Airline: Emirates | Aircraft: 777-300ER | Class: Business Class | Flight: EK433 (SIN-DXB)
I recently travelled on Emirates' Business Class for the first time as I had to be in the US for work and I took the opportunity to check out the refurbished Emirates Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) before my flight. One of the many perks of traveling in Business Class is the complimentary chauffeur-drive service that passengers can take advantage of - you will essentially be driven to and from the airport by one of the limousine partners that Emirates has in the city.
Since I had to be in the US on Monday, I decided to travel a couple of days earlier to spend some time in Dubai (after all transport to and from the airport is complimentary for Business Class passengers). I also managed to find a fairly reasonable rate for a luxurious hotel in Dubai (which I will review at a later stage) so that really motivated me to break the initial day-long flight into something a little more manageable.
Emirates operates five flights from Singapore to Dubai each day and four of which are direct flights (one goes via Colombo). Since I wanted to maximise my time in Dubai (without wanting to get there at a ridiculously odd hour), I booked myself into EK433 which is actually a continuation from Brisbane to Singapore. One of the things that I had to put up with however was the fact that the flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER instead of the A380-800 - this translates into a 2-3-2 cabin configuration as opposed to a 1-2-1 which makes it significantly harder (read: more awkward) to take photos for a trip report. Therefore, please bear with me if the photos are not up to the usual standards.
There are two Business Class cabins on Emirates' 777-300ER - the one in front is smaller (with only two rows) and it is located directly behind the First Class cabin. While I would have preferred that smaller cabin, I was unable to find any window seats at the time of booking. Therefore, I opted for Seat 8K which is a bulkhead window seat located in the slightly larger Business Class cabin. There is a total of 42 angle-flat seats on Emirates' 777-300ER and 28 of these fall in the larger cabin. Due to the 2-3-2 cabin configuration, this meant that the larger Business Class cabin only had four rows which is a good thing (as compared to the massive Business Class cabin on the A380s).
A small disposable amenity pack (containing eye shades and socks) as well as a blanket was provided for the flight. I did not take a photo of the amenity pack (not to be confused with an amenity kit) during this flight but I did take one of a later flight so you can refer to that if you are extra curious. Since we are on the topic of amenity kits, I did not get one on this flight since it was a daytime flight and according to what I understand from the flight attendants, amenity kits are only given out on long-haul overnight flights. I had a colleague who flew on EK355 from Singapore to Dubai and she was handed one of these beautiful Bulgari amenity kits. Additionally, it is also worth noting that Emirates does not provide slippers in Business Class (something that annoys me personally) so I had to actually bring my own (which I took from the hotels that I was staying at) on subsequent flights.
While you will be able to fit all your personal belongings into the overhead bins, there is very little space for you to store your stuff around the seat. In fact, if you are seating in a bulkhead row on Business Class, this space is greatly reduced as you will only have a small seatback pocket in front of you to place your iPad and other smaller personal belongings (e.g. passport, mobile phone and wallet). Bottled water is provided on the flight and they are typically replenished as you go along.
Now let's get to the more important aspects of the flight - the Champagne. Now I am no Champagne connoisseur but I know what I like (and what I do not) and it is safe to say that I have not had a pleasant experience with Moët & Chandon. With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how drinkable the Grand Vintage 2009 that was served on my flight was. Disgorged in January 2017 and made predominantly with Pinot Noir grapes (50%), the Grand Vintage 2009 is full-bodied and rich while remaining exceptionally balanced.
I also appreciate the fact that warm nuts (an assortment of almonds, cashews, pistachios as well as the occasional macadamia) are served alongside with your beverage of choice. In fact, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let me describe the process briefly - one of the flight attendants will come by after the plane has taken off to confirm your meal orders. During this time, he or she will ask you what your beverage choice for the meal is - you will then be given the option to select another beverage to enjoy before your meal.
Since this was my first time traveling with Emirates on Business Class, I was truly fascinated by the number of screens I have - there is obviously the big screen that you have in front of your seat but in addition to that, you also have a small personal tablet that is located by the side of your seat for easier navigation. You will be able to control the IFE System from this tablet and as you can see from the photo above, you are able to click on the "View on TV" button to push whatever you are seeing on the tablet to the big screen. Additionally, you will also be able to change your seat settings from the tablet even though physical buttons (which I will cover below) are also available.
Do not try to remove the personal tablet before take-off since you will not be able to but once the plane takes off, you will be able to release the tablet by pushing the button underneath it.
As if the personal tablet is not enough, there is also an IFE Controller for you to well, control the main screen. Needless to say, I did not even use this once during my entire flight since you can do everything from the screen (which is also touchscreen-enabled) and the tablet. There is a keyboard on the other side of the IFE Controller which may be useful if you are looking for a specific show or movie on the system.
Noise-cancelling headphones are provided to Business Class passengers and while they do feel a little stiff, they actually work pretty well. If you intend to bring your own headphones (I travel with mine always!), you will require a 2 pin adapter or you can simply adjust the 3.5mm jack loosely so you get stereo sound - the latter method is slightly annoying since you can't quite move about as easily.
Lunch was served on flight EK433 from Singapore to Dubai and for my choice of starters, I went for the Tandoori chicken salad which is served with pappadam crisps and fresh mango. Now remember this was the very first time that I have flown with Emirates on Business Class (I used to fly them on Economy Class between Singapore and Australia during my undergraduate days) and I have been spoiled silly by Singapore Airlines since that is my carrier of choice. I was not expecting too much from the food but not only was it visually appealing, it was very tasty as well! The bread needed work and nothing really beats the garlic bread on Singapore Airlines but everything else was delicious!
Passengers travelling in Business Class typically have a choice out of three for appetiser and main. From my understanding, the food in Business Class and First Class are exactly the same but passengers seated at the pointy end of the plane have more options - one of the appetiser choice is caviar which you will never get on Business Class. Lunch iwas also served with a seasonal side salad as well as freshly-baked bread.
For my choice of main course, I went for the seared beef tenderloin which was served with mushroom jus, colcannon potatoes and buttered green beans. While it did not look like much and to be honest, I was a little disappointed when it was served to me, it actually tasted really good. The doneness was also great where in-flight meals are concerned but most importantly, this dish went perfectly with a glass of shiraz from Two Hands Bella's Garden which I was surprised to find on the menu. This wine is from the Barossa Valley region in Australia and it costs almost a hundred dollars a bottle in Singapore.
It seems to be company policy that dessert choices are never taken until the end of the meal - I was asked whether I was interested in dessert after my meal and of course I said yes to the Mango Panna Cotta which was served alongside sago pearls and grapefruit. Dessert was probably the least impressive component of the whole lunch service. I also requested for a double espresso (something that you cannot get on Japan Airlines unfortunately) to wash some of that sweetness down but more importantly, I had a long day ahead in Dubai and wanted to make sure that I stay caffeinated.
Since the actual flight time from Singapore to Dubai was approximately seven hours, I actually had some time to take a nap after a meal (because that's the most healthy thing to do, right?). The Business Class seats on Emirates' 777-300ER offers 60" of seat pitch and 20.5" of seat width. In comparison, seats in Economy Class offer only 32" of seat pitch (which seems to be the norm on international flights) and a mere 17" of seat width. The angle-flat seats are comfortable enough for a medium-haul flight and a topper can be requested to make it a little more comfortable. With all that being said, I still found it difficult to fall asleep when the seat is at an angle - good thing this was only a seven hour flight!
A universal power outlet as well as two USB charging ports can be found by the side of each Business Class seat - you may not see them at first but they are right next to where the seat belt is. WiFi is offered on all A380s and most 777-300ERs and my flight was no exception - the first 20MB is free but if you are an Emirates Skywards member, you will get to enjoy unlimited data when you travel in Business Class and First Class. Now, that is what I thought but if you do not choose to credit your flight into the Emirates Skywards program, you will only get to enjoy 20MB of data for 2 hours. As I have mentioned in another article, I chose to credit my Emirates flights into Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan program since it gives me a lot more - you can read about the differences here. As such, even though I was a full-paying revenue passenger traveling in Business Class (and also a Silver member in the Emirates Skywards program), I only had 20MB of data - not a huge deal-breaker of course but definitely worth noting.
I can't say I am a fan of the 2-3-2 cabin layout in Business Class (since most leading airlines are operating on a 1-2-1 layout - Singapore Airlines operates a 1-2-1 cabin layout even on regional flights!) but when you look past that, the quality of food that you get on-board is truly amazing. While you do not get an on-board bar experience with the 777-300ERs, you do get to select from the same beverage menu which is available on all their flights. I opted for a Negroni during the flight and it was pretty solid.
All passengers traveling in Business Class as well as First Class will also be given a Fast Track card for use in Dubai International Airport and this is actually a great advantage when you have many flights landing at approximately the same time. Due to a slight 30-minute delay in Singapore, the flight actually landed 15 minutes late in Dubai but all in all, I really thought that the flight experience was a lot better than I had expected. The cabin crew was really professional and friendly but more importantly, there is a special place in my heart for the food serve on-board (and I know I have mentioned this a few times). No arrival cards or documents were required and if you are holding a Singapore passport, you will not have to apply for a visa beforehand to visit Dubai.