Trip Report Index

I have broken my 16 hour flight from Dubai to Houston into four parts because I had over 200 photos and several videos from the flight. This section covers roughly the first half of the flight and my review of the suite and related amenities.

Emirates 211
Dubai (DXB) – Houston (IAH)
Depart: 9:05 AM on September 10, 2015
Arrive: 4:25 PM
Duration: 16 hours, 20 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 4K (First Class)

This is it. This was my throne for 16 hours from Dubai to Houston.

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I was the last First Class passenger to board, and I was met at the door with a smile and escorted to my seat in the last row of First Class. Emirates has four singles seats along each side of the plane and three rows of double seats in the middle for 14 total First Class seats. I’d recommend the middle seats if you’re traveling with a companion and a window seat otherwise.

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I have flown in the first, last, and middle rows, and I see no difference because dining is on demand, and the cabin is quiet throughout.

As soon as I sat down, I was offered any drink I’d like. I chose the specialty lime mint non-alcoholic drink, which was refreshing and tasty.

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For the 20 minutes until departure, I re-familiarized myself with my suite while flight attendants came through the cabin offering their standard pre-departure service. The suite itself is blinged out with wooden finishes and gold accents. In front of the seat is one of the largest TVs in any commercial First Class, a small vanity with spa products, and a drawer with a writing kit.

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When you get to your seat, there will be a snack basket. It is taken away before takeoff and brought back after take off until just before landing. None of the snacks appealed to me, but there is enough to eat on the flight, including sweets galore. The front of the suite also has two light fixtures and a fresh flower.
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You store your carry ons underneath the television. There are no overhead bins in First Class. Don’t worry; your carry ons don’t take up any of your leg room. I’m 6’4″, and my feet are well short of my bags. Next to my bags, you can see the inflight magazines, safety info, and headphones.
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The noise canceling headphones get the job done, but they are not Bose like some airlines offer in First and Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.35.31 PMAlso underneath the television is a universal plug and two USB plugs, so all your devices can be charged throughout the flight.

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To the side of the seat, along the window is a mini-bar.
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Mine offered still and sparkling water, pineapple juice, and three Pepsi products. I’ve said before that the mini-bar is flash over substance. None of these drinks are chilled, so to drink one, I’d have to ask the flight attendant for ice, which kind of defeats the purpose of having the drinks at your seat.

Next to the mini-bar is a touch screen tablet that controls the main television. The television itself is also a touch screen. Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.33.08 PM

Or you can control the television from the remote in your armrest.

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Overall the suite is fantastically designed. I don’t really get the mini-bar, but I have no complaints–A+.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.33.46 PM

Before take off, the flight attendants are a flurry of activity. You will be offered newspapers, magazines, a guide to the shower spa, beverages, Arabic coffee and dates, an amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers.

The amenity kit is Bulgari branded and very large.
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Along the sides, it has pouches for the brush/comb, deodorant, and toothpaste.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.35.59 PM

Inside, it also has a razor, shaving cream, tissues, and a box of Bulgari products.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.36.07 PM

I’ve gotten compliments on the smell of the body lotion.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.36.13 PM

I kept the amenity kit as my new traveling toiletries kit for the next few months, jettisoning a smaller Cathay Pacific amenity kit in Hawaii.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.36.19 PM

The pajamas are very comfortable, and I changed into them and the slippers right after take off and wore them for the rest of the flight.

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To me, wearing pajamas the whole time harkens back to slumber parties growing up and heightens the fun. The more I think about it, the more I like the comparison because both Emirates First Class and sleepovers as a kid have:

  • more food than you should eat, but it’s so delicious
  • more fun activities than you can do at once, so you’re constantly shifting from one to the next
  • Woo-hoo, no parents! Woo-hoo, no work!

I skipped the Arabic coffee and dates, but that is an impressive, two-flight-attendant presentation.

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Just before take off, I had this photo of all my “stuff” snapped.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.34.00 PMTake off is impressive to watch out the window or on your TV, which features the tail camera.
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After take off, I was ready for bed because I had been up all night, and conveniently it was about midnight in my destination city. I asked the flight attendant to make the middle seat next to my seat into a bed because the cabin was only about half full.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.38.02 PMThe Emirates First Class bed is 7’2″ long and 1’11” wide. It could definitely stand to be a little bit wider like Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines First Class, but overall, it’s a very nice bed with comfortable bedding and a large pillow.

I used the touch screen to close the doors of my suite and then conked out.
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I went to bed right after take off.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.37.19 PM

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I woke up about six hours later over Estonia.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.37.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.39.21 PM

I find the Emirates A380 First Class bed to be acceptably comfortable, but it isn’t my overall favorite. It’s less than two feet wide, while Cathay Pacific’s First Class bed is three feet wide. That’s the difference between feeling a bit cramped and feeling like you have all the space in the world for me.

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Upon waking up, I continued sporting some amazing bed head and my pajamas for the rest of the flight.

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Other than when I was sleeping at the beginning and eating later in the flight, I didn’t spend much time in the suite, preferring to hang out in the bar and shower spa.

I didn’t take much advantage of the over 600 TV and movie options on board, which is definitely one of the best offerings in the sky.

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I did play one racing game briefly with the handset in my arm rest while I waited for my meal, and it was better than the standard card games and chess usually available on flights.

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Overall Impressions of Suite

I love the Emirates First Class suite. I think the color choices are very attractive, the TV is the best in the world, the snack and mini-bar options are unrivaled (though unnecessary), the sliding doors are practical and fun, and everything is comfortable.
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I do wish the bed were a little bit wider, but overall this an upper echelon seat and suite.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.38.47 PM

Stay tuned for reviews of the second half of the flight that cover the bar, shower, food, and service.

How to Fly Emirates First Class for Yourself

Alaska Airlines charges 90,000 Alaska miles one way in Emirates First Class from the United States to Dubai or 100,000 from the United States to Europe, Asia, or Africa via Dubai. (Or vice versa since I flew Zurich to Dubai to Houston.) You can stop in Dubai as long as you’d like on the award.

You can get Alaska miles by opening the Alaska Airlines personal and business cards, which each come with 25,000 bonus miles, no spending requirement, and an immediate $75 annual fee. Both cards are churnable every few months, and you can have several open at once. You can even open multiple personal cards at once. You can also transfer SPG Starpoints to Alaska miles at a 1:1 rate with 5,000 bonus Alaska miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

You can book Emirates award flights on alaskaair.com as outlined here. You will pay (low) taxes plus a $12.50 per one way booking fee. There are no fuel surcharges on the awards.

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