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Trip Report Index

  • Emirates Lounge Zurich
  • Emirates A380 First Class from Zurich to Dubai
  • Emirates Lounge Dubai
  • Emirates A380 First Class from Dubai to Houston

Emirates 88
Zurich (ZRH) – Dubai (DXB)
Depart: 3:35 PM on September 8, 2015
Arrive: 11:45 PM
Duration: 6 hours, 10 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 1A (First Class)

I was the last passenger to leave the Emirates Lounge in Zurich, and I was the last to board in First Class, about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure. The plane was not at its normal gate, so there was no boarding on the upper level.

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I boarded the lower level and was directed up the front stairs.
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At the top of the stairs, I was met by a flight attendant and brought to my seat. She hung my coat, and welcomed me to the flight.
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I had a window seat. Emirates A380s have four window seats on each side and three pairs of middle seats for 14 total.

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The middle seats have a divider to put up if you are traveling solo and to put down if you have a companion.

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The biggest (only?) downside of Emirates First Class is that there are 14 seats. Cathay Pacific First Class has only six on its 777. The seats and suites could stand to be a little bit wider, but really I am just quibbling. I had plenty of space, and I got amazingly personal attention.
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There were only six First Class passengers on the flight, so I didn’t get to see how service would be with a full cabin, but I expect Emirates flight attendants can handle it gracefully. Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.03.18 PM

After I was seated, another flight attendant arrived quickly with a tray of drinks, and I selected a glass of champagne.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.02.07 PM

As I sipped, I reacquainted myself with the First Class Suite on the Emirates A380. The suite doesn’t have a lot of storage space, but it is big enough that you can put your bags at the front of the suite and not have them in your way.
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In the front of the suite are a large television, a few lights, a lighted mirror, a flower, a snack basket, and a drawer with a writing kit. Everything has gold accents.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.02.28 PM

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The snack basket is one of the funniest things to me about Emirates First Class. It’s at your seat when you board, then taken away before take off, then brought back until just before landing. (Un)fortunately it didn’t contain anything I wanted to eat.
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To the side of the seat is a minibar. On this flight, it contained three sodas, still and sparkling water, and pineapple juice. It’s pretty cool to have a minibar inside your suite, but to me, it’s a gimmick more than it’s useful. Every drink in the minibar is best served chilled, but the minibar is at room temperature, so to actually drink something from the minibar, I’d need to call a flight attendant for ice. If she’s coming with ice, then she might as well just bring the drink.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.02.40 PM

Next to the minibar is a small monitor. I usually find the small monitor much more convenient to control the television than the remote control that is in the armrest.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.02.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.04.14 PM

As I inspected my throne, a flight attendant came by with an eye mask and slippers. No pajamas or amenity kit was distributed on the six hour, afternoon flight, which is a bit of a bummer.
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Another pair of flight attendants appeared, offering dates and Arabic coffee.

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During the flurry of activity before take off, flight attendants also brought a selection of newspapers, magazines, a lightly scented hot towel, and a fast track pass for Dubai immigration. Finally the snack basket was removed, and we rumbled down the runway.

Once airborn, the captain informed us that the flight attendants represented 24 nationalities, and we would be cruising at 41,000 feet, which means that I would be showering about eight miles up in the air.

After take off, I was brought a drink–vodka pineapple–and canapes.
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A flight attendant brought a leather-bound menu and explained that in First Class, dining is on demand. I could order anything at any time. I had eaten a lot in the lounge, so I planned to wait until near the end of the flight to have dinner.

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I ordered my meal and asked it to be served two hours before landing. I asked to take my shower right away.

Emirates First Class passengers on the A380 get to take one shower per flight. During the shower, you get five minutes of water, but you can be in the bathroom as long as you’d like. Since there are two bathrooms with showers at the front of the upper deck and up to 14 passengers, you should reserve your time in the shower as soon as you know when you’d like to shower. Here’s a video tour of the Emirates shower spa from a few years ago. It hasn’t changed.

My shower was very refreshing. In my mind, the shower time is very useful and not a gimmick. I’m glad Etihad has added showers to its A380, and I look forward to showering on one in January.

When I came out of the shower, the self-serve bar in front of First Class was set up. I’ve never used it, nor seen anyone use it because all the action is at the Business Class bar.
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Behind Business Class is a bar that is open to First and Business Class passengers. It is staffed with a bartender for the duration of the flight. If you are a First Class passenger headed back there, tip off a flight attendant what you’d like to drink, and she’ll bring back the fancier First Class liquors for you.

I asked a flight attendant to send back a bottle of Russian Standard Imperia vodka to the bar. (The Business Class vodka is Grey Goose.)

I walked back through the upper deck and snapped a picture of Business Class, which looks nearly as comfortable as First Class, just not as private.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.08.53 PM

The Business Class bar is a blast. The flight attendants have some control over whether they are assigned there, so they self-select for outgoing, fun people.

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I got behind the bar to mix a few drinks and mug for the camera. While American airlines make a point of announcing that you can only drink alcohol served by a flight attendant on board, Emirates has no such rule. First Class passengers can pour themselves a drink up front near the showers or at the back bar.

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Emirates has a green-amber-red system for flight attendants to track your drinking and make sure you aren’t over-served. Somehow I stayed green, according to the bartender, which leads me to believe it is based more on your behavior than on how many drinks you’ve been served.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.09.29 PM

When I got tired of standing at the bar, or when the Fasten Seatbelt sign was illuminated, I sat on one of the benches in the bar area.

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I spent most of the flight in the bar, talking with the bartender and other passengers.

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When we were two hours out of Dubai, I headed back to my seat for dinner. Before going to the bar, I had asked for turndown service, so I returned to find my seat like this.

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I wasn’t tired, so I didn’t attempt to sleep. (Wait for my Dubai to Houston trip report for my thoughts on the bed.) A few minutes later, the first course of my dinner was served: caviar and a bread basket.
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The caviar came with all the traditional sides. I continued my streak of only eating caviar on planes.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.12.14 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.12.27 PM

After I finished, the flight attendant cleared the caviar and brought me the mushroom soup.

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It was tasty, but the star of the appetizers was the Arabic mezze, which came after the soup. There were about a dozen options, but none better than the hummus.

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Next came the main course: beef fillet with lemon risotto.

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Why did I order a steak? Steaks on planes always disappoint me. I should have audibled when I asked for it to be cooked medium, and the flight attendant informed me that they can’t guarantee that because it’s pre-cooked and just heated up onboard. The steak was well done and not tender at all. The risotto was fine, and the mashed potatoes, which I had ordered from the section at the end of the menu of additional side options, were the best part of the entree. I only ate half because I was stuffed.

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But, as my niece says, I was full for dinner, not full for dessert, so I had all the desserts and a cheese plate brought to me. The berry dome was a hit for me.
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After dinner was cleared, I watched a few TV episodes on the big screen TV. The selection of TV shows and movies, over 600 total, is unreal.

We touched down in Dubai on time and taxied to a remote stand.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.13.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.13.46 PM

First Class passengers were offloaded first, and we had a blinged-out bus ride to the terminal. Somehow the bus ride took about 15 minutes.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.13.54 PM

When we finally got to the terminal, immigration and customs were a breeze. As I exited customs, I used this trick to get a free chauffeur ride to my hotel–the Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 6.14.11 PM


I went into the flight with very high expectations, and they were exceeded. Flying economy is uncomfortable, boring, and a chore. Flying Emirates First Class on the A380 is comfortable, fun, and luxurious. You want the flight to last longer.

I spent a few hours talking to interesting world travelers and drinking top shelf liquor at a flying bar. I took a shower eight miles up. I was served a multi-course meal with more food than a person should eat in a day.

What’s not to like about Emirates First Class?

Here’s how to book Emirates First Class with miles.

Select menu pages:

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