Trip Report: Emirates A380 First Class SFO to DXB (EK 226)
This was my second flight in Emirates Airlines First Class on their A380. Emirates was actually the first airline that I ever flew in international first class, so it has a special place in my heart.
Boarding was a bit delayed due to a late-arriving aircraft, but I was welcomed warmly on board once boarding started.
There were only two passengers in first class on this flight, so I was shown to my assigned suite and told I could sit anywhere. This was a newer aircraft (just two months old), and it’s an impressive hard product. The suite has tons of storage space, including a closet for each seat (although it’s not actually an enclosed closet and just opens up into your suite). It feels extremely private, and I love the finishes. The only critique is that the seat itself is actually not that wide, and the cabin feels a bit crowded to me when all of the doors are closed, but that’s a function of having enclosed suites rather than open seats.
I was quickly offered amenities of pajamas, slippers, an amenity kit, a snack basket, and a bag to hold it all. Already at the seat was a writing kit (I’m a fan of the pen), a vanity kit, headphones, and a stocked drink mini-bar.
Multiple people came by to greet me before the flight, and I was given a tour of the bathrooms and seat functions. And then the captain came by and offered me a chance to look at the cockpit, which was awesome! I was also told that the load was super light in all classes, with just 261 passengers and 31 crew.
Prior to departure, I was offered Arabic coffee and dates as well as the opportunity to order a pre-departure beverage. I asked for sparking water with lime or lemon, and when I was asked if I wanted ice, I said no if the water was chilled. When I was brought the water, the flight attendant wanted to make sure that the water was cold enough for me! She was super on point.
This plane had the option to watch not just from a tail camera, but also a downward-facing camera as well as one at the nose of the plane, which was awesome! I love the takeoff roll on the A380 because you’re off the ground before you feel like the plane is even moving quickly.
After takeoff, I had the chance to peruse the massive menus. Emirates has an on-demand dining service, and I had pre-ordered an Asian vegetarian special meal (AVML). I decided to hold off on eating a proper meal given that I had eaten quite a bit in the lounge at SFO prior to the flight, so I just had some fruit to start.
At the time, Emirates was offering 10 megabytes of free wifi to all passengers, and an additional 500 megabytes was $1. I paid for extra data, but the wifi was slooooow. I could check email, but only intermittently.
I spent a while at the bar behind the business class cabin and had some good conversation with a senior flight steward. As much as I love the A380 as a (first class) passenger, he said that the A380 has a reputation for being crew-unfriendly (e.g. not enough galley space or ovens, smaller crew rest space compared to a 777). I was the only passenger who even passed through the bar for the couple of hours I was there, but the bar area apparently gets used much more on other flights.
For my main meal, I started off with some caviar. I was served a generous portion of caviar with all of the normal accoutrements including egg, sour cream, blinis, toast, onions, and lemon.
Next up was the appetizer of my special meal. This was a cold chickpea and jicama salad. This was pretty bland and not that appetizing.
For the entree, I was served some daal and paneer with rice. This was quite tasty! Even though it doesn’t seem like “first class” food, I ate it happily and enjoyed it quite a bit.
After the meal service, I had a bed made up in a different seat (a perk of being in an almost-empty cabin). To be honest, the bed is not as comfortable for me as other first class seats like Cathay Pacific or Lufthansa. The mattress pad isn’t that thick, so you can feel bumps in the seat, and the seat doesn’t seem to actually go lie flat (although I don’t mind the non-lie-flatness part that much since there’s a natural backwards tilt when you’re in a plane).
After sleeping for a bit, I decided to have my shower in the air. This is just such a ridiculous and excessive experience, although it does make me feel like I’m ready to go immediately after getting off a long flight. These bathrooms on the A380 are nicer than my bathroom at home. They’re super spacious with heated floors, lots of mirrors and counter space, and even a screen! They have two choices for toiletries (relax or revive), shaving kits, nail files, loofahs, a hair dryer, etc.
As an aside, I will say that I feel a bit bad for the dedicated bathroom attendants. There are two of them on A380 flights, and it seems like some members of the flight crew treat them pretty poorly.
Finally, as a pre-arrival meal, I was served some rice with a spicy pea curry and a samosa. All of it was again pretty tasty.
Overall, Emirates has a pretty special hard product in first class on their A380s. They were the first to let you shower on board, which is a ridiculous experience. The seats are super private, and the in-flight entertainment system is the my favorite of any airline. I also think that the bar area is pretty cool. As for the soft product, the service on this flight was generally good. There were a couple of minor issues, but the flight attendants were responsive to any requests that I made. There are also tons of options for food and beverages, and the AVML I had on this flight was pretty good.
Please no offense but this flight and the 380 FC has been “reviewed” so many times it’s become lame. As for your comment about the “lav” attendants remember your “order” is an important one not only in the mid east and they are below FA’s. I agree much a thankless job, never the less they their for a reason.
I am not convinced that the FC cabin on EK is any less than say CP or such. I find it more relaxing. But then that’s my opinion, and I pay for mine so getting my monies worth is important to me
Wow, harsh comment above. I personally love all your posts! Great review.
Question: since you ordered the AVML, were you still also given the opportunity to order things off the set menu? or did they not cater enough?
Yes, you can still order things off of the set menu. It also depends on how many other passengers there are in the cabin. If there are multiple other passengers and you don’t want to eat your special meal, then you’d probably get last pick of the remaining entrees after the other passengers have ordered, but there will still be plenty of food of the menu that you can eat. In my experiences when I’m the only first class passenger in the cabin and requested a special meal, Emirates and Qatar both fully cater the menu as well as cater your special meal, so you can eat whatever you want in that case.
wow, thank you! are there any airlines you’ve experienced or heard about, on which you can get ONLY your special meal? (need to avoid those!)
Welcome to boarding area! Ignore the haters :). I love reading every review of the A380 because it’s just like reliving the experience that I had.
Interesting that Asian Vegetarian seems to always mean Indian food. No? I find it interesting you would preorder anything rather than choose from the immense selection. What was your thought behind doing so?
Yes, AVML or Asian vegetarian meals are vegetarian meals prepared in an Indian style. If you want Chinese food, you can order a VOML or vegetarian oriental meal. There’s also VJML, which is Jain food; VGML, which is your typical vegetarian (really, vegan) meal; and VLML, which is a vegetarian meal that contains dairy (which is typically usually a default option on most carriers with their pasta dish).
I pre-order special meals because I generally don’t eat meat or cheese, so I usually would prefer a special meal to what they serve on their typical menus (which is meat dishes or pasta with cheese). Sometimes it’s better than what’s on the menu and I’m happy; sometimes the special meals can be pretty bad. But I’ve eaten enough airplane food in my life that I don’t think I’m missing out on much by not eating off of the normal menu, and there’s just so little information about special meals in premium cabins that I hope that ordering these special meals can help provide useful information to at least some people.
Can’t wait to try this, loved reading about your experience on board.