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Transport : Airlines

Related: Airbus, Emirates

In October 2016 I flew Emirates Business Class from London Heathrow to Cape Town via Dubai. The first leg of the journey from London Heathrow to Dubai was on an A380 and the second leg from Dubai to Cape Town was on a Boeing 777-300. Emirates features in my top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class and I have also previously reviewed the Emirates business class on the Boeing 777 and on the Emirates A380 previously along with Emirates in First Class.

A380 Cabin Facilities and Seating
The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft and is famous for being a “double-decker” with the upper deck extending along the entire length of the fuselage. It is also impressively green, with the lowest emissions per passenger of any large aircraft and is 50% quieter than the Boeing 747-400 range. Emirates have 80 A380s in their fleet and they travel to some 40 destinations.

The cabin on the A380 was lovely and modern, and felt very spacious. The lighting was particularly nice and didn’t have the harshness that you sometimes associate with air travel. There are 76 business class seats on the A380 and 14 first class, the rest are economy and the exact number varies as there are 3 slightly different layouts of this aircraft in the Emirates fleet. The seating layout has two seats next to each other in the centre and one by each window. Every other seat going back through the plane is laid out differently, so seat A and then C and so on, sit right next to the window and have their table and screen area between them and the aisle, whereas seats B, D and so on, sit right next to the aisle, but their table and screen area is next to the window. This means that seats A and C are protected from the aisle, whereas if you sit on B or D you feel a slight draft as people walk past your seat down the aisle and it’s not quite so private. For this reason, seats A and C would be much better seats. On the other side of the plane, I and K are the better seats sitting right next to the window, whereas H and J would be right by the aisle. There is a similar situation in the centre of the plane, you are either right next to the person next to you (great if you know them) or right next to the aisle, well worth noting and deciding exactly which you would prefer before reserving your seat.

The exclusive walk up bar area which they call their Onboard Lounge is lovely; reserved just for First and Business Class passengers, it really gives you the chance to stretch your legs. They will serve you a drink and you can help yourself from a selection of nibbles, there is also a seating area which makes for a nice change of scenery.

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Dining
The food on both the A380 and the Boeing B777 planes was almost identical in standard, which is good news as you can expect to receive a consistent product on Emirates Business Class flights. This was certainly a high-quality meal but I would say four star rather than five, I have had better food on British Airways Business Class but it was still delicious!

The only problem with the connecting flights was that on the second leg we’d already just had a main meal on the previous flight so didn’t want to eat much when the dinner was served on the second flight but then there was a long gap until the next meal arrived.

Entertainment
Well, this is a seriously impressive in-flight entertainment system! The award-winning ice (information, communications, entertainment) system is just incredible; widescreen, over 2,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music and games, on demand and in multiple languages. There is a removable remote which I would expect, but also a removable tablet which I didn’t expect and this was an additional service that I haven’t personally experienced on flights previously. You can also follow the progress of your flight on the moving map, again very much an excepted service these days, but you can also see the views from the external cameras right on your screen – depending on what you’re flying over, this can be quite fascinating. Wi-Fi is available on all Emirates flights, while we didn’t make use of it, this is a great service to have available. On the A380, every seat has a satellite telephone, plus onscreen email and SMS services, and you can even make calls to people on the ground due to the mobile phone and data roaming services.

Service
The service is really excellent, so good that you never really have to ask for anything much, they anticipate your needs very successfully. I did fancy a cup of tea at one point which was instantly provided, but generally you never even get so far as having to ask! The amenity kit was provided by Bvlgari and was a very quality product, there a version for ladies and one for gentleman too.

Door to Door Chauffeur Service
The door to door service that you receive with Emirates Business Class is exceptional. You are picked up from your house by a chauffeur (and with two of us travelling, we could have been picked up in two separate cars from separate locations but we chose to travel together!). This is inclusive for the first 70 miles and then you pay a supplement per mile after that. They would also have chauffeur-driven us to our destination but as we wished to have a hire car they also included this as part of the booking and we paid a single fee. One very nice thing about flying Emirates from Heathrow Terminal 3 is that, as well as having business class security and passport control, you board directly from the lounge, so you totally avoid the hassle traipsing through the airport trying to find your gate. When we returned back home into Heathrow we went directly to the Emirates chauffeur lounge, after being served tea and coffee, the chauffeur reverses right up to the lounge (ideal as not even your baggage gets wet if it’s raining – which, of course, it was!), they load your baggage and you’re off home – the perfect way to end your travels.

One interesting aside is that we had a rather complex booking requirement; myself and my husband wanted to fly business class, whereas our two sons were going to fly economy (they’re young for goodness sake!), with them going at a slightly different time to us too. For convenience, I wanted all this to be done as one single, complete package, I tried several operators but they found it impossible to manage this until I contacted Dial-a-Flight who handled my slightly bizarre request with ease. Worth remembering for your more specific and unusual travel requirements.

I would definitely fly Emirates Business Class again in the future, they really shine with regards to their service and you can tell that service is vitally important to them; the door to door approach and the general customer service are really first class. As for the planes themselves, the A380, as you would expect was certainly nicer than the B777-300, mainly because it was more spacious and of course, the lie down beds go flatter, but the general product and service offering was reassuringly consistent across both legs of the journey.

You can read more of my Emirates Business Class and Emirates First Class flight reviews and my comparison between Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: the best airline in the Middle East.

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