You know that Emirates commercial starring Jennifer Aniston, where she asks the crew member at the A380 bar “hey, is there someone we can talk to about maybe flying this around a bit longer before we land?” Well, that’s exactly how I felt after flying Emirates’ A380 first class from New York to Milan.
Emirates’ A380 first class is the most fun way to fly
On Tuesday night I flew Emirates first class from New York to Milan (I know I’ve reviewed Emirates first class many times before, but there’s a very special reason I took this flight, which I’ll share in the next installment), and it left me with a very different feeling than my typical Emirates first class flights.
A vast majority of Emirates’ routes from the United States are to Dubai, and those flights typically take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours, which is plenty of time to enjoy the experience. After all, there’s so much to do in Emirates first class, from the inflight shower, to the onboard bar, to endless entertainment, to incredible drinks and solid food.
However, Emirates also operates two routes between the United States and Europe, including an Airbus A380 service between New York and Milan. This flight takes just over seven hours, departing at around 11PM and arriving at around 12PM the next day.
This presents a real (non-issue) issue:
- First and foremost, the beauty of flying in a premium cabin is the ability to get a proper night of sleep; this flight is perfectly timed for getting a great night of sleep… and nothing more
- But the beauty of flying Emirates first class is showering, going to the bar, enjoying caviar and Dom Perignon, etc.
Usually when you fly Emirates first class to Dubai, you can “party” a bit, then get a solid night of sleep, then shower, and land refreshed. Meanwhile maximizing the experience on the much shorter sector between New York and Milan takes more effort.
How did we maximize this flight?
Prior to the flight, I repeatedly tried to strategize about the right approach to take in order to enjoy this flight by checking of all the A380 features while still getting some rest… and I think we struck the right balance. So I’ll share the approach we took (though of course that’s not to say you should take the same approach).
We started with some pre-departure water. We didn’t order champagne, since Emirates can’t serve Dom Perignon until after the door closes on flights out of the US, so you’ll only get the business class champagne.
While Emirates has a dine on demand menu, Emirates’ first class food isn’t actually that amazing, aside from some staples. So we started with the Dom Perignon and the canapés.
Then we ordered the caviar, and we were offered a double, since they had plenty (in this case there were only five of the 14 seats occupied). 😉
Then we had the Arabic mezze, which is consistently excellent.
While we could have enjoyed a full meal, I don’t generally want to eat that much before going to sleep, and frankly Emirates’ first class mains aren’t really that great. At this point we headed back to the business class bar. It was the ideal time to go as an introvert, since at this point all the business class passengers were back at their seats, as the meal service was well underway (since there’s no dine on demand).
At the bar, we had a champagne cocktail with Dom Perignon and Hennessy Paradis. After all, it’s criminal to fly Emirates first class and not have at least a sip of the world’s most expensive beverage available in the sky. 😉
Then it was nap time, and we got a solid three hours of sleep.
When we woke up we decided to shower first. While we had reserved the last possible shower appointments, we ended up showering earlier, since they were available.
Then it was breakfast time. I just ate some fruit and yogurt, and figured I’d order the waffles just for pictures, if nothing else.
Before we knew it, we were landing in Milan!
While a much longer flight would have been ideal, we managed to check just about everything off the list, and woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed and not hungover. I’d say that’s a fantastic balance to strike on a flight this short.
I’m happy I finally had the chance to fly Emirates first class on its short transatlantic route between New York and Milan. It felt kind of weird to fly Emirates first class out of the United States and not be in the air for 12+ hours. However, I think we struck the right balance.
What approach would you take to enjoying this Emirates first class flight? Sleep the whole way, party the whole way, or something in between?
Thanks Ben. I'm taking this flight on Saturday and plan to follow your gameplan (maybe I'll shoot for 4 hours of sleep, cause I'm older than you). Booked with miles following your instructions in other posts. Appreciate you and this site!
It not that Emirates "can't" serve Dom on the ground. It is they don't want to pay the taxes. Many states including New York require that service with the door open be done with taxed product. No use of duty free Dom.
Three hours sleep plus drinking = conflict with lounge dragon
I am taking this flight on June 13. Were masks required to be worn on the trip to Milan?
EK has a very laissez-faire attitude when it comes to masks in FC, as does LH. I don’t know about the other cabins.
Tail, belly, wing cams available in economy class, also...unlike Dom Perrignon! Good ride, just the same. Sure beats United...
absolutely loved this article!! my dream is to fly EK First, cant wait to try all these fun things in the air one day!
1. Position to the U.S West Coast and only fly Transatlantic Eastbound from there, -- OR --
2. Only bother booking Emirates First Class, on awards, MXP-JFK or ATH-EWR, to return to the U.S. *from* Europe.
(Am I doing this right?)
Hibiki 21 served on ANA on some routes is arguably more expensive than Hennessy Paradis. While the retail price is lower, it's almost impossible to find it at retail price, whereas Hennessy is widely available.
The EK Mezze is the only thing I eat in the air - the flavours have been well thought out and it is a complete meal for a long haul flight. Bubbles are another thing altogether .........
Ah, I see Lucky has now significantly edited the text so that it is no longer prescriptive or proscriptive. It reads much better now.
Thanks for taking my advice.
Really digging your TLA responses.
It doesn't how anyone tries to do it, but photographing a first class bed in the sky still looks like a bunk bed in a dormer. It's all relative I suppose.
Perfect balance I think
Booked for LAX-DXB for a honeymoon in October. Should be plenty of time to enjoy everything Emirates has to offer. My wife is currently in First but I am in business (award booking) hoping to get the upgrade. Any tips on getting that before the last-minute last-seat availability tactic?
@ Duncan -- Hope you enjoy the trip and are able to get that first seat in advance! All I can recommend is waitlisting for a first class award and keeping a close eye on availability. Hopefully otherwise the upgrade works out at the airport or onboard.
Ben- for the sake of transparency, can you please explain how you found any award availability for first class on this route? It's zeroed out for months...
@ BG -- On May 26 two award seats opened up on the May 31 flight, so I booked them right away. I was monitoring closely, as those same seats weren't available on May 25. I guess that was possible thanks to the light load in first class.
Great review. FWIW, I try to travel westbound in premium classes because it’s a longer flight and usually in daylight hours (except some US-Asia and Australasian flights). Why spend all those bucks and/or miles to sleep?
@ Explore -- Agreed, and largely my strategy as well. But for a difference of 12,500 Skywards miles one-way, I figure it's worth it.
I really value the sleep, or semblance of sleep (which is sometimes good enough) on overnight flights. So I always try for premium class eastbound US to Europe even knowing I won't necessarily enjoy the dinner and drinks.
My wife and I are taking the reverse flight in July. Right now in business, hoping to upgrade to first of the opportunity presents itself. Totally looking forward to it.
I’m flying DXB - MXP -JFK
The plan is to sleep and have a light meal on the first flight .
Then drink and party on the second flight.
Amusing article, but for the random dates I checked, J is $4k and F is $16k. A shower, etc. isn't worth the price difference to me, YMMV.
@ Richard_ -- I hear you, but when redeeming miles it's 72,500 miles in business class or 85,000 miles in first class, pending award availability. Slightly different value proposition compared to revenue tickets.
Does anyone actually pay for F anymore on these flights?
Yes, sort of :) Just before covid, I was asked to delay by a month a vacation to SE Asia that I had booked a year in advance, with flights in F both ways using miles. I agreed under the condition that the guilty party pay for the new F flights - there was of course no award space 30 days out. Turned out Emirates F was the least expensive option - $8k round trip...
Yes, sort of :) Just before covid, I was asked to delay by a month a vacation to SE Asia that I had booked a year in advance, with flights in F both ways using miles. I agreed under the condition that the guilty party pay for the new F flights - there was of course no award space 30 days out. Turned out Emirates F was the least expensive option - $8k round trip from North America to Southeast Asia, as long as I positioned to Toronto first ($12k if starting from the US).
Come to think of it, $8k for 3 long segments in Emirates F is not a bad deal (the trip was open jaw, one segment was in a FlyDubai 737).
Great post Ben. In your younger days you’d have been tempted to max out the alcohol but I bet the 3 hours of sleep seemed like a good idea the next morning. Your question of how to get best value from a shortish F flight is a good one. Why some don’t think it belongs on a blog about getting value from points and miles, I’m not sure.
Sounds like an awesome time! And again here we are with the cliffhangers on why the trip is so special TBD haha. Best wishes!
You make me wish I was on this flight
I'm sure it's incredibly comfortable but gosh Emirates décor is so garish
If you saw the average upper-class living room in an Emirati houshold you would think the EK F cabin is a model of restraint! LOL.
Definitely would prefer the westbound flight! I had the same conundrum flying CX YVR-JFK. I saved my points and opted for J, since the flight is too short to do anything but sleep. I even ate in the lounge and slept through dinner on the plane, I need to maximize my sleep on those red-eyes!
Talking about the caviar - I recently flew both Emirates first class and Lufthansa first class (on a 747-8 to boot!) - I didn't think the
Emirates caviar was all that good; the mid-priced caviar I buy once a year or so is better. The caviar on Lufthansa was noticeably better to me, but unfortunately they don't stock caviar spoons like Emirates does. Anyone else feel the same way?
When I was young, it was about the party.
Now that I’m old, and have a full wine cellar with Dommabd Krug whenever I want, it’s about the sleep.
I think emirates caviar is just across the line of being called caviar. Presentation is great but the caviar itself is very very ordinary.
I also find their wines to be great wines on the ground but not amazing when flying. I don’t know if it’s the dry air or the pressure or what, but the main goal is show rather than actual quality. Nothing wrong with show though, as long as you judge it as such
I think "show rather than actual quality" sort of sums up my whole experience with Emirates, and with Dubai in a way. The people were great for the most part, but everything else just felt artificial and completely for looking better than everywhere else. The F lounge in Dubai was huge, and the food was pretty good, but beyond looking impressive, it was otherwise pretty unremarkable experience (Ok, boarding gates in the lounge were cool)....
I think "show rather than actual quality" sort of sums up my whole experience with Emirates, and with Dubai in a way. The people were great for the most part, but everything else just felt artificial and completely for looking better than everywhere else. The F lounge in Dubai was huge, and the food was pretty good, but beyond looking impressive, it was otherwise pretty unremarkable experience (Ok, boarding gates in the lounge were cool).
No doubt a great way to fly, but my experiences in Cathay, Singapore, Lufthansa, and JAL F just felt like more - Emirates was just "oh wow".
the spoons are relatively new as are the tins.
There is only one Asian compamy that offers a slightly better than lowest quality caviar.
But while most reviewers still race about what they get, why change? It seems reviewers never want to spend the few dollars pn caviar at home. The hot towel is still given but it is no longer Frette and there are NO more towels in F toilets
Don't understand the hate. I miss content like this from the days of whimsical travel. I loved reading it and want to replicate exactly what you did.
I kinda like the more whimsical tone of this piece.
@Ben - Any particular method you use to ask for seconds on the caviar without looking crass?
@ Christian -- In my experience sometimes the crew will offer proactively if it's empty. Otherwise politely asking "is there any chance I could get a double portion?" does the trick. After all, it's a dine on demand menu, so you can have as much as you want when you want.
Just keep in mind that this is dependent on how full the cabin is. Odds are great of getting seconds if the cabin is pretty empty, while it's unlikely to happen if the cabin is full.
Ben, did you book this flight on points or cash? I have had my eye on this route for a while, but have not seen any availability
The whole point of airport bars is to talk to other passengers - so that aspect, you did wrong
To the overall point of the article, from NY to Europe, I tend to try to take more basic configurations (on a relative basis) because the goal is to sleep. Good opportunity to take flights on US metal, for example. On the way back from Europe to the east coast, you can stay awake and take advantage of the amenities
@ Ben- Are you sure this is completely accurate "since Emirates can’t serve Dom Perignon until after the door closes on flights out of the US"
We recently flew ATH-EWR and were told the same thing, "can't serve Dom until after the door closes"
@ Dc_nomad -- Some countries charge taxes on alcohol served on the ground, and I wasn't meaning to suggest that the United States was the only country. Indeed there are some other countries, including Greece, that have similar rules. Meanwhile out of the UAE you can have Dom Perignon pre-departure.
On that note - most airlines only serve sparkling wine, not even Business class wine, while on the ground. (for those that serve anything).
It's definitely not accurate: Emirates certainly CAN serve Dom Perignon on the ground - they just don't want to pay the tax on those bottles. It's their business decision (and not an uncommon one.)
I sort of agree with David on this one. The post seems a little "off" from the usual fare. Mostly about having "fun" drinking high end alcoholic beverages across the Atlantic without getting a hangover.
That sounds like fun to me. Don't forget the 3 hours sleep.
This is a bit of an odd post, to be completely honest.. Very pedantic.
The tone of this post is annoyingly prescriptive (and proscriptive). In this sense it is a departure from most of Lucky's writing. I would urge Lucky not to use this tone in future,
holy crap willy is on the money.
think either lucky was drunk or bored on this flight, either way who cares.
'I would urge Lucky not to use this tone in future'......... who talks like this.....
Get a life Daviiiid