In the aviation industry, there are the predictable, explicit luxuries of inflight perks, which one expects in a premium cabin, and then there is the luxury of an experience. Every year, I am fortunate enough to have a job that requires me to clock tens of thousands of air miles. Which means that I get a chance to experience a gamut of airlines, inflight cabins, products, airports and the works. I must confess that, when it comes to airlines, I do have a few favourites, Dubai-based Emirates being one of them. I write this blogpost, keeping in mind my readers in the Indian subcontinent, to talk about the luxury of an experience. Emirates has evidently mastered this concept impeccably, which is why I find that for flights from India to Europe or North America, Emirates Business Class truly is the best premium product in the skies. Here, it’s not only about a fancy seat and great meals – the luxury entails an all-round experience, starting from your doorstep, at the airport and even in-transit. After all, the very notion of air travel is changing in today’s times. The idea of ‘airline luxury’ does not limit itself merely to the cabin.
Based on my personal experience, here are a few reasons why I think Emirates Business Class truly is ahead of its game making it the coolest premium product in the skies ex-India.
1. Chauffeur Drive – Emirates offers a complementary chauffeur pick-up and drop to all its Business and First Class passengers at select destinations. This is, in my opinion, one of the best perks of flying Business on this airline. No more stress about arranging a taxi, a car or even queuing up outside a foreign airport after a long flight. On my recent flight from Mumbai to Chicago, the car – a Mercedes Benz and no less – waited for me just below my apartment, whisked me off to the airport and when I reached Chicago, my car was waiting for me outside O’Hare airport, to whisk me off to my downtown hotel. When I thanked my driver in Mumbai for his wonderful service, he was prompt to reply “It is all part of the Emirates experience”, which was, in my opinion, a nice touch.
2. The Airbus A380 – If you’re flying Emirates Business Class and you’re lucky enough to be travelling from or to an A380 destination, you will see that this super jumbo is really the best way to fly. I have often given up on a direct flight between India and Europe only to fly on an Emirates’ A380 via Dubai, because of the sheer comfort attached to it. I am happy to say that I can now fly the A380 from Mumbai to Dubai. The Business Class seat, located on the super quiet upper deck, is a dream – it’s like your own little cabin. I have previously also written about the Business Class bar, at the rear end of the upper deck, which is a great way to spend some time, interacting with the crew and make friends with fellow passengers. My recommendation: the best way to experience the Emirates Business Class A380 experience is on a relatively longer flight. The 2.5 hour Mumbai-Dubai leg goes by much too quickly. In the past, I have flown the Dubai-Paris Charles de Gaulle leg on an A380 and the experience was unbelievable.
3. There’s something for every kind of traveller – The Emirates Business Class cabin layouts vary from aircraft to aircraft. On their Boeing 777s, (which I flew from Dubai to Chicago) the layout is pretty simple 2-3-2. So if you’re travelling alone, just raise the privacy divider between the seats or with a companion, who is within easy talking distance. On the A380, however, the layout is 1-2-1. The window seats are single seats (you have a choice of a seat closer to the window or closer to the aisle). If you are travelling with a companion, you can choose the centre ‘sweetheart’ seats, which are right next to each other. However, for solo travellers in the middle, there are also two single seats, separated from each other, with direct aisle access.
4. Luxury lies in small details – A few details that catch my fancy and make me remember my experience – The A380 Business Class seat has a tiny mini bar in every seat, with a bottle of water, juice and cola, which is a lovely detail. The Bvlgari kits given out to passengers are different for men and women. I haven’t seen many airlines do that. It’s a nice touch. On my ultra-long 14-hour flight to Chicago, the galley area was laden with chocolates, chips and cookies, encouraging you to just laze around in your seat, watch a movie, munch on some chocolate and arrive at your destination perfectly rested. And that’s exactly what I did.
One more thing, I absolutely LOVE the detachable control tablet in every seat, which you can use to control your seat and the entertainment. It really is much better th
5. The Staff – I also love how the flight attendants at Emirates go all out to pamper you, feed you and make you feel absolutely special. During my Dubai-Chicago flight recently, I noticed a few of my fellow passengers converge in the galley – no matter how comfortable the seat, it is impossible to remain seated for 14 hours. Now the Boeing 777 does not have a separate bar area, so passengers standing around the tiny Business Class galley could get a bit cumbersome for the flight attendants. On the contrary, the encouraged us to stand around, engaged us in conversation and insisted on fixing us drinks. I chanced upon an effervescent steward called Mike, who was working in my cabin, who seemed like he was tailormade for the job. He insisted on fixing cocktails for those of us who were standing around. After ascertaining our preferences, he came up with the most delicious cocktails, each tailor-made for us. (I got a classic Mojito) Further in conversation with this cheerful steward, moonlighting as a bartender in the air, we learnt that he was from Chicago and we managed to sneak in some insider’s tips on the Windy City from him. I can objectively say that in my years of travel, some of my best interactions with inflight staff have been on Emirates only reiterating the ‘luxury of an experience’ idea.
6. Business Class Lounge – Admittedly, I am not a big fan of transiting through Dubai airport when I am travelling Economy. I find the main departure concourse to be way too chaotic and noisy. However, the Emirates Business Class lounge, which occupies almost the entire level above the departure concourse is pretty impressive. Since it is so large it has several entrances and is divided into several zones – lounge areas, quiet sleeping areas, a bar, several dining spaces, a spa, a business centre and, of course, free wifi all over. No matter where you are in this gargantuan lounge, you will see champagne flowing and copious amounts of food being served. The piece de resistance of the Business Class lounge is that, for many A380 flight gates, you can board your flight STRAIGHT from the lounge, without having to go back down into the overcrowded terminal. I couldn’t think of a better luxury!
So there you go, six of my top reasons as to why I think that Emirates Business Class is possibly the best – and most luxurious – option to Europe and North America, for Indian travellers. Would love to hear your experiences and comments so do write in to us.
(UrbanEye.in was a guest of Emirates on the Mumbai-Dubai-Chicago flight. My opinion, however, as always, is my own.)