Emirates First Class Review – New York JFK to Dubai DXB
Introduction: The following is a guest post from Dara who scored first class tickets on Emirates. Really looks like a fantastic experience!
My boyfriend and I were lucky enough to snag two first class seats on Emirates flagship JFK-DXB-LUS (Lusaka, Zambia). The DXB-LUS leg was also in first class but the aircraft, a Boeing 777, was not as impressive as the A380. Therefore, I will focus this review on the JFK-DXB leg.
- Emirates Flight 206 New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB)
- 10:20pm – 10:10p (+1 day)
- 14hr including 90-minute stop in MXP
- Aircraft: Airbus A380
Getting the miles
We booked the entire trip using Alaska Airlines miles which we mostly acquired through the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. Learn and compare travel and airline credit cards here. While Emirates is no longer bookable using Alaska points at a reasonable rate, the card is still a worthwhile signup for taking advantage of Alaska’s many airline partners.
We were excited to take advantage of all that First Class had to offer. Unfortunately when my boyfriend attempted to arrange transportation to and from the airport using Emirates’ complimentary Chauffer-drive service, he was informed that it is not available to passengers on award tickets. We had to take an Uber to JFK like regular people – too bad!
Emirates First Class Lounge
The Emirates first class lounge at JFK was nice, but not matching all the hype. Luckily, we had been warned not to fill up too much in the lounge (although it was tough because I was starving). The best part of the lounge, though, was that we were able to board to the upper deck of our A380 directly from the lounge, bypassing the crowded terminal and gate.
The buffet included Crab cakes, Steak & Mushroom Pie, Lamb leg, Roasted Chicken, Mashed potato with fried onions, Stuffed plum tomatoes with veggie ratatouille, Sauteed fresh veggies, Paneer makhanwala, and Basmati lemon rice. Plenty of options!
First Class Cabin
All seats in First Class are enclosed for complete privacy. There are a total of 14 seats with four single seats along the windows, then three pairs in the center cabin. We opted to have two window seats back to back, rather than having the middle. It is literally shocking to walk on the plane and see all the gold/ bling and realize that we were going to be flying in the lap of luxury for the next 15+ hours. Our first class cabin was half empty and it almost felt like there was one flight attendant for each passenger. It was slightly intimidating because there was so much to show us and explain about the compartments.
The first thing that stood out was the random mini bar with room temperature beverages, snack baskets and a lighted mirror with scented body products in the compartment underneath. There was also a writing kit in case I suddenly wanted to take up the art of letter writing on this long haul. Of course I took everything with me. My boyfriend still uses his Emirates tote bag every chance he can get. That and the PJs and slippers he was given (I was less impressed by the giveaways).
The Emirates First Class compartments has hands down the best entertainment system I have every seen on a plane. It was really cool how there was a detachable tablet that pops out and allows you to control everything, including all in flight service and your seat.
About 15 minutes before our scheduled departure after we had giddily explored our compartment, the flight attendants came around with arabic coffee and dates. We made sure not to take the Champagne on the ground since they only serve Moet and do not crack open the Dom until you are airborne.
The food menu on Emirates can be a little overwhelming. DEFINITELY do not eat too much in the lounge because there is so much to choose from. Also, when you are sipping glass after glass of Dom it is hard to have a huge appetite. Rather than go with a full entree, I decided to go with what I felt were the higher ticket food options/ what they would be best at. That was the caviar plate and the Arabic mezze.
After dinner, being giddy and excited to “party,” we decided to head back to the business class bar that we had heard so much about. First class is awesome but we wanted to be together. There were a few other people milling about the bar, but nothing too rowdy. Unfortunately, it was not clear at first that we were from First Class, so we had to clarify in order to get the Dom brought back and served to us.
It was all good though. We made friends with the bar crew, including Eve from Hungary and Fouad from Lebanon. It was so cool chatting with these two and getting to understand a little about how Emirates does their flight attendant recruiting. Turns out Emirates is staffed by employees from dozens of countries who are based in Dubai.
Bottles of Dom
One of the highlights of our Emirates First Class bar experience was getting to take a picture together behind the bar. They anticipate that this is a favorite and also have a Polaroid camera. Just ask and they will snap a pic and put it into a commemorative frame (very nice touch!).
We spent a good hour/ hour and a half at the business class bar knocking back bottles of Dom and chatting with our new friends. It was hard to contemplate sleep, but alas finally the constant indulgence got the best of us and we headed back to our seats where I promptly passed out.
Deplaning in Milan
I was a little bummed, when the next thing I know, my boyfriend was saying my name mulitple times, telling me we had to deplane. WHAT? I missed the chance for another meal service. Luckily, he had the breakfast while I was sleeping.
We were on the Emirates to Dubai flight that stops in Milan, and there was a mandatory deplane for an hour in Milan. The really frustrating part was that we had to take all of our personal belongings with us. Luckily, we deplaned into the Emirates lounge in Milan. But still, I was hurting bad and all I wanted to do was get back on that plane and curl up again on my comfy feather bed. I have read other reviews that complained about the size of the seat for sleeping. I’m short, but I thought it was incredibly spacious.
When we we were able to board again, I had sobered up a little and decided that I could not waste this experience by sleeping too much. I enjoyed some entertainment. Then my boyfriend and I plotted about the best time to take a shower. We put our names down for about 2 hours before landing in Dubai. We said we wanted to go at the same time (there are two showers).
Failed Mile High Club Attempt
Of course, our plan was to join the mile high club. But, let me tell you, the flight attendants are certainly on red alert for this. In fact, we thought it would be too obvious if we tried when it was both our turn to shower. So, we thought, maybe one of us would go use the bathroom. Then the other get up a few minutes after. We thought when the cabin lights were out and all was quiet half way through the flight from Milan to Dubai would be the best.
Well, let’s just say that they are watching you like a hawk and seem to keep track of the couples and who is out of their seats when. We did manage to get in one bathroom together. Unfortunately, our plans were thwarted by the loud banging on the door of the flight attendant. She was persistent too. We ignored it the first time, but thought better of it when it continued. They did offer us the discretion of letting one person exit without seeing a flight attendant so it wasn’t totally embarrassing to get caught in our foiled plan. My guess is that this was not their first time at that rodeo.
In Flight Shower
So alas, no mile high club on this flight, but I did experience a different first! That would be taking a shower while at 35,000 feet. Here are pics of the bathroom, complete with heated floors. I cannot say it is the most luxurious shower I have ever experienced. You could do a lot worse at 35,000 feet. Each passenger is only allotted 5 minutes of water. There's a helpful gauge which shows you how much is left so that you don’t get cut off midway through your shower. I realized though that you can turn the water on and off to extend it. This is a great trick for women who have to shampoo and condition. The towels were extremely soft. It was an amazing feeling to go back to my compartment totally clean and refreshed.
Emirates Business Class Lounge – Dubai
Before we knew it, we were getting ready to land in Dubai. We did have one big disappointment in the experience, although it honestly seems ridiculous to complain. We were denied entrance to the First Class lounge in Dubai in between our flight to Lusaka. Apparently, when they looked at our tickets, they could tell that the booking code was a reward ticket. Or perhaps our ticket was similar to what crew members have. It was confusing, and I have spoken to a few experts, but I am still not sure whether we should have been admitted or not. I did not think that they were able to tell that we were on award tickets.
Oh well, we did get to enjoy the humongous Business Class lounge in Dubai. It was a little overwhelming and crowded, but definitely did the trick. Here are a few pictures:
Dubai to Lusaka
One of the best parts of the 777 flight from Dubai to Lusaka was being at the very front. This meant getting off first and being first at the very antiquated immigration line at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Zambia is a second home to me. The trip was even more special this time, since we had arrived in style!