12 Secrets To Emirates First Class

Filed Under: Advice, Emirates

It’s no secret that Emirates first class is one of my favorite products in the world. While there are many great first class products (and Etihad’s first class hard product is almost unarguably better than Emirates’), I consistently have the most fun in Emirates A380 first class, between the bar, shower, and all the other little touches.

I’ve taken many flights in Emirates first class, and figured I’d share some of the more interesting aspects of Emirates first class, which you may or may not know. So while I’m sure some of you will know some/all of the below, I’m guessing most people won’t.

In no particular order, here are 12 secrets to Emirates first class:

1. Smile — you’re on camera

Emirates first class might be extremely private in the sense that you have a fully enclosed suite, but don’t get any ideas based on that.

If you look at the very back of the cabin you’ll see a camera, which can be viewed from the purser’s office and from the flight deck.


Chances are that they’re not spending their free time watching the camera, but you never know…


2. The crew doesn’t know if you redeemed miles for your ticket

Not that there are any practical implications to this, but it is a question I often get asked. Emirates crews can’t tell if you paid cash for your ticket or redeemed miles.

So to them there’s no difference whether you paid $21,000+ for a one-way first class ticket…


Or redeemed 90,000 Alaska miles…


The purser can tell if you upgraded, though. It seems a bit odd that they can see if someone upgraded but not if someone redeemed miles, but hey, it works for me. 😉

3. About those shower attendants…

Not only does Emirates have the most amazing shower spas on any commercial plane, but they have dedicated shower attendants. On shorter flights you can expect one shower attendant, while on longer flights you can expect two shower attendants.

These aren’t flight attendants, and they actually sit in passenger seats for takeoff and landing. You can tell them apart from the rest of the crew based on the fact that they wear trousers rather than the usual skirts.


For what it’s worth, the shower attendants aren’t treated especially well, so be extra nice to them. They make a fraction of what the other crewmembers make, and they even share rooms at their accommodations in Dubai and in hotels (as opposed to other crew, who have their own rooms in all instances).

4. Don’t drink champagne on the ground in the US

Emirates is well known for their Dom Perignon, and right now they’re pouring the 2006 vintage, which is nice (though I prefer the 2005 vintage).

However most of us have some limit to how much we can drink, and you don’t want to “waste” that limit on sub-par champagne. So when you’re on the ground in the US you can expect they’ll only be serving the business class champagne, which is usually Moet. That’s because Emirates has to pay taxes on alcohol served on the ground in the US, so they only offer a limited selection.


The second the door closes, however, the bottle of Dom can be popped. 😉

So if you’re only going to drink a few glasses of champagne, wait until after takeoff before you indulge, assuming you’re departing the US or another country which taxes on alcohol served on the ground.

5. If you’ve got a problem…

On US airlines the purser is simply a flight attendant who gets paid an extra couple of dollars per hour to do the paperwork and coordinate the crew.

On Emirates the purser’s responsibilities are much greater, as is their accountability. They have to email the crew before the flight to introduce themselves and assign positions, they do a crew briefing before the flight, and they’re also responsible for evaluating other flight attendants.

If there’s something you’re not happy with on your Emirates flight, let the purser know. If you’re in first class I guarantee they’ll take it seriously. They’re in trouble if there’s a problem on the flight they’re not aware of, so they’ll do everything they can to make it right, and will also write a report after the fact sharing what the issue was and what they did to resolve it.

So if you’re unhappy with the flight, engage the purser.

6. So, you want pajamas and an amenity kit?

Emirates has among my favorite first class amenities, as they have pajamas, slippers, BVLGARI amenity kits, and even a beach bag (exclusively available on the A380).


While you should proactively be offered this on longhaul flights and nighttime flights, on daytime flights which aren’t longhauls (like to most destinations in Europe or Asia), the crew isn’t supposed to proactively offer these amenities to you. However, they should be available on demand.

7. You can request a cake

Are you traveling around your birthday? You can request to have a cake onboard at no additional cost. Just phone up Emirates and you can make the request — you don’t have to be traveling on your actual birthday to take advantage of this.


8. You can order room service

It’s one thing to have a dine on demand concept, though being able to order room service on a plane is next level, in my opinion.

If you’re on one of Emirates’ older planes you’ll notice a phone in your armrest, and in it you’ll see a button which looks like a flight attendant with a telephone. Push it and you can call the flight attendant to place your order.


In practice people usually misuse it and assume it’s the call button, so you may find that the crew just shows up at your seat instead. But the phone does in fact ring in the galley when you push that button.

9. Coffee snobs rejoice

If you’re a caffeine addict like I am, you’ll love Emirates. Their cappuccinos are fantastic, and even come with the Emirates logo stenciled on the foam.


If you’re into regular coffee, you can even choose between filtered and french press coffee. Getting your own french press on a plane is pretty darn awesome!


10. The capacity of the shower is two

At least that’s what the sign above the doors says. Apparently the crew handbook says a second passenger is only permitted as necessary to provide assistance. How they define “providing assistance” is up to your friendly crew. 😉


11. You might need to request lounge access

If you’re redeeming Alaska miles for a ticket on Emirates, it shows up internally as a staff ticket (though oddly not to the crew). As a result, if you try to visit a lounge you may be asked if you’re an employee, in which case you wouldn’t be allowed to access the lounge.

Just explain to them you booked through Alaska, and you should be let in. At the Dubai lounges they know of this issue given the volume of passengers booked on Alaska tickets, though at outstation lounges it might take some explaining. Regardless, this is a glitch, and you should be allowed lounge access even on mileage tickets.


12. The purser has an onboard office

Speaking of the Emirates purser, they actually have an onboard office on the A380. Go to the lower deck and under the staircase you’ll see a door. That’s where the purser’s office is. How much time they spend in their office probably depends on how much they like people.


Bottom line

If you haven’t yet flown Emirates first class, I highly recommend it, as there’s no airline in the world which is more fun to fly with in first class, in my opinion. While I’m sure many of you knew the basics of Emirates first class either from having flown it or from having read reviews, hopefully some of the above is new and interesting information.

Do any of the above facts surprise you?

  1. About the cake….it is free? Also is it available from the U.S do you have a phone number to call?

  2. @ flyingjimmy — Yep, it’s free and available from the US. Just call the Emirates reservations phone number.

  3. We just got back yesterday from Emirates First Class. We were on “only” a 777 from Singapore to Dubai


    and then on the A380 from Dubai to New York

    We didn’t have any trouble (that I could tell) with getting in to the lounges in either SIN or DXB. Wish I’d have known about the cake though!

    Another thing that might be worth noting is that if you book with Alaska miles, you’re not able to take advantage of the chauffeur service

  4. Interesting on #2. how did you determine this? When I flew KLM transatlantic C/F years ago, I saw the printed manifest posted in the galley which showed the ticket fare class next to my name. The guy next to me was marked as an Elite.

  5. @ Henry — If traveling alone I prefer a window seat in row two or three, since it’s furthest from the showers and galley.

  6. I have flown EK 8 times in F and J!

    Really good product on the A380.

    They have let two of us in the shower before –:)

    I did not know about the F camera (opps) Ha ha hope they enjoyed the show!

  7. The CSA’s dont sit in passenger seats! Lol! They sit at L2 and R3. Other crew can also elect to wear trousers as uniform.

  8. Hi Lucky,

    I just flew EK from PEK to DXB to SEA. The rep at PEK airport told me I could not use any lounges in Beijing or Dubai as I redeemed with other airlines miles. Instead, The rep gave me a food voucher. Would you explain more how to get to First Class Lounge in Dubai? or what did you do, how did you get in Lounge? Thanks

  9. Nice post Ben. I so so wish AA miles could be used on EK. I find it fairly tricky to build AS miles.

    Their CC bonus’s suck, and the cards are not great on bonus purchases. I guess flying AA and crediting to AS or flying AS is another way to build more miles.

    Using AS miles you can only book EK on flights departing from the states right ?

  10. Can someone from business or economy join you?
    Is it possible to swap seat at least once? I know it is probably not oficially allowed but for a family of 4 my chances are pretty much close to 0 tobget everyone in on the same cabin

  11. james long –

    Do you really find it fairly tricky to build Alaska miles?

    They’re quite possibly one of the easiest.

  12. This is great! Quick question: do you know which other airlines report/don’t report on who used a reward and who paid full-fare?

    E.G. LH, CX, BA?

  13. @ James Long:

    Back in 2014 I used Alaska miles to purchase an Emirates ticket from Prague to Seattle, via Dubai….first on the way to Dubai, business from Dubai to Seattle. For my upcoming flight in May, I used AS miles again…Prague to Dubai in business, Dubai to San Francisco in first. I don’t think there should be any issue with getting a flight that begins in a non-American city.

    Also, be sure to apply for the Starwood Amex….it’s good way to earn additional AS miles though transferring their points.

    @ Lucky:

    Thanks for the article…I was still curious about the lounge situation.

  14. I haven’t flown international first class on any airline (yet), so this was a fun post.

    Also surprised about the comment about Moet – I don’t drink champagne (or any alcohol these days), but in my younger days, I enjoyed an occasional glass, and Moet was always my favorite. I didn’t know it was second rate compared to Dom (see, I learn something new every day reading this blog).

    I wonder what they serve in American Airlines on the LAX > Sydney flight (which will be my first international first class flight).

  15. Lucky – Any recent data points as to whether the chauffeur “work around” at DXB still works when traveling on an AS award ticket? We’ll be passing through there in a little over a month and staying at the Grand Hyatt.

  16. Just a note, the camera’s (they’re throughout all cabins) do not record they are just for real time monitoring only and the standard in flight business class champagne is Veuve Clicquot brut yellow label.

  17. Susan – Dom doesn’t taste very good at 30,000 feet. Somehow all the subtelty is gone at that altitude.

  18. The shower attendant on our Bejing to Dubai flight was tremendous! She went way above and beyond and really made the experience great for me. I wish I would have thought to get her name so I could have emailed in a glowing review. I was the only female in first class on that flight and was also about 20 weeks pregnant at the time. She made sure I had more than enough toiletries in the bathroom and then brought me an extra little bag of goodies at my seat later. Also, as pregnant women tend to need to use the restroom more frequently, she actually offered to let me in to the shower suite while my husband was using it since all of the other bathrooms were occupied. She didn’t even think twice about offering haha

  19. Lovely. “Cake onboard at no additional cost” and someone still asks whether it’s free.

    Also, there goes this underrated perk if too many people start asking for one just because they’re in F.

  20. Love this article!

    I can’t wait to hit my Qantas points so I can redeem my first class to Dubai on Emirates 😀

  21. No 1 — ie don’t join the MHC (I’m watchin’ you!)

    No 8 — whatabout the newer planes? What do they have instead of a room service phone?

  22. To Brian,

    The chauffeur work around worked for us in October. They took us to our hotel but would not pick us up for the return trip to the airport.

  23. Great tip about the birthday cake! Celebrating a birthday EK F trip in June and called in to ask for a cake for my partner, but the first representative told me they could only do it if the flight and the birthday are the exact same day. Hung up and called again — voilà!

    Net takeaway: Always hang up and call again. 🙂

  24. Hi Ben

    I don’t know whether you have addressed this before I just want to know what benefit is to Emirates that they allow Alaska miles to be redeemed for their flights in F? Since you mentioned there are lot many people redeeming Alaska miles to fly EK F I am curious.

    I read your previous post where you say the exclusively of flying an F cabin diminishes when American fills up the cabins with their crew or upgrades on every 777 F.

    Is it not the same other paid pax might feel in Emirates F of people redeeming Alaska miles to fly F cabins in EK?

  25. One more vote for Etihad, please.

    Booked round trip in Apartment. Need to know all of my options )

  26. This past Christmas, my family of four was upgraded from Business to First for free, San Francisco-Dubai…and without even a request by us! Entire staff spoiled us and made our trip exceptional. We even had Veuve Cliquot Champagne in the San Francisco Emirates lounge and of course, Dom Perignon in flight. And, yes the A380

  27. Ben – The camera is used by people at EK on the ground.

    Also, while you say the crew does not know if a guest has used miles,
    the First Class lounge attendants do know and frequently give me an associated look and become lazy when asked specific requests.

    Keep up the good work.

  28. Actually I booked biz on Ek from Athens to Dfw via dxb on Alaska miles. I was given the option for chauffeur in dfw.

  29. I need one of these reviews for Etihad! Im departing AUH for JFK on the A380 in June! Thanks!

    What would be a good excuse for “assistance” in the shower that would be acceptable to the crew?

  30. Hi Ben,

    I read lot of your first class reviews on Emirate and I booked my trip from Dubai to Paris this April. To maximise our time in the first class lounge, do you know how early we can check in? my flight at 4:50 am so I am planning to sleep at the lounge.

  31. @ Allan — I’m not sure there’s an exact time, but you shouldn’t have a problem showing up the night before.

  32. Do you know if the complimentary limo service to/from the airports, for business & 1st class passengers) is available for those who use mileage for the tickets?

  33. I’ve flown EK F quite a few times using Alaska miles, and at least 1x, the purser asked if I was an employee as his tablet indicated I didn’t pay a full fare.

  34. Just did a first class 6:30 hrs flight and a night flight.no pyjama or kit available even after requesting one.

  35. Surprised that no one seems to mention the appalling quality in the non-Emirates First Class Lounges used by Emirates at Schiphol, Amsterdam, Nice, Malta, and Mauritius. All crowded, all with indifferent quality food and amenities and certainly not even approaching the standards set by the Emirates branded Lounges. A First Class ticket demands first class at all stages of the journey.

  36. There isn’t an Emirates lounge in Dublin so you use the vastly inferior airport one. Very disappointing compared to dedicated Emirates ones.

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