I remember a time when all I wanted was to experience the Emirates business class product on their Airbus A380. At of the end of 2017, I thought that dream was going to slowly fade away as Airbus announced that it would be shutting down the production of the A380 if no more order were forthcoming. This seemed to be aimed directly at Emirates, being by far the airline with the largest fleet of the double-decker aircraft, and it worked! By mid January 2018 Emirates placed an order for another 20 A380s with a further 16 on option.
Unfortunately, as of May 2019, this number has now been reduced again with only 13 A380s still waiting to be delivered, and Emirates has now tentatively put a plan in place to faze out the ‘whale of the skies’ by around 2035. Slowly replacing them with the Boeing 777-300ER (an inferior seating configuration in my opinion), the Boeing 777-9 (starting in 2020), the Boeing 777-8 (starting in 2022), Airbus A330-900neo (starting in 2021) and the A350-900 (starting in (2024), the question will become “Will the new fleet’s business class cabin follow in the footsteps of Emirates Boeing 777 fleet?”
You see, the last thing I want when flying business class is to have to ask someone to stand so that I can get out of my seat, but with the 777 fleet (both old and current) operating with a 2-3-2 configuration, someone will always have to get the dreaded middle seat. In comparison, the current staggered design of the A380 is effectively a 1-2-1 configuration giving more privacy, room, and storage to it’s passengers.
With the prospect of missing the opportunity to experience one of the great cabins in the sky, I thought I’d better try it before I possibly missed out, so here is my Emirates Business Class Review!
The rain was pouring down as I finished work on the Friday afternoon and some sun was definitely what was needed, so when my chauffeur arrived to take me to London Gatwick for my overnight EK10 flight to Dubai, I was suitably relieved. The black Mercedes and its driver were impeccably presented, shining in the dim January light as though the rain was almost repelled, and once settled into the plush leather seat with a cold water in hand, I allowed someone else to worry about the after-work traffic while I slipped into holiday mode.
Dropped off at the door to the North Terminal, check in was made seamless by the dedicated business class check in counters and I was directed to the Premium Gatwick security queue. Unfortunately, with the amount of business class passengers on an Emirates A380, this priority queue can get busy and might take longer than just going through the normal security gates, which is what I ended up doing.
The colour tones of the Emirates Lounge are very neutral, with browns and creams giving the place an earthy, relaxed atmosphere. With both a bar and buffet area in the spacious interior, it doesn’t feel cramped, but all the tables were quick to be filled. The shower facilities were a nice feature after being at work all day, and the free Wi-Fi allowed me to set my out-of-office and catch up with friends before boarding (otherwise known as mild gloating).
With so many to board on these superjumbos, it’s actually great to be able to get on first, with the upper deck designated specific to the premium classes, first and business. Enviously eyeing the first class suites at the front, the business class product was also looking fantastic. With the staggered seating, I had pre-selected a “true” window seat at 16A, far enough behind the wing to allow views, but not so far back to be disturbed by the toilets, onboard bar, or galley which are all located at the rear.
The seat itself is spacious, and with “true” window seats there is almost a divider between yourself and the aisle making it feel like a private suite. The wood grain, soft lamp lighting, and in-seat mini bar all make the space feel welcoming and luxurious, even if it appeared to be one of the older A380s in the Emirates fleet. The personal storage space was excellent and I had plenty of room to stretch while still feeling cosy, and no sooner had I started exploring the features of my seat and surrounds, a pre-departure beverage was offered while the lower deck continued boarding.
After perusing the menu during take-off, I settled on the seared prawns for entree, the braised beef short ribs for main, and the seasonal fruit for dessert… I was trying not to appear like I was having my last meal after all, though I could have quite easily enjoyed the chocolate and cherry gateau. Served on Royal Doulton bone china plates with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery (or so I’m told), it was paired with sommelier selected wines, or many other beverages.
After negotiating the hundreds of movies, TV shows, music, even live sports on the huge 23 inch display, I decided to help digestion with a walk to the onboard bar. I’ve heard that Emirates is currently updating the decor of it’s A380 bars (shown in the image above) to a sleek ivory and bronze design, but this flight was still on the waiting list. Beside this, the bar area can only comfortably house maybe 8-10 people, but the crew member behind the bar was efficient and happy to help, as well as being conversational without being intrusive.
After a brief chat, I requested my fully lie-flat bed made with the mattress and made use of the Bulgari amenity kit before turning in for a few hours. The sleep was comfortable and at nearly 6½ feet long I never felt constricted.
Before I knew it, the lights were coming on and it was time to descend into Dubai with a last beverage ordered as I returned my bed into a seat.
The cabin crew had offered me a fast-track pass for security in Dubai which made the process of getting through immigration a breeze. My priority luggage arrived barely after I did at the carousel, and after a brief wait in the queue at the desk for the chauffeur drives (as you can imagine at Emirates home airport, there were quite a few other business class passengers that wanted one also), my luggage was loaded into the waiting car.
Finally, I had managed to experience Emirates business class on one of their A380s! But did it live up to expectations?
As one of the last remaining airlines that offer a chauffeur service to its business class passengers, it remains a nice touch and makes departures and arrivals much nicer. The fully lie-flat bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve experienced in the sky, the lounge facilities were lovely at Gatwick, and the service throughout was friendly and attentive. The only thing I kept thinking was “I wish this was one of the newer aircraft that had a little less wear”, but I’m certainly glad it wasn’t one of the latest orders if they decide to change the seating configuration.
The real question is that moving forward, will Emirates be able to maintain this fantastic experience on their newer aircraft as the A380s are slowly removed from service? I for one will be keeping a close eye on the seating configurations of these as they get released, and you never know… I may just have to write another Emirates business class review once I get to try the new stock.
It is said that approximately two-thirds of the world’s population is within an 8 hour flight of Dubai, making it one of the busiest connecting airports in the world. Why not try the Emirates business class experience for yourself on your next trip to Cape Town, Australia, or Far East cities such as Shanghai or Beijing.
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