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£250 wine, £790 cognac – part 3 of my review of the new Emirates First Class suite on a Boeing 777-300ER

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This is the final part of my review of the Emirates First Class Suite on a Boeing 777-300ER.

Part 1 of my Emirates First Class Suite review, which you can find here, talks about how I managed to book this ‘unbookable’ redemption and what it cost.

Part 2, which you can find here, looks at what you will find inside your First Class Suite.

Today I want to look at the food, drink and IFE.  You can take a look at the official website for the new suite here.

Wi-Fi and IFE in Emirates First Class

Emirates has a complex series of wi-fi payment options which you can find here.

However, the bottom line is simple – if you are in Business Class or First Class, and you are an Emirates Skywards member, wi-fi is free.  Even base level members get free wi-fi.

Whilst you may think “and so it should be”, the truth is that very few airlines offer free wi-fi in premium cabins.  There is some logic to this, as if people use it heavily then the signal will be weak, but it still annoys me.

The signal strength on my flight was excellent.  These are new aircraft and presumably have the latest technology installed.  I have never done so much work on a flight as I did here, although there are obviously downsides to that!

In terms of sockets, the suite has the usual minimum you would expect:

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

Turning to IFE, Emirates claims that its ICE system has the biggest selection in the worldFull details are on their website here.

This is clearly true but it is not the whole truth.  Unlike BA where the vast majority of content is in English, Emirates covers all the language bases across its global route network.  English-language content does not dominate.

There may be 4,000 ‘channels’ on the system – a film counts as one channel, an album of music would also be one channel – but the two films I wanted to finish off from recent non-Emirates flights, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Talented Mr Ripley, were not there.  These are not recent films, of course, but you’d expect them to creep into a list of 4,000 options if it was all in English.  You will find something to watch but it’s not Netflix.

What I should say is that the Bowers & Wilkins noise cancelling headphones, which are an exclusive Emirates model, were excellent.  They feel genuinely luxurious and had great sound quality.

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

Emirates First Class food and drink

Emirates doesn’t mess about with its food and certainly not with its drink.  In Part 2 I was sipping Dom Perignon 2009 for take off, which I continued to drink throughout the flight.

Wine, beer, cocktails, spirits …. Emirates has a lot to offer and all of good, often exceptional, quality.  The spirits list includes Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Dalmore King Alexander III single malt (£175) and Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Years Old whisky, for example.  There is also Hennessy Paradis cognac (£790 per bottle, I should probably have tried it!) and Tesseron Cognac Lot 29 XO Exception (£495 per bottle).

Emirates also has an unrivalled wine cellar with an astonishing 4.7 million bottles sitting in a facility in Burgundy.

To pick one at random, for example, my flight included a Chateau Haut-Brion Graves from 2004 which sells for around £250 per bottle.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have stuck with the Dom Perignon, but it was still fairly early in the day.

If you are a serious wine buff on a limited budget then a trip in Emirates First Class is basically your dream come true, apart from the taste impact of altitude.

The Emirates First Class lunch!

Let’s take a look at the food.  We started with a canape plate of sweet potato tartlet, houmous with lamb baharat and smoked salmon crepe parmentier with poached pear.  These were designed to pair with the Dom Perignon.

Appetisers consisted of caviar plus a few boring options, all of which would have been a waste when caviar was also available!

We’re talking tomato soup, beef consomme, a mezze plate, cold-smoked ocean trout, roasted beef carpaccio and a seasonal salad made to your specifications.  I’m sure it was all great but it seemed a shame not to have caviar.  Only once in my life, I think, have I had a full portion of caviar like this on the ground as opposed to in the air.

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

When it came to main courses I took a conservative option which was a bit dull in retrospect.  Options were:

pan-fried beef fillet steak, served with beef jus, creamy mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (would have gone down well with the £250 per bottle Haut-Brion ….)

roasted lemon chicken with chimichurri, barley risotto with tomato and olives, baked potatoes and steamed broccoli (see photo below, my choice)

prawn machbous, prawns marinated in a traditional Emirati spice blend, served on fragrant rice

wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli, with creamy mushroom sauce and sauteed vegetables

chicken with Moroccan spices, served with tomato and lemon salsa, steamed broccolini and moghrabieh with olives

pan-fried beef tenderloin with emmental and caramelised onion marmalade in focaccia, served with coleslaw and potato crisps

Side dishes included roasted new potatoes, sweet potato mash with onions, blanched baby carrots with green beans and steamed basmati rice.

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

Desserts were relatively unambitious, with a plum cake, raspberry pistachio feuilletine (see below), Arabic pastries and seasonal fruit.

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

If you are a cheese person there was a cheese board with six options to try.

There was no formal second meal service, although the menu listed a number of ‘on demand’ light bites, both hot and cold, which were available.  Having had a decent breakfast in the lounge then lunch, I didn’t feel the need for anything else.

And finally …..  

And finally, since this part of the article doesn’t really give a proper feel for how bonkers the First Class Suite is (in a good way), this is what pops up on your TV screen after landing:

Emirates First Class Suite Boeing 777-300ER food and drink review

Madness or genius …. you really can’t tell.

Landing at London Stansted

It is a l-o-n-g time since I flew through London Stansted.  It must easily be 13 years as it would have been before Ryanair dropped their Luebeck service.

Landing at 13.20 on a Thursday, it wasn’t a busy period although we did have to take the train to the main building.

I arrived at passport control to find the usual egates and a ‘premium’ egate line with no queue.  It wasn’t clear who this was for – no-one had mentioned it to me – but as I joined the main line I heard the martial tell someone else it was for Emirates premium passengers.  I left the normal line, went through the premium line and, with no queue and no baggage to collect, was in the arrivals hall within a couple of minutes.

There was a meeting point in the hall for Emirates chauffeur car passengers.  The airline has just announced the cancellation of free chauffeur cars on Business and First Class reward tickets, but if you book your ticket AND your car before 1st March you will still get one irrespective of flight date.  It remains a perk on cash tickets.

It was a surprisingly clear drive to West London and I was home within 70 minutes of getting into the car.

Here’s another plug for our Emirates First Class Suite video

This is the video which I also inserted into Part 2 and gives you, in 160 seconds, a pretty good feel for the new Emirates First Class Suite.

If you don’t see the video below, click here to visit our YouTube page. You can also subscribe to our channel via that page.

Conclusion

The Emirates First Class Suite is a great product.  It isn’t clear if it is just a gimmick or not, since there are no firm plans at the moment to roll it out beyond these nine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, but if it is a gimmick it is a hugely expensive one.

Even without the new suite, Emirates First Class still gets you access to the best wines and spirits you’ll ever see on an aircraft.  It is a shame that the experience is a little uneven, with the dull First Class Lounge in Dubai’s Concourse B losing it points.  The loss of the chauffeur car on redemptions is also a disappointment given the out-of-line taxes and charges added by Emirates.

If you are into luxury travel then you really need to add this to your bucket list.  With reward seats only opening up three days in advance, and the outbound flight from Stansted being overnight and so best avoided, you will need to get down to Dubai and hope a return seat pops up.

85,000 Emirates Skywards miles, which would convert from 85,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, plus £321 of taxes and charges for the one-way flight isn’t cheap.

Of course, a one-way Avios First Class seat on British Airways on a peak date is 80,000 Avios plus £191 and hardly compares.  If you value your Membership Rewards points at 1p each and add in the £321 of taxes it gives you a “cost” for the Emirates flight of £1,171.  That is a deal for a unique experience like this.

You can find out more about Emirates First Class on its website here.

How to earn Emirates Skywards miles via UK credit cards

Emirates no longer has its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Emirates Skywards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These are:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards miles.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. martial?

  2. I felt compelled to try the Hennessy Paradis – realistically it was probably going to be my only chance. And it didn’t disappoint! 👌

    (This was in the old suites on the 777.).

    • I tried it once at a hotel and it DID disappoint.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Did you pay for it at the hotel?

        Some things taste better when they’re free.

        • Good question. I wanted to try it but didn’t want to pay £49 for a measure so went for a £13.50 a measure cognac. They had run out of that one so upgraded me for no extra charge to the Paradis! I was so excited, but felt it didn’t live up to my expectations.

        • I noticed the opposite to be honest, as we always try to “justify” the fact we paid for something

  3. All sounds amazing. Except having to set foot in Dubai!

    • +1
      or anywhere in Asia

      • You sound exciting.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Really all that history and culture and you wouldnt step foot in Asia

        ME. Dubai fair enough but Oman Bahrain etc have plenty of history.

      • We holiday in Asia all the time; different strokes for different folks I guess.

        • The Original Nick says:

          We also Holiday Inn Asia and love it.

        • I’ve probably spent more time travelling in Asia than any other continent, because it’s just one easy, cheap adventure after another. I fail to see how anyone could have no interest in any of island hopping in the Philippines, trekking in Nepal, eating their way around Japan, India, Thailand Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam or China, seeing crazy animals in the Wallacea zone in Indonesia, diving in Indonesia, camel trekking from ger to ger in the Gobi desert of Mongolia or just plain old lounging on a beach in Thailand. Different people have different holiday needs, I get that (esp if you have kids), but if nothing in Asia appeals, that’s just such a shame.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Cat I agree. But OTOH I would also never travel to ME for a holiday even if I won it in a competition for free (Oman and I guess Bahrain excepted).

          I have also very stubbornly said to myself that life’s too short to try places in real Africa, though top of North Africa or Egypt would be fine!

          So that’s just (nearly!) as irrational as Mark’s ‘No way’ to Asia, maybe he means he won’t go to North Korea?

        • We’ve had a similar conversation before, haven’t we! Oman, Jordan and Lebanon I’d definitely go to. If I won a competition, I’d probably go to Dubai, but I think I’d spend the entire time in the desert trying to spot and photograph Oryx…

          My list for Africa is as long as my list for SE Asia. Each to their own. I would probably give North Korea a miss, just because I’d just end up saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and end up in camp 14 for a couple of years before being sent home with a mysterious, inexplicable head injury.

        • Shoestring says:

          At least Qatar isn’t on your list. I lived & worked there for 6 months.

          Would not recommend anybody spends a minute of their life there.

          Would be a minute wasted, awful place, awful Qataris.

          No wonder they all live in London.

        • Surprised to read that Shoestring as I’ve always found the Qataris very friendly. Saying that foreign restaurant staff in Qatar are starting to wear on me with their hinting for tips. Yep little to do there for a holiday but, if you just need somewhere quite, were you can just work without distractions, then it’s fine.

        • Aren’t you Asian yourself?

        • @Cat the history has it that there was a good piece of advice once given by late Sir Dennis Thatcher to one Sarah Ferguson when she complained to him that she keeps being caught in awkward situations and scandals. “I just try to keep my mouth shut”, said Sir Dennis. I guess many commentators on this forum would benefit from following this advice 🙂

        • @Shoestring @Russ

          Qatar would be great in a few years with the World Cup coming. Unlike many other host countries, including this sinful island, they will use this chance to transform their country to the good of their own and their visitors.

          Just spoke to a friend who returned from 2 days stopover in Bahrain on the way back from Sri Lanka and they got really disappointed. Saying that it’s literally just sand and nothing else (ironically not even proper beaches) and there was a bridge to seemingly more interesting Saudi Arabia but it was an absolute no-no in terms of admitting tourists even with ‘kosher’ (or rather ‘halal’) US or EU passports

        • Shoestring says:

          @Alex Sm – the difference between Russia as host country and Qatar is that the real Russians are genuinely nice, friendly people who like other Europeans and treat them as equals, very hospitable and proud of their culture over the centuries, love to share it over food, drink & laughs.

  4. Froggitt says:

    Did “pan-fried” mean pan-fried just now, or pan-fried yesterday and heated up just now?

  5. Looks good – more than the minimum connections I’d say with the HDMI input, nice touch.

    Totally agree re WiFi, had it in BA F on a recent flight from Oz but far too pricey.

  6. Are £750 hangovers any better than £17 hangovers (… serious question, only been drunk once so I wouldn’t know)?

    • Shoestring says:

      The purer the alcohol, the sweeter the hangover. So brown spirits in general give a nastier hangover than white spirits. Get drunk on a very good vodka & you won’t really go through pain as such next morning. The Hennessy Paradis Cognac is full of age & flavour so that would be quite nasty next day.

      • I knew I could count on you to respond to this one Harry, I’ll just take your word for it 🙂

        • Shoestring says:

          Pairing food with wine ‘undiluted nonsense’
          American Master of Wine says stop the ‘red wine red meat’ trend and have steak with a sauvignon blanc
          ANY dinner party host worth their salt is accustomed to serving white wine with fish and red wine with steak.
          But the wine-pairing rules are undiluted nonsense, according to one of the world’s leading authorities. Tim Hanni, one of the first Americans to become a Master of Wine, says the practice is nothing more than “pseudoscience”.
          At the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc Celebration in Marlborough, New Zealand, he said: “A perfect wine pairing doesn’t exist. We’re doing a lot of damage to the way we match wine and categorise it. We need a campaign to stop wine and food pairing. We need to celebrate the diversity of consumers, not make them feel stupid. You can serve sauvignon blanc with steak – why not?
          “We need to get over the notion that food and wine grew up together. Food and wine matching is a pseudoscience of metaphors and misunderstandings.”
          He said if consumers were always told they were drinking the wrong wine with their food, they would choose cocktails or beer instead.
          While traditional local fare was enjoyed with the local wine, the Eighties saw a boom in wine pairing as the industry tried to augment its status.
          Daniel Keeling, co-founder of Noble Rot wine bar in London, agreed that traditional ideas around wine pairing should be challenged. “Wine and food matching is a contentious subject and as much as there is no denying the power of classic pairings, there’s never been a more exciting time to experiment with – or completely ignore – conventional rules,” he said.
          “It’s nonsense to say you should only drink red with meat, or white with fish. Interesting organic, biodynamic and natural wines have opened up other flavours and textures – try a Josko Gravner iconic orange wine with miso cod for a sublime but unusual pairing. A slightly tannic white wine from Tenerife with steak and chips – why not?
          “People didn’t have the opportunity to buy produce outside the region they lived, so it’s no surprise that local wines and food, such as the Jura’s Vin Jaune and Comté cheese, or Burgundian Aligoté with snails, work so well together.”
          Victoria Moore, The Telegraph’s wine columnist and author of The Wine Dine Dictionary, the Fortnum & Mason Drink Book of the Year 2018, agreed.
          She said: “For me, putting wine with food is just the same as putting food with food. The mistake people make is to imagine that it’s prescriptive. Of course it’s not. At least, no more than any cookery book that gives you a recipe for beef stew with dumplings and notes, ‘I like to eat this with buttery spring greens’. Wines with foods, just like foods with foods, are suggestions for pleasure – no more and no less.”
          But she added: “There is some art and some science behind this. Mood and memory are big influencers in the way we taste and enjoy food and wine.
          “But also, what we’re eating changes our perception of the flavour of the wine – for instance, if you have very salty food, then the wine will seem less acidic. This is why crisps are so very good with champagne.”
          (courtesy Daily Telegraph)

        • I love red wine with red meat. Sauvignon Blanc just wouldn’t taste right but that is definitely my personal preference; I’d never drink a particular wine just because the received wisdom advocated it. Totally agree re salty food, you can’t beat champagne to wash down a bacon butty!

        • Ooh, I need to go back to Noble Rot…

        • @Anna. Chilled sparkling Shiraz goes with anything. Only the Australians would be mad enough to come up with this bizarre stroke of genius.

          Most people can’t tell red from white if the wine is chilled and they are blindfolded.

      • I remember my chemistry teacher at school saying “I’m not advising you to get drunk, but if you do plan on getting drunk the best thing is Vodka and Tonic, as its the closest thing to pure alcohol in pure water”.

        That’s probably the only thing I do remember from O Level Chemistry. Well, that, and the Contact process for the production of sulphuric acid. But I know which one has been more useful 🙂

  7. Rob – thanks for this 3 part review, I really enjoyed reading it.

  8. nice review. just seems such a shame to waste these fine wines at altitude, when taste buds are heavily desensitised.
    not really for true oenophiles and sadly its impossible for rob or any other passengers to truly appreciate them in this environment, whatever the cost.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      With airline blog reviews generally it seems to be a case of googling the price of the bottle to decide how much you like it. As you mention with taste so affected by environment, what else can you do? You could probably give out lighter fluid but if it retailed at 5k/bottle they would fawn over it. I’ll give Rob the benefit of assuming that spirit prices must be an effective way of generating additional clicks rather than a truly important factor in his flight experience – particularly as the fact he included prices in the title points to this factor!

      Personally I think a robust beer makes the best of a bad job at altitude; but then I just get what I want rather than worrying about maximising the £ value of what I drink in the sky.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I think the point here is that they don’t scrimp on what they perceive as being quality alcoholic drinks.

        However for me where most flights fall down is quality soft drinks. There are plenty of premium soft drink brand using real fruit juices etc but normally it’s your standard Pepsi or Coke fair.

        • Agree, it was one of the key bits I liked about the BA Flounge – decent fresh OJ at breakfast! Wish more had that inflight.

      • I’m sure some passengers would be even happier with lighter fuel but you got your senses wrong, they wouldn’t exactly be tasting it!

    • I can only second the accolades – as it was a very enjoyable read (also not in the wrong order as many multi-part HFP reviews!).

      I didn’t quite understand about the wine cellar in Burgundy. How much notice do you need to give them to get your chosen wine to be delivered in time for your flight?

      • That’s not what they do. The wine sits in Burgundy and they use it as they want, no ordering. They have bought a decade ahead.

  9. @Rob – what is the best currently available under redemption (via MR) first class (or biz) flight experience? I’ve never flown first, biz only a few times long haul, so would be nice to aspirationaly aim towards something.

    • From the UK, off the top of my head, not sure. This is because I’m not an expert on what, for eg, Delta Skymiles would want for F tickets on KLM or Air France. You’d need to have a prod around.

      • Ok fair enough, to put it another way, have you flown better first class than Emirates studio you just experienced, if so, with who?

        • Lufty is better for food and service but bad seat. Etihad has most space and the chef and showers. Air France is meant to be very good.

        • My experience is far, far, far more limited than Rob’s, but Cathay Pacific absolutely deserve a mention here…

    • Good question. It would be an interesting article to rate the options of ME3 v Cathay, JAL, Virgin etc. As a pure comparison I don’t think BA would fair well in my limited experience but it doesn’t stop me using them.

  10. I hear Henny and coke is absolutely where it’s at these days if you are given to displays of ostentation while out “in the club” of an evening.

  11. I find it laughable that many bloggers in this field find it relevant to mention the price of certain wines that they encounter on flights. Anyone who knows anything about wine knows that price is not equivalent to quality. Most of these so-called writers would have a hard time indeed choosing an expensive wine in a blind tasting along side inexpensive varietals, and most I am sure would choose Blue Num as the best tasting in such a scenario…

    • Had a tasting at Christmas in the local curry house where a neighbour who works for a whisky company brought along three c£60 bottles for us to try

      There was a 15-ish year old stuff in port casks, some 20-year-old and an Indian “whisky”.

      Two out of the five of us Scots, me one of them, preferred the Indian spirit! Not, I am sure, because of the venue! And it was before we tore into the curry!

      • A restaurant owner in KL, after having a chat and finding out I am from Scotland insisted on opening a bottle of Nikka (and for free). I hate to admit it, but the Japanese whisk(e)y was very good.

        There is an Indian whiskey on clearance in M&S at the moment.

      • On my one and only F flight to Japan in December, I was curious to try the JW Blue Label. It was ok. Nothing special. I much preferred the £10 bottles of Japanese Whiskey that we got through in the hotel room.

    • Shoestring says:

      I guess the readers take it for what it is: a reference to a great redemption/ flight, with valuable extras.

      We could all detract from flights like this: eg somebody who doesn’t drink alcohol wouldn’t be remotely interested.

      It’s not as if Raffles downed the whole £790 Cognac bottle etc, though I would have understood it if the rest of the bottle ended up chez lui, later 🙂

      One thing I love to do is seeing how I ‘saved’ 3000 on my Easter or Xmas flights ie the late prices
      online vs what I actually paid. As others gently remind us: I’d never have paid that £3000 so it’s not a real saving. But in my own mind, I saved the family a fortune through my savvy points accumulation!

      I can’t see how having a sip of £790 Cognac or a few glasses of £250 wine is much different when we’re telling others how brilliantly we’ve done – and we genuinely have done brilliantly, after all.

      • To be honest, I quite like the opportunity to try drinks that I would never in a million years be able to afford to try otherwise. I’d love to do the side-by-side comparison of Dom Perignon and Krug that everyone seems to do on Singapore Airlines – this is the only way I would ever do this. Besides – the first time I flew business was on Qatar (I got caught in the middle of a nasty civil war moment in Sri Lanka, and they took pity on me on the way home the next day and upgraded me) and the Bordeaux that they plied me with all the way home was the most beautiful thing I had ever tasted. My budget was more along the lines of Blossom Hill at the time, so that’s hardly surprising! The taste is more important to me than the price, definitely, but it’s fun to know still!

        • Shoestring says:

          I used to work with high end spirits so I’ve had more expensive stuff for free than most people here have paid for in their lives.

          If you have to pay for it, I’d say 12YO or 18YO is the best value – look for a clear age statement, there are plenty of spirits with no age statement but high priced.

          I’ve drunk my fill of 30YOs & the rest but whilst they’re wonderful, they’re probably not worth paying the premium vs 12YOs and 18YOs. Unless you’re made of money or getting it for free on a plane, of course!

        • The “cellar” at home (it’s a cupboard) is mostly stocked with 10-18 year old whiskies, so that’s nice to hear – I doubt we will ever go above the level of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig (and possibly the odd foray into the world of similarly priced Japanese bottles) and we would spend less on any other spirit. Its fun to see how the other 1% live though!

        • Shoestring says:

          As a junior in Marketing I got my first job.

          Marketing Supremo: de ye know this whisky?

          Me: not yet, oh my boss, sorry.

          Boss: Here’s a bottle of 10YO and 18YO: go & drink them so that you know your product.

        • That does make me quite jealous!

    • This post couldn’t be more apt for a certain blogger across the pond who has a vitriolic distaste for all things British. If dung beatles had a million dollar price tag and were served in First, he’d eat them 🙄

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