We’d all like to traverse the globe with champagne in our mouths and ergonomic seating caressing our buttocks – with Emirates, naturally – but the reality is that it only happens once in a blue moon.
And at up to 20 grand a pop, you want to be sure that Emirates’ First Class is right for you. Especially now there are so many other airlines offering their own versions of pointy end luxury.
You also want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, to make the most of the experience should you part with your
kidney cash and hit “book.”
While Emirates’ video walk-throughs offer sneak peeks, you’re hardly trying the whole thing for size, and – though it may be pleasing on the eyes – you’re not learning about the First Class etiquette rules you need to be aware of before flying upfront, nor are you getting a detailed blow by blow of everything to expect before flying Emirates First Class.
Enter: this guide. Researched from positions supine as well as hunched (over a keyboard) as well as by picking the brain of Barry Brown, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President Australasia, here is the closest thing to a “try before you buy” take on Emirates’ First Class that exists (to our knowledge) on the internet.
In other words: read this if you want to know exactly what to expect from Emirates’ First Class, avoid the Old Money sneers and have yourself a damn good time aboard Emirates’ creme-de-la-sky.
Before You Fly
Don’t get an Uber to the airport, then remember what could have been. Flying First (or Business) with Emirates means they’ll drive you to and from the airport like royalty. All you have to do is book online via Manage Your Booking at least 12 hours before your flight and you’ll enjoy a complimentary, door to door chauffeur service in over 75 cities worldwide.
Oh, and – when you arrive at your destination – another one will be idling, ready to take you to your hotel or office (or for that matter, the nearest discotheque).
As for how close you need to be to the airport to use this service, in Australia, First and Business Class passengers receive this service for free within an 80-kilometre radius of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, and for passengers flying in or out of Perth, the service is available within a 45-kilometre radius.
When flying Economy (of any airline), checking in can be brutal. When flying Emirates First Class, however, checking in becomes a breeze, with a seamless bag drop experience that sees you whisked through your dedicated premium lanes quicker than you can say, “Where’s my Negroni?”
While First Class passengers do have to find their own way to check-in counters, as Barry Brown, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President Australasia recently told D’Marge, Emirates has dedicated transfer desks/facilities for premium customers in Dubai, as well as direct boarding from the A380 First & Business Class lounges and priority boarding at the gates.
All of Emirates’ First Class lounges are of the quality we’ve come to expect from Dubai’s flagship airline. That is to say: serene, adult playpens of expensive alcohol and titillating taste. That said, there are a few differences between airports you should be aware of.
Emirates First Lounge Sydney
If you’re flying out of Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport you will have access to Emirates’ combined Business/First lounge. While Qantas’ International First Class lounge is the place to be (in Sydney), Emirates’ showers, gourmet cuisine, news and live sports services, wifi, Italian marble flooring and gold plated Rolex wall clocks from Geneva are nothing to sneer at. That said, all passengers with an Emirates First Class boarding pass are also automatically granted access into any of Qantas’ International First Class lounge, due to the two airlines’ continued partnership.
If you choose to stay in Emirates’ Sydney Airport lounge though, you will still have access to a decent variety of hot and cold food at the buffet, tarmac views, natural light, relaxing vibes, space to work. The only tangible downside is that there is no separate area for First Class flyers (pretend you’re on the Titanic, mingle!) and good-but-(allegedly)-not-great wifi.
Emirates First Lounge Melbourne
Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport offers first-class travellers much the same situation as Sydney: either use the Qantas lounge which – being the country’s flagship airline is always going to be the best – or ‘endure’ the still-amazing-but-by-comparison-slightly-diminished luxuries of Emirates’ own offering.
As for the specifics, the Emirates First Lounge Melbourne is located next to the ‘old’ Emirates lounge atop the escalators near Gate 10 on Level 3. It’s also much larger than the previous lounge – with room for up to 241 passengers – and features gun-barrel views across the airstrip.
Emirates First Lounge Perth
Perth’s airport offers first-class travellers much the same situation as Melbourne (when it comes to lounges): either use the Qantas lounge or enjoy Emirates’ own offering.
Emirates First Lounge Brisbane
Forget Sydney and Melbourne; in 2004 Brisbane was the first Australian city to receive an Emirates lounge after its global Dubai hub. Since then it has been expanded to include a dedicated VIP aerobridge for passengers to board directly from the lounge, as well as classy adornments and – barring the day spas of Sydney and Melbourne’s Qantas First Lounges – has everything you could ask of an airport lounge in this Luxurious New World.
Emirates First Lounge Adelaide
Plot twist: there is no such thing as the Emirates First Lounge Adelaide. You can, however, still fly from Adelaide to Dubai with Emirates, it’s just that you will have to use the Qantas lounge, which – thanks to the airport’s design – is used by both domestic and international flyers. This lounge is comparable to Brisbane’s lounge in terms of amenities, but not quite up there with Sydney or Melbourne’s.
Due to Emirates and Qantas’ ongoing partnership, all Emirates First and Business Class passengers can access the Qantas lounge in Adelaide as one of their partner lounges around the world.
Emirates passengers have full access to all the same amenities afforded other guests, including complimentary food and beverages, free Wi-Fi, showers and dedicated workspaces for any passengers who are working whilst on the move.
Emirates First Lounge Dubai International
More like a private terminal than a lounge, Emirates’ First Lounge Dubai is an indulgent retreat. If the spa (first-class passengers get a complimentary 15 minutes), cigar bar and quiet areas don’t help you unwind in style, the international selection of dishes and fine dining just might. Oh and – unlike in Australia – in Dubai the Emirates First Lounge is the place to be, with Qantas codeshare passengers doing their best to gain entry, and true Emirates passengers revelling in their no-fuss luxury.
Signage to the lounge is clearly marked. However, if you are transiting through to a new location, you’ll need to go through security again before going upstairs to the lounge, one level above the business class lounge. Other points of note are the internationally-acclaimed wine cellar, duty-free boutique, business centre and direct boarding privileges.
Onboard Emirates First Class
Whether its RyanAir and its chiropractic torment, Qantas and its staff or Qatar Airways and its private QSuites, every airline has its specialty. But when it comes to first-class Emirates only has one rival – Etihad. We’re not here to talk about Etihad’s The Residence though, so let’s give you the up-high on Emirates’ creme de la sky.
First Class on the Emirates A380
Voted Tripadvisor’s World Best First Class Of 2019, First Class on the Emirates A380 is not just the best of the best; it’s the closest thing you’ll get to flying in your own private jet. This includes an enclosed private suite (retreat-like feels for the win), a private cinema, ambient lighting, a full-on bed, gourmet meals, a shower-spa (to be shared at the front of the cabin), a private collection amenity kit from Bvlgari, Bowers & Wilkins E1 headphones and a premium onboard lounge.
Best Seats On The A380
There are fourteen seats in First Class on Emirates’ A380 jets, in a 1-2-1 layout (equal aisle access for all!) with the best ones being seats 2A and 3A, as well as 2K and 3K. Why? Although every seat is awesome, these are the ones which will keep you away from any untoward smells in the toilets (in the unlikely event that occurs) and away from the (potential) raucous noise of the Business Class patrons attempting to break David Boone’s record for Martinis drunk at 40,000ft.
If you are a socialite you might like seats 4A and 4K, which are closest to the bar (though you will still have to (shock, horror) walk through business class first, and if you have a weak bladder you may elect to sit in seats 1A and 1K, which give you closest proximity to the toilets (which, considering it’s First Class, really shouldn’t be a problem).
Seat pitch is as flat as you want it, with a length of 86 inches and a width of 23 inches, and
The seat has several pre-set recline settings as well as variable controls, and also sports multiple massage functions, and everything is controlled via a wireless touch-pad.
First Class on the Emirates 777
Emirates First Class on the Boeing 777-300ER may lack the shower spa and the bar, but the suites are slightly larger than the A380.
Best Seats on the Emirates 777
While the configuration is the same as the A380 there are only eight First Class seats (compared to the 14 on the A380) and the pitch and width is the same on both aircraft. Best seats will depend on whether you like natural views (pick a window seat) or are a tech geek (pick a middle seat, which comes with VR windows).
Extra information on the seats
As Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Vice President Australasia told us, “The seat [on both the 777 and the A380] can be fully transformed in to a flatbed that our cabin crew will make up with a mattress, duvet and pillow [and] the flat bed measures 79 inches in length affording passengers a comfortable night’s sleep in their eye mask, pyjamas and slippers provided.”
Oh, and the doors and blinds can be closed at the touch of a button and – when the other cabin lights are turned off – twinkling star lighting emulates the night sky on the ceiling to add to the experience.
Welcome drink: Dom Perignon (or if you are in a jurisdiction where alcohol taxes and duties are high, in order to avoid them, Emirates may serve you the Moet & Chandon NV from Business Class, and then break out the DP after takeoff).
The rest of the drinks list is wide and varied including such tongue-ticklers as a selection of wines from Australia, France and New Zealand; cocktails, beers and spirits; dessert wine and port; and non-alcoholic beverages.
The premium wine programme offered in First Class includes a partnership with Dom Perignon, as well as Emirates Vintage Collection. This collection was launched in 2018 and contains a selection of fine wines that have been stored in our cellars for up to 15 years, allowing them to reach optimum maturity for passengers.
Welcome nibbles come in the form of Arabic coffee and dates, then the dine on-demand service begins, including everything from a choice of canapes and appetisers to mains, desserts, cheese and light bites. This dine on-demand service provides passengers with a personalised and tailored experience that meets their needs and suits their body clocks, and Emirates works with some of the world’s best chefs and suppliers to create the highest quality menus, inspired by the flight destination.
With all the creature comforts at your disposal in first class, you don’t need an entertainment system as much as you do in Economy to zone out and pretend you’re not there. However, if you do want to indulge in a few flicks, then you will be able to watch a vast range of movies and TV shows from Emirates’ ICE entertainment system – voted the Best Inflight Entertainment System 15 times at the Skytrax Awards.
This is also helped by, as we mentioned earlier, Emirates’ provision of Bowers and Wilkins noise-canceling headphones to every First Class passenger. These bad boys block ambient noise and let you drift off into your own world should you desire.
As for stats: Emirates’ First Class entertainment system gives you up to 4,300 hours of programming (and 4,500 channels, including films, box sets and live sport).
Naturally, there is wifi. Just make sure you’re a Skywards member to get it free, or you’ll have to pay 30 dollars.
Pijamas, slippers and Bulgari amenities bag including a shaving kit, tissues, toothbrush, toothpaste and lip balm.
Another standout feature for First Class passengers is the First Class Shower Spa, the first of its kind to exist at 40,000 feet. As Emirates Divisional Vice President Australiasia Barry Brown told us, “It contains two-fully equipped bathrooms in First Class cabins, which boast heated flooring, full-length mirrors and a range of luxurious amenities from Bvlgari.”
Onboard Lounge (A380 Only)
The A380 features an onboard lounge where passengers can relax during their flight and choose from a selection of premium beverages and canapes, served by a dedicated bartender. Passengers can indulge in bite size snacks to keep them well fed between meal times, whilst sipping on champagne or choosing from our cocktail menu, all whilst live sport plays on the television screens around the lounge.
First to exit
Naturally, First Class Passengers will be the first to exit the plane.
Don’t mind if I do.
Sydney to London (return)
In July (a notoriously popular time of year to travel to Europe), prices are currently set at AU$15,719 for a return trip from Sydney to London. However, unlike Economy, when we searched for first-class return flights, also from Sydney to London, in September and November, typically less busy times of year for that route, the price remained the same: A$15,719.
This implies that first-class prices fluctuate less than economy (for which, in this author’s experience, July and Christmas time are significantly more expensive than other times of year), however, we would imagine there is far more scope to upgrade to first during the quieter times of year, even if outright prices remain the same.
When we asked Emirates what the story was regarding deals, Barry Brown, Emirates divisional vice president Australasia said, “Emirates consistently has special offers across a range of flights, destinations and products and strives to always add value for passengers.”
“Our featured fares lists on our website lists all of our current flight deals and regularly updates with new offers on routes all over the world.”
Melbourne to London (return)
At the time of writing, priced (more or less) the same as Sydney to London (A$15,703).
Perth To London (return)
Slightly less; A$14,143.
Adelaide to London (return)
A$13,022 (at the time of writing). Not bad at all.
Brisbane to London (return)
Even cheaper; A$12,689, at the time of writing.
Canberra to London (return)
A bit more punchy; in fact so punchy (A$16,066) we’d argue it would be worth getting an Economy flight to Adelaide or Brisbane and then flying First Class from there.