Until this year, we had yet to experience flying Emirates business class, one of the “Middle East Three.” We’ve experienced Etihad business class, and Qatar business class, but for an AvGeek like me there was a constant nagging reminder that we had yet to fly Emirates. Suddenly, we found ourselves not only flying them twice within a few months, but experiencing Emirates A380 business class.
Flying Emirates Business Class From Europe
One of the best things about the Middle East airlines is that they are a perfect gateway between Asia and Europe. Normally, it means a layover in Doha or Dubai, but it also means being able to land in Europe in some second tier airports, which are often more convenient for us.
On both of our recent trips from Europe back home to Bangkok, we ended our trips in the smaller cities of Bologna, Italy, and Lyon, France. Hardly major international hubs. But, Bologna in particular is a city where we are finding ourselves more and more as we eat our way through Emilia Romagna.
Emirates likes to tout their unofficial goal of connecting every city on Earth to Dubai. Lucky for us, Emirates started to serve Bologna’s Guglielmo Marconi Airport. The airport is just 6 kilometers from the center of Bologna. Bologna is in the heart of Emilia Romagna. Getting to our favorite foodie destination in the world from our home base in Bangkok is now that much easier. It means two six hour flights and we are home.
How to Book Emirates Business Class
All of our first and business class travel has been booked on miles. I know we receive comments from friends on our Facebook page about our luxury airline travel, but we never get a free upgrade, and never purchase the tickets ourselves. We are not millionaires.
Or, are we?
When looking to book our Emirates flight from Bologna to Bangkok, Emirates was offering great rates on business class flights. A perfect storm of lower oil prices, a new route to a smaller European city, and Emirates running a half dozen flights a day to Bangkok meant business class was a steal. One way economy tickets from Europe were running about $600-800. Normally this route would be well over a thousand dollars, just for economy. Emirates business class was only about $1300.
We splurged on the tickets. As soon as we hit purchase on the Emirates website, a little buyer’s’ remorse set in, we knew there would be no other way to experience Emirates A380 business class. But as my mom said years ago, “if it’s on sale, you have to buy it.” Perhaps she’s referring to cans of coffee at the supermarket and not business class airfare. But for an AvGeek, it seemed worth it, even if we had to eat ramen noodles for a month on our return to Bangkok.
Flying Emirates Business Class on the A380
We flew Emirates business class on their Boeing 777-300ER from Bologna to Dubai, and arrived rather late at night. We enjoyed the massive Emirates Business Class Lounge for a few hours, which involved a little snack and champagne, along with a well needed shower.
We boarded around 3:30am. Despite being tired, this was the flight we were most excited for. The Emirates 777-300ER was an acceptable flight, but we really wanted to experience the A380. We were determined to stay awake and make the most of our business class flight.
From the Emirates Business Class Lounge, we had direct access to our gate. We took an elevator down to the upper level of the A380 and walked right on board. It was one of the most convenient boarding experiences ever.
The upper level of our A380 was configured with 14 First Class enclosed suites and 76 Business Class seats. Until you step inside you just can’t imagine what that looks like. In fact, I don’t remember seeing First Class at all, I was so in awe of how large Business Class was. The cabin was more bright than on the 777-300ER, but still had a lot of use of gold and a bit too much bling for my taste. Even the bathroom was covered in wood paneling and gold and silver.
Emirates did a great job with staggering the seating in a 1-2-1 configuration. It allows every passenger access to the aisles, unlike on their Boeing 777-300ERs.
The seats themselves felt spacious, and offered food leg room. There was a digital control panel to adjust the seat.
It’s also allowed Emirates to put in much bigger seats compared to the those on the 777-300ER. Where I was feeling cramped from Bologna to Dubai, I felt like a king on a throne from Dubai to Bangkok.
The Emirates business class offers fully lie flat seats, a personal mini-bar, and a 20 inch TV screen with noise canceling headphones.
Emirates business class offers different amenity kits for men and women. Amber wasn’t as thrilled with her offerings, but in addition to Bulgari products, my amenity kit came with a deodorant and shave gel.
Emirates A380 In-Flight Bar
Funny thing is, during our five and a half hour flight to Bangkok, I think Amber and I spent all of one hour combined in our seats. Why? Emirates took inspiration from the Golden Age of commercial aviation and reintroduced the flying lounge. Taking up valuable seat space, the back quarter of the Emirates A380s features a full stocked lounge for Business Class passengers to enjoy prior to takeoff and during the flight.
The lounge was another first for Amber and I, and one we wanted to make the most of. With an aircraft the size of an A380, it takes some time for all passengers to board. This allowed us to head to the rear of the plane and meet our fellow passengers while enjoying a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
We returned to our seats for take off. After take off, we returned to the bar, of course. There was no reason to try to sleep at this point. We were arriving in Bangkok in a few hours, with no scheduled activities. We knew we could sleep when we arrived. This was the time to make the most of the Emirates A380 business class experience.
We had wonderful conversations with a couple of passengers heading to Thailand for the first time, providing them food tips. We also enjoyed just chatting with the crew. One of the best moments during the flight was looking out the window and realizing that the sun was rising. Watching the sky go from black to dark blue, slowly transitioning to shades of orange and yellow was magical.
Certainly the size of the A380 compared to the 777-300ER allows Emirates to offer a much better Business Class product. It’s roomier, more comfortable, and actually makes you feel like you are in Business Class. The meal on our A380 was comparable to the meal on our 777-300ER flight, nothing special but edible. The service on both flights was also comparable but being able to talk to the crew on board the A380 because of the Lounge make it a more memorable experience. I’m so glad that we splurged and upgrade to Business Class to see what many fliers consider the best in the industry. For me, I think there’s room for improvement, but would certainly fly with Emirates again.
Making the Most of the Emirates A380
One of the reasons why we took full advantage of the on board Lounge was because we had no idea if we would ever be able to fly Emirates business class again. But, just a few months later, we had a similar experience on our trip from Lyon to Bangkok.
One of the reasons why I like flying Emirates business class is their pricing. Unlike many other airlines, which can sell business class tickets for crazy prices, like $5000 or more, Emirates offers reasonable prices for their business class tickets, which includes even last minute upgrades. Their pricing is standardized on routes and does not tend to increase as much as other airlines. It is always worth checking their pricing online before a flight, or even at the airport.
In the weeks leading up to our flight from Lyon, we toyed with the idea of upgrading. Over the weeks before and even on the day of, the price was always the same. In this case, we upgraded our flight at the airport for about $800 a person. Our economy class tickets were already paid for by one of our partners, so it seemed, once again, like a good idea. You only live once. We landed in Bangkok, ate ramen noodles once again to make up for it, but really enjoyed that Emirates business class experience!
See here for a review of Emirates Airlines economy class.