x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Emirates A380 business class flight: comfort you can grow accustomed to

Everything about the seat makes you want to spend time there, and the service is just right too.

Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters
Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

I was rushing through the Emirates Airline departure gate at Dubai International Airport recently, late again, and hurriedly flashed my passport and economy-class boarding pass at the desk attendant.

Unusually, he took the pass, scrutinised it closely, fed it under the electronic reader, consulted his computer screen ... and then ripped it to pieces in front of my disbelieving eyes.

“This ticket is no good today sir, you have been upgraded to ...” The rest of what he said was drowned out by the loud “Yes” I found myself shouting, getting a few glances from fellow passengers.

When you usually travel economy, like I do, getting an upgrade, or better still – having somebody else pay for your business-class ticket – is an occasion to celebrate.

And the best place to do that is from a business-class seat on the Airbus A380. I’ve been fortunate enough to fly Emirates business class on the big plane a couple of times recently, and it certainly is a thrill.

With 50 of the planes serving 20 global destinations, making Emirates the biggest operator of the eight-year-old aircraft, the chances of securing a seat for yourself on the plane are rising.

On two return flights, to Seoul in South Korea and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, I got the plane on three out of the four legs of the trips.

The old adage about turning left rather than right on a plane no longer applies on the A380. With a dedicated business class ramp, you turn right or left into refined comfort.

Everything about the seat makes you want to spend time there. The subtle walnut trim, the massive leg room, the privacy of having nobody next to you on window seats, or the option of chatting to companions over the middle seats.

Food and drink, as you’d expect, is of a high standard, and service is just right: attentive without being obtrusive, personal without being overfamiliar.

In those four recent Asian trips, my only complaint was this: the night-time flight to Kuala Lumpur, a seven-hour schlep that got you into the Malaysian capital at 8am in the morning ahead of a full day’s work, was on an ageing A330-200, when I really could have done with the A380’s far higher standards of rest and relaxation. Flat beds really are a must these days.

Q&A

Is it worth the cost difference to travel business class?

The perennial question, and one to which the answer depends entirely on circumstances. Is the fare coming out of your own pocket? Is it claimable as a business expense? Return business seats to Kuala Lumpur and Seoul are both more than three times the economy fares (Dh3,705 and Dh4,475 respectively) so it’s a considerable outlay.

Where does business score over economy on the A380?

On medium to long haul, it really is no contest. The quality of seat, the levels of food and service, the potential for a good night’s sleep if you wish, or the ability to work with internet connection available and convenient. Economy has the same in-flight connectivity, but it can be difficult to do any serious work in the confined space and, often, noisier environment.

Have you any gripes about the service?

Only one: I always fly Emirates whenever possible because of the Skywards loyalty scheme, which rewards my travels with air miles that can be redeemed on flights at a later date. But when you pay for flights for visiting family – which can be quite an outlay each year – you do not personally get the Skywards entitlement. As this is a purely discretionary spending on my part, it would make sense for Emirates to further reward my loyalty.

fkane@thenational.ae