“FLIGHT REVIEW: EMIRATES FIRST CLASS SUITE ON THE A380”
by “EXPATFLYER” (*Antonio Acunzo)
As a frequent flyer commuting between Florida and Asia, I’ve become increasingly enthusiast in flying with Emirates as the airline did manage to raise the bar of the customer experience both on the ground – the Emirates lounges are unique – and in the air, with exceptional in-flight service in particular in the premium Business and First classes.
With Dubai as the connecting point between East and West, the flying experience becomes seamless and a great pleasure.I never fly all the way from Fort Lauderdale in sunny Florida to Asia, or vv., and always stay in Dubai for few days (as an international business advisor the UAE is one of the markets we cover along with the USA, the ASEAN marketplace, and the Greater China region), and for long-haul flights this helps a lot in zeroing the fatigue of crossing 12 times zones each time (9am in Miami, FL is 9pm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).
For this first flight review I’ll share my feedback on my experience in flying First Class with Emirates on the mighty Airbus A380 between Dubai, UAE and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a 7-hour non-stop flight.
When I’m in Dubai I always stay at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai (a fantastic 5*Luxury hotel which I’ll cover in a future hotel review) and with a 10:35am flight departure from Dubai International airport (IATA code: DXB), the chauffeur-driven limo provided by Emirates to First and Business Class passengers arrived at 7:30am for the short ride to the airport dropping me at the First & Business class terminal.
A super quick check-in handed me the boarding pass for suite 2E, another ultra quick passport control using the smart gate, and I’m on my way to my favorite of all Emirates lounges, the Moet&Chandon Champagne lounge.
As said,.. I’ll cover the lounges in a later review, and therefore fast forward and it’s boarding time via gate A8, with direct access from the lounge.
“The First Class suite is an oasis of luxury and relax, a game changer for flying First Class, a fully enclosed room that resembles the cabin of the luxurious Orient Express train.The First class cabin on board Emirates A380 consists of 14 suites in a 1-2-1 layout, with 4 suites by the windows on each side of the cabin and then 3 rows of middle seats which are perfect for couples of 2 passengers flying together and willing to enjoy dining, wining and talking together.My suite was 2E as I was travelling with a fellow passenger who was seated in 2F, hence the middle suites were perfect.”
Of course the suite comes with a vanity fitted with toiletries by Swedish brand Byredo, and displaying a small drawer that can be extended to showcase a pen and a notebook, both Emirates-branded.
Then on the vanity desk there’s a snack basket and to the left of the seat there’s a minibar, which is not refrigerated but contains Perrier sparkling water, Evian still water, few sodas and juices and of course a glass.
And of course there’s the entertainment console which turns out to be highly useful,.. since you can control and change all tv, movies and info channels along with the different seating positions,.. and last but not least closing and opening the door of the suite to ensure full privacy.
Of course there’s plenty of storage space although, note, there are no overhead bins in First Class.
I usually travel with a carry-on trolley (a Louis Vuitton Pegase), and a laptop case, and both fit perfectly under the vanity desk, while for my jacket there’s a wardrobe space next to the suite door for resting them on hangers, sort of personal closet.
“But let’s get to the flying experience itself ,..”
“Upon boarding it’s already champagne time, and what better than a flute of Dom Perignon Vintage 2009 as a welcome drink?”
“Then,…next comes a great tote bag which contains a wealth of in-flight things,…. from the amenity kit that features 3 Bulgari toiletries (after shave cream, body lotion and lip balm) along with a Truefitt&Hill shaving razor and Gillette shaving foam, to slippers and eyeshades and, of course, the pyjama … and there’s a good reason why Emirates fit all these goodies into a tote bag- the Emirates A380 has real showers exclusively reserved for First Class passengers, and that’s when the tote bag comes in handy.”
In particular the pajama is hydra-active as it’s the world’s first moisturizing sleepwear ever been developed for an airline and it’s been specifically designed to prevent skin dehydration.The fabric of the pajama is crafted with natural ingredients like shea butter and organ oil,.. and both get released as you make any movement thus keeping the skin always moisturized.And on the good news, the pajama does not only work once, during the flight, but back home it can be washed and dressed many more times tanks to a patented microcapsule technology that allows the pajama to stay as is for a long time.And last but not least, for fully enjoying the ICE on-board entertainment programs, noise-cancelling headphones from Bowers&Wilkins are handed out.
“Then just prior to taking off, a touch of Arabian hospitality in the form of a “date accompanied by Arabic coffee” (which is made by adding cardamom to enhance the flavour. And right after reaching the cruising altitude, there’s another flute of Dom Perignon Vintage 2009 served with warm nuts, ,..and by the time you enjoy the champagne,.. the dining menu and wine list are handed out for the a-la-carte selection.”
The dining experience is tempting and on the same level of a Michelin-starred restaurant, capable to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
“We started with a selection of Canapes.,,,”
Grilled venison with cranberries
Smoked Scottish salmon with chives and avocado cream
Blue d’Auvergne on gingerbread with spiced apricot chutney
“One then progresses to a selection of Appetisers,..”
presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis
Mushroom soup, served with chives
Chicken and lemongrass consommé, with rice vermicelli and vegetable julienne
Traditional Arabic Mezze, a spread of local savoury dishes including herbed feta, sautéed spinach with chickpeas, aubergine salad, mujaddara, houmous, bamieh bil zeit, stuffed vine leaves, and lamb kibbeh
Smoked Duck, served chilled with plum chutney, picled beetroot, fig and hazelnuts
Salmon Gravadlax, with lemon blinis and cucumber
Pan-fried Salmon with lemongrass fumet served with coriander pesto, shiitake mushrooms and pak choi
“The Main Course selection includes,..”
Coconut braised beef short ribs
with star anise and ginger, served with creamed potato and sautéed Asian greens
Chicken with Moroccan spices
served with tomato and lemon salsa, steamed broccolini and mghrabieh with olives
with lily bulb and black pepper sauce
with pumpkin and Varra Valley feta
Pan-fried Salmon with lemongrass fumet
served with coriander pesto, shiitake mushrooms and pak choi (pictured above)
with side dishes:
Mashed potatoes with chives
Broccoli with honey-roasted pumpkin
Sautéed spinach with roasted garlic
Steamed basmati rice
And to conclude some “just desserts”:
served with apricot compote and whipped cream
Chocolate Mango Torte
served with mango compote
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
“And on gets spoilt with the phenomenal Cheese Board served with crackers and accompaniments and featuring a huge tasty selection comprising,…”
Award-winning triple cream blue cheese from Germany with a smooth, spicy finish
Cricketer Farm West Country Vintage Cheddar
Traditionally produced firm-bodied cheddar from Somerset, with deep golden colour, creamy texture and fruity taste
Belton Farm Red Fox
Handmade red Leicester with an intense blend of sweet and nutty flavours and a trademark hint of crunch
Tomme de Chevre
Made in the Savoie region of France, this firm and full-bodied goat’s cheese has flavours reminiscent of fruits and hazelnuts
Pave with Truffles
A very mild French ewe’s milk cheese flavoured with earthy black truffles
Yarra Valley Dairy Marinated Feta
Creamy and salty cow’s milk cheese, marinated in garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and olive oil
“And I am pleased to share the tempting wine list with you,… starting with champagne”
Dom Perignon Vintage 2009 Champagne
and continuing with 4 white wines:
Chateau Tronquoy Lalande Blanc 2016, Bordeaux, France
Howard Park Alligham Chardonnay 2016, Margaret River, Western Australia
Grosset Springvale Riesling 2017, Clare Valley, South Australia
Mersault 1er Cru Chateau de Blagny Louis Latour 2014/2015, Mersault, Burgundy, France
and 5 red wines:
Chateau Pontet Canet 2006, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Craggy Range Sophia Gimblett Gravels 2011, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Savaterre Shirz, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Chateau Olivier Pessac-Leognan 2009, Bordeaux, France
Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2015, Barossa Valley, Australia
plus one dessert wine:
Chateau Suduiraut 2007, Sauternes, France
and one port wine:
Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port 1979, Douro Valley, Portugal
“The dining table is massive, in the end it’s a tray table that gets released from next to the minibar, and it’s a single piece, not foldable in half, and the dining set-up is worth of the most stylish fine dining restaurant, with crisp linen tablecloth and dinnerware in fine bone china made by Royal Doulton for Emirates.My dining selection started with the caviar, of course, which is presented in the most amazing and elegant way, followed by the mushroom soup, the pan-fried salmon, and the impressive cheese board.And with the exception of choosing the Dom Perignon 2009 champagne to accompany the caviar, I then paired the full lunch with the French Bordeaux, Chateau Pontet Canet 2006.”
The full lunch took almost a good 2 full hours of total sublime experience, and then I opted for a short nap.
“The seat of the suite turns into a full lie-flat bed, with mattress, duvet and pillows, but per experience during a daylight flight I find quite difficult to fall asleep, and therefore I took the opportunity of relaxing lie-flat for reading a couple of columns on the Harvard Business Review magazine.”
Half way through the flight,.., somewhere over the Indian Ocean, I made a visit to the shower bathroom which is simply outstanding. There are 2 showers and both at the front of the upper deck, one on each side.If you want to take a shower you need to reserve it in advance, generally after taking-off.The shower only works once the shower door is closed and you have only 5 minutes of running water with a timer that turns on after ¾ of the time is gone and turns off the water to save it for the final minute.
Next to the showers there’s a small bar, nothing comparable to the on-board bar lounge, but still well stocked and perfect for a quick round of cognac.
“But of course it’s the bar lounge, located at the end of the upper deck, right after the business class cabin, that attracts my interest not only for the short walk but for enjoying my classic Cosmopolitan in what I consider the most exclusive experience when flying, the bar lounge itself which is stylishly designed with a round counter in the middle and 2 sofas to the sides, perfect for enjoying a drink while exchanging small talking with fellow passengers.”
The bar lounge offers a long list of cocktails, ranging from Negroni to Classic Martini and Aperol Spritz.
And while enjoying a couple of drinks it’s not that difficult to spend a good one hour in the lounge.
Getting back to the suite and it’s still a good 2 hours of flight prior to landing, and it’s lite dinner time.
The menu offers a few temptations/snacks in the form of:
Chicken with tomato chutney
Beef pastrami with onion jam
Smoked salmon with cream cheese
Emmental with sundired tomato chutney
Pepper steak pie
Home-made butter pastry filled with braised beef with pepper, served with caramelized onion marmalade
Indonesian-style fried rice, served with grilled chicken skewers and cashew nut satay sauce
Asia-style spicy noodle soup with prawns, chicken, kamaboko and tofu
Selection of pastries
hazelnut and chocolate tart, coconut cake, chocolate and apricot brownie, berry tartlet, and ginger cream profiterole
and I gave Nasi Goreng a try and it was savoury!
“In conclusion I have to admit that there’s no better way of flying than with Emirates and in their First Class Suite.
Time really flies, and between the welcome champagne, the full lunch, the shower, the bar lounge, the pre-arrival lite snack, 7 hours literally flew away and it’s almost time to land at Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA airport”
Written and compiled for Connoisseur Magazine by
*ANTONIO ACUNZO ( Instagram handle -Expatflyer)
Co-founder & CEO of MTW GROUP | Foreign Market Entry Advisors.
Founded in 2005 in Miami Beach, FL, MTW GROUP | Foreign Market Entry Advisors has its USA HQ in Miami, FL and APAC office in Singapore.