Emirates First: Service and Food
Auckland (AKL) – Sydney (SYD)
Depart: 6:40 PM on Saturday, January 12
Arrive: 8:05 PM
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 3A (First Class)
I remember the moment I booked my Emirates A380 First Class Seat. It was after 11 PM, but I had to call someone to vent my excitement before I burst. And now the moment had arrived to get on the plane. I had seen Emirates A380s at several airports, but none looked as good as mine!
A380s have two jetbridges, one to the top deck and one to the bottom. Emirates has all of first class and all of business class on the top deck with all of economy on the bottom. So I handed my boarding pass to the agent then took the ramp up.
I was greeted at the door by the Senior Flight Attendant–(Info on Emirates Flight Attendant Hierarchy).
Upon seeing my boarding pass and welcoming me by name, he summoned a colleague to walk me to my seat. This is a special perk of first class; the business class passenger in front of me had been greeted and pointed toward his seat.
Before I go any farther, I’ll end the suspense by saying that the service was the best part of this flight. During every interaction I had on board, the Emirates employee’s attitude was “How can I serve you?” Compare this to United First Class the week before. United flight attendants’ attitudes were “How can I get myself through this flight?”
I’m an avid reader of first class trip reports, and when authors highlighted the service and attitudes of flight attendants I thought it wouldn’t make a huge difference for me. I mean the United agents did comply with my requests. And I’m not a person who needs luxury. But there is something incredible about the experience of being helped by cheerful people, of having needs anticipated, of having someone take pleasure in your taking pleasure.
When I sat down at my seat, the flight attendant asked if I would like a beverage, and I ordered a Budweiser. I also asked her if I could reserve my time in one of the two showers. She asked when I would like my shower, and I said immediately upon getting airborne. She said that they would come to my seat when the shower was ready.
The next twenty minutes was a whirlwind of service. Before we took off, all of the following was completed in a non-rushed manner by the four smiling attendants assigned to the four first class passengers:
- My Budweiser was brought.
- A flight attendant noticed me taking pictures of the suite and asked unprompted if I would like him to take a picture of me in it.
- A large selection of magazines was brought to my seat. I declined.
- Several newspapers from Auckland, Sydney, and Dubai were brought to my seat. I declined.
- Dates and Arabic coffee were offered and poured at my seat. I had a cup and a date.
- A hot towel was brought to my seat.
- Refills were offered for the coffee, and more dates were offered.
- The en suite food portion of mini bar that included Pringles, Twix, and other candy was taken away for take off. Of course, I was asked if I wanted anything from the basket before it was taken away. (It is returned shortly after getting airborne.)
- I went to the restrooms at the front of the plane for first class passengers. There are two, and they contain the two on board showers. Outside there are two dedicated spa attendants. After I exited the bathroom, one immediately entered to clean it for the next passenger.
- A landing card for Australia was distributed along with an Express Pass to avoid the immigration queue.
- The purser came by and greeted each first class passenger individually. He welcomed us on board. He told us that they took great pleasure in meeting all of our needs and ensuring we had a fantastic flight. He encouraged us to go to the bar in the back of the upper deck during the flight. And finally he asked us if he could bring us a drink as soon as we were airborne. I heard another passenger ask for a Bloody Mary, and the purser asked him whether he wanted it spicy or mild. This guy was not messing around when it came to customer service.
That’s 11 things the crew managed to do before departure, and I was one of the last people on board the plane. I’ve flown some airlines where you’re lucky to get a drink from a pre-made tray and a hello.
Immediately after takeoff, a flight attendant came to my seat and said the shower spa was ready for my use. I collected a change of clothes and a camera and followed him to the spa.
The shower spa will be covered in the next installment.
After the shower, I had just sat down in my seat when a flight attendant arrived to ask me how I enjoyed the shower spa. After I finished gushing, he said, “I believe you ordered a Budweiser from our purser.” I was floored. I assumed they had forgotten my order from when the purser had come by pre-departure since I had taken a shower. But I’m not sure why I was surprised. Any lapse in service would have been more surprising on this flight.
The flight attendant quickly returned with my beer and the dinner menu, which was large, leather-bound, and read as follows:
Ordinarily, the courses would be brought one at a time, but I had a long hand-written list of things to do on board before the all-too-short flight landed, so I asked for all courses to be served at once. They brought me the soup, salad, appetizer, and bread basket first, then when I had finished that, they brought me the main course.
I thought the lentil soup was delicious. The roast beef appetizer was also incredible. The chicken was very good, though it didn’t blow me away. The best part of the main course was the potato fritters. Overall, this was a far better meal than I usually have on the ground.
I was offered desserts, cheese, and fruit after the meal, but between the lounge buffet and dinner, I had eaten about three consecutive meals, so I passed on what surely would have been a delicious finish.
The next thing I was eager to do was to check out the social areas on the top deck. Normally in the area between the first class showers, a bar is set up called the Social Area. Unfortunately this flight was too short for that, so I headed to the bar in the back that serves first class and business class passengers.
Before heading back, I asked a flight attendant for turndown service of my bed. To get to the bar in the back, I walked through business class, which looked very nice.
The bar itself took up more space than I was expecting–a typical Emirates overindulgence, in a good way.
When I got back to the bar, there was only one passenger in the area. When the bar tender saw me taking pictures, he asked if I wanted one behind the bar.
I asked for a vodka pineapple, and took a seat on one of the couches.
As I drank, I talked to the bar tender and flight attendant and learned some interesting things. All Emirates flight attendants are based in Dubai, I was on the first A380 delivered to Emirates, there were 17 languages spoken among the crew, and First Class had slightly nicer liquors that I could request.
Sure, I’ll take a nicer vodka for my next vodka pineapple, so a flight attendant brought back a first class bottle for round two.
Interestingly in this case, the first class brand was Imperia and business class brand was Grey Goose. At least at the state-run liquor stores in Virginia, these are almost the exact same price.
At the back of the bar area was a video monitor and some snacks.
Since I was near the back stairs, I decided to walk down and check out economy. I had heard a rave review of Emirates economy from someone I met in New Zealand (whom I didn’t have the heart to tell I was flying Emirates First.)
Economy looked very nice as far as economy goes. Every seat had its own video screen with free entertainment, and alcohol was free.
I couldn’t walk to the front because there was a meal service going on. I headed back upstairs and back to my seat. On the way I stopped at the bathroom on the right side of the plane just behind first class. It has a large window overlooking the wing, which makes for a unique view from a bathroom.
When I got to my suite, the bed had been made, so I laid down to test the bed quality. More on that in Emirates First: Suite, Seat, and Bed.
While lying there, I decided I would like a glass of water, so I picked up the remote control in the side of the seat, which doubles as a phone to call the galley!
The phone was answered quickly, I was greeted by name, and a cheerful flight attendant brought my water at once.
I absolutely loved the Room Service phone. Not only had I never seen anything like it on a plane, but it was very convenient since it saved the flight attendant a trip to take my order and got me what I wanted faster.
The flight was coming to an end too quickly. The captain soon put on the fasten seat belt sign for the approach into Sydney. I passed the rest of the flight enjoying the music selections on the entertainment system.
I was the first one off the plane, being thanked again for flying with Emirates, and on my way to my Emirates Chauffeur in no time.
The food on this flight was very good. It’s not the best food I’ve ever had, but it’s better than I normally eat on the ground or in the air.
The service was by far the best service I’ve ever experienced: every need was met cheerfully, proactive suggestions were made by the crew to make my flight more enjoyable, and the ways in which Emirates serves you are unparalleled. They have two spa attendants, a Room Service phone, and a well-stocked bar on board with a bar tender who could go toe-to-toe with your favorite bar tender.
Stay tuned for your chance to shower with me on board an airplane in the next installment.