While I could write 500 words on one of the local (mainly Brit) pubs in Dubai I think it would be far more entertaining to share my experience with of flying Business Class on the monstrous Airbus A380.
The A380 and Emirates have been intricately linked and with a recent order for another 30 A380’s it looks like the future is bright for both of them. Now, this giant plane attracts a lot of attention on the EK schedule and quickly gets booked up so I usually avoid it if I am going to one of the current routes it serves. Having said that, I have had the pleasure to fly on the A380 four times and with a combination of Skywards miles upgrades and “bump ups” I have only ever flown Business Class on this aircraft. A record I doubt I will keep for long.
The usual seat capacity on the EK A380 is 388 passengers. That is a huge number of people to board! The good news is that if you are flying in First or Business not only do you have a seperate entrance to the flight, but the whole upper deck is for the premium cabins! No flimsy curtain between you and the screaming kids who are sat in the bulkhead seats. This allows you to relax in total isolation from where I usually end up i.e. cattle class.
The first thing you notice when you enter Business Class on the A380 is the sheer number of seats (76 in total) – for some reason it made me feel a little less special.
That soon fades as soon as you make it to your assigned seat. The first thing you notice is that you get what I can only described as a “pod”. In front of you is a nice large panel for the famous “ICE” system Emirates have. Then you have the large wireless controller to adjust your seat, activate the massage function, TV/Radio Channels and lighting. Next to that there is your own mini bar offering a choice of soft drinks. Above this there is a handy storage area where you can pop the socks and eyeshades they give you.
The great thing about the layout in A380 business class is the 1-2-1 configuration meaning that there is no middle seat (a real weakness on the 777 business class cabin) Also the way these ‘pods’ are designed gives you the feeling of real isolation and privacy which can really help you relax or sleep. The not so good thing about the seats are that they are only 0.5″ wider than an economy seat and the side of the seat where the mini bar lives makes it a little awkward to rest your arm. Still, you can fully extend the seat to flat and the nice cabin crew will give you a mattress so you can get a decent sleep. Do take the mattress, I didn’t first time around and found the chair to be really hard to sleep on.
For me the perfect way to relax on a flight if I am not sleeping is to catch up on the TV/Movies I have stored on my laptop, I will usually only watch ICE if I am desperate to see something they have or my laptop is dead. The business class seats offer a power point which keeps my laptop going on long flights and there is an added bonus of USB sockets which are perfect for charging my iPhone and Blackberry:
The very best thing about A380 premium cabins is the bar lounge area set at the back of Business Class. I had read a lot about it but on seeing it I was truly amazed. A fully stocked bar with loads of canapes to nibble on and comfortable seating along the windows. Enjoying a G&T at thirty eight thousand feet at a bar, really is a surreal experience and is not to be missed. A good friend of mine works on the A380 in Business Class and has some great stories but always mentions that the Dubai to Manchester route has the bar packed out. Seems the Mancunians enjoy a tipple! (It might be best to get a seat away from the bar if you want to get some sleep or bring ear plugs)
Emirates should be proud of the product they have delivered on this new super jumbo. It is relaxing and the bar area kind of feels like a private members club. The food and service is up to the usual standard of Emirates but the modern cabin, seat features and finish really does make it feel like travel fit for the 21st century.