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:
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.
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.
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.
All First Class seats have direct aisle access, and I selected a window seat, 2K.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was also a small storage compartment next to the seat, which was great for my phone, passport, wallet, and other bits and pieces.
The controls for in-flight entertainment were in the right armrest.
The left armrest had a shallow storage area, as well as buttons for basic seat controls.
There were also two USB ports in the side console, near the universal power outlet.
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?!
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.
Another flight attendant delivered the menu and wine list, in a nice leather holder.
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.
I was also offered a set of comfortable 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.
Eyeshades were available separately.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
For the appetizer, I selected the pan-fried scallops. It was served on layers of antipasti, with a fennel ribbon salad with pomegranate seeds.
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!
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.
After dinner, I went to the bathroom to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth, while the flight attendant made my bed.
They also left a nice little touch, with Godiva chocolates and a cold 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.
I managed to get about 6 – 7 hours of sleep, which was great for a day-time departure!
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.
I really liked the design of the bar area, especially with the hints of Dubai on the walls.
Flight attendants also installed drink tables on the exit doors.
Across from the bar was a giant TV showing the route map.
There was a variety of snacks available, constantly replenished by flight attendants.
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.
There was also a decent snack selection.
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.
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.
And just because…here’s the vanity from the other shower spa. A mirror opposite.
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…?
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.
On the bench was a tray with way more toiletries than I needed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And here’s the shower, in all its glory.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was a pot of tea, and aloe vera juices were upon request.
At my seat, flight attendants left a plate of fresh fruit with dipping sauce.
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.
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!
Soon, it was time to prepare for landing, Flight attendants handed out fast track cards for customs in Dubai.
We laded in Dubai on time, and it took just a few minutes before we reached the gate.
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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