Emirates First Class A380 – Hong Kong to Dubai Review
- Spacious and private seat
- Great food and standout caviar service
- Warm, friendly and efficient cabin crew
- Food menu could benefit from some new dishes
- Hong Kong lounge is in need of an update
An enjoyable flight with great food and welcoming crew
As part of a recent trip through Asia and the Middle East my partner and I flew from Hong Kong to Dubai. We chose Emirates because of its award-winning first and business class seats and its consistent service. I also like the "blinginess" of Emirates' aircraft cabins, including the bold gold and timber styling.
This flight left Hong Kong at 6pm, so I purposely booked the A380 flight so we could spend some time at the onboard bar and lounge.
Here's a detailed review of my Emirates A380 first class experience.
Table of contents
Aircraft Type: Airbus A380
Route: Hong Kong to Dubai
Class: Business Class
I booked these flights about three months out through the Qantas Frequent Flyer program and the process was simple. I jumped onto the Qantas website, searched under "Classic Rewards" between Hong Kong and Dubai and booked when I found some seats.
Another great way to search for Emirates flights is to become an expertflyer.com member. With expertflyer you can search for seats on your preferred route and aircraft and then call Qantas directly to book your flight.
Apart from Qantas, you can book Emirates flights directly with the airline if you're a Skywards member or through other Emirates' partner airlines.
Regardless of which program you're booking through, try to book as far in advance as possible as first class Emirates rewards availability can be very limited.
Our trip started with the great chauffeur service included with all Emirates first class flights. Unfortunately this is no longer offered for flights booked using rewards points.
Emirates has its own dedicated check-in counter at Hong Kong so the check-in process was very smooth. Unfortunately there were no dedicated business or first class customs or security lines, which was disappointing because Hong Kong airport tends to get busy at peak hours.
Emirates passengers flying out of Hong Kong have the choice of using the Qantas lounge or the Emirates lounge. We visited both and I think the Qantas business class lounge is much better than the Emirates lounge.
The Qantas lounge has a bar that boasts cocktails and other drinks, as well as a menu offering a number of options including pork ribs and local Asian soups. Overall there's a bigger variety of food than in the Emirates lounge. The selection available in the Emirates lounge, including desserts and cheese, was quite limited. It wasn't a lounge that you'd want to stay in for a lengthy period of time, but it's fine for a quick stop.
The food options in the Emirates lounge
The Qantas lounge is also larger, has a better business area and I found the staff to be friendlier. The Emirates lounge in Hong Kong is older and hasn't been refurbished yet. It's also shared with first and business class passengers so there's no dedicated area for first class passengers.
Seating in the Emirates lounge in Hong Kong
The Qantas lounge was a long walk from our gate, so I'd recommend eventually relocating to the Emirates lounge before your flight as the staff there will announce when it's time to board.
Boarding was on time and we were one of the first to get on the aircraft. We were immediately greeted by our purser, Oscar, who went above and beyond in his service during the flight.
Our carry-on luggage was taken by the crew and put into our suites before Oscar gave us a quick tour of the suite and showed us how to use everything.
If you want a nice experience and the wow factor of walking into Emirates first class, I would suggest to go through economy class and walk up the stairs of the A380 from the lower deck to the upper deck. You'll be greeted with a water feature before entering the first class cabin.
After boarding, I noticed this aircraft was very clean. The first class cabin was spacious and styled nicely with Emirates' trademark gold, ivory leather and timber.
The bling of the Emirates A380 First Class cabin
If you're travelling with a companion, the two middle seats are probably the best options because they're more private and it's easier to talk to each other. If you're travelling solo, the window is the ideal option.
The seat itself was very comfortable and well designed. There's a room-temperature mini bar in case you get thirsty and a basket stocked with some goodies including chocolate, chips, Toblerone and other nibblies if you're feeling peckish.
Our seat-side nibblies
One of the best things about this seat is the space. You can sit in your seat with any shopping that you've purchased and have your carry-on bags in front of you and still have a lot of space and privacy.
The seat has plenty of space
The seat fully reclines if you want to get some rest. The crew can also put a mattress down on the seat for you when you're ready to sleep and it's pretty comfortable. The seat controls were easy to use and because this aircraft was only a few years old, it had no glitches.
As I've said before, this is a very blingy product. It's very luxurious and a one-of-a-kind experience. For example, as soon as we boarded the flight and sat down we were approached by two flight attendants who offered us the famous Bateel Arabic dates and Arabic coffee. The crew then gave us hot towels and presented us with the menu for the flight in a nice leather folio.
Emirates' ICE in-flight entertainment is exceptional and recently won Skytrax's World's Best Inflight Entertainment for 2018. Even if you don't want to watch a movie, there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained including TV shows, radio shows, podcasts and music.
If you're planning to fly with Emirates, jump on to the Emirates website and download the ICE magazine to see the full entertainment list so you can start shortlisting your picks before your flight.
For business travellers looking to catch up on some work, I suggest visiting the Emirates website and adding your Emirates Skywards number to your flight reservation. This allows you to get free Internet during your flight even if you're only a Blue Skywards member.
In terms of seat space, Emirates first class is well designed for those needing to work, with enough room for your laptop and paperwork and a supply of notepads, pens and envelopes.
Before take-off, Oscar came by to offer an Emirates bag which had pyjamas and an amenity kit with products from brands like Bulgari and an eye mask and slippers.
If you're a foodie flying on business or first class with any airline, my rule of thumb is to avoid early morning flights. Instead I recommend choosing a midday or evening flight where you'll usually receive a full lunch or dinner service, so you can enjoy the best the airline has to offer.
Emirates offered à la carte dining on this flight, so we could eat whenever we wanted. You just place your order prior to take-off and it'll arrive when you specify. The menu also has a full range of drinks including juices, mocktails, soft drinks, alcoholic cocktails, wines and spirits which you can also order prior to take-off.
Emirates' first class product is famous for its caviar dish which is served with chopped onions, grated egg, sour cream and lemon served with melba toast. Caviar is not for everyone, but I ordered it and it was fresh and easily the standout of the meal service. It was also presented beautifully.
The other appetiser options included a soup and the traditional Arabic mezze which I also chose. It was very nice, with a spread of local Arabic dishes presented on fine china.
One of the great things about flying first class with Emirates is the attention to detail. The cutlery, fine china and even the balsamic vinegar it sources are all high-quality items.
For mains we had a choice of stir-fried prawns, braised tenderloin, chicken stir fry and steamed rice, capsicum ravioli with a cream sauce and steamed sea bass. Sides included fried potatoes, roasted peppers, vegetables and rice.
Finally for dessert we had the famous Emirates sticky date pudding and fruit.
As I've mentioned in my review of Emirates' A380 business class product, while everything was great about this meal service, Emirates could update its menu with some new dishes as it tends to offer the same choices. This is only a problem for those flying regularly, but it's still an area that could be improved.
If you're still hungry during the flight, you can also order from the light bites menu. This had options like a smoked salmon sandwich, meat pies and dim sum. You also have the option to visit the bar at the back of the plane for a selection of fruit, sandwiches and Arabic bites.
The other great part of Emirates' first class service is that you can order fresh cocktails from the bar. We could also order Dom Pérignon, which was great considering not many airlines still serve it in first class.
One of the most important ingredients for an outstanding flight is the crew and this flight was no exception.
Oscar was very helpful and frequently asked us if we wanted anything throughout the flight or if we wanted to order any extra dishes. The remaining cabin crew were friendly and happy to chat to me and other passengers. It was personal service which I unfortunately see less and less of today on other airlines.
Just before take-off, you can book in a five-minute shower with the shower attendant, who will wake you up when it's your time to shower. The shower is stocked with towels, Bulgari lotions and everything else you'll need.
The onboard shower on Emirates A380
It was a good experience to have a shower on board, especially after a long flight. It's nice to arrive refreshed, although it can feel weird if there's turbulence. It's a great feature for longer flights and for business travellers who need to work immediately after landing.
Upon leaving the shower, the attendant was standing outside and served a mini fruit platter and some cold peppermint tea.
Emirates has probably one of the most outstanding onboard bars around on its A380s. The bar is located at the back of the plane and is a great place to chat and make new friends. It offers even more food including fruit, Arabic baklava, sandwiches and rolls. There were also plenty of newspapers and magazines, plus a live TV streaming BBC updates and flight progress.
Enjoying our time at the Emirates onboard bar
The onboard lounge
The Points Finder Flight Rating: ★★★★★☆
This flight was a solid 5.5 out of 6 stars when compared to other first class seats.
Overall this was a great experience and an enjoyable flight. The seat was comfortable and private, the crew was welcoming and the food was good. The shower, bar and Wi-Fi were also nice extras. The onboard experience could be improved by adding some new dishes to the menu though.
The Emirates lounge at Hong Kong airport could also do with an update, especially given Emirates is a large airline with a number of services leaving Hong Kong every day.
I think this is a far better product than Qantas' first class product, but is slightly edged out by Etihad's Apartment product, which has superior space and onboard dining, and Singapore Suites, which is an incredibly large suite with the excellent Book the Cook service.
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