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What it's really like to fly first class




About Expert Traveller

Expert travel advice on luxury travel


Time literally flies when you're having fun in Emirates first class.

I was able to board this flight through the upper bridge, straight onto the upper deck of the A380, which was a welcome option.

The Emirates first-class suite.

The Emirates first-class suite. Picture: Supplied

I was immediately greeted at the door by one of the first-class flight attendants, who personally escorted me to my seat, 2A, on the left-hand side of the plane. First class is laid out  in a 1-2-1 layout, each seat is a separate suite with closing doors. To my delight, I found out soon after boarding that there was only one other passenger in first class. So 2/14 going out.

In fact, the entire plane was very light on load, with less than a quarter of business class full and about half of economy. The crew-to-passenger ratio was indeed in my favour. Soon after getting to my seat I was met by the cabin supervisor and purser for the flight, who warmly welcomed me.

When I mentioned it was my first time in Emirates’ first class, they were genuinely excited for me and went all out to ensure I had a great trip.  They certainly succeeded in their efforts. I was attended to so well, no request was too much.

The first-class cabin crew really were a credit to Emirates.  They shared all aspects of the suite with me including how the on-demand dining service worked.  They also offered me a full amenities kit, which was more of a bag of goodies to take away.

It is worth noting that on shorter flights this is available on request, whereas on longer flights it is automatically offered.  It’s well worth asking for, especially if you have young ones at home who will enjoy a few treats.

Emirates A380 first class comes equipped with a full bathroom where passengers can take a shower.  I asked about using the shower and the cabin crew advised the best time to do so; bearing in mind this was just a 3.5-hour flight from Auckland to Brisbane.

I also asked about visiting the onboard bar and was personally escorted up to it, introduced to the staff there, and made to feel very welcome. Photos were offered, a cocktail made to order (I had a martini), and I was even asked if I would like a photo behind the bar.

They really were a great crew!

On the way back to my seat I was given a personal guided tour of the plane including downstairs, walking through economy and seeing the door to the crew rest areas, where there are 14 bunks for cabin crew rest. Flight crew have a separate rest area.

Once I returned to my seat, dinner was on the agenda. There were three options for starters and four for main course, which gave a wide range of choices to select from. I decided on the pumpkin soup, which was fantastic, with garlic bread. 

I followed that with the lamb, which was nice but a bit overcooked for my liking.  I paired the lamb with a beautiful  from McLaren Vale in South Australia, which I really enjoyed.

Once dinner was finished, the crew let me know that the shower was ready. Noting of course there were only two first-class passengers and two shower suites, they were ready whenever we were.  My first shower at 40,000 feet was quite surreal, especially with the heated floor, but it was also very refreshing. 

I am certain that nearing the end of a long-haul flight this would be a welcome way to ready oneself to disembark more refreshed.

I returned to my seat feeling refreshed, to find a cheese platter and a glass of  2006 awaiting me.  This was made all the better by the beautiful sunset that was visible out of my window. What a wonderful way to end the flight!

The A380 is so smooth when it lands, but no doubt being on the top deck helps this. We quickly arrived at the gate and the two of us in first class were the first off the plane. My companion was onward to London, so two more first-class flights to go – I was so envious! My first time on Emirates first class was over way too quickly!

Expert Traveller recommends…

No doubt having a near-empty cabin helped, because the service was impeccable. My every need was met, but I was also left alone to enjoy the privacy of the first-class suite, which Emirates does very well.

A new and improved first-class suite is being introduced in November, so it will be wonderful to see what they do, no doubt trying to beat Etihad and their amazing Residence concept.

A very enjoyable experience and one that is easily attainable on points (12000 Emirates Points to upgrade from business to first), or often not much in cash to pay the difference.

I highly recommend you try it, especially on a short sector like this to see what it is all about, and find out for yourself what being a first-class flyer is really like.

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