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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Executive travel: Emirates Business Class from Budapest to Dubai reviewed

'From the first hot towel and glass of fresh orange juice, I immediately felt transported'

A stewardess waits to welcome visitors in the Bsiness Class section on board an Emirates A380. Getty Images
A stewardess waits to welcome visitors in the Bsiness Class section on board an Emirates A380. Getty Images

As my Dh100 taxi ascended an overpass on the 25-minutes ride to Budapest’s Lizst Ferenc International Airport, an Emirates Boeing 777-300R descended smoothly overhead ready to turn around for the flight home to Dubai.

After a summer of narrow-bodied jets with low-cost carriers, it looked majestic with the prospect of even greater luxury within, something conspicously absent in European intra-continental travel these days.

Instead of forming long lines to patiently queue for baggage drop and security, the smiling First and Business Class check-in agent was waiting, and a fast track coupon provided rapid passage through the X-ray machines.

Then there was a short walk through Duty Free and up to the Skycourt as Emirates does not have its own dedicated lounge in this airport, that also cannot yet accommodate its A380 superjumbo aircraft.

However, that will surely change as Budapest continues to thrive as an up-and-coming tourist and business destination. The A380 already serves Prague and Vienna, other capital cities of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In the lounge the internet is fast, but then Budapest has the fastest and cheapest service in Europe; but the food selection is limited to a make-your-own sandwich bar and peculiar salty pastry snacks.

Since my last visit they have crammed even more big, soft chairs into this space and it is becoming a bit overcrowded, like the whole airport. Avoid public holidays if you can, a mistake I made on October 19th flying to Rome with Wizzair, a horrendous experience.

Climbing onboard, from the first hot towel and glass of fresh orange juice, I immediately felt transported to another world of ultra-modern convenience and luxury.

They say you never really appreciate something until you have not had it for a while, and that is certainly true for Emirates airline. You can begin to take Emirates for granted if you live in the UAE and fly regularly.

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Unfortunately, I did not get to try the airline’s newest Business Class seating. But even its predecessor is also a serious upgrade from anything available in the rear of the plane: wide and comfortable and fully adjustable to a full flat bed.

The 23-inch high-definition TV panel is a joy with a cavernous library of more than a thousand films and movies to watch on the sophisticated ICE system. I saw ‘Mary Shelley’ and ‘On Chesil Beach’, two outstanding UK releases I had not noticed.

The onboard wi-fi is free for the 42-seat Business Class. But I twice failed to get connected during the flight; only on landing did it suddenly deliver my email cache.

The inflight magazine explains that internet at 35,000 feet in the sky is not yet as reliable as on terra firma, which is a shame. But you do have a multi-plug for your charger in the elbow of your seat and a pull-out table as a desk for working.

This Boeing 777-300ER layout does not actually have a First Class, and perhaps that benefits the Business section as it effectively performs a dual function.

You do get to dine in style on bone china with proper cutlery. My anti-pasta and Hungarian duck breast with cabbage pancakes were delicious, and the smart service exceeded the standard of many five-star hotels.

Even the Godiva chocolates from Belgium that disappeared from Business Class some years back in an economy drive have made a comeback. Is that the influence of the missing First Class?

Just prior to leaving from Budapest I got an email offering the one-way upgrade for Dh2,200 or you could use Skyward Miles to do it. The standard return Business Class fare is Dh11,350.

It is not cheap. Yet there is not a nicer way to return to Dubai after a long absence, a reminder of the luxuries that this city provides for its executive travellers.

On landing there was a VIP bus ride to the terminal and a passport fast track for those not signed up for the Smart Gate as well as the splendid baggage pick-up area with its many luminous columns; and the complimentary limo ride home.

Updated: December 27, 2018 03:01 PM

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