Amazing Flight! Emirates A380 First Class New York to Dubai
Two weeks ago I finally got the opportunity to experience the Emirates A380 First Class experience, and it was everything I was hoping it would be–and more! While a first class one-way ticket can normally cost upwards of $8-10K, I redeemed 90,000 Alaska miles and about paid about $37 in taxes and fees for the same ticket! By the way, I have not flown Alaska Airlines in at least 5-6 years, so none of these miles were from actual flying. Instead, I used a combination of credit card sign up bonuses and the transfer of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points.
How I did this: http://themileaddict.com/2016/02/12/emirates_first_class_booked/
Unfortunately, shortly after I booked this ticket, Alaska conducted a no-notice devaluation of their miles when redeeming for partner flights, which I described here: http://themileaddict.com/2016/04/02/alaska-airlines-devalues-award-chart-no-more-90000-mile-emirates-first-class/. If you want to redeem miles for the same trip now, it will cost you 150,000 miles–still doable, but a bit more challenging. While 90,000 Alaska miles, and certainly 150,000 miles is a lot of miles, the experience was absolutely amazing! Let me share some of the highlights…
Emirates A380 Flight EK208: JFK-DXB
I booked the 4:30pm departure from New York, JFK direct to Dubai, UAE. The flight was scheduled to be almost 13 hours–plenty of time to enjoy the luxury of Emirates first class. Prior to the flight, I enjoyed the Emirates lounge, which I wrote about here: Emirates JFK Lounge Review. Finally, at 4pm, it was time to board!
There were two jetways to use for boarding. One, which led directly from the lounge, went directly to the upper deck and allowed all the business and first class passengers to get to their seats quicker.
I was greeted by name at the door, and escorted to my seat, 2E.
Prior to takeoff, the doors to the suite are locked open, but there were still plenty of cool things to do. First, I checked out the vanity and television. Note the fresh rose at each seat, the snack basket, the writing kit in the small drawer, and the lotions in the mirrored vanity.
There was plenty of room under the vanity area for storage, which could also be accessed via a closet door on the outside of the suite.
Shortly after I sat down, I was offered a drink. I decided to have a glass of champagne. The crew member apologized to me that they only had Vueve Cliquot available on the ground–due to customs regulations they were unable to start pouring the Dom Perignon until after takeoff. What a tough life!
Shortly after the champagne arrived, the crew came around with hot towels, and then arabic coffee and dates.
Next, menus were passed out and the amenity kits were delivered. The amenity kits were easily the nicest I have personally seen, with different versions for men and women. The male bag was a leather Bulgari branded bag with deodorant, tissues, toothpaste/toothbrush, comb, a razor, and shaving cream. It also included a set of Bulgari lotions and cologne. I took some pictures while the aircraft taxied to the runway. The A380 offers several camera angles to watch the flight unfold, all easily accessible from your entertainment controller.
The crew also handed out pajamas, slippers, eyeshades and even a nice bag to hold all the loot!
The female kit was equally as nice, a white Bulgari bag that could easily double as a clutch.
There was so much going on during the boarding process, I almost forgot to look at the menu! First I looked at the wine menu. The first page discussed the Dom Perignon 2006 Vintage.
The next couple of pages discussed the wine selections available on the flight.
Emirates also had desert wine selections
Next, I opened the food and other beverage menu, which was placed in a leather cover–a nice touch. The first couple pages discussed the beverage selections available including a nice range of cocktails.
Turning the page, I found the nice selection of top-shelf spirits. I was surprised to see Chivas Royal Salute, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and Glenfiddich 21–a fantastic selection of high end Scotch! On the opposite page was “words from our chef” which discussed “lost bread.” Not exactly sure what that had to do with anything, but hey–why not?
On the next page we finally got to food. Breakfast selections were detailed first, then Canapés and Appetizers. My flight attendant, who essentially was in charge of the left side of the first class cabin (about 5 people for very personalized service), made sure to explain that all food was available on demand at any time during the flight. All I had to do was let him know about 30 minutes before I wanted to eat, and all would be taken care of!
Appetizers included Caviar, soups, and Arabic Mezze.
Main courses all sounded delicious–my flight attendant recommended either the Korma or the Lamb Shank. I placed my order just prior to takeoff and told him I wanted to eat around 6pm. I ordered the caviar, a salad, the potato and leek soup, and the lamb shank.
The A380 aircraft is absolutely huge, and after a long takeoff roll, we slowly climbed into the air. The takeoff was smooth, and I enjoyed watching it on the screen from the tail camera. Shortly after takeoff, my flight attendant arrived unprompted with the Dom Perignon and some warm nuts. The tray pulls out from the side of the suite and it large–plenty of room for all the food that I had ordered! While I sipped on some Dom, I also tried out the inflight WiFi. Emirates offers ALL PASSENGERS free in-flight WiFi up to 10MB of data–but you can purchase an additional 500MB of data for only $1! I find this an amazing feature considering some airlines charge up to $1 per minute of onboard WiFi. I purchased 500MB for $1, and was pleased with the service overall. It allowed me to check e-mail, use iMessage, send some photos, and post on Facebook and Twitter. The internet was not lightning fast, but good enough, and the price was certainly right!
I browsed the entertainment selection until we reached our initial cruise altitude. There is a removable hand-held remote next to the seat that controls the television, the lights, the suite doors, and more. However, I did not want to waste too much time watching television, when there was an on-board lounge to still check out! On the Emirates A380 there is a small galley behind the First Class section and then business class begins and runs most of the remainder of the upper deck.
The lounge is located past business class and is available to business and first class passengers. My flight attendant saw me heading to the back and made sure to follow me with a bottle of Dom Perignon to ensure that the lounge had the “first class” drink selection. He introduced me to the bartender in the lounge and made sure to emphasize that I should call him if I needed anything. The bartender provided some light snacks, warm nuts, etc and I made myself comfortable on the couch. Honestly, sitting in an onboard bar/lounge on an aircraft was a pretty surreal experience! The lounge was a social place, but never crowded. At most there were 5-6 people there at any given time, and it provided a great way to meet new people!
I stayed there for about 30 minutes, hanging out and chatting with some of the passengers, then realized it was almost time for my dinner! I headed back towards the first class cabin, and on cue my attendant arrived to ask if I was ready for the meal. Of course!
First up was the caviar with chopped onion, sour cream, and grated egg. On the side I had my salad and a basket of fresh bread.
Next was the Potato and Leek soup
Finally, the main course was served with a side of garlic bread.
Overall, the food was delicious and comparable to some of the nicest land-based restaurants I have dined in. I am not a caviar expert by any means, but the caviar was quite good and went well with the champagne. The salad was fresh and crisp with freshly grated cheese. The potato and lek soup was good with vibrant flavors. Finally, the lamb shank was extremely tender and cooked perfectly. I honestly wish that I could have eaten more in order to try out other things on the menu–but, alas, I was full and couldn’t even order dessert!
Instead of eating more, I decided to check out the shower spa. My plan was to get a shower, change into my pajamas, and then get some sleep.
The shower spa was huge!
There were two attendants dedicated solely to the first class bathrooms that cleaned them after each use. I told my flight attendant that I was ready for my shower, and he alerted the attendants who set the bathroom up, turned on the floor heat (yes, the floors are heated), and set out shower mats and towels for me. The shower had 5 minutes of water for my use, which was more than enough to soap up, wash my hair, and rinse off. It was pretty cool to shower at 38,000 feet!
The bathrooms themselves were immaculate. I normally avoid aircraft bathrooms since they are so dirty, but this one was cleaned so well and so regularly that I honestly wouldn’t have minded sitting on the (heated!) floor and eating.
When I returned from the shower, my seat had been converted into a bed and everything was made up for me. I settled in and decided to watch some television before getting some shut-eye.
When I finally laid down, the bed was extremely comfortable, and it was easy to fall asleep. I actually ended up sleeping about 6 hours without waking up. When I did wake up, it was too late to order a hot breakfast, so I got some bread/muffins and coffee. I changed out of my pajamas into my clothes and the crew turned my bed back into a seat before landing. In no time, we were touching down in Dubai.
Well, hands down this was the best commercial airline experience I have ever had. Cathay Pacific was fantastic earlier this year, and certainly had equal food and service. However, the suite on the Emirates A380, the onboard lounge/bar, and the shower spa, made this trip amazing! The flight ended up being around 12 hours due to favorable winds, and it really seemed too short. I would have happily spent another 6 hours on board to enjoy another great meal, another shower, or maybe just a few more minutes hanging out on the sofas in the lounge.
However, I was now in Dubai–and had lots to explore. Plus, I was going to be flying back on another world-class first class product in a week, so I still had plenty to look forward to!