Consistency is key as Nick Walton discovers on a recently Emirates flight between Dubai and Nice.
Emirates, with its expansive network out of Dubai and as the world’s largest operator of the A380, offers business travellers a truly world-class business class experience, one where every touch point has been considered, and where every step of the process is managed with a signature style and efficiency. With services to several key points in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, the airline offers a compelling alternative to direct services with Asia-based carriers.
I was connecting through Dubai from Hong Kong so I already had my digital boarding pass and, arriving at Dubai’s sprawling international airport at a rather ungodly time of day (4 am), I made my way to one of the airline’s equally expansive business class lounges, where staff welcomed me warmly despite the time, and directed me to the shower area where I could freshen up.
While the lounge – as with all of Emirates’ signature spaces – is refined, functional and well-appointed, I think they could work on the shower suites, which were drab, utilitarian spaces akin to a public changing stall at the local swimming pool rather than a elegant suites you’ll find at lounges by the likes of Qantas and Cathay Pacific.
The lounge was busy when I emerged and, relatively refreshed from my previous flight, I grabbed some coffee and caught up with emails at one of the work stations before making my way down the busy concourse to gate C13, where boarding for my 8 am A380 service to Nice began soon after.
The A380 whisking me to France featured a newer iteration of the Emirates business class cabin, with 76 business class seats, each with a width of 18.5-inches and a pitch of 48-inches; a cleaner, subtly more contemporary finish, a bigger and more easily deployed tray table, and a headphone jack positioned beside the AC socket at shoulder level rather than under the screen.
In addition, the seat, which converts into a 70-inch-long lie-flat bed, featured all the functionality that makes it so popular with travellers, from the large 18.5-inch personal monitor, personal air vents, and easy to reach remotes and controls, to the personal mini bar and all that glorious storage space under the window. There’s plenty of space to spread out, get some work done or catch a movie and throw in the mattress topper, duvet and plump over-sized pillow and you have all the makings for a great sleep.
My only niggle would be the electric blinds which, even with both layers closed, can still let in a lot of light when you’re trying to sleep.
Crew served fresh juice and water while the captain advised a flight time to Nice of seven hours and after a lengthy taxi we were jetting our way northwest.
The meal service began quickly after take-off and commenced with a chilled platter of poached chicken, crunchy cucumber, cold roast beef, hard boiled eggs, and tangy goat’s feta. This was accompanied by a fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, warm bread rolls, and blissfully strong coffee.
Mid-way through the flight the lunch service began, and included warm flat bread, and a mezze platter of silky hummus, zesty tabouli salad, vegetarian dolma, olives, and muhammara, a roast red pepper dip. For the main I opted for the beef tenderloin, which was perfectly cooked and served with roast potatoes, asparagus, and a rich jus. I paired my lunch with a glass of Pesquera Reserva 2019 from Spain before catching a little sleep as we cruised down the Mediterranean.
Emirates’ ICE (Information, Communication & Entertainment) system has won pretty much every award that an inflight system can win and for good reason – it’s a treasure trove of television shows, podcasts and blockbusters and there’s more than enough to keep you amused through the hours. As with my previously flight, I continued to feed my Succession addiction.
The Onboard Lounge
As we neared France, I slipped to the back of the upper deck of the A380, which hosts both the business class and first class cabins, and made for the Onboard Lounge in search of coffee and a stretch. This is a really great space, not just to stretch your legs and meet fellow travellers, but also to graze – there’s always a great selection of deserts, nibbles and sandwiches as well as a fully-stocked bar and dedicated bartender. I opted for an Arabic coffee and before long we were beginning our decent to the French Riviera.
One of the best things about Emirates is its consistency – in terms of dining, seat, and service – and while every crew has their off days from time to time, I found Emirates cabin attendants to be diligent, attentive, efficient and still yet charming, a balance that many Asian airline crews seem to struggle with. It was obvious that some of the regular passengers were known to the crew on this service and they welcomed them warmly. Throughout the flight they were only too willing to attend call bells, grab a spare pillow or make a movie recommendation.
Travelling to Nice is no hardship, especially when you’re doing so in Emirates’ A380 business class which, in my experience, remains one of the world’s consistently best business class products, both on the ground and in the air.
Note: The author travelled on a fully-paid business class ticket without the airline’s prior knowledge
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