Unreal: A Private Flight In Emirates’ New First Class

Unreal: A Private Flight In Emirates’ New First Class

37

I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to travel in first & business class pretty consistently thanks to miles & points. While international first class is always (well, almost always) a treat, some flights are just on a different level. This weekend I had one of those flights, and I’m still pinching myself.

Flying Emirates’ new first class from Washington to Dubai

I rank Emirates’ new(ish) Boeing 777-300ER first class as the best first class product in the world. Prior to this weekend I had only flown it once, back in early 2018 from Dubai to Brussels (this was shortly after it was introduced).

Emirates only offers its new first class on very limited routes, and at the moment Washington to Dubai is one of those routes. I’ve been wanting to experience this product on a long haul flight, since the flights between Dubai and Europe aren’t really long enough to fully enjoy the experience.

New Emirates Boeing 777 first class seat
New Emirates Boeing 777 first class seat

Well, last week I saw that Emirates had opened up two first class award seats on the route for Saturday, so I booked it for us (this is part of a larger trip, and I’ll reveal the full details of that shortly). Getting two first class award seats in a cabin with just six seats is pretty awesome.

You know what’s even awesomer? Having the whole cabin to yourself. That’s right, there were no other passengers in first class. There are some premium travel experiences where you just can’t help but wonder how you got so lucky, and this was definitely one of them.

Enjoying Emirates’ new first class

The flight was catered for a full cabin in first class, so we did our best to put a dent into the six tins of caviar and dozen plus bottles of Dom Perignon that were catered. I think I’m still getting over my hangover.

And having two flight attendants plus the purser take care of just us was a pretty acceptable crew to passenger ratio. 😉 Then again, the service on this flight was, um, unique… I’ll save that for another post, because I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I can or should say about it.

The funny thing about having Emirates’ new first class cabin all to yourself is that this is probably the single first class product where it matters least how full the cabin is. That’s because each passenger gets a fully enclosed suite with a floor-to-ceiling wall on both sides.

New Emirates Boeing 777 first class seat
New Emirates Boeing 777 first class seat

Three seats open to each aisle, and there’s no way to see what’s even going on in the other aisle.

New Emirates Boeing 777 first class cabin
New Emirates Boeing 777 first class cabin

While the flight was 12hr30min, I really didn’t want it to end, and it almost felt half that long.

New Emirates Boeing 777 first class bed

VIRTUAL WINDOWS ARE AWESOME!!!

Last time I flew Emirates’ new first class, I sat in a “true” window seat. This time around I sat in one of the center seats, featuring virtual windows. Virtual windows, you ask? Yes, the two center first class suites on the 777 have “fake” windows on one side of the suite, so that you feel like you’re in a window seat.

Emirates Boeing 777 first class virtual windows

But what you see out of the fake windows is 100% real. There’s a camera to the side of the aircraft that projects exactly what you’d see if you were in a real window. I have to say, virtual windows are just flippin’ amazing:

  • Obviously there’s the novelty factor to having virtual windows
  • The center suites have the benefit of being a bit more spacious vertically, given that the fuselage is a bit higher in the center of the cabin
  • Because these windows are virtual, you can get your private cabin 100% dark, since no light will shine through, unlike in true window seats
  • Then there was just the general amazement of realizing you’re not looking out real windows, but that this is all fake… I must have spent half of my flight thinking about these windows, and for that matter I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of pictures I took out these “windows”
Emirates Boeing 777 first class virtual windows
Emirates Boeing 777 first class virtual windows
Emirates Boeing 777 first class virtual windows
Emirates Boeing 777 first class virtual windows

Bottom line

There are great first class flights, and then there’s having Emirates’ new Boeing 777 first class cabin all to yourself for ~13 hours. I’ve really had quite an unbelievable couple of weeks in terms of premium travel, between flying Singapore’s A380 Suites from Frankfurt to New York in a “double bed,” and now flying Emirates’ new first class without anyone else in the cabin.

What an incredible experience. Stay tuned, as I’m just finishing my previous trip report, and will then get started with this one. What an experience…

Conversations (37)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. SKing Guest

    Can we request more than 1 set of pajamas from attendant?

  2. StevenS Guest

    Our first FC experience was years ago - Air France. Four seats and we were the only two. Gorgeous male flight attendant who found out my wife had been a French teacher years earlier and spent hours talking to her in French. She was over the moon! Been in more lavish FC suites since but nothing ever matched that experience.

  3. Christopher Guest

    I had taken advantage of the Alaska Air miles glitch and booked SFO-DXB-BRU-DXB for 150,000 miles for a February flight. Was fortunate to have the full FC Cabin to myself on the flight from Dubai to Brussels and there were one other person on the flight back. Knocked out 6 bottles of Dom and put a dent in the Hennessy Paradis on the 3 flights. Got to enjoy the virtual windows while resting and other...

    I had taken advantage of the Alaska Air miles glitch and booked SFO-DXB-BRU-DXB for 150,000 miles for a February flight. Was fortunate to have the full FC Cabin to myself on the flight from Dubai to Brussels and there were one other person on the flight back. Knocked out 6 bottles of Dom and put a dent in the Hennessy Paradis on the 3 flights. Got to enjoy the virtual windows while resting and other seats for meals. Such a great experience. Only negative was the 380 to SFO was changed to 777 and they were showing Opus for wine option that changed a week before the flight. Regardless a great experience spending 30 hrs flying Emirates FC along with spending 10 hours at the FC lounge.

  4. reddargon Diamond

    Product looks amazing, but as you point out in the article it hardly seems like a big deal how many other passengers there are given the privacy of the seat. The whole point of the door is so you don't see other passengers regardless.

  5. Alison Riches Guest

    We flew first class from Edinburgh to Sydney it was absolutely pure heaven and being able to have a shower two hours before landing was brilliant. Loved every minute. Thank you Emirate’s ❤️❤️

  6. Steve Guest

    This is wild. Looks like it was styled in 1990 on top of hardware from 1970 with some screens from 2010 squeezed in.

  7. D3kingg Guest

    Great photo. Ben is looking like a boss.

  8. Norm Guest

    You are indeed lucky. Generally I find the fewer people in first the worse the service. A flight on Korean Air with no service and seemingly no English with only 2 passengers comes to mind. It's not surprising given that the less work one has to do the less most people want to do it. I know there are exceptions of course.

  9. Marco Guest

    Nice that you finally got in front of the camera.

  10. AA70 Gold

    As you've now flown this new one on a longer flight, perhaps in your review can you discuss a bit on whether it's worth forgoing the shower suite on the A380? I've always wondered

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ AA70 -- Great topic for a post, thanks!

  11. Rob Guest

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I love reading all the positive reports of this FC cabin. I’m scheduled to fly it at the end of May.
    I’m bummed because I really wanted the A380 experience, but can’t find any availability for my date(s). However, your report makes me excited to try the new FC cabin.

  12. Tommy Long Guest

    Are the video screen "windows" in 4k?

  13. john Guest

    If only they would drop the fake mahogany and gold trim....

  14. Stuart Guest

    Was on the same flight a few weeks ago. It ended up a full cabin in F as there were a few last minute upgrades. Interestingly though in that other than the guy across from me (I was in the same seat as you) who I occasionally saw, you never really felt like there was anyone else there in F.

    The virtual windows were kinda fun at first but for me it never really...

    Was on the same flight a few weeks ago. It ended up a full cabin in F as there were a few last minute upgrades. Interestingly though in that other than the guy across from me (I was in the same seat as you) who I occasionally saw, you never really felt like there was anyone else there in F.

    The virtual windows were kinda fun at first but for me it never really captured the same feel as looking out. The cameras seemed to be angled downwards a bit so, for example, the best part of plane spotting during the taxis was difficult. However, no doubt, I would still opt for this seat in the future as at 6-2 the extra space was wonderful. I could really stretch out and move around easily inside.

    I flew back in Etihad First and, well, it was nice, but what a letdown after the new EK F.

  15. Alian Guest

    Fake windows mean no reflection or glare great for taking photos. Really dislike when the cabin lighting creates glare and reflections. Does make the Centre seats more appealing

  16. MB Guest

    My mate and I just had the same experience on the same route last week. It was amazing. I never imagined that something could make business class feel like an actual let-down.

  17. Ed Guest

    Great report and seats. Looks like Emirates did away with the bling bling and made First Class a bit more classy.

  18. Eli Guest

    Do you remember how many seats were available in A? and if I may ask where did you check the seat map?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Eli -- It was F4A4. I checked the seatmap on ExpertFlyer.

  19. aarnn Guest

    Ben, how is the new Emirates first class for traveling with a companion? How do you communicate with each other during the flight - does the video chat go seat-to-seat or do you have to walk from one suite to the other? (We have an open F itinerary to use before Feb 2023, and we're looking at DXB-STN as one of the legs.) Thanks!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ aarnn -- Frankly that's the one downside about this product, as it's not really designed well for people traveling together. However, if you select suites across from one another (so either 1A & 1E or 2F & 2K) you're close enough so that you can talk (somewhat loudly) to one another. I didn't feel bad about talking a bit louder since there was no one else in first class. So it's not ideal and you won't dine together, but you won't be totally secluded either.

    2. Max Guest

      Is this suite spacious enough to join the M**e-H**h-Club?

    3. Eskimo Guest

      @Max

      If I remember correctly, the suites are more suited for OnlyFans. There is a camera recording all your moves. And the small hatch can be open from the outside. Seat isn't big enough for a bed. But hey, people have done it everyway everywhere, so there's no stopping you.

  20. Michael Guest

    Ben,
    Glad you enjoyed this - with all of the talk about airlines cutting back on F - based upon what you describe, it is hard to understand the financial models of all of this. Maybe the concept that Business class supports the rest of the plan extends to First, except that 1 full-fare paying customer supports an entire week of non-rev upgrades and such for a high-profile product. Although, if my understanding of...

    Ben,
    Glad you enjoyed this - with all of the talk about airlines cutting back on F - based upon what you describe, it is hard to understand the financial models of all of this. Maybe the concept that Business class supports the rest of the plan extends to First, except that 1 full-fare paying customer supports an entire week of non-rev upgrades and such for a high-profile product. Although, if my understanding of Miles programs is correct - then the cost center that got reimbursed for your trip probably justifies all of this. Nevertheless, the finances of this must be crazy.... maybe you can share some insights (and I know the rules are different between different airlines and who supports their bottom lines)

    great trip!

    -m

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Michael -- Great point and question. Ultimately this flight being so empty was the exception rather than the norm, or else this product wouldn't be offered on the route. Keep in mind that often flights that have award availability are also the ones that are most likely to be empty up front, which may (incorrectly) lead us to believe that this is how it consistently is. But that's not the case, and many days...

      @ Michael -- Great point and question. Ultimately this flight being so empty was the exception rather than the norm, or else this product wouldn't be offered on the route. Keep in mind that often flights that have award availability are also the ones that are most likely to be empty up front, which may (incorrectly) lead us to believe that this is how it consistently is. But that's not the case, and many days you'll find first class fully booked in advance, presumably mostly with paying customers.

      When award seats are released it ultimately comes down to incremental revenue, and I'd say Emirates still made money on us (compared to the seats being empty). We paid 136K miles per person (transfered directly to Skywards from Amex, and you can expect that Amex is probably paying Skywards around a cent per mile, if not more), and on top of that carrier imposed surcharges were quite steep.

    2. Wayne Guest

      I had the privilege of flying this route in F a couple of weeks ago and there were only 3 passengers. I had the whole right side of the cabin to myself. The overall load seemed pretty light given the number of passengers at the gate so it's curious that EK is using this plane in this particular US route. Makes me wonder if there are some VIPs flying between Washington DC and Dubai on the regular..

    3. Wayne Guest

      Although it appeared that the two other F passengers were on paid fares are they were greeted at the gate in Dubai when got rides to immigration while I had to walk!

    4. Merry Chris Moss Guest

      Non-rev upgrades are a US carrier FA benefit. AFAIK, no other airline offers F upgrades. I also want to say, non-US FAs don't even get J. Could be wrong on the J part (don't think so), but definitely not F.

  21. Eli Guest

    Did you create an alert on expert flyer? or you kept on checking, or both, because I did track this flight a lot and never really sow that it should be available more then one seat.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Eli -- Nope, I didn't set an alert, but just monitored patterns. I noticed the flight was "F4" (the most inventory Emirates will show in first class), and there were no seats assigned on the seatmap. Generally two award seats are released a few days before departure, but only if the cabin is completely empty. Otherwise you'll see up to one award seat.

  22. Cedric Guest

    With such a closed cabin, I'm not sure it really changes anything. With more open layouts, it really feels like you have the plane to yourself. Like Japan Airline's 787 in C, cabin could be full or empty and you oculd only tell when getting up.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Cedric -- Indeed, an empty cabin doesn't make as big of a difference here as on other airlines. Still, it makes a difference in terms of access to the menu items you like, attentiveness of service, cabin noise, bathroom cleanliness, etc.

  23. BookLvr Gold

    WOW! Living the dream!

  24. Max Guest

    Ben, admit it: You booked 4 fully flex tickets for the pther seats and cancelled them last minute.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Max -- Hah, didn't even cross my mind, not that I would do that anyway (I'm grateful enough to be able to redeem for products like this as is)! The flight was "F4" all the way until departure. I figured that there wasn't too much risk of someone just paying for a ticket last minute. The only real "risk" of the cabin filling up was upgrades at the airport or onboard, which can be...

      @ Max -- Hah, didn't even cross my mind, not that I would do that anyway (I'm grateful enough to be able to redeem for products like this as is)! The flight was "F4" all the way until departure. I figured that there wasn't too much risk of someone just paying for a ticket last minute. The only real "risk" of the cabin filling up was upgrades at the airport or onboard, which can be a great deal. But I guess there weren't too many savvy points people in business class.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Michael -- Great point and question. Ultimately this flight being so empty was the exception rather than the norm, or else this product wouldn't be offered on the route. Keep in mind that often flights that have award availability are also the ones that are most likely to be empty up front, which may (incorrectly) lead us to believe that this is how it consistently is. But that's not the case, and many days you'll find first class fully booked in advance, presumably mostly with paying customers. When award seats are released it ultimately comes down to incremental revenue, and I'd say Emirates still made money on us (compared to the seats being empty). We paid 136K miles per person (transfered directly to Skywards from Amex, and you can expect that Amex is probably paying Skywards around a cent per mile, if not more), and on top of that carrier imposed surcharges were quite steep.

2
Christopher Guest

I had taken advantage of the Alaska Air miles glitch and booked SFO-DXB-BRU-DXB for 150,000 miles for a February flight. Was fortunate to have the full FC Cabin to myself on the flight from Dubai to Brussels and there were one other person on the flight back. Knocked out 6 bottles of Dom and put a dent in the Hennessy Paradis on the 3 flights. Got to enjoy the virtual windows while resting and other seats for meals. Such a great experience. Only negative was the 380 to SFO was changed to 777 and they were showing Opus for wine option that changed a week before the flight. Regardless a great experience spending 30 hrs flying Emirates FC along with spending 10 hours at the FC lounge.

1
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ AA70 -- Great topic for a post, thanks!

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT