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They say once you fly Business Class, it’s hard to go back. And yes, I can report I think that’s probably quite right. I had the pleasure of flying on Emirates in business class on the big bus (the A380) with the family recently and consequently have probably now wrecked the offspring all for future travel expectations.
Travelers book business class for different reasons I guess, but for me the prime motivator was the thought of a lie flat bed on a 16-hour flight. For the young adult son, he was very keen to try a drink at the bar. Says something perhaps about the things that are important to you when there’s a 30-odd year age gap, but sleeping horizontally and loafing at the bar aside, there’s a bunch of things that make the experience quite literally ‘something to write home about’.
Let’s start pre-flight. The Chauffeur Drive service will pick you up and take you to the airport and then deliver you to your accommodation at the other end. Transfers sorted, tick. While access to an airport lounge is indeed a nice idea when you first head off on your adventure, it’s probably more important in transit. The Dubai lounge is huge, so find a spot close to your gate, then you literally board straight from the lounge. If you’re there between flights – head to the shower to feel truly refreshed for the next sector.
Getting onboard you head upstairs on the A380 via a grand set of stairs with a golden glow (truly), through First Class to the Business Class cabin, and find your seat amongst the 72 on offer. It’s a 1 + 2 + 1 configuration – whip onto the Seat Guru site to have a look if your pair is a cosy ‘together one’, or an ‘apart’ one. If you’re together but you don’t know your neighbour, there’s a screen that glides up at the touch of a button, so you don’t have to engage at all if you want, or you can just sleep in private. The teenage daughter put it up…but I put it back down…
The cocooned seating area includes your own mini bar, so you can pour yourself a juice or water any old time, and the attentive cabin crew will introduce themselves with a glass of bubbles to welcome you on board. They’ll also pass out the toiletry packs – Bvlgari goodies and all. There’s connection points to power up your phone and/ or laptop, a side table for space to work/ pop your reading material down, copious room for your bag and to kick your shoes off, and of course…. room to stretch out! After scrambling to deal to my ugly pre-trip ‘to do’ list, I did just that, stretched out with champagne in hand and quietly congratulated myself that I actually got most of it ticked off.
The inflight entertainment system called ICE has two screens – the seat back in front and a smaller tablet to the side, with a wealth of options from which to choose. With up to 2,500 channels offering movies and telly series of every genre, radio, podcasts, games, music and more, I can see what it’s won the Skytrax award for World’s Best Inflight Entertainment for 13 years in a row. I started watching Season 1 of Breaking Bad (I must be the only person I know who hasn’t watched it) and then got completely hooked. There’s also live news and sport on some flights. My chosen ‘live’ connection to the outside world though was via the wifi on board to check email, upload some pics, download some local news, have a quick update on the old SM feed, and check on various bookings in place for the coming days. Very handy.
Food wise – well there’s an extensive menu to browse and you will not go hungry, either at meal times or any other time. I punted for the seared beef tenderloin to see if it really was seared and tender and can report it was indeed. Yum. Drinks wise - lots of top shelf stuff on offer if that’s your thing and an extensive cocktails list as standard, with a separate wine list particular to each flight to peruse as well. ‘Twas great to see a NZ Cloudy Bay on offer.
Dinner done and dusted, I had promised the teenage son a drink at the bar. And you know apart from the excuse of stretching your legs there really is something about standing at a bar at 40,000 feet and yarning with a few other passengers in the very quiet, spacious A380. The big screen tells you where you are on the planet, the subdued lighting and seating options gives atmosphere, and then there’s the vast array of drinks and nibbles. Cheers to that.
All in all, if you think the budget can stretch to the next level up – it’s a damn fine way to get to your destination. You’ll arrive rested and ready to hit the ground running for your overseas sojourn. As for the offspring next time…well sadly I think this might have to be a one hit wonder for them, but for us more mature folk, I suspect it’ll be hard to do anything else but business for a long haul flight.
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