My review of Emirates A380 First Class (Part 1)

This is my review of Emirates A380 First Class on the Dubai to London Heathrow service.

I hadn’t flown Emirates First Class for eight years, well before I launched this site, and even then it was a fluke.  We were booked on Lufthansa to Dubai in First Class but our connecting flight from Heathrow was cancelled and we were rebooked on Emirates.

I thought it was time to revisit it, and compare it to the Etihad First Class Apartment in the same trip (that review is here).  Overall, I still rate the Emirates First Class service on the A380 but it really hasn’t moved on – at all – in the last decade and I think it is time for a change.

You board directly from the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai which I reviewed here.

Emirates First Class has a 14-seat cabin, compared to nine Etihad First Class Apartments.  What surprised me was that Emirates First was fairly full (10 seats taken?) although you don’t know the mix of paid, redemption, miles upgrade and ‘oversell’ upgrade tickets.  By comparison there are only two of us on the Etihad flight in First Class three days earlier.

If you want to find out more about the Emirates A380 First Class experience, the official Emirates page is here.

How is the Emirates A380 First Class seat?

This is a fish eye library photograph of the seat which gives you a better overall view than my own pictures.  The arrangement is 1-2-1 and this is a similar to mine which was 4A:

Emirates A380 First Class seat review

What do you have here?  Let’s start with the niche items.  Just under the windows you can see the mini-bar which is flipped open.  This contains a few soft drinks but no alcohol (you get a similar selection of drinks at your seat in Business Class).

The semi-circle in front of the TV is the opened cosmetics storage unit.  This contains small containers of eye cream etc and there is a mirror in the lid as you can see.  It wasn’t really aimed at me.

What you can’t see, because it is closed, is a pull out drawer which contains a writing set, of all things!  Given that the seat is woefully short of power sockets, you can see why I think the mix of items requires a bit of a rethink for the 21st century.

In the bottom right of the picture you can just see a bowl of snacks.

By the cushion on the seat is a small tablet.  This can be used for controlling the TV or, if you don’t want to use the big screen, watching it.

Here are few shots of my own of the cabin:

Emirates A380 First Class review

and

Emirates A380 First Class review

and

Emirates A380 First Class review

and

Emirates A380 First Class review

and

Emirates A380 First Class review

and

Emirates A380 First Class review

As it was a day flight I didn’t sleep so I can’t comment on the quality of the seat as a bed.  It was perfectly comfortable as a seat.

What you can’t see from the pictures is that there are sliding doors to the seat.  These can be closed to give additional privacy and make a semi-private suite.  The door is not that high, however, and the crew and any passing passengers can see over the top.  I didn’t close the doors as it felt claustraphobic and it’s not as if there is a lot of movement in the cabin anyway.  On a night flight it may have been beneficial.

Below is possibly the silliest bit of the cabin.  At the front, at the top of the wide staircase that leads from the lower deck, is a water feature!   You can’t really tell from the picture (take a look at the video for a proper look) but there is water streaming down behind the flower.  After take off this become a small bar and the water is turned off.

Emirates A380 First Class review

After take off I was offered a glass of Dom Perignon 2006 and some canapes:

Emirates A380 First Class review

Entertainment

Emirates is well known for the sheer scale of its IFE network, ice, which boasts 2,500 channels.  Suffice it to say that you will find something interesting to watch or listen to if you choose to do so.  Having exhausted my magazine supply on the outbound flight, I watched the Oasis documentary Supersonic.

The TV screen is either 27 inches or 32 inches depending on how new your aircraft is.  The newest A380 aircraft also have live TV, including BBC World News.

Full details of the Emirates ice IFE system can be found here.

Emirates A380’s have in-flight wi-fi.  They take an interesting half-way house to charging.  Most airlines either charge a premium price (looking at you Etihad, even for First passengers) or don’t charge at all, leading to a cripplingly slow service.

Emirates charges $1.  This makes it effectively free but the requirement to use a credit card to pay means that network capacity is not taken up by teenagers in economy trying to access YouTube or Snapchat videos!  It worked OK – it wasn’t unbelievably fast but it allowed me to reply to some emails.

The Emirates A380 bathroom

The Emirates A380 First Class bathroom is The Best Airline Bathroom Ever.

It’s huge.  This is one direction, facing the infamous shower:

Emirates A380 First Class review

and this is the other:

Emirates A380 First Class review

The toiletries are there because, interestingly, Emirates does not supply toiletry bags on day flights.  You are expected to take what you want from the supply in the bathroom.

(Whilst British Airways does get some stick over the quality of its amenity bags from time to time, they do at least still exist on day flights.  On overnight flights Emirates will provide a bag with Bulgari products in it.  Overnight flights also give First Class passengers the chance to test out “our new pyjamas [which] use Hydra Active Microcapsule Technology to keep your skin soft while flying”.  Etihad gives out toiletry bags and pyjamas on day flights in First Class.)

In my three previous flights on aircraft with showers, I have never bothered to try them.   The Etihad version isn’t very appealing, to be honest, because the bathroom is very small.

I decided to give it a try this time, just for the novelty value.

You are asked after take off if you would like a shower later.  You can select a time slot and you will be told when the time comes around.  You get a 20 minute slot, although you only get 5 minutes of water!  You can see the timer in the photo below:

Emirates A380 First Class review

There is more in the video!

Video

I made a ‘short but sweet’ video which gives you a better view of the cabin and the food.  There are no ads because YouTube apparently found the shower footage made the video unsuitable!

If you can’t see the video then click here to visit our YouTube channel where you can watch it.  You can also subscribe to our channel from that page.

Part 2 of this Emirates A380 First Class review is here and looks at the food and drink on offer and the arrivals service at Heathrow.

The official Emirates First Class website is here.

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Comments

  1. Hingeless says:

    I can’t decide if I prefer emirates or Singapore F. The shower and bar on Emirates are great, but it is also so ugly.

  2. I agree about Emirates, that horrid faux polished wood and gold trim is so 80’s – all quite hideous!

  3. When Etihad launched the new first class apartments, Emirates was quick to announce a first class revamp was coming ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-03/emirates-aiming-to-introduce-new-first-class-cabin-this-year )

    Two years on and still nothing except higher sides on the suites making it ridiculously warm and claustrophobic when the doors are shut. It’s so warm that I got fed up arguing with them that I now carry a temp gauge to show its 26 and not 23, it’s that going from ok to uncomfortable.

    But the product needs a 21st century revamp, so badly designed for the bling, so much space badly used.

    • Ha, good plan! I find it insufferably hot on BA sometimes. I assume it is when the ovens are on to heat the food. It’s difficult to adjust yourself to the temperature – when it gets cold again it wakes me up. Maybe I’ll have to get a thermocouple with a data logger, so i can show them a graph of the cabin temperature throughout the flight :-)

      • I was sweating on a BA A380 and complained about the heat. The stewardess said others had complained too and they had just turned the temperature down to 25C !

        • Apparently it’s a known A380 issue in the front upstairs cabin, setting says 23 and the actual is 26, when they change it to 22 it generally is fine and comes down to 24.

          I still have F to myself on 19th from HAN-RGN-DXB so I will request cool, then I just fall asleep.

  4. In F on the LHR day flights you only have to request an amenity kit ( and pyjamas) and you’ll be given one. EK won’t proactively offer you one though. Other classes don’t carry amenity kits for the day flights though. Personally I don’t find the suites claustrophobic at all with the doors shut. In terms of bed comfort, I find this one of the best F seats for sleeping especially once the duvet and mattress are laid out (which you can see tucked away in the corner in one of your photos).

  5. Slightly o/t, but ICE seems to adhere to the maxim “never mind the quality, feel the width”. Yes, many, many channels but catering to many cultures so if you zoom in to your interests it isn’t that impressive. Also, it is censored. I watched a Steve Coogan documentary that consisted of little but masking bleeps.

    I have enjoyed my Emirates experiences in J (Y was pretty much the same as any other airline)…

    • I agree here. One of the biggest annoyance for me on the middle eastern airlines is how much censorship happens on the IFE. I’ve seen movies which have whole important scenes were cut out. No word of a lie, Wolf Of Wall Street made absolutely no sense and was about 30 mins shorter

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Other cultures huh?

        • the real harry1 says:

          yep working in Qatar 20 yrs ago it was fun to buy newspapers/ magazines with whole articles excised/ cut out & often black marker penned as well so that you couldn’t read something mildly injurious to someone important or else too decadent/ in-Islamic

          do they even bother these days, given the internet?

  6. Tom Murray says:

    I agree with the ’80s ‘bling’ label. Walking through the cabin is reminiscent of an old upstairs London restaurant. You need a glass of sherry and profiteroles from the sweet trolley

    Now that’s an idea BA ‘J’ :)

    • Agree, first impressions are a nice looking environment but the wood, gold trims and flowers make it look very dated, almost like a retired aircraft brought back into service. Personally for me it’s not a patch on the EY A380 1st product.

  7. I’ve taken 4 flights on Emirates in Y in the last couple of weeks for a family holiday to the Maldives and Dubai. We didn’t get amenity kits on any of them, including the 4am DXB to MLE flight. They ran out of menus on the flight to Heathrow. My daughter was given a very nice toy panda on one flight though. Lots of ads for live TV and football but this wasn’t carried on any of our flights. You can get access to 10MB of internet for free. I paid my one dollar. It was very slow of course.

    Still if I’m going to fly economy I’d rather be on Emirates than most airlines because there’s a reasonable amount of legroom (particularly on the A380). There’s a couple of places to stand up for five minutes, the inflight came feeds are great, there’s enough toilets and the fact that premium passengers are segregated means that economy ones don’t have to queue up and watch them walk by.

  8. Concerto says:

    I thought Emirates was pretty good in Y with pleasant enough service and decent food (choice of 3 hot dishes).
    That water cascade fountain could help humidify the cabin so the air doesn’t get too dry.

    • We had a choice of two hot dishes on all our flights so they may have enhanced that. It was pretty random as to whether you would get a drink service and whether it would come before or after the meal.

      But yes, pleasant service and good overall. We were in Mauritius last year and there Emirates economy is marketed as an upgrade on other airlines (and compared to Air Mauritius economy, yes it is).

      • My Mrs really rated Emirates Y from Cyprus to Korea. She was able to FaceTime using the wifi, and appreciated the little things Emirates did e.g. Red pepper paste on the flight to ICN and some Korean options on the IFE

        Qatar, on the same route she felt were awful. However they were the best miles option!

        • ankomonkey says:

          Korean red pepper paste is our magic ingredient. It makes any dish tasty!

  9. Hey Rob, that shower footage was very risky, next time, a sticker over the reflecting surfaces!

    • Gin and Tonic Please says:

      Hahahahaha. I’ve just rewatched the video and see what you mean! Fortunately nothing too incriminating… :)

  10. The cabin that taste forgot.

  11. OT question re: BA Amex cards. I have the basic one. If I apply for the Premium Plus on the website (I appreciate I won’t get the sign-up bonus), will the new card have a new membership year? or match the one of the basic card?

    TIA

    • Membership year stays the same, but your existing spend on the blue card will count towards your 2-4-1 on the BAPP. I found that I got a 6,000 avios bonus when I made my first purchase (entirely unexpectedly!)

    • Stays the same IIRC

  12. David G says:

    What surprised me was that Emirates First was fairly full (10 seats taken?) although you don’t know the mix of paid, redemption, miles upgrade and ‘oversell’ upgrade tickets. My comment on this is that having been a member of the Skywards Platinum and Gold categories, my experience was that more often than not, I was upgraded from the class I booked. I suspect that the Emirates upgrade policy is to fill the plane from the front backwards – the incremental cost of upgrades is nil – whereas others including BA fill the plane from the back forwards. This applied on all routes I travelled where there was a fist class cabin.