A380 Extravaganza: Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow

Filed Under: Emirates, Travel

Emirates 5
Dubai (DXB) – London (LHR)
Sunday, January 20
Depart: 4:30PM
Arrive: 8:15PM
Duration: 7hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 4A (First Class)

At the door we were greeted by the purser and pointed towards our seats, 3A and 4A. I quickly settled into 4A.

First class cabin

My seat, 4A

View from my seat

Seat console


Storage compartment

A charming flight attendant, Julie, quickly offered me a pre-departure beverage along with a pair of slippers, though unfortunately that was the last I saw of her, as she was working the other aisle on today’s flight. My pre-departure glass of Dom was actually served by the purser, Mark.

Pre-departure Dom

Interestingly I was offered slippers on this segment, though no pajamas or amenity kits. I asked the purser about this, and he indicated that pajamas are only offered on this sector on demand, so he got me a pair. He said that for whatever reason this flight didn’t have amenity kits, even though it’s just about the same distance as Singapore to Dubai, where I did get a kit. Apparently it has to do with the time of day the flight departs.

Slippers and pajamas

As boarding continued I turned on the tail camera to watch the action on the ground in Dubai, as cargo was still being loaded on the plane.

Tail camera

At departure time the captain came on the PA to advise us of our flight time of 7hr15min, and shortly thereafter the safety video began to play as we pushed back.

We taxied to runway 30R following two other Emirates Airbus 380s, which made for a pretty fun show on the tail camera.

Taxiing to the runway

When we got to the runway we were number two for takeoff behind an Emirates 777.

Tail camera

Emirates 777

Our takeoff roll was rather long, and the views of downtown Dubai (including the Burj Khalifa) on the climb out were stunning.

Tail camera shortly after takeoff

View after takeoff

View after takeoff

View after takeoff

Once the views got old I switched to the entertainment system, and eventually settled on watching three episodes of Extreme Couponing. I had never actually seen the show despite having heart a lot about it, and it was quite entertaining.

ICE entertainment system

My selection

Once we leveled off menus were distributed and shower spa appointments were taken. I learned my lesson from the previous flight, so made an appointment for the shower spa for right after lunch.

As on previous flights the menu was a la carte, and read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

Let me say up front the service on this sector sucked (and I don’t remember the last time I said that about a crew). It’s not that the crew was actively rude, but they were probably the most indifferent premium cabin crew I’ve ever had.

After perusing the menu and planning out my evening I decided to have afternoon tea after takeoff, given that I had just eaten in the lounge, and then figured I’d have dinner before landing in London.

So when the flight attendant came by to take meal orders I told him I’d just like some breakfast tea and scones. His response was simply “we don’t have those.” I asked what exactly he didn’t have, and he said the scones. I showed him the scones on the menu, as he didn’t seem to believe they were on there, and he walked away. Five minutes later he returned with the table setting, not acknowledging that he was wrong or apologizing, and set up my tray for the service.

The scones and tea were very good, though having the flight attendants clear the tray proved to be the biggest challenge. They must have walked by at least a handful of times, seen my empty plate, and continued walking. After having the empty plate in front of me for at least 20 minutes I asked if they could please remove it, which they did.

Afternoon tea

After finishing my three episodes of Extreme Couponing I headed back to the business class bar, which was surprisingly empty on today’s flight, so I instead decided to have my shower at that point.

Forward business class cabin enroute to the bar

Rear business class cabin enroute to the bar

Once in the shower area one of the attendants was standing by and directed me into the left shower spa. As usual this was the highlight of my Emirates experience. It really is a damn miracle that this thing is in the sky.

The shower spa is spacious with heated floors and far too much space to justify on an airplane.

Shower spa

Shower spa

Shower spa

Shower spa

The shower itself is rather spacious with a bench in the event of turbulence. You get up to five minutes of water per shower, but can extend the life of that by turning the water on and off. So it’s plenty of water, and the pressure is surprisingly good for a plane as well.

Shower spa

Shower spa

Here’s a quick tip — you’ll notice that just outside the shower area is the first class bar, stocked with a bottle of Dom, etc. So if you’re thirsty before a shower and the area isn’t too heavily guarded…

First class bar

When I returned to my seat there was a fruit plate waiting at my seat, which seems to be a standard post-shower offering.


After the shower we had about five hours to do to London, and I requested turndown service so that I could nap for a few hours before dinner.

Turndown service

I slept well for about three hours and woke up two hours out of London feeling refreshed and ready for dinner. There were no flight attendants in sight so I pushed the flight attendant call button. After two pushes a crew member appeared at my seat.

On this flight I skipped the Arabic mezze and caviar since consuming them had prevented me from ever making it as far as the entree on previous flights, and I didn’t want that to happen again. So instead I ordered marinated prawns to start, which were quite good.

Marinated prawns

Then I had the corn chilli soup, which was flavorful and perfectly spiced.

Corn and chilli soup

Then for the main course I ordered the salmon fillet, which was probably the highlight of the meal.

Salmon fillet

During the meal I told the flight attendant I’d like the nectarine meringue tart for dessert, which he brought out right away and placed right next to my entree while I was still working on it. That was the first time I’ve ever had that happen in international first class.

Entree and dessert

Nectarine meringue tart

On the whole the service throughout the meal was really bad. Not a single plate was cleared or refill was offered without it specifically being requested, most of the time via the call button.

Fortunately Emirates has in-flight phones, so my friend and I were able to share our frustrations “live” from the comfort of our own suites. 😉

About 30 minutes prior to landing we began our descent and landing forms and Fast Track passes were distributed.

Landing form and Fast Track card

We had a fairly smooth approach into London and touched down right on-time. Our taxi to the gate took about 10 minutes, and we parked next to another Emirates A380.

Tail camera on final approach

At the gate

The immigration queues was quite long, even for those with Fast Track passes, so we had to wait for about 20 minutes. The immigration officer asked what brought me to the UK, I explained I was in transit, and he asked for my ticket. I’m not sure if I usually just don’t look suspicious or what, but I’ve just about never been asked for anything at any immigration checkpoint.

Once through immigration we followed the signs towards Emirates chauffeur.

Signage for Emirates chauffeur

At the end of the arrivals hall was the Emirates chauffeur lounge.

Emirates chauffeur lounge

Emirates chauffeur lounge

Once we presented our boarding passes the host called for a first class driver, as all the drivers were lined up just outside, and there must have been dozens of them. Quite a spectacle.


Our driver walked us over to the car park and loaded us into his brand new S-class Mercedes. I was curious about how the service works, and he explained that they all work for contract companies and that first class passengers get S-class vehicles, while business class passengers usually get E-class or equivalent.

It was snowy as could be outside, and at that point I asked myself why we decided to overnight in London instead of just connecting, given that I didn’t have a single article of warm clothing. Our driver drove had us at Coworth Park within about 15 minutes, where we’d be spending the night.

  1. How did your friend rate Julie’s performance? Too bad the service was lousy, since you seemed to really enjoy the food this time.

  2. @ Erik — We left the airport at around 9PM and our flight was the following day at 2PM. Given that I wanted to spend a bit of time in the Concorde Room, that didn’t leave a whole lot of time!

  3. Great trip report! Jealous that you’ve been able to fly in Suites class a couple of times now. When service if really below par (as it was in this case), do you usually write a note to the company? I understand a couple minor lapses of service, but the level of service provided by Emirates on this flight, especially in Suites class is not acceptable.

  4. @ Travis — I usually only complain if the crew is being actively rude, vs. just lazy/uninterested. I probably should have complained, though it’s one of those cases where my laziness kicks in and I never get around to it. Besides, I tend to think that if I write about it online it is just as likely to be acted on as if I sent a letter.

  5. Not surprised UK immigration hassled you about transit. I went through one time without having a place to stay yet (planned to book in person), not a good idea. Got hassled for awhile even after producing my departing ticket for the next day. I’ve had more trouble in UK immigration than anywhere else in the world.

  6. Does Emirates pay for your hotel as part of the connecting flight or it is on your own? I heard some airlines will put you up in a hotel if your connecting flight is not until another day or tomorrow.

  7. @ Dave Op — They will only if you take the next available flight. Given how many flights a day there are between Singapore and Dubai as well as Dubai and London, I wasn’t eligible for that.

  8. How were the toiletries in the shower room? did you at least get to keep those?

    i still can’t believe there is no amenity kit on that flight.

  9. Too bad that the service was not good!

    I have a quick question (sorry it was regarding earlier part of the report): The last time I check US citizens do not need a Visa to Sri Lanka no? I was wondering why CX check-in agent tried to check your Visa?

  10. I was asked for my outbound ticket at Luton when arriving from Belgrade a couple of months ago, but I wasn’t transiting. First time for me, as well, and it was my second UK arrival in two weeks. Technically I think it’s always been a question they could ask if you don’t have right of abode, but maybe it’s been bumped in importance recently?

  11. Perhaps you should write to Emirates about the subpar service. The First Class in that flight is in fact their flagship service and how would they know about your experience unless you mention something to them?

  12. What is the difference in the hard product between Singapore and Emirates? From the pictures, I didn’t see much difference except the middle seats/double bed.

  13. @ Denis — Aside from the fact that they’re both fully enclosed suites, they’re quite different.

    Singapore’s suites are on the lower deck (which is a wider cabin) and a bit more spacious. The TV monitor is larger, you have to fold over the seat to turn it into a bed, and there’s more space. The “walls” around each seat are also higher for more privacy.

    On Emirates the suites are on the upper deck and a bit more cramped, though certainly more blinged out. Emirates has more amenities as well, like the onboard bar and showers.

  14. Fast Track + harassment at UK Border? Sounds like you used your US passport…why? If not, a) you had no business being in Fast Track and b) they had no business asking you any questions other than to verify your identity.

  15. @ wpj — Yep, apparently they give them on the overnight flights but not the daytime flights.

    @ sjs — Was using my EU passport though traveling with friend, so decided to stay in line with him.

  16. @ Denis

    SQ also allows 2 people to dine together within the same suite. EK’s suite doesn’t have a “buddy” seat.

  17. Is it possible to have two people using the shower at the same time? And combining the time they have?
    I mean, that has to be the best way to join the mile high club…

  18. @ Denis — Technically a second person can only enter the shower spa if they’re there to provide “assistance.” I suspect what is classified as “assistance” depends on the crew working your flight.

  19. Great report! It’s a shame the service was so terrible on this sector. I hope you’ve written into Emirates to let them know how lazy the crew were!

  20. Hi,
    I am flying on Business class first time into london. I assumed the chauffeur driver service would include the driver waiting for you at arrivals with a board. Do we need to instead go to the lounge and show boarding cards and then only ask for a car.

    Thanks.. Excited First timer..

  21. @ Sid — I believe you’re supposed to check-in at the desk and then they get your driver. The process only takes a minute or two.

    Enjoy your flight!

  22. Have you ever been on an EK flight to anywhere in Africa? If yes, then do you think they discriminate if you are flying on an African route in comparison to lets say UK?
    Since I have been on an EK flight to Angola and London both on First Class, I think that there aren’t much options in the dining menu and they also don’t provide the mattress and only the duvet.

  23. As a Gay man, on principle, I won’t fly Emirates or Qatar or any other airline whose home country has the death penalty for being gay – even as a transit passenger I refuse to give them a single dime (or mile). Now this… And let me point out that to bigots gayness is about perception not reality. This is a real news item it’s not from the Onion:

    Kuwait To Conduct “Homosexuality Tests” To Stop Gay People From Entering Country

    Kuwaiti officials revealed today that they will conduct “medical screening tests” to detect homosexuals who are attempting to enter the country. According to a quote from one official, LGBT people so identified would also be barred from all of the Gulf Cooperation Nations.
    Yousouf Mindkar, director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry, said that the routine clinical screening of expatriates coming into the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) will include tests to identify LGBT people who will then be banned from entering the country. “Health centres conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” he told local daily Al Rai. “However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.” Homosexuals acts are banned in all the GCC member countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Officials have not yet revealed how the tests will work.

  24. As always, interesting trip report, actually, hard to stop reading till the end once I start.

    Do you have any review on what you did when you were in Dubai? I’ve read many comments in one of your recent posts, it seems most of your readers can’t wait to visit Dubai. All these while (till now I guess) I thought Dubai is like Las Vegas without casinos and women.

  25. We are flying 1st this spring on four legs of a journey. I would like to know how they keep the “lookie Lous” out of the spa? I know when we flew first on BA, business travelers kept sneaking their way up and into the first class restrooms. Most annoying.

  26. From my experience traveling ‘main line’ Middle Eastern Airlines is, when you are not satisfied with the service, it’s best to ask for a feed back form immediately. Abracadabra !!! You will then notice that the service bucks up and the crew change gears ! Apparently, in the Middle East, once the airline receives a complaint, they really drill down the crew or supervisor in charge. So when you complain, the crew ‘shit bricks’ !!!

  27. In July I flew Emirates business class for the first time. I was greatly disappointed. Maybe all of the adverts and awards had gotten my hopes up. I’ve experienced great service from Malaysian, Singapore, Vietnam and Cathay Pacific business class in the past – so maybe my bar has been set too high?

    The comments that were the strongest from my experience:

    “they were probably the most indifferent premium cabin crew I’ve ever had.”

    “There were no flight attendants in sight so I pushed the flight attendant call button. After two pushes a crew member appeared at my seat.”

    On Malaysia Airline they do many passes and even attempt to learn your habits so they can anticipate your needs. How is the Ritz Carlton able to train a diverse world class staff with great customer service but Emirates is not? It has been over 3 years and they still haven’t sorted out this problem.

    Thanks for the feedback form tip J Welinkar!

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