Emirates Business Class – The Overhyped Product

Fly Emirates

This review is based upon multiple experiences from London Heathrow Airport à Dubai International.

I will critically evaluate my experiences relative to three broad factors; ground experience, in flight experience and post flight experience.

On ground rating is based on:

  • Journey from Home to finally sitting in the plane
  • Lounge ambience and food variety and quality
  • Punctuality of departures
  • Behaviour of staff throughout

In Flight rating is based on:

  • Seat quality
  • Food freshness, quality and variety
  • Inflight Entertainment
  • Mood Lighting
  • Cabin Temperature
  • Toilet Cleanliness
  • Cabin crew attention to assistance

Post Flight Experience:

  • Time taken to leave the plane
  • Immigration experience for Business Class passengers
  • Time taken to get luggage
  • Wait for Chauffeur service in DXB

On the ground experience:

The journey starts from home when the chauffeur comes to pick you up in a luxury car ranging from a BMW 5 series, Mercedes C Class or a Mercedes Vito. The chauffeurs have always been courteous and they assist you in loading luggage, updating you on travel information and more – giving this whole experience an even more luxurious vibe.

Luxury Car

Courtesy of Emirates

As a side note – Emirates has made mistakes on “reserving your chauffeur”- as in one experience they gave us one BMW 5 series when there were three of us; each with our own luggage! This caused an hour’s delay as the chauffeur and I had to call Emirates to find a solution. Therefore, I would recommend three things for you that to ensure your journey is as smooth as possible:

  • Firstly, book your cars at least three weeks in advance so you are guaranteed to get the car(s) want. If you book last minute, there’s a high chance that the cars will not be available.
  • Secondly, remember to check up on your booking 48 hours in advance to ensure in the unlikely event Emirates do make a mistake on the cars. This will ensure that there are no problems on the day.

Once you arrive at Terminal 3 of London Heathrow you will have a seamless check in experience, with dedicated First and Business check in counters than ensure premium passengers never have to wait more than 10 minutes from arrival to checkin. To make this even quicker – I would recommend online check in as then all you need to do is drop your luggage.

First Class Business Class

Courtesy of Arnherm

Thereafter, security is done via a private section for business and first-class passengers only – again making this whole experience one to remember. We cannot mark down time taken in security as this is set in place for everyone’s safety.

Post security – you can now feel destressed as all the hassle is over! Now, the real Emirates Business Class Experience can really start. Once security is complete, you join the main area for duty free, restaurants and FIDs but you don’t want to waste time here – you want to enter the amazing Heathrow lounge!

When you have entered the lounge, you are welcomed with a beautiful view of the apron.

Waiting Lounge

Courtesy of Sam Chui

The Emirates First and Business Class lounge in LHR is arguably one of the best outpost lounges Emirates has to offer. I understand we are harsh critics, but the array of food, drinks and service is just stupendous. Top Tip! Don’t fill up. You always want to make sure you have some room leftover to sample the inflight menu.

Emirates Waiting Lounge

Another great feature of the lounge is that you can board from the lounge which makes the experience even smoother. The Staff in the lounge will personally tell you when boarding has started and when there is no queue – making each stage of the journey as smooth as possible.

VAQRA On the Ground Rating – 9/10

In Flight Experience:

Now, you have entered the plane – you are immediately approached by smiling cabin crew welcoming you to your new home for the next 7 hours. They present to you champagne, orange juice, apple juice and water with warm nuts.

Wine

This small teaser gets you excited for the rest of the flight – as your now expecting things to get better and better. But we are sorry to break it to you – it goes downhill from here!

Let’s talk about the seat for example. In the A380 (newer range) the seats are comfortable with ample space and various seating positions to help you get comfortable and can be moved by the touch of a button through your mini tablet avoiding the hassle of finding controls within the seat.

The seat to go for if you are a solo traveller like me are “K” seats as these are much more private and have a lot of storage. I personally always opt for 18K due to the fact that you’re not at the back of the plane nor the front – you’re in a perfect position away from toilets and the lounge where disturbances can be frequent.

The problems start when Emirates deploy their older A380 fleet of planes. These seats make a lot of noise when moved, the massage feature is very loud, the tablet is unresponsive, the TV quality is substandard and the seat is rigid and uncomfortable.  If you’re paying c.£2500 for a seat you expect these features to be to a high level however this is not the case at all. The wear and tear on the dated product is evident and it is time for an airline the size of Emirates, on a route as important as DXB-LHR is serviced by its newer fleet of A380’s.

Plane Seat

Business Class Seat

A comparison of the old VS new business class seats. On the right is the advertised product yet in reality one is often left disappointed with this rather mediocre product.

Once you’re in the sky and seatbelt signs are off – your approached by cabin crew to make your bed for you whereby they lay a thin yet relatively comfortable mattress on the seat and provide you with a duvet. This makes the seat much more comfortable even if your travelling in the older fleet. Emirates provides you with a thin blanket that is sufficient to keep you warm and a large plushy pillow.

The real problem when it comes to Emirates is their food. The menus are extremely repetitive and I can say this as I have travelled many times a year since the launch of their A380 fleet over 10 years ago. For example, from LHR to DXB they never fail to always give you “peppercorn steak” – its fine for the first time, but after many years you just get bored of it. Moreover, the other dishes on there are the same too – its as if the menu never changes!

Food Inside Plane

When you are competing with productss like Qatar’s Qsuite or ANA’s the Room you really do get a First in Business Class experience. expect the food to be of high standard – not the same. We have spoken to many travellers and they have agreed on this point which is the reason why many people are now changing their preference of airline. In addition to this, except to some destinations in the Far East like Hong Kong, the main course never ceases to disappoint and is a reason why I and many other frequent flyers are actively avoiding Emirates, particularly routes that deploy their absurd 2-3-2 business class layout.

Plane Food

Courtesy of Points Guy – ANA Business Class Food

Once in a blue moon – you may see something new on the menu but its extremely rare. The food onboard Emirates is very disappointing – and considering the fare it leaves much to be desired.

One area where I must commend Emirates is the quality of their desserts. They always end the meal on a good one I can say that for sure. If Emirates did the same thing to their main course the whole outcome of the Inboard service would be much different.

Dessert

A dessert from my last Emirates flight in March pre-lockdown.

Emirates thrives in one aspect quite a lot and that is their IFE. No airline carrier can rival with Emirates’ In Flight Entertainment. If you have travelled on Emirates, you will know that you can never get bored in the sky with the amount of entertainment they have in all aspects. I have travelled most airlines in the world and I can say that Emirates is definitely in the lead in this aspect.

Inside Fly Emirates

After service you may want to catch a kip, however always bring some clothes you can change into in the plane – as Emirates does not provide pyjamas. This is strange as many business classes now provide you with pyjamas to wear to make you feel more comfortable – for example Gulf.

When you change in the toilets you will come to realise that Emirates does a fantastic job of keeping it clean. They are equipped with Bvglari Perfumery to make the smell inside pleasant and also you have ample space to change with a nice view too!

Clean Toilet

Courtesy of Traveller

As we critique everything here at VAQRA – I would say that I personally find te cabin temperature aboard Emirates to be marginally higher than other planes which may at times be uncomfortable. Even with the overhead AC button controls on your seat it can tend to get a bit warm.

Moreover, before landing Emirates tends to rush into opening the lights rather than a slow and gradual lighting change which can have affect on your jetlag. Gulf Air does this perfectly as the transition is slow and steady which allows you to acclimatise to the new cabin lighting – something that Emirates should do.

VAQRA Overall Inflight Rating – 6/10

Post Flight Experience:

Once you have landed into DXB, you usually want to leave the plane and arrive at your hotel or get to your connection ASAP. Therefore, Emirates makes sure to let out its First and Business Class passengers disembark as quick as possible and this is a great feature. This may seem trivial – but for business travellers, time is really of the essence.

A quick and efficient immigration and baggage collection service ensure you can be out of the main terminal within 20 minutes.

It is definitely desirable to pre-book your Chauffeur drives as this will expedite your exit and ensure you do not have to wait for a car to next be ready as this is a popular, convenient and attractive service Emirates offers across many of the countries it currently serves and definitely does make it stand out.

The cars at DXB provided for First and Business Class passengers are amazing and always are clean and have beautiful interior lighting allowing you to arrive at your final destination inspired.

BMW Car

Post Flight Experience – 9/10

Final Thoughts:

Emirates Business Class has been a hyped and talked about product for several years and in some areas rightly so but for the airline of the size of Emirates it is quite frankly- disappointing.

Emirates has the capability to match and beat its rivals in the sky however it does need a serious revamp of its business class. With Emirates slated to feature their existing A380 seats on their new 777X it really begs the question of whether Emirates can really compete for the conscious business traveller with its weak inflight offering.

Would we recommend travelling on Emirates business class? I say yes – so you get an experience for yourself. However, would I recommend it as a standard business class to travel on? Sadly, the answer is no.

VAQRA Overall Rating – 7/10

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