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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Emirates flight to Mauritius shows new A380 off to tee

While First Class has gone, enhanced Business Class proves a more than adequate alternative

Interior of Business Class on an Emirates A380. Courtesy: Emirates
Interior of Business Class on an Emirates A380. Courtesy: Emirates

You might imagine that flight reviewers all eventually reach a point where they have seen everything possible.

But with Arabian Gulf airlines constant innovations always keep us busy.

My Business Class flight to Mauritius from Dubai was no exception with a brand new double-decker Airbus A380 virtually fresh from the factory to inspect, and the latest two-class configuration.

This gleaming new 500-tonne, $350 million marvel of aviation technology is perhaps what we have come to expect from Emirates whose A380 fleet now stands at 104 planes with another 52 on order. But it is always interesting to try out the latest in any technology.

The First Class section has gone completely so no more showers, no individual traveller pods. Instead this aircraft has a smaller 58-seat Business Class section at the rear of the upper deck, including a twin seats that couples or colleagues travelling together would appreciate in the middle of the Business Class cabin, and Economy seating to the front.

But the popular lounge and bar at the back of the aircraft has been enlarged, and there are two seating areas whereas in previous configurations you had to stand. Unfortunately Emirates’ new quilted leather Business Class seats have not yet made it on to this aircraft, remaining solely an item for the Boeing 777 at the moment.

Still the large, lie-flat seats are configured to allow for maximum privacy for individual travellers, except if you choose the twin seats where a divider can be lowered for conversation.

Emirates’ shift towards two-class travel does seem to have resulted in an upgrading of the Business Class to partly compensate for the loss of First Class with a better selection of main courses, drinks and chocolates.

Being in the top class available on the plane certainly meant I was very well looked after by six smiling staff. But then the Business Class was only carrying 27 passengers, despite this being high season for Mauritius.

My driver from the airport told me this is quite normal at the moment due to the economic downturn in Asia and Europe. The huge Business Class lounge across the top of Emirates’ dedicated Terminal Three at Dubai International Airport did seem a lot quieter than the last time I passed through.

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However, that only made boarding the flight even more efficient. I walked 50 metres from the limo drop-off to a check-in with no queue, and then headed through a perfectly working Smart Gate, and unobtrusive security scan, up to the lounge.

The only small glitch came as we boarded the aircraft from the lounge and the elevator would not stop at the correct level to enter the upper deck, and I had to take an escalator back up.

These days you can easily check the menu for your flight online in advance, and it was as advertised although my seat 15A was too far down the plane for the beef filet that was all gone before the cabin staff reached my seat.

Still the five-course Emirates lunch did not disappoint otherwise, and the mixed grill was delicious as a main to the Arabic mezze starter and cheese platter to finish.

The Business Class seat was also ideal for getting work done with its multi-plug adaptor and plenty of space to spread out, and nobody looking over your shoulder. If you require other distractions then the award-winning ICE entertainment system is at your disposal with more than a thousand films and many recent releases.

In addition to at-seat dinner, the lounge at the back has comprehensive range of sandwiches, sushi and other snacks. I was first off the aircraft in Mauritius and breezed through Sir Seewoosager Ramgoolam International Airport in under 10 minutes.

Flying Business Class does not get much better than this.

Updated: February 2, 2019 04:32 PM

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