A Middle-East Adventure: Dubai & Abu Dhabi
Business Class and even premium class has always been a world away from the norm for me… cattle class is where I place would myself comfortably – or uncomfortably should I say.
This was until Emirates invited me to have a tour of their Business class facilities at London Heathrow, and a tour of an A380 airbus.
At Heathrow Terminal 3, I was greeted by Rashid Nazir who gave us the whole business class traveler experience – and short of jetting off the run way, I was treated as such!
I was shown the private and very exclusive Emirates chauffeur collection point where there were no less than 10 black C Class Mercedes all waiting in a line, each with their accompanying chauffeur stood tentatively awaiting their guests in arrivals to drive them on to their destination.
You really can travel in comfort from the second you leave home with the Emirates Chauffeur Service. This is a complimentary service for all first and business class travelers originating from within a 70-mile radius, operation the service to and from airports in over 70 cities.
An extra benefit which I love – is that you can also speed through immigration at most airports. You receive a fast track card when you fly First Class or Business Class, or if you’re an Emirates Skywards Gold or Platinum member so you can head on up to the lounge with ease.
Now, when you typically think of traveler lounges, you’d be forgiven to think of the standard Check-in through a standard doorway where you are greeted with a ‘waiting room’ style seat lay out, and a help-yourself bar where the breakfast pastries have been sat out for a fair few hours, and the juices and soft drinks are free but any premium spirits are just that… with a premium charge attached.
The above is something I have come accustomed to over time, and where as it certainly does what it says on the tin there is something very normal and almost average about the whole experience.
Imagine my surprise when I accompanied to the entrance of the Emirates Business Class lounge – It looked as though I was walking in to the foyer of a 5* hotel. The décor was impeccably designed, with a marble staircase leading you up to the top floor where the landing opened out to unrivaled views of the runways. With private seating areas cordoned off with stylish dark wood borders, complimenting the cream leather armchairs, each with an accompanying red lumber cushion allowing the travelers who wish to catch up with extra work ahead of take-off to do so in peace – or even posing the opportunity to head to the restrooms to change in to their sleep suits should they be traveling in first class, and relax in privacy with a glass for champagne before they board in comfort.
Everything about the décor of this lounge has been thought through with meticulous attention to detail – even the colour of the chairs are matched exactly to the Emirates Cabin Crew colour pallet.
Around the corner there is a dining area with the opportunity for larger groups to finalise their business brief with their team over dinner, with again smaller tables given more privacy at the end of the room.
As someone who is certainly not a fan of airline food I was skeptical to hear that the food served within the Emirates business class lounge replicated what was served to their business and first class travellers. Remember – I am used to cattle class style flobby scrambled egg and cocktail sausage for breakfast with a dry roll.
I was shocked. Genuinely shocked.
There was a selection of beef casserole, lamb chops with fresh veg and new potatoes, Chicken in red wine sauce, Thai Red Curry, Lamb Madras… dishes that were as if they have just been served up from a restaurant. Yes, it was still very much a help-yourself style buffet experience, but the food was just epic. The cutlery was a true representation of the cutlery offered on board, and this again was a good solid and weighty silver set, just as you would expect from any high-end restaurant – and although they were adapted for safety and security, this was barely noticeable.
I turned around and on one table there was an array of fresh fruits and yogurts, and on another, every single type of dessert you could imagine…. All up for grabs!
The drinks on offer…. Well this was a whole other experience entirely!
Nothing but the highest, most premium brands of spirits and champagne were on offer – each for the taking with no limit, no question of asking for more… simply help yourself and have a wonderful time. The rows and rows of Bollinger was quite a sight to be seen!
Should there be anything at all that you could possibly need, there was always someone right there to help you – one lady even carried my glass back for me while I balanced by heaped plate of food back to the table! Wonderful service!
Once I had sufficiently filled by belly with the wonderful food on offer – (I did go back a few times….) We were taken on board the A380.
Walking on board, we went up the Walnut staircase to the Business Class cabin, and was met with the all-important on-board bar, again with the Walnut trim to finish and ‘club style’ mauve under desk lighting to finish, this certainly looked like somewhere I would perch myself for the duration of the flight! This bar offers the same premium brands as I had experienced earlier in the business class lounge, and I was impressed to see the extra seating and lounge facilities that complimented this perk so nicely.
Behind the bar, the business class cabin begins – paying particular attention to the location of the bar, I would recommend any passengers thing about the position of their seat prior to travel – If you are on board and would like a lively journey across to Dubai, then one of the seats nearer to the bar may suit you just fine, however if you are on a longer haul flight and require more peace to ensure you are rested, further down the cabin would be best for you.
The business class cabin is everything you would imagine it would be, luxury meets comfort to the highest standard.
Privacy is a huge advantage here, as you have a high grey shell cocooning you away from your neighboring travelers, but not so much that you cannot speak with anyone traveling with you.
With fully flat beds installed on all the A380 aircraft, you can be sure that leg room issues are certainly a thing of the past. – Simply press for the down turn service, and sleep peacefully under one of the new charcoal grey duvets.
Should you wish to freshen up during your flight, Emirates have joined forces with Bulgari to offer their business class travelers a complimentary amenity bag on all over night and long haul flights. They really have thought of everything here!
Convenience is one thing I have noticed is key. You have your own personal mini-bar, and can even request certain snacks to be prepared for you at your request. Certainly, no waiting for the next meal and drinks run as per economy! Each of your meals on board are served on Royal Doulton bone china plates with Robert Welch Cutlery, and a selection of wines, ports and champagnes are offered under recommendation by Emirates very own sommeliers.
The inflight entertainment is quite something – yes, the programmes on offer will be the same in whichever cabin you sit, however the size of the screen and the quality in which you are viewing your chosen programme is quite something. With over 2,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music, and games you are sure to find something top keep you thoroughly entertained during your flight – whatever your age, and they also have movies supported with audio description, and closed captions should your hearing or eyesight be impaired.
Being 35,000ft in the air no longer means you are out of contact with the rest of the world until landing – With News and Sport headlines being sent to the aircraft directly from the BBC news website you can be sure not to miss a beat.
This also goes for connectivity to your emails with Wifi being provided on board, use your moving to make calls or even use their in-seat phone…. Giving you a bit of extra peace of mind should you of spend more time eating in the business class lounge than prepping for your meeting as mentioned previously!
Now….. Just as I was thrilled with the quality of Business class, and vowing never to travel in economy again, I was taken through to view the first-class cabin.
This – is a whole other experience all together.
Just a few points to mention – in First Class, you receive your own moisturising sleepwear, your own Bulgari Amenity Kit in only the finest leather finish, oh, and you also have your own private suite on most A380’s and Boeing 777’s.
Private Suite!! Your very own cabin essentially – And these suites are roomy!
Should you happen to be traveling with a small child, there is even space enough for them to play comfortably on the floor in front of you, and even join you when it is nap time.
With walnut finish throughout the entirety of the suite, in an all in one fixture it really does deliver on the ‘seamless’ finish you would come to expect from Emirates first class.
Again – you have your won mini-bar and a menu to select dishes at your own request (and of course access to the cabin bar) but that is may well seem very ‘average’ when you realise you have access to the On-board Shower Spa! I always wondered how people always looked so refreshed and glamourous when walking off the plane, and now I know their secret!!
So, once you have changed in to your moisturising sleep suit in the business class lounge, you have had your dinner and a glass of something special on take-off, you are ready to have your turn-down service, slide the privacy doors shut and sleep… upon waking you are invited to request your suit bag from the cabin closet from a crew member and prepare yourself for that all important board meeting or client pitch while you take some time in the On-Board Shower Spa (Which is genuinely bigger than my actual bathroom at home…) making use of the selection of Bulgari toiletries, and Signature Organic Seaweed Voya Products to freshen up in a real – stand up hot water shower, in a very swanky bathroom.
Forget all on board toilet facilities you have ever had the pleasure(?) of using in the past – this really does ensure your first-class experience with Emirates is one to remember, and one to wish to use repeatedly.
For me, Emirates has always been a fantastic airline to fly with. Their service certainly lives up to its reputation, from start to finish, when checking in all the way through to leaving the aircraft, only now seeing first-hand how the ‘other half’ travel, I would certainly invest more to travel in greater comfort.
For me, I believe in personal convenience and efficiency therefore, if I had a meeting in Shanghai at 10:30am and my flight landed first thing in the morning I would not hesitate in traveling with Emirates given the accessibility for such high-end comfort inducing opportunities that they offer – not only on board, but utilising their chauffeur service also.
Airlines are always keen to compete with facilities on board and as such there are many strong contenders out there to rival the products within business, first and even Premium class cabins, for amazingly good fares. In short, for me cattle class is outdated.
If like me, you would like to kick economy class to the curb and treat yourself to a new standard of travel please do not hesitate to contact me directly and I can certainly point you in the right direction, and to the right airlines for you. You will never look back!