Airline: Emirates | Aircraft: A380-800 | Class: Business Class | Flight: EK203 (DXB-JFK)
After spending approximately 30 hours in Dubai, it was time for me to continue to my next destination (for work) and as I have mentioned in my previous review of Emirates 777-300ER product, traveling in Business Class (on a revenue ticket) means you will get to enjoy complimentary chauffeur-drive service to and from the airport in most cities. You typically get a phone call before the pick-up time that you have booked but since I was roaming on a different mobile number, I was unable to confirm the booking over the phone - still, no issues where pick-up is concerned. I got to the lobby of the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates (where I booked a stay for two nights) 15 minutes ahead of time and found out that my driver has already been there waiting for me.
Traveling in Business Class on Emirates from Dubai International Airport meant that I could access one of the most talked-about airport lounges in the world. Now I did not actually manage to review it since the lounge was crazy the time I got there but there are already so many reviews of the Emirates Business Class Lounge out there. Now even though the lounge itself was really busy, I did not have any issues looking for a seat - you simply have to go further into the lounge to find seats. In case you do not already know this, the Emirates Business Class Lounge here in Dubai International Airport is massive and it takes over ten minutes from one end to another. Honestly, it feels a lot like a shopping mall but one of the coolest aspects of this lounge is that if you are traveling in Business or First Class on an A380-800 from this airport, you will be able to board the plane directly from the lounge! Since I had to be in Florida for work, I chose to travel via JFK on Emirates and flight EK203 from Dubai to New York was scheduled to depart at 2:50AM. As you would expect, most passengers on the flight wanted to take the opportunity to sleep (isn't that why you pay for a Business Class ticket after all?) so the cabin was actually really dark throughout the bulk of the flight (so please bear with me as the photos had to be taken in the dark).
Emirates operate a staggered business class configuration with a 1-2-1 layout - this means that for the seats located by the window, the actual seat may actually be closer to the window or the aisle depending on which on you pick. I personally prefer a seat that is closer to the window since it feels a lot more private and that helps me sleep better on the flight. For this flight, I have pre-selected Seat 14K after taking OMAAT's advice since according to him, the best Business Class seats are between Rows 9 and 16 - far enough from the Business Class galley and bar and not too near to the First Class galley in front.
I actually took most of the seat photos after spending close to 12 hours in them since the cabin lights were really only turned on during breakfast service (approximately 2 hours prior to landing). The seat pitch of the Business Class seats varies depending on which ones you choose so if you are after the best seat pitch, go for the window and central seats (A,E,F and K). Since I was in Seat 14K, the seat pitch is 48" but it actually goes flat to 79" (200cm). The seat width is 18.5" and this is the same across all Business Class seats.
While a seat width of 18.5" may not be particularly impressive (especially since Singapore Airlines offers 30" on their older A380 Business Class product), I have found it to be sufficient even on the DXB to JFK leg (which was an approximately 13-hour flight). What made the seat a lot more comfortable for me was the mattress topper - this can be utilised even when your seat is upright and not in a lie-flat mode.
Since I was sitting in Seat 14K, the panel was located on the left of my seat and you will find the usual Universal Power Outlet (which worked without a hitch for me) as well as a USB Charging Port directly above it. I did experience some difficulties in charging my iPhone X during the flight as the charging sign kept coming on and turning off - I did not manage to rectify this in the end and I can't say for certain whether this was an issue with the phone or the aircraft (even though I have never had any issues with charging my phone). There is also a HDMI and USB port located above where you would put the headphone jack but these are for connectivity purposes.
Similar to the Business Class seats on Emirates' 777-300ER, you will find a remote control for the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on the plane - this is in addition to the touch-screen monitor that you can already use as well as a personal tablet that you can control everything on. I did not actually use the controller at all on this flight and while leaning against the console, I have actually accidentally pushed a number of buttons on this remote control on a handful of occasions.
Adjusting your seat can be done via this controller or via actual buttons that you can find on the side of the console (photo below). If you would like to call for a flight attendant's attention, you may also push one of the buttons here on this controller - I believe this is the only way to do so? There is a keyboard located on the back of this controller so if you wish to look for a particular movie or program on the IFE, that would be the smart thing to do.
Next to where you find your personal tablet is a minibar - this feature is only available on the A380-800 planes as well as newer 777-300ER planes (my flight from Singapore to Dubai did not have this). This minibar is stocked with a bottle of sparkling water, still water, juice as well as carbonated beverages but here's the catch - it actually isn't refrigerated at all so the drinks are all room temperature. I do not know about you but the only drink that I will have at room temperature is that bottle of Evian.. There is a metal barrier of sorts that you will have to keep during take-off and landing but you can raise it after take-off to access the drinks. Honestly, there is a proper drink list on Emirates so make use of that instead.
One of the things that I used a lot on my personal tablet is viewing the tail cam - this is always an exciting one during take-off and landing (at least for all aviation geeks out there). Other than that, I actually preferred to control the screen via the touchscreen instead (even though this proved to be useful when I was actually in lie-flat mode and wanted to check on the remaining distance.
Under the personal tablet is where you can find switches for your automated window shades (which I love to watch!). While it is possible to open and close them using the buttons under each window, you may wish to control them via these buttons - they are a lot more convenient and it also allows the flight attendants to close the window shades if you have forgotten to leave them closed on an overnight flight (otherwise you are going to wake up to an entire cabin of angry Business Class passengers).
If like me, you prefer to control your seat using physical buttons, you may push and hold one of these buttons above to recline your seat into the most optimum position for your personal comfort - remember you can do this using your personal tablet and remote control as well!
As I have mentioned in my previous Emirates flight review, slippers are not given out in Business Class (which is a pet peeve for me especially on such a long flight) so I have actually gotten an extra bathroom slipper from the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates where I was staying at to help me get through this 14-hour flight. A sleep mask as well as a pair of socks were provided for the flight but honestly, do you want to step into a shared bathroom wearing only socks?! If you are flying on an overnight flight with Emirates, make sure you bring your own disposable (or not!) slippers!
The cabin crew also made their way through the cabin to distribute the Bulgari-branded amenity kits. Since my previous flight from Singapore to Dubai was not an overnight flight, I did not receive one but a colleague who got in on an overnight flight actually received one from SIN-DXB. Having travelled so many times on Singapore Airlines in Business Class, receiving one of these Bulgari-branded amenity kits is nice - I know a lot of frequent travellers actually leave them in the seat but I do not travel enough to do that. I really like them and they are perfect for gifts! I received an amenity kit for men and it consisted of the following:
- Bulgari Body Lotion
- Bulgari After Shave Balm
- 5ml Bulgari Eau de Parfum
- Shaver and 50g Gillette Foam
- Toothbrush (with Case) and Toothpaste
- 25ml Rexona Men Deodorant
- Hair Brush
- Pack of Tissue Paper
I dozed off shortly after take off and when I woke up it was almost time for dinner (and yes this was served at approximately 3:45AM in the morning). As usual, Business Class passengers have a choice of appetiser and main course for a list of three items each - I opted for the Nordic Salad which was served with smoked salmon and salmon trout with roasted beetroot and as well as seasonal greens, dressed with truffle oil and lemon. Regardless of which appetiser you chose, it is also served with an additional barley, vegetable and mozzarella salad together with freshly baked bread - so yes, I actually had two salads.
For my choice of main course, I went for the Braised Veal Cheeks (even though I typically do not eat veal after watching a certain documentary) which was served with steamed carrots, green beans and mashed potatoes with horseradish. With that being said, I was not too interested in the Duck with Cherry Ragoût or the Dhingri Paneer Methi Masala which were offered. While the flavours were great and the veal was fork-tender, I could not help but to think about what I have seen so I did not actually finish it.
At the end of the meal, I was asked whether I would like to try some dessert - I opted for the Chocolate Truffle Cake which was served with cherry compote. It is definitely worth noting that if you prefer to have something lighter, you may choose any two options from the appetiser or dessert menu which would be served together for you.
I also received a box of Coffee Cream Almond Praline after my dessert and the box actually says it contains 930g of protein (which must be a mistake obviously) which I thought was pretty funny.
I went to bed shortly after the meal (considering how it was already 4:30AM by then) and I actually ended up sleeping close to 6 hours which is a great deal to me. For some reason I woke up feeling hungry so I decided to take a look at the 'Light Bites' menu which is available on most parts of the flight. I tried the Prawn Radiatore Pasta with creamy prawn sauce and Parmesan and it was delicious - I also paired it with a glass of Negroni but the proportions were slightly off. Now there is an onboard lounge on this flight (it is Emirates' flagship A380 after all) but apart from the fact that I actually have to pass through it to get to the lavatories, I actually did not spend any time in it at all.
The cabin lights gradually came on approximately two hours prior to landing and I was really excited about that since it meant that it would be alright for me to open the window shades (and therefore take proper photos) now. Being in Seat 14K is actually pretty good since your view does not get blocked out entirely by the wing - the A380-800 is massive so some Business Class seats in the mid-section actually look out to a lot of that wing (meaning you cannot actually see what is below).
I took the time to enjoy some shows on Emirates' awarding winning IFE system but obviously two hours is not enough for a movie (since you will have to get through the ads and have to pause every now and then for things that happen).
While I did not manage to take too many photos during the flight since it was pretty much in darkness for most part of it, my first experience with the A380 Business Class product on Emirates has been truly memorable. The seats are really comfortable (once you place the mattress topper on), the food is surprisingly good (even though they do not look as impressive as say, Singapore Airlines) and more importantly, the service is genuine without being over the top. I did not find the on-board bar to be much of a value-add since I can order all my drinks from my seat but I guess having that extra space to stretch out in-between flights when you are not actually sleeping is a nice option.