Review: Emirates 777 First Class Athens To Newark

Review: Emirates 777 First Class Athens To Newark

FROM: ATH
TO: EWR
CABIN: First
DATE: June 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Emirates first class continues to be spectacular -- what an awesome fifth freedom flight for getting between Greece and the United States!
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It’s never fun to leave a place as beautiful as Greece. Well, unless you’re lucky enough to be flying Emirates first class, enjoying what’s easily one of the most comfortable and fun ways to cross the Atlantic.

Booking Emirates first class with Skywards miles

Emirates operates an awesome fifth freedom flight between Athens and Newark, which sure is a fun way to travel between the United States and Greece. We took our trip to Greece very early in the season, and as a result return flights to the United States were still wide open.

We had no trouble finding two Emirates first class award seats from Athens to Newark for a date that would be convenient for us. Nowadays the best way to redeem miles for Emirates first class is directly through the Skywards program (Emirates has restricted first class awards to many partner programs). We had sent my mom and her partner home in Emirates first class a couple of days earlier, and Ford and I returned from Athens to Newark in Emirates first class as well.

Our tickets cost 85,000 Skywards miles per person, and taxes and fees were around $100 per ticket. That’s an extremely reasonable award cost for such a fantastic product. If there’s not any award space on a flight, there’s a trick to upgrading Emirates flights on the day of departure, which could prove useful.

Also keep in mind that Emirates Skywards miles are easy to come by, thanks to the program partnering with all major transferable points programs. This includes Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Capital One, and Brex.

Emirates first class review

I’ll keep this review somewhat brief, given that I’ve reviewed Emirates first class many times before, including A380 first class, new 777 first class, and old 777 first class. Rather I’ll primarily focus on what service is like on this transatlantic flight, and also how Emirates first class service is holding up in the coronavirus era.

We got to Athens International Airport at around 3:30PM for our 5:35PM flight to Newark. Emirates’ check-in counter was deserted, and within a few minutes we were issued our boarding passes to Newark. Immigration and security was quick, and we easily found the Goldair Lounge, which is Emirates’ contract lounge in Athens (it’s also accessible by Priority Pass members).

Goldair Lounge Athens International Airport

The lounge is okay, but certainly not up to the standard of lounges that Emirates directly operates. Fortunately the lounge was quiet, though I’ve been in this lounge other times without a single available seat.

Goldair Lounge Athens International Airport

Our flight was scheduled to board at 4:50PM (45 minutes before departure) from gate A12, which was just a short walk from the lounge. Unfortunately both Ford and I got “SSSS” on our boarding passes, so we were subjected to additional security screening at the gate. I was amused to see six security personnel at the gate, given that there were just 18 passengers on the flight (this was my emptiest long haul flight ever).

Emirates departure gate Athens International Airport

Sure enough, boarding started exactly on-time, and as we boarded we had a fantastic view of the plane. While I love Emirates’ livery, unfortunately we were on A6-ECE, one of the older planes in the fleet, at nearly 14 years old. For whatever reason, Emirates seems to love operating older 777s on this route.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER Athens International Airport

Emirates EK209
Athens (ATH) – Newark (EWR)

Thursday, June 3
Depart: 5:35PM
Arrive: 9:20PM
Duration: 10hr45min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2F (First Class)

We boarded through the second set of doors, where we were greeted by a crew member and immediately escorted to our seat. Oh Emirates first class, it has been too long! Emirates’ 777 first class cabin has just eight suites, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Emirates first class cabin 777-300ER

While the window seats are great if traveling alone, Emirates is always more fun with a companion, so we selected the center seats in the second row.

Emirates first class seat 777-300ER
Emirates first class seats
Emirates first class cabin

While I prefer flying Emirates’ A380 first class to flying Emirates’ old 777 first class (because the former has a bar and shower), I do appreciate the more intimate first class cabin on the 777.

Emirates first class cabin

I simply adore Emirates’ interiors. Would I ever want my home decorated this way? Heck no. But there’s something about the bling that’s oh-so-fun in moderation.

Emirates first class seats

These cabins have endless gadgets, from a tablet for controlling seat and entertainment functions, to a minibar, to a snack basket, to a stationery kit.

Emirates first class tablet
Emirates first class minibar
Emirates first class snack basket
Emirates first class stationary kit

It felt like business as usual on Emirates — one of the only signs of the pandemic was a face mask and hand sanitizer.

Emirates first class coronavirus amenities

Once we were settled in, the crew introduced themselves to us — working Ford’s aisle was the purser, who was Irish-American, and working my aisle was a Korean first class flight attendant. Both of the ladies working the cabin were awesome — the purser was hilarious, while the first class flight attendant was extremely professional.

Once settled in, the typical Emirates first class goodies were distributed.

Emirates first class pajamas & amenity kit

This included a BVLGARI amenity kit…

Emirates first class amenity kit

Pajamas, allegedly moisturizing

Emirates first class pajamas

And slippers.

Emirates first class slippers

We were also offered pre-departure drinks, and you can guess what we ordered. Refills were plentiful as well.

Emirates first class pre-departure champagne
Dom Perignon in Emirates first class

A few minutes before departure, Arabic coffee and dates were served.

Emirates first class Arabic coffee & date

As you’d expect, boarding was extremely fast, given that there were just 18 passengers. However, we didn’t depart right away, as the plane still needed to be refueled, and cargo was also still being loaded. About 10 minutes before our scheduled departure time the captain announced our flight time of 10hr17min.

We had a quick taxi to the runway, and were airborne ahead of schedule — while the window seats on both sides of us were open, we chose to stay in the middle seats for takeoff, and just enjoyed the nose camera.

Taking off from Athens

The seatbelt sign was turned off a few minutes after takeoff, and I couldn’t help but take a quick walk through the plane. There was one other passenger in first class (in seat 1A). The three business class passengers were all in the forward mini-cabin, leaving the larger rear cabin empty.

Emirates 777 business class cabin
Emirates 777 business class cabin

Economy was really where passengers had the most space to spread out, as there were just 12 seats taken.

Emirates 777 economy class cabin
Emirates 777 economy class cabin
Emirates 777 economy class cabin

I almost felt sorry for the crew, as they seemed rather bored — when you factor in the pilots (who hopefully weren’t bored!), there were roughly as many crew as passengers. Once back at our seats we got ready to enjoy lunch, and we at least made sure the crew in first class wasn’t bored for the next few hours.

Emirates has a dine on demand menu, which read as follows:

Then the drink list read as follows:

Lastly the wine list read as follows:

To kick off the meal we had some more Dom Perignon, accompanied by warm mixed nuts.

Emirates first class lunch — champagne & mixed nuts

A few minutes later we were offered some canapés, allegedly chosen in partnership with Dom Perignon. This included confit duck with curried pineapple, parmesan and truffle arancino, and a poached prawn and guacamole tartlet.

Emirates first class lunch — canapés

At this point we had enough champagne, so decided to mix up our drinks. I have a bad habit when it comes to ordering my favorite cocktail outside the US, since 90% of the time it doesn’t come out how I hope, yet I keep ordering in hopes of it being good.

Specifically, I like dirty and dry martinis. Ideally it would just have vodka and olive juice, yet it’s only in the US where ordering a “very dirty martini” gets me the type of drink I’m looking for.

Even when I explain what I’m looking for abroad at nice restaurants, it just never comes out right. I decided to try my luck on Emirates. I asked the purser for a dirty martini, and described what I was hoping for. Much to my surprise, she made the drink perfectly. Well done!

Emirates first class lunch — dirty martini

Next up it was time for some more substantial food. Emirates’ first class meal service has more or less returned back to normal, though one minor difference was that the bread came wrapped (though I promptly unwrapped it).

Emirates first class lunch — table setting
Emirates first class lunch — bread basket

Both Ford and I started with caviar, natch. This came with chives, grated egg, sour cream, lemon, melba toast, and blinis.

Emirates first class lunch — caviar service

I then ordered the Greek mezze, which was massive. It included fava bean mousse, beetroot dip, tzatziki, taramsalata, octopus salad, dolmades, chicken tiropitaki, and courgette keftede.

Emirates first class lunch — mezze

Ford decided to order the spring pea soup with mint cream.

Emirates first class lunch — soup

Then he had the smoked beef with thyme creme fraiche and vegetable salad with mustard.

Emirates first class lunch — appetizer

Around this time we decided to switch it up to one of the red wines — I love how Emirates serves red wine with a little carafe.

Emirates first class lunch — red wine

For the main course I had the cod with lobster sauce, served with basmati rice, roasted fennel, and buttered edamame.

Emirates first class lunch — main course

Ford ordered the roasted chicken with grilled citrus demi-glace, grilled asparagus, peppers, parsnips, and sautéed potatoes.

Emirates first class lunch — main course

At this point we were absolutely stuffed, and had no room for dessert. The meal was amazing, and we enjoyed every dish. On top of that, the service was flawless, and customized perfectly. We wanted to enjoy a leisurely meal, and they paced each course around us.

By the time the meal was done we were passing the UK, and had around 6hr30min remaining to Newark.

Airshow enroute to Newark
Airshow enroute to Newark

We asked to have our beds made, which the crew promptly took care of. The cabin was also dimmed all the way, and the “stars” were visible on the ceiling.

Emirates first class bed
Emirates first class bed
Stars on the ceiling of Emirates 777

I fell asleep in no time, and woke up about two hours before landing. As you can see, we spent this entire flight just barely escaping darkness.

Airshow approaching Newark
Airshow approaching Newark

There was a small snack setup in the forward galley, though I wasn’t at all hungry, and couldn’t bring myself to eat anything (that’s probably both due to how much we ate during the first meal, and also that it was the middle of the night in Greece, so we naturally weren’t hungry).

Emirates first class snacks

At this point I connected to Emirates’ OnAir Wi-Fi, and got some work done. Internet is free for first class passengers, and can be accessed using your Skywards number. While OnAir isn’t fast, it’s fairly usable on the 777 (I’ve found it to be much worse on the A380).

Emirates’ Wi-Fi pricing

About 30 minutes before landing the captain made his pre-landing announcement, and a few minutes later we began our descent. The sunset views were beautiful as we were approaching, and it finally got dark shortly after we landed (at around 9PM).

Sunset approaching Newark

We had one checked bag, which we had to wait about 15 minutes for. From there we walked across the street to the Marriott Newark Airport, where we’d be spending the night (the timing of this flight isn’t ideal if you’re connecting beyond Newark, but it’s a small price to pay for such a great experience).

Bottom line

What a treat that Emirates operates a fifth freedom flight between Athens and Newark, and that we were able to book it in first class with Skywards miles. Emirates’ first class product is phenomenal, and easily one of my favorites in the world.

We had a great crew, excellent food and drinks, and a lot of fun. There’s no denying that coronavirus has made flying a lot less fun, given how airlines have cut back service. Being able to once again enjoy international first class as it was pre-coronavirus was fun on a totally different level!

Thanks for following along on this trip report, and stay tuned, as I’ll shortly be starting my next one.

Conversations (44)
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  1. Charlie Guest

    Do you have a preference between 1EF and 2EF on this aircraft?

  2. MBD Guest

    Has anyone experienced poor service in first class? I flew from JFK to Dubai this week (A380) and had the most bizarre experience. It took 40 minutes to get a drink and the meal service was sub par. Not a friendly crew in first at all. My first international flight back after the pandemic and it was a disappointment. Mind you, the service and friendliness of the crew in the bar was impeccable as always.

  3. Schar Gold

    I missed your flight reviews!!!! So happy to have them back. :)

  4. Tahir Jamil Guest

    Very nice and informative, easy and understandable English.

    But I am really surprised why emirates is still using older version of 777-300 ER when they have newer one in air.

    I am sure the seats were very luxurious, the beds don't look very comfy as in Singapore airlines.

    Any how you have portrayed very nice picture of first class.

    Stay in touch.

  5. John Guest

    Emirates cabin designers sure have a fixation for curves. I've never seen so many curves inside a cabin. Shame it's aged like milk.

  6. view Guest

    Lovely to see a flight review like this!

  7. AW Guest

    Really awesome to see a flight review. This (and other travel reviews) are why I keep coming to this site. Hopefully we'll be back to something approaching "business as usual" soon.

  8. Andrew Y Guest

    We took this flight on Saturday, albeit in business — it was totally full! And we got a full lunch and dinner service. All around a great way to get to/from Europe

  9. Darrekk Guest

    Taking this flight in september but was checking and its much fuller and i am glad i grabbed the seats when i did because they are no awards available.

  10. Dan Guest

    Who spilled the drop of wine? lol

  11. Stuart Guest

    Nice review. While I absolutely love EK First on any aircraft I am finding lately that Skywards is a nightmare for redemptions during pandemic uncertainties. Two trips in the past six months had to be canceled due to new restrictions at the arrival country. One I had to cancel, the other EK did, as they halted flights there for a period. Instead of just being able to cancel and return the points in a matter...

    Nice review. While I absolutely love EK First on any aircraft I am finding lately that Skywards is a nightmare for redemptions during pandemic uncertainties. Two trips in the past six months had to be canceled due to new restrictions at the arrival country. One I had to cancel, the other EK did, as they halted flights there for a period. Instead of just being able to cancel and return the points in a matter of minutes (like on most other carriers) you have to fill out a clunky online refund form and wait two weeks for the processing to be done and points returned. Even if you speak to an agent they refuse to do anything and say, "you have to wait." Not a good system for nimble needs during Covid changes. At this point I will use EK award bookings for last minute stuff only to avoid this. Just a heads up for others who imagine ease should their flights be canceled and you can't rebook to the same location. Expect 15 working days to see your points again for other bookings.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stuart -- For what it's worth, the process seems to have recently been improved. If you go to emirates.com/refund and fill in the form correctly, Skywards miles are redeposited instantly. I've had luck with this several times now. So might be worth giving it another try. :)

    2. Stuart Guest

      These two cancelations were in the past month. Both took 15 days to see the points returned. Everything was filled in correctly. I guess that’s why you are called Lucky.

  12. Vova Guest

    Fine luxury chocolate. What a description on the menu :-)

  13. GroeneMichel New Member

    Hi Lucky, thanks for this awesome review. Small question: what was the facemask policy given that the cabin was quite empty? Always on except when eating? Or also off while sleeping? Thanks! Great to see reviews in First class coming back to OMAAT.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ GroeneMichel -- Thanks! The policy is officially that you're supposed to wear your face mask except when eating or drinking. That being said, you have a suite with a door, and the crew doesn't look over the door when it's closed, so...

  14. Ted Guest

    Anyone understand why the plastic wrapping of food persists in spite of the very clear science on this point? It’s so wasteful and tedious.

    1. John Guest

      You might call it 'science theatre', it's more about creating a perception that you're 'safe'. Whether it is or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that your carrier has to be SEEN to be doing something to make you 'safe'. Hence the abundance of plastic wraps in many airlines.
      On a related point, we've had 'security theatre' for years at airports. It's called TSA. A typical group of obese TSA agents likely can't...

      You might call it 'science theatre', it's more about creating a perception that you're 'safe'. Whether it is or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that your carrier has to be SEEN to be doing something to make you 'safe'. Hence the abundance of plastic wraps in many airlines.
      On a related point, we've had 'security theatre' for years at airports. It's called TSA. A typical group of obese TSA agents likely can't stop even one determined terrorist. But because there are so many of them in quasi uniform, barking out orders to grandmothers and babies, the perception is that you're 'safe' having all these (obese) uniform wearers around you, because the Gov't has to be SEEN to be doing something to make you 'safe'.
      I'm actually not trying to be cynical. I simply understand the point that perception is powerful, often more powerful than reality. Advertisers and politicians understand this point more than the average person.

  15. shoeguy Guest

    Nice review. A bit surprising the flight was so empty, as demand to Greece has been fairly strong this summer, albeit in a pandemic adjusted lens, but there is much more capacity in the market now, with UA at EWR (an established route that has run seasonally for years) and DL going 2 x daily and AA now flying daily, both out JFK. Will be interesting to see if EK maintains this service or if...

    Nice review. A bit surprising the flight was so empty, as demand to Greece has been fairly strong this summer, albeit in a pandemic adjusted lens, but there is much more capacity in the market now, with UA at EWR (an established route that has run seasonally for years) and DL going 2 x daily and AA now flying daily, both out JFK. Will be interesting to see if EK maintains this service or if DL, which plans to run it year round at JFK capitulates first. Greece is VFR for the most part, and little in the way of meaningful business demand, certainly not in a pandemic.

    1. ABC Guest

      I agree. I am very surprised it was that empty. My flight to EU was almost full and the return was ~75% full. Greece is a very popular tourist destination in the summer.

  16. James S Guest

    Can you actually walk to the hotel? I don't see a walking path in Google maps

    1. Andy Guest

      would appreciate the answer to this as well since i'll have a overnight connection in newark later this year. would certainly be nice to not have to wait for a shuttle.

    2. tuotuo Guest

      From Terminal B cross a very busy traffic road then cross a BIG parking lot then cross a not busy traffic road.
      Better wait for the shuttle if you have suitcase.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ James S -- You do have to dart across two streets without any sort of crosswalks. We walked, but most people take the shuttle.

  17. D3kingg Guest

    Those slippers look comfy.

  18. ROBERT J FAHR Guest

    "From there we walked across the street to the Marriott Newark Airport..." What an unglamorous decampment after all that luxury. Just giving you a hard time. Totally understand the practicality of it all.

    1. Luke Guest

      Haha had exact same thought. Perhaps more fitting albeit not that convenient would be "afterwards we took a uber black to our executive suite at the st regis or park hyatt ny!"

    2. Luke Guest

      Speaking of which the airports where I most don't mind "decamping" is DFW or SFO for its attached grand hyatts. Can't think of better airport hotels in the us!

  19. Kair New Member

    So there is no second meal service before landinh other than self serve snacks?
    Also do you know why EK is operating this flight to EWR instead of JFK?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Kair -- It's a dine on demand menu, so you can order as much as you want. There's one huge menu, and then you can mix and match options for your meals.

    2. Kair New Member

      Upps. I missed that. Thank you!

  20. Jawn Guest

    How amazing to see a 1st class int’l flight review again! Is this your first since 2020?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jawn -- Thanks! Yep, it is indeed my first international first class flight since early 2020. Was so nice to experience this again.

  21. Ryan Guest

    "To kick off the meal we had some more Dom Perignon, accompanied my warm mixed nuts"

    The 8 year old in me couldn't help but laugh

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ryan -- Hah, whoops!

  22. Robert D Guest

    Writing paper is spelled stationery, not stationary.

  23. EC2 Guest

    Lucky,

    Hope you are reviewing comments. Can you clarify how many meals? Just the lunch and then access to the snack bar set-up?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ EC2 -- It's a dine on demand menu, so you can have as many meals as you want when you want. I would assume most people have two meals (lunch and dinner), but you can have one meal (like I did), or three meals, or whatever.

    2. EC2 Guest

      Nice. Great review. You may have reviewed their first class before but I’ve never seen it and loved it. Glad to see the ole Lucky back!

  24. JDawG Guest

    Lol you're so right about dirty martinis. Very much just a US thing. Even ordering a regular martini is usually a fun experience as in ex-US world martini just means vermouth and is consumed as is. Saying "I want what James Bond drinks" isn't usually helpful either. And trying to get a bartender to pour olive juice in it just adds a whole other layer of hilarious.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ NSS -- Whoops, fixed, thanks!

  25. Sam Guest

    Wow nice review. I’m wondering if this route will be flown by the new 777 in the future or will these cabins be retrofitted.? Thanks.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sam -- Unfortunately there are only about a dozen 777s featuring the new first class, and they're already consistently on other routes. Emirates doesn't have concrete plans to retrofit existing planes, but future delivery 777Xs should feature the new cabins (don't expect those planes for at least a couple more years). However, I wouldn't expect this to be among the first routes to get a 777X.

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

@ James S -- You do have to dart across two streets without any sort of crosswalks. We walked, but most people take the shuttle.

2
shoeguy Guest

Nice review. A bit surprising the flight was so empty, as demand to Greece has been fairly strong this summer, albeit in a pandemic adjusted lens, but there is much more capacity in the market now, with UA at EWR (an established route that has run seasonally for years) and DL going 2 x daily and AA now flying daily, both out JFK. Will be interesting to see if EK maintains this service or if DL, which plans to run it year round at JFK capitulates first. Greece is VFR for the most part, and little in the way of meaningful business demand, certainly not in a pandemic.

1
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Jawn -- Thanks! Yep, it is indeed my first international first class flight since early 2020. Was so nice to experience this again.

1
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