… Regardless, I did appreciate being able to grab a drink as soon as I wake up without having to call a flight attendant.

Emirates First Class A380 In-seat Minibar

Emirates First Class A380 In-seat Minibar

To complement the minibar was a “night stand” directly across from the seat, on which I found a snack basket. There were chocolate bars, pretzels, candy, mints, etc. It’s worth noting the flight attendants actually collect the snack baskets before takeoff and landing.

Emirates First Class A380 Snack Basket

Emirates First Class A380 Snack Basket

The night stand also had a fold-up mirror with lights. I assume it’s for those who may prefer the privacy of their own suite to put on make up, or if you needed to check your hair quickly before heading to the bar. But I mostly just made silly faces at myself, as I though about how it was absolutely crazy that I was flying Emirates First Class.

There was also a lamp, and a universal outlet outfitted into the table. I really appreciated the night stand “feature,” since it’s otherwise just wasted space, but Emirates used it to add a residential touch to the experience.

Emirates First Class A380 Vanity Mirror

Emirates First Class A380 Vanity Mirror

Under the mirror was a travel kit. It featured two aromatherapy “sniff boxes,” one for sleep and one for focus. There was also a really strange mix of Temple Spa products, including a “dry shower in a tube.” I didn’t really understand the point of that…especially since there was actually a real shower onboard. But I suppose Emirates also offers these kits on their Boeing planes, which don’t have showers.

Emirates First Class A380 Travel Kit

Emirates First Class A380 Travel Kit

Also built into the vanity kit was a writing kit. It included sheets of paper, envelopes, a faux leather writing pad, and a nice pen.

Emirates First Class A380 Writing Kit

Emirates First Class A380 Writing Kit

Directly across from the seat was an giant in-flight entertainment screen. Under the night stand was a magazine holder, and enough space for any carry on you’d bring with you.

Emirates First Class A380 In-Flight Entertainment Screen

Emirates First Class A380 In-Flight Entertainment Screen

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-37

Emirates First Class A380 Magazine Holder

Emirates First Class A380 Magazine Holder

Behind the screen was a closet, which was actually exposed on the other side, as you can see above. For this reason, I’d suggest not pushing your carry-on items too far in, since they might wrinkle your clothes.

Emirates First Class A380 Closet

Emirates First Class A380 Closet

On the side console, there is a tablet for the seat controls and light controls. The panel below had a call button, as well as controls for the windows. You could lower a sheer curtain, the black-out windows shades, or both.

Emirates First Class A380 Seat Controls

Emirates First Class A380 Seat Controls

Emirates First Class A380 Windows

Emirates First Class A380 Windows

Emirates First Class A380 Windows

Emirates First Class A380 Windows

There were also two air vents around the seat, which I really appreciated. One was next to the seat control tablet, and the other next to the reading light, which was located to the left of my seat, instead of on the ceiling.

Emirates First Class A380 Air Vents and Reading Light

Emirates First Class A380 Air Vents and Reading Light

There was also a small storage compartment next to the seat, which was great for my phone, passport, wallet, and other bits and pieces.

Emirates First Class A380 Storage Compartment

Emirates First Class A380 Storage Compartment

The controls for in-flight entertainment were in the right armrest.

Emirates First Class A380 IFE Controls

Emirates First Class A380 IFE Controls

The left armrest had a shallow storage area, as well as buttons for basic seat controls.

Emirates First Class A380 Armrest

Emirates First Class A380 Armrest

There were also two USB ports in the side console, near the universal power outlet.

Emirates First Class A380 USB Port

Emirates First Class A380 USB Port

And finally, there were the doors, or the privacy screen. They are electronically controlled, and I have to be honest here—they are also much lower than they appear in pictures. If someone taller than, say, 5′ 8″, was walking down the aisle, they could easily look over and see you.

Still, how cool is having a door for your seat?!

Emirates First Class A380 Doors

Emirates First Class A380 Doors

Emirates First Class A380 Doors

Pre-Departure Service

I was happily snapping away, and a flight attendant came by to offer a pre-departure beverage. Her name was Belle, from the UK, and she might have been the most charmingly attentive flight attendant I’ve ever had. I asked for a glass of water, which was (of course) followed by the triad of water-related questions. I honestly don’t think I have ever been asked “how do you take your water” before. But my answers are now (1) with ice, (2) sparkling, and (3) with lemon.

and was also offered Arabian coffee and dates.

Emirates First Class A380 Pre-Departure Beverage

Emirates First Class A380 Pre-Departure Beverage

Emirates First Class A380 Arabian Coffee and Date

Emirates First Class A380 Arabian Coffee and Date

Another flight attendant delivered the menu and wine list, in a nice leather holder.

Emirates First Class A380 Menu

Emirates First Class A380 Menu

Amenities

I received so many goodies on this flight than I could fit into my carry on! To begin, I was offered a set of pajamas. The smallest size they offered was a medium, and I was basically swimming in them.

Emirates First Class A380 Pajamas

Emirates First Class A380 Pajamas

Emirates First Class A380 Pajamas

I was also offered a set of comfortable slippers.

Emirates First Class A380 Slippers

Emirates First Class A380 Slippers

Emirates has updated their amenity kits since I took this flight, but the content remain the same. The male version came with deodorant, razors and shaving cream, a dental kit, a comb/hairbrush combo, tissues, and a Bulgari set of lotions and cologne.

Emirates First Class A380 Amenity Kit

Emirates First Class A380 Amenity Kit Content

Emirates First Class A380 Amenity Kit Content

Eyeshades were available separately.

Emirates First Class A380 Eyeshades

Emirates First Class A380 Eyeshades

Headphones were provided in a pouch, but the quality was pretty bad. I think headphones are often the Achilles heel of many First Class products, since in a way it undermined the otherwise excellent in-flight entertainment Emirates provides.

Emirates First Class A380 headphones

Emirates First Class A380 headphones

Emirates First Class A380 headphones

Emirates also offers free WiFi on the A380 for all passengers. Everyone gets 10 MB of data for free. So…that’s basically me uploading exactly one picture to show people I was in the most over-the-top First Class product out there. However, you could pay $1 for 600 MB more data, which is an amazing value.

Meal Service

The flight took off around lunch time, but Emirates actually offers a really extensive a la carte menu. You can even look up the menu for your flight on their website.

The meal service began with champagne and mixed nuts; Emirates serves Dom Perignon in their First Class cabin.

Almonds and Champagne

Almonds and Champagne

Emirates First Class A380 Dom Perignon

Emirates First Class A380 Dom Perignon

Shortly after, my table was set, complete with a personal bread basket. I always feel bad about that, since I don’t think anyone would finish all that bread, but on the other hand it also makes me feel…important.

Emirates First Class A380 Meal Service

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-95

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-96

For starters, I opted for the caviar service. It was an individual portion of chilled caviar, accompanied by the tradition selection of chopped onions, eggs, sour cream, toasts, and blini pancakes. The lemon was, of course, in a pouch to prevent the seeds from falling out. (That took me a while)

Emirates First Class A380 Caviar Service

Emirates First Class A380 Caviar Service

For the appetizer, I selected the pan-fried scallops. It was served on layers of antipasti, with a fennel ribbon salad with pomegranate seeds.

Emirates First Class A380 Pan-fried scallops

Pan-fried scallops

Throughout the meal, Belle would constantly check in to make sure everything was good. “How did you enjoy the scallops? Isn’t that fennel salad delicious?”

For the main course, I opted for the falafel-crusted sea bass fillet, which was served with a baked marrow with ratatouille and coriander rice. The saffron cream sauce was perfect for the fish, and the dish was amazing!

Emirates First Class A380 Falafel crusted sea bass fillet

Falafel crusted sea bass fillet

Also on the menu was a marinated beef tenderloin, nigiri chicken, wild mushroom ravioli, and grilled turbot.

For dessert, I had a warm treacle and lemon tart, which was paired with a rich vanilla creme anglaise.

Emirates First Class A380 Treacle and lemon tart

Treacle and lemon tart

The Bed

After dinner, I went to the bathroom to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth, while the flight attendant made my bed.

Emirates First Class A380 Bed

Emirates First Class A380 Bed

Emirates First Class A380 Bed

They also left a nice little touch, with Godiva chocolates and a cold towel.

Emirates First Class A380 Chocolate and Towel

Emirates First Class A380 Chocolate and Towel

I have to say, however, that it’s not my favorite bed in the sky. It was a little too hard for my taste, even with the mattress pad. Additionally, while the minibar didn’t feel annoying in seat mode, it became so in bed mode, since the bed is much narrower than it otherwise could be.

The ceilings had lights that made it look like a starry sky, which was pretty cool.

Emirates A380 Starry Sky Ceiling

Emirates A380 Starry Sky Ceiling

Emirates A380 Starry Sky Ceiling

I managed to get about 6 – 7 hours of sleep, which was great for a day-time departure!

Onboard Bar

The onboard bar is accessible to First and Business Class passengers, and located at the very end of the aircraft. This meant I had to walk past the entire Business Class section in my fancy First Class (oversized) pajamas. But it was worth the walk of shame unintentional brag.

There was a central bar, with seating areas off to the side.

Emirates A380 Onboard Bar

Emirates A380 Onboard Bar

I really liked the design of the bar area, especially with the hints of Dubai on the walls.

Emirates Onboard Bar Seating

Emirates Onboard Bar Seating

Emirates Onboard Bar Seating

Flight attendants also installed drink tables on the exit doors.

Emirates Onboard Bar Drink Tables

Emirates Onboard Bar Drink Tables

Across from the bar was a giant TV showing the route map.

Emirates A380 Onboard Bar Display

Emirates A380 Onboard Bar Display

There was a variety of snacks available, constantly replenished by flight attendants.

Emirates Onboard Bar Snacks

Emirates Onboard Bar Snacks

Emirates Onboard Bar Snacks

Emirates Onboard Bar Snacks

The bar wasn’t crowded on my flight, so I actually got to chat a bit with the bartender (also a flight attendant!)

First Class Bar

I hung out at the large onboard bar for a little, and returned to the First Class Section (#hairwhip). There was actually a smaller bar set up in the First Class cabin, with a higher end selection of alcohol.

Emirates A380 First Class Bar Setup

Emirates A380 First Class Bar Setup

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

There was also a decent snack selection.

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar

Emirates A380 First Class Bar Snacks

Emirates First Class A380 Shower Spa

Ah, the headliner of the Emirates A380 First Class experience. Emirates is the first airline to include a shower on a commercial plane, and man was it wonderful.

After takeoff, the shower attendant came by to take reservations. There are two shower spas on the A380, but every passenger gets up to 30 minutes, so they take reservations to make sure everyone gets a chance. I scheduled my shower for 3 hours before landing, which was prefect for freshening up before the pre-landing meal.

Emirates A380 First Class Onboard Shower Spa

Emirates A380 First Class Onboard Shower Spa

The shower spa was extremely spacious, and really well appointed. There are two shower attendants on each A380 flights, whose only job is to maintain the shower spa. They introduced the features of the shower to me, and explain where I should be holding onto in case of turbulence.

There was a generously sized sink, and two mirrors above the vanity.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Vanity

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Vanity

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Sink

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Sink

And just because…here’s the vanity from the other shower spa. A mirror opposite.

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-40

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-9

There was a selection of fragrance, as well as Timeless spa products. I also found a hand wash by Red Flower, which is what American Airlines used to offer. Perhaps they ran out of Timeless Spa hand wash, and this was the only thing available in New York…?

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Amenities

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Amenities

There was a long bench in one side of the spa, which also housed a toilet. The shower spas are used as regular bathrooms when no one is showering, but I think Emirates did a nice job…um…covering up the toilet.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Toilet

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Toilet

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Toilet

On the bench was a tray with way more toiletries than I needed.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Toiletries

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Toiletries

Clearly, Emirates couldn’t meet everybody’s needs with just one line of toiletries. That’s why there were two sets of shampoos, soaps, etc., with two different scents.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Toiletries

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Toiletries

There was also a HUGE selection of amenities, from dental kit to cotton pads to shaving kits to cotton buds. Just in case you really wanted to, there’s also a nail file and loofah for grooming and cleansing.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Amenities

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Amenities

A console facing the toilet had a screen with the route map. It’s not a fully functioning in-flight entertainment system, and I don’t know if the screen is staategically placed, but let’s just say you have something to look at if you were…using the toilet.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Route Map

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Route Map

Below the screen were a few drawers, with even more backup amenities, just in case two toothbrushes weren’t enough. The console also held a blowdryer.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Center Console

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Center Console

Now, the shower. There was this custom bath mat, which curved around the base of the shower. I absolutely loved their attention to detail, and I’m not entirely sure why, but I was more amused by this precisely cut out bath mat than I was by the shower itself.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Bath Mat

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Bath Mat

And here’s the shower, in all its glory.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower

There was also a bench inside the shower, which was where I’d sit and hang tight in cases of turbulence. Luckily, that wasn’t necessary during my flight.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower Bench

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower Bench

The water supply only turns on when the door is closed. Each passenger gets 5 minutes of water, and there is an indicator inside the shower, showing you how much time is left. I also liked that there was a rose inside the shower, because that officially made the onboard shower better than the shower I have at home.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower Timer

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower Timer

I was determined to use up every last second of my 5 minutes. I don’t usually take a long shower, so I didn’t really have to pause at all. But I can imagine that being a problem for others; they might have to stop the water, lather, and then turn it back on.

The water supply stopped at the 1-minute mark, presumably to remind me that it’s time to rinse off.

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa - Shower Timer

Emirates A380 First Class Shower Spa – Shower Timer

It was an absolutely surreal experience, and I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was in the shower spa. I always appreciated arrival lounges, because it provided me with a chance to freshen up before starting my day in a new city. But the shower spa takes it to a whole new level, where I could do exactly that…40,000 feet up in the air.

I dried myself off, and reluctantly left the shower. I noticed that a few hours before landing, the First Class Bar area was transformed into a different, spa-like display.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display

There was a pot of tea, and aloe vera juices were upon request.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display - Tea

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display – Tea

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display - Aloe Vera Juices

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display – Aloe Vera Juices

At my seat, flight attendants left a plate of fresh fruit with dipping sauce.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display - Fruit Plate

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display – Fruit Plate

Since I saw the sign, I asked the Belle about recommendations for aloe vera juice. She made a recommendation, but returned with all of the choices, just so I could try ’em all.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display - Aloe Vera Juices

Emirates A380 Shower Spa Display – Aloe Vera Juices

Pre-Landing

The flight was soon coming to an end, and I kind of echo Jennifer Aniston’s sentiment…”can you fly this plane around for like…another hour?”

Breakfast was served about two hours before landing. I ordered scrambled eggs with chives, which came with veal sausages, rösti, baked beans, grilled mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes on the vine.  I ordered a glass of orange juice on the side, to which Belle responded, “oh perfect choice. A glass of orange juice always wakes me up.” How sweet!

Emirates First Class A380 Breakfast

Emirates First Class A380 Breakfast

Soon, it was time to prepare for landing, Flight attendants handed out fast track cards for customs in Dubai.

Emirates First Class A380 Fast Track Card

Emirates First Class A380 Fast Track Card

We laded in Dubai on time, and it took just a few minutes before we reached the gate.

emirates-first-class-a380-new-york-dubai-55

Overall Impression of Emirates First Class on the A380

This is an unforgettable flight, that’s for sure. I have flown in many First Class products, but I don’t think I have ever been this entertained on a flight. Between the onboard bar, shower spa, giant IFE screen with tons of selections, free Wi-Fi, and a nice meal service, there were plenty of things to keep me busy. Yet, the experience still felt very homey, which I really appreciated.

To be honest, Emirates First Class didn’t have the best bed in the sky, and I have had far better meals in the sky. But when everything was put together, it was the most fun I have ever had at 40,000 feet. The product as a whole provided clear, distinctive value over Business Class, which not a lot of airlines can say nowadays.

Will I actually pay for a flight in Emirates First Class? I don’t think so, but that’s what makes the points and miles hobby so awesome.

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Comments

  1. How many more of these do we have to see posted?

    By the by one can tell “seasoned” travelers on EK they change into the pajamas as soon as the FA’s bring them around. Makes for a much better flight experience.

  2. Those are, possibly, the very best pictures of EK F that I’ve seen. I’ve done the trip. I even selected seat 2K. And I took my own pictures. Yours are better. Good work!

  3. Pics too bad. Shots are not taken to view the subject. Panama, sleepers and other kit items all small things , What is more important, the quality of flight seems not worth as the width of seat in which you have to spend 12 hrs in not wide enough.

  4. In fairness to Enoch, most people are a bit over whelmed by it and tend to see the forest for the trees. The real trip is the service and being able to eat when you choose to and of course drink pretty much what you want. I have found pacing my meals throughout a 16 or 12 hour trip works well. That way I have been able to enjoy rather then normal eat eat eat and then nothing. I couple that with a stroll to the bar in the back, for a drink and sampling the many food offerings. Shower an hour out followed by breakfast and your off and running!!.

    Again, yet another 380 review

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