x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emirates business class review: Dubai to Ho Chi Minh has lukewarm welcome

Peter Cooper is all praises on Emirates' business class service from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, but the return flight is another story.

Emirates does not offer first class service in its Dubai-Ho Chi Minh City route. Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP
Emirates does not offer first class service in its Dubai-Ho Chi Minh City route. Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP

The Emirates business class service from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is convenient and comfortable, but lacks a complimentary chauffeur drive at the destination – and the departure lounge in Vietnam leaves much to be desired.

I’m a great fan of the Emirates chauffeur service. They are usually standing outside the villa waiting before the appointed time, and the drivers are very good. It is also nice to have them on arrival, but sadly Ho Chi Minh does no.

Business class also comes with access to the huge lounge at Dubai International Airport. Here we enjoyed an early breakfast, as the flight time was 9.40am.

The length of the lounge became apparent in a search for the restrooms that proved to be a five-minute round trip owing to some renovation works in progress. Still, if you want to start your working day before taking off, you have a business centre and an excellent Wi-Fi connection.

But you do not get one on the plane. The Boeing 777-300ER planes used on this route do not have the very latest in communication technology found in the A380s. You can call home for US$5 a minute but not on your mobile phone, and also send an SMS or email.

Our planes were pretty full in both directions, and Ho Chi Minh was not included in the latest seat sale. This is a two-class configuration with 42 business class seats.

Each seat is equipped with a 110-volt power port for powering laptops and rechargers, and all seats have an identical width of 20.5 inches (52cm) and a pitch of 60 inches (150cm). The seats recline into an angled and not flat bed.

For privacy the dividers do effec­tively turn the seat into a pod if you sit by the window, although the aisle seat is more exposed as my wife pointed out. It may be a bit too private if you actually want to communicate with your neighbour.

Our main gripe about this service was the departure lounge on the return leg. Otherwise Emirates operated to its usual high standard.

q&a a bit of a squeeze endured

Peter Cooper tells us more about Emirates’ Dubai-Ho Chi Minh City service:

How did you sleep on the way back?

I watched the action film Ever­est which was impossible to turn off, so did not have that long to sleep on this seven-hour flight. The additional mattress helps, but the seat was a bit narrow to be very comfortable. I have slept better on planes before and prefer a lie-flat bed.

Did you like the meals?

Yes. I liked the slightly overcooked fillet steak on the way out, a change from the chicken and lamb often on the menu in Emirates business class, and the Vietnamese options on the way back were very tasty.

Any problems with the cabin service?

No. They were very professional. You get the cabin staff on a second three-year contract in business class so they know the job very well, though perhaps they are not as cheerful.

Anything that could have been improved?

The departure lounge in Tan Son Nhat International Airport left a good deal to be desired. Maybe this is why Emirates cannot offer first class on this route. It was very crowded, without enough seats for passengers. Food and beverage provision was way below the usual standard, with air conditioning positioned to blast those unfortunate enough to choose the wrong seats.

Was it worth the extra cost over economy class?

Yes. After sitting next to a very large South African rugby player on my last long-distance flight from Cape Town, I said “never again”, although he was a nice chap.

business@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter