How To Maximize Emirates First Class Experience?

Filed Under: Advice, Emirates

Reader Ruben asked the following in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

I’ve been adding up miles and plan on redeeming on Emirates First Class DXB-LHR, would you recommend as a better experience flying at night or during the day? is there much of a difference? Theres the 3am night time flight and then then daytime.

ps. its all about getting the most value 😉

“Emirates first class” and “getting the most value” — you’re speaking my language! I love Emirates first class — it’s just so blingy, so over the top, and on the A380, so fun thanks to the onboard shower & bar.



I’ve reviewed Emirates first class many times, including the following:

Emirates has eight A380 flights a day between Dubai and London (five to Heathrow Airport, three to Gatwick Airport), so they have a flight to suit just about every schedule. In terms of the experience, there are three general “types” of flights. For context, the flight from Dubai to London is about seven hours, and there’s a three hour time change, so the flight typically lands four hours after it leaves, adjusting for local time.

The three general types of flights are as follows:

  • Redeyes (ie, leaving at 2:30AM and arriving at 7:00AM)
  • Morning departures (ie, leaving at 7:45AM arriving at 12:15PM)
  • Afternoon departures (ie, leaving at 2:15PM arriving at 6:40PM)

So which offers the all around best experience? Let’s talk a bit about what you can expect on each of those flights:

Dubai to London redeye

Here’s the menu for Emirates’ Dubai to London redeyes.

This would be my last choice in terms of the onboard experience. There’s a “full” breakfast service on the flight, and then a snack service if you’re hungry before then. And we’re not talking some extravagant snack menu with caviar like what JAL has in first class, but rather you can expect options like clam chowder, cottage pie, etc.


This probably won’t leave you with the best impression of the Emirates first class service.

Dubai to London morning departure

Here’s the menu for Emirates’ Dubai to London morning departure.

They serve a decent breakfast after takeoff.


And then there’s a pretty extensive lunch menu, which you can order from anytime. So if you prefer to skip breakfast you can go straight to the a la carte lunch menu if you’d like.


What’s the downside of taking a morning departure?

  • You probably won’t have much time to enjoy the Emirates Lounge in Dubai. If your flight leaves around 8AM, how much sleep do you really want to sacrifice to enjoy the lounge?
  • In general I find breakfast to be the most underwhelming airplane meal, so given the choice I’ll usually avoid a flight with breakfast, if the goal is to “maximize the experience.”
  • Realistically you’re not going to be able to enjoy the bar and alcohol selection all that much on a flight leaving so early in the morning.

Dubai to London afternoon departure

Here’s the menu for Emirates’ Dubai to London afternoon departure.

This is the flight which really gives you the best of all worlds. You’ll have a huge menu, and can order everything from caviar…


To an incredible mezze…


You can even have afternoon tea if you’d like…


Since Emirates has a “dine on demand” concept, you can have a nice lunch after takeoff, and then dinner before landing, if you’d like.

Other advantages of an afternoon/evening departure include:

  • You’ll have time to enjoy the Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai without having to get up too early.
  • The bar is usually a bit more lively on afternoon flights than nighttime flights.
  • You can maximize the drink selection a bit better and sleep upon landing. 😉


Bottom line

The hours of a flight are considerably less important on ultra longhauls, where they’ll have a full service regardless. That being said, for flights from Dubai to Europe or Asia, I’d generally avoid the departures in the middle of the night if you’re looking to maximize the experience. Not only will the food be underwhelming, but you likely wont’ be awake enough to fully enjoy the experience.

I do find it a bit odd how lackluster Emirates’ first class catering is on redeyes. They’ve built their business model around offering one-stop service between places outside the Middle East. So many people taking redeyes are connecting from elsewhere and might not be tired. You’d think they’d at least have the option to enjoy a proper meal.

Hopefully the above is helpful in maximizing your Emirates first class experience, Ruben!

Anyone have a different take than me when it comes to maximizing Emirates first class?

  1. My family’s first international trip, the first leg no less was on SFO-DXB route and we were forever ruined for life. Perfect afternoon 3pm departure, pretty empty cabin (March 2015), relaxed and bubbly cabin crew, relatively new version of A380 (larger screen, newer thinner ipad like control). 2 of us in F and 2 in J. It was a dream. Second leg on a same trip, DXB-HKG on older A380 couldn’t match the experience neither did Singapore A380 Suite or J on HKG to SIN (too short flight, too robotic crew but amazing food) nor OZ A380 J on ICN to LAX.

    Anyway, I don’t think I will ever forget the experience on Emirates F on A380. Can’t wait to see their next gen hard product that they are working on.

  2. I agree with your strategy, Lucky! I also avoid redeyes so I’m fully awake to enjoy every single minute of EK F! 🙂
    If Ruben really wants to maximize his experience, I suggest saving up more miles to redeem a SIN-DXB-LHR or LAX-DXB-LHR flight. With DXB-LHR, it will be a 7-8 hour flight and I’m not sure whether he will be able to fully enjoy all the A380 amenities onboard in that time frame (i.e. shower, 2 meals, sleep, bar, IFE, etc.)

  3. Do you have tips on how to maximize cathay pacific first class, too? My husband and I are flying with the for the first time next week ZRH>HKG

  4. Will be flying in F on the MXP – JFK route in October. Perfect departure time. 3pm. Can’t wait.

  5. This why I read your blog even though I will probably never avail myself of these flights and service. You have done this person a great service by nailing down exactly how he may take advantage of the best flight and service.

  6. Well,
    If you want to maximize the EK-F Class Experience, DXB-PTY (Panama City) starting on February 1st 2016, –
    A scheduled flight of 17 hours 35 minutes plane-ride,
    However, it will not be the A380 with the bar, but I guess a 777-200LR suite will do ?
    You will most probably have 3 in-flight parties and 4 meals?

  7. Could you do the same for Etihad and for Qatar?
    A friend of mine is flying
    HND-HKG Day flight CX F
    BKK-DOH Evening flight QR F A380
    AUH-LHR Morning flight EY F A380

    And I would love to be able to dazzle him with things not to miss and what to optimize

  8. BEN! Awesome post, I’m with everyone else on commenting that you should do more of these types of posts in general…maybe a whole series in fact. I’m with Sam…specifically I’d like help with JFK-DXB, and so far there’s only one option for DFW-DXB on A380 but I’m wondering if anyone has done both and can recommend which one would be best or just comment on their experience DFW-DXB? DFW is longer flight time but JFK has an Emirates Lounge although from the pictures I’ve seen of the lounge in JFK, lets just say the DFW Centurion right across from D17 looks a lot nicer. Wife and I have planned a tripe to MLE in Feb going through DXB. BTW, what’s up with EK F award space between DXB-MLE? Seems like no availability? Economy only…..which means no DXB lounge

  9. @Lucky What would you say is the best ULH to maximize F? I can see the majority of these leave between 2-4 AM and later in the morning. I do see a 3 PM to JFK as the only ULH afternoon flight thats not a red eye. Would you say this is the best one?

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