I thought I’d run this as a fourth ‘bonus’ article – it has not gone to the email list – since it simply sets the scene for a series of articles on my recent whistle-stop trip to the Middle East which starts tomorrow. This is basically a comparison of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment and Emirates A380 First Class.
It is an attempt to show what it being done at the top of the market by other airlines – although you will discover that neither product manages to get everything right.
As usual with major HFP review trips, there were multiple reasons for doing it. The clock was counting down on my 60,000 Etihad Guest miles. These were going to expire in the Autumn and there is no way of extending their life. I decided to top them up with some American Express Membership Rewards points and redeem for a First Class Apartment seat.
I was also aware that I had never reviewed Emirates A380 First Class on Head for Points. I have only flown it once and that was eight years ago. I also wanted to check out the First Classs ‘floor’ they built in Dubai International.
(Concourse A in Dubai Terminal 3 has 3 levels. Instead of lounges, the public uses the ground floor, Business Class passengers get the entire second floor – which is as long as the terminal itself – and First Class passengers get the entire 1st floor. Combined, these floors are probably bigger than every single airport lounge I have been in over the last 25 years added together.)
Again, an Amex Membership Rewards transfer allowed me to pick up the necessary Skywards miles and make a one-way booking.
I also had an accommodation offer on the table. When I was on holiday in Dubai last year I met up with a representative of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray resort on The Palm.
I had stayed there back in 2012 but much has changed and they offered me a few free nights if I wanted to take another look. Restrictions on the dates that I could choose meant that it wasn’t suitable for a family holiday but it would give me a base for this trip.
Jumeirah gave me three free nights bed and breakfast, together with lounge access. Whilst I was grateful for the free room, it didn’t influence my opinion and my conclusions are roughly the same as those I drew when I stayed four years ago and paid cash.
More to follow on this throughout the week, as we wind down towards the long Easter weekend.