A Lovely Emirates First Class Flight To The Maldives

A Lovely Emirates First Class Flight To The Maldives

FROM: DXB
TO: MLE
CABIN: First
DATE: April 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: A 3hr40min flight departing in the middle of the night doesn't get much better than this. I managed to get some sleep, have breakfast, and had a great crew.
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To complete our outbound journey to the Maldives, we flew Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER first class from Dubai (DXB) to Male (MLE). I won’t be fully reviewing this flight, since I’ve reviewed Emirates’ “old” 777 first class before, and I don’t want to be too redundant. However, I wanted to hit on a few of the highlights.

As a reminder, this was booked as part of a larger award itinerary, as we redeemed 160,000 Skywards miles per person to fly from Washington to Dubai to Male, with a stopover in Dubai (and of course the Washington to Dubai flight in Emirates’ new 777 first class was the highlight).

A 4:20AM 4/20 birthday flight

When I saw award availability on this flight I felt like I had to book it. My birthday is April 20, and taking a 4:20AM flight on 4/20 is something that I couldn’t really turn down. Admittedly traveling between the UAE and Maldives might not be the ideal way to celebrate this special time. 😉

Emirates first class boarding pass

By the way, for those wondering about why my boarding pass says “PARTNER,” I don’t have an answer to that. I asked a friend at Emirates, and he said that sometimes award tickets show that.

I think “PARTNER” generally refers to employee staff travel, or at least that’s the best explanation I’ve come up with. For example, when I entered the Emirates first class lounge, the agent had to confirm that I redeemed miles and wasn’t on staff travel. Strange.

Exploring Dubai Airport Terminal 3 Concourse C

I’ve transited Dubai Airport Terminal 3 more times than I can count, yet somehow I had never (at least knowingly) flown out of Concourse C. We spent most of our time at the airport in the first class lounge in Concourse A, and the agent told us that it would be a 30-45 minute walk to our departure gate.

I’m a fast walker, so usually I massively cut those numbers, and assume it’s more like 10-15 minutes. Nope, it ended up taking us around 25 minutes to get to the far end of Concourse C. How had I never flown out of there before?!

Dubai Airport Terminal 3 Concourse C
Dubai Airport Terminal 3 Concourse C

We also briefly stopped at the Emirates first class lounge Concourse C. I knew there was a Concourse B first class lounge (which I’ve reviewed before), but somehow I never know this lounge existed. And frankly that’s probably for the better, because this lounge isn’t impressive. Does this look like a random Priority Pass lounge, or a hub first class lounge for one of the world’s best regarded airlines? Sometimes it feels like Emirates is really stuck in the past.

Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai Terminal 3 Concourse C

Anyway, boarding was scheduled to start at 3:35AM, 45 minutes before departure. Sure enough, that’s exactly when first and business class passengers were invited to board.

Dubai Airport Terminal 3 Concourse C

An impressive Emirates short haul first class flight

Our Emirates flight was scheduled to depart Dubai at 4:20AM and arrive in Male at 9:30AM, which is a 4hr10min block time (there’s a one hour time change). The actual flight time was 3hr40min. What was the experience like? Very, very nice.

We were on one of Emirates’ oldest Boeing 777s (A6-EBU, which is 15+ years old), and the cabin definitely felt a bit dated. The technology on some of Emirates’ older 777s isn’t as good as on the new ones, from the handheld tablets, to the resolution of the entertainment monitors.

Still, how awesome is this for a 3hr40min flight?!

Emirates first class cabin Boeing 777
Emirates first class cabin Boeing 777
Sign you’re on one of Emirates’ older 777s

I assigned us the two center seats in the second row of first class. We were supposed to have the cabin to ourselves, but last minute one employee booked, and she was in 1A (Emirates captains, Emirates executives, and their families, get space available first class travel).

Emirates first class seat Boeing 777
Emirates first class minibar
Emirates first class snack basket

The two first class flight attendants and the purser couldn’t have been lovelier — they were professional and by the book, unlike the crew we had on the last flight. Before takeoff they offered us pre-departure drinks, so we ordered some Dom Perignon (and we got a couple of refills).

Emirates first class pre-departure champagne
Emirates first class pre-departure champagne

We were also offered Arabic coffee, dates, an amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers (these were identical to what we had on the long haul flight, so check out the previous review for all the contents).

Emirates first class pre-departure champagne

By the time we were airborne it was approaching 5AM, and we were super tired, since we hadn’t slept that night. After takeoff we asked the crew to make our beds, and wake up as close to landing as possible while still being able to eat breakfast. Indeed they took care of the turndown service within 10 minutes of takeoff and dimmed the cabin lights, and we were off to sleep.

Emirates first class turndown service

I sure do love how Emirates has “stars” on the ceiling, it’s such a cute touch.

Emirates first class stars on the ceiling

We slept for over two hours, which was much needed, and were woken up just over an hour before landing. Kudos to the crew for actually letting us sleep this long, because lots of Emirates crews will claim they can only serve a meal up to 90 minutes before landing.

Emirates Boeing 777 airshow feature
Emirates Boeing 777 airshow feature

At that point breakfast was served. Emirates has a (relatively) simple menu on this flight, and there’s just a breakfast option.

Emirates first class menu

For those wondering, below is the wine list for this flight.

Emirates first class wine list
Emirates first class wine list
Emirates first class wine list
Emirates first class wine list

We weren’t really hungry, but I figured I had to take some pictures for review purposes. It’s always nice to be woken up with a cappuccino, which even (loosely) had the Emirates logo dusted on it.

Emirates first class breakfast

To start I was offered a fruit plate, some yogurt, and a selection from the bread and pastry basket.

Emirates first class breakfast

For the main course I ordered the scrambled eggs with potatoes, mushrooms, and kale.

Emirates first class breakfast

While hardly the most exciting Emirates first class meal, it was perfect for a flight like this.

Emirates first class birthday cake

As I recently wrote about, Emirates lets passengers order a birthday cake, and it doesn’t cost anything extra if you’re in first or business class. Since I was traveling on my birthday I figured I’d order one of these, not because I actually wanted or needed a cake, but because I wanted to report back on how this is being executed nowadays.

As we began our descent the crew brought this out — how beautifully presented! The crew even put some roses and wrote “wishing you a happy birthday” with melted chocolate, which they don’t have to do.

Emirates first class birthday cake

The crew also took a picture of us with the onboard Polaroid.

Emirates Polaroid picture
Emirates Polaroid picture frame
Emirates Polaroid picture frame

We only had a bite or two of the cake since we were full already, but the crew then packed it up in a to-go box. I felt bad not taking it with me, but realistically this wouldn’t have ended well since we were going to take a seaplane in the sweltering heat. Never mind the fact that I’m not sure what the Maldives’ policy is on bringing fresh food items into the country.

Emirates first class birthday cake

A beautiful approach to the Maldives

Flying into the Maldives is always a treat, as it’s not often you get views like this when approaching a major international airport. I’ll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves.

View approaching the Maldives
View approaching the Maldives
View approaching the Maldives
View approaching the Maldives
View approaching the Maldives

It was cool to finally see the Sinamalé Bridge (originally called the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge) open, connecting the capital of Male to the airport. This wasn’t yet open the last time I flew to the Maldives (at the time you had to take a ferry), so it was cool to see. I still really need to visit Male sometime, because I’m sure it must be fascinating.

View approaching Male Airport

Male’s Velana International Airport isn’t very large, but it’s amazing how many planes are parked here during the day, given that many planes arrive in the morning and leave in the evening. Qatar Airways alone had three planes on the ground, including two 777s.

View approaching Male Airport
View approaching Male Airport
Taxiing Male Airport
Taxiing Male Airport

It’s also fun to catch a glimpse of the seaplane terminal, since this is the primary way to get around to the further islands.

Male Airport seaplane “terminal”

Velana International Airport is also undergoing some major work, and will soon have a new runway and terminal, which should be a game changer for the airport. It looks like significant progress is being made there.

We ended up parking at a remote stand next to another Emirates 777, which pushed back minutes after we arrived.

Emirates 777 Male Airport

Upon arrival they set up two air stairs, and then we had to take a bus to the terminal. Fortunately there was no wait at immigration, so we were through in no time, and were on the way to our first resort.

Male Airport remote stand
Emirates 777 Male Airport
Emirates 777 Male Airport

Bottom line

Emirates impresses with its short haul first class experience, as I can’t imagine a flight like this being much better. A 4:20AM departure time isn’t exactly ideal if you’re not connecting from somewhere else, but I managed to get in a solid nap, had breakfast, and even enjoyed some Dom Perignon. On top of that, the crew on this flight was excellent, which made the experience all the better.

It’s amazing how different a short haul premium cabin product is in different parts of the world, especially when you consider this flight is comparable in length to a Chicago to San Francisco flight, for example.

If you’ve flown Emirates’ short haul first class, what was your experience like?

Conversations (48)
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  1. Crockett and Tubbs Guest

    The cabin finishes look like they are out of a Miami McMansion circa 2002.

  2. Vancouver - Char Gold

    It is so interesting to compare short haul premium cabins across the world (thinking of a Chicago-SFO flight be comparison); for example your blog inspires me to visit Oman. Also, short-haul premium flights in Southeast and Northeast Asia are also lots of fun

  3. Mattt Guest

    Just flew this same route, plus a connect to VIE and both of our BPs said "Partner"
    At first I was like oh that's interesting must be an AS thing, but then remembered I booked via Skywards.
    Nobody mentioned it in the lounge. Interesting.

  4. Edgar Guest

    Ben you look sick in the polaroid picture! Hope you are well

  5. Alan Guest

    Unfortunately you should lower your expectations for Male...did an overnight layover there in 2019 and it was one of the sketchiest cities I've been to traveling (and made my female companion very nervous--including when a middle school child called her evil in a grocery store). I was living in the Middle East at the time and the openness to foreigners is so much lower in Male than anywhere else I had been in the Muslim world.

    1. Dee Guest

      Thanks Ben ! It is on my bucket list!

  6. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    Great trip report Ben. Have taken QR and Cathay in J to MLE, but would love to fly EK First one day.

    1. Emilygadacz New Member

      I look QR first from DOHA to MLE - IT was insanely nice! Krug, caviar, the most luxe seats! Best amenities EVER. The flight was On planes leased from Cathay I heard. Careful you get the right plane.

  7. Daniel Guest

    I will be going to the Middle East soon and also perhaps for the world cup soccer with my "partner". How are they about holding each other's hands in person and showing affection to each other while walking down the street or sitting on in the park thank you first time to the Middle East is it something we could go to jail for or get tortured or maybe get shot or beat up we've...

    I will be going to the Middle East soon and also perhaps for the world cup soccer with my "partner". How are they about holding each other's hands in person and showing affection to each other while walking down the street or sitting on in the park thank you first time to the Middle East is it something we could go to jail for or get tortured or maybe get shot or beat up we've been to the south in the US and we've been okay there it just scares us a little going to the Middle East

  8. Mark Guest

    I took a similar short haul Emirates first flight from DXB to Tehran. I didn't have time to even finish the movie. Once landed, I did not want to leave the plane. Emirates first is awesome!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Phil -- Thanks! :-)

  9. Jcil Guest

    The cake is just a vehicle to make sure there is sufficient pampering being provided. Once it is made and delivered, the interest in actually eating it goes away.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jcil -- Hah, no, it's a "vehicle" for me to be able to write an updated guide about how to request a birthday cake on Emirates, and what to expect when you get it.

  10. Daniel from Finland Guest

    If I had specifically ordered a birthday cake and then couldn't finish it, I would definitely have thanked for the box and taken it with me – one can always throw it away in the terminal if need be, but it would feel insulting towards the flight attendants not to take it. But that's just me.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Daniel from Finland -- I hear you, and I frankly felt bad about it. I suppose in retrospect I should have just thrown it away outside the plane.

      In fairness, I wasn't sure if Maldives immigration would make me declare something like this, and that I'd then have to go through an extra inspection for it.

      Furthermore, I had checked my carry-on, so only had a backpack on me. I would have been...

      @ Daniel from Finland -- I hear you, and I frankly felt bad about it. I suppose in retrospect I should have just thrown it away outside the plane.

      In fairness, I wasn't sure if Maldives immigration would make me declare something like this, and that I'd then have to go through an extra inspection for it.

      Furthermore, I had checked my carry-on, so only had a backpack on me. I would have been walking with this in my hand in 90 degree heat, while also trying to hold my passport and snap as many pictures as possible.

  11. Travel Girl Guest

    Great review .. BUT once again, being a frequent visitor to The Maldives (2-3 trips a year, usually Qatar Bus class from Florida for the diving across the atolls) the seaplane is not the only way to get from MLE to the islands.. domestic flights are a plenty ....

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Travel Girl -- Fair point. I wasn't intending to say it was the only way, but I do think it's how more people fly than with Maldivian, as that is also an option to many places.

  12. CS Guest

    Lucky - as always, great review. However, I can't just sit idly by without commenting on a couple of things.

    Why is it necessary to show the bottle of Dom by the glass? This either meant one of two things. Either you had to bother the FA to sit the bottle down, then get out of the way for the pic, then pick the bottle back up - I'm sure rolling his/her eyes the entire...

    Lucky - as always, great review. However, I can't just sit idly by without commenting on a couple of things.

    Why is it necessary to show the bottle of Dom by the glass? This either meant one of two things. Either you had to bother the FA to sit the bottle down, then get out of the way for the pic, then pick the bottle back up - I'm sure rolling his/her eyes the entire time. OR, the FA handed you the bottle so that you could sit it down and take the pic. In that case, if I was a fellow passenger, I would not want your dirty little hands all over the same bottle serving me. Either way, the bottle really wasn't necessary. We believe you that it was indeed Dom.

    Second, while I know you said that ordering the b-day was to see how it was executed but come on - ordering a b-day for yourself?? And you're how old??? Seems a little bit of attention-ho to me. Just saying. Then, you admittedly just left the cake (only after eating 2 bites) after the FA's went to all that trouble - just for you?? That's just RUDE and WASTEFUL!! At the very minimum, you could have taken it with you and either given it to someone or just thrown it away in the first trash you found after deplaning.

    Love you lots Lucky but come on now - come down off that pedestal every once in a while!!

    1. CS Guest

      Got a great one sweetheart!!! :)

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ CS -- Happy to answer your questions. Why is it "necessary" to show the bottle? Well it's not. This whole review wasn't necessary, I suppose. But with my trip reports I like to make people feel like they experience it with me as much as possible, and I know many readers like pictures like that, since Dom Perignon is probably the best consistent aspect of Emirates' food & beverage program.

      I didn't touch the...

      @ CS -- Happy to answer your questions. Why is it "necessary" to show the bottle? Well it's not. This whole review wasn't necessary, I suppose. But with my trip reports I like to make people feel like they experience it with me as much as possible, and I know many readers like pictures like that, since Dom Perignon is probably the best consistent aspect of Emirates' food & beverage program.

      I didn't touch the bottle (I wouldn't do that), but rather asked the flight attendant if I could take a picture of it next to the glass. She gladly obliged, and seemed happy about my enthusiasm. First class flight attendants deal with a lot of demanding passengers, and I think this was hardly the most annoying request that the flight attendant received this year.

      Now I have a question for you now. I appreciate your "love you lots" comment and I'd like to think you're being genuine and not a troll, but why are you so condescending? There's a disconnect between that and you asking if I put my "dirty little hands" on the bottle, no? What's wrong with my clean big hands?

      I'm sorry if you're having a rough day, I know there's a lot going on in the world...

    3. CS Guest

      Lucky - I did not mean to come off as condescending. That was not the intent. Looking back, I can now see how it did. Point taken. Certainly not trying to troll. I do love your posts and reviews.

      With that being said, I do think the cake situation could have been handled differently. Service industry people (like FA’s) do work hard and should be appreciated. Leaving the cake behind could leave the impression...

      Lucky - I did not mean to come off as condescending. That was not the intent. Looking back, I can now see how it did. Point taken. Certainly not trying to troll. I do love your posts and reviews.

      With that being said, I do think the cake situation could have been handled differently. Service industry people (like FA’s) do work hard and should be appreciated. Leaving the cake behind could leave the impression that it wasn’t appreciated. That’s the only thing I’m trying to point out.

    4. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ CS -- Thanks, we're good, and I appreciate you reading. :-)

      As far as the second point goes, I totally get what you're saying and that it wasn't ideal, and I did feel bad:
      -- I repeatedly told the crew how grateful I was for the great service, and how they made the flight very special. I also told them that I wish I were hungrier, and that we were catching a seaplane...

      @ CS -- Thanks, we're good, and I appreciate you reading. :-)

      As far as the second point goes, I totally get what you're saying and that it wasn't ideal, and I did feel bad:
      -- I repeatedly told the crew how grateful I was for the great service, and how they made the flight very special. I also told them that I wish I were hungrier, and that we were catching a seaplane and that I wouldn't be able to transport the cake in a practical way.
      -- The main reason I ordered the cake was really to write a guide to what it's like to order a cake on Emirates. I'm not someone who otherwise enjoys in any way being "recognized" for my birthday. I'd prefer everyone just ignore it.

      So I hear you, I wish I could have handled it a bit differently, but I hope I at least made it clear to the crew how grateful I was for their actions, as they did go above and beyond.

  13. TheDude Guest

    Perhaps I missed a follow-up comment or story, but did you just spill the beans that the carrier your unprofessional FA experience was on, was indeed Emirates?

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      You missed a follow up.

      Look the 777 IAD-DXB review.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ TheDude -- See this post:
      https://onemileatatime.com/reviews/new-emirates-777-first-class/

  14. Tina Guest

    What do you do with all the amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers you collect?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Tina -- I generally take them with me and then find a good home for them (either with family, or I donate them).

  15. TravelinWilly Diamond

    “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge“

    LOL!

    1. Jkjkjk Guest

      Ohh look at that, cry me a river. Jealous much? don’t act as if your country via proxy such as IMF. You people love the word “debt trap”.
      US companies contract the taking of other countries resources to the military… this is not fake news. Just learn some history.

  16. DohaGuest Guest

    Ben, can you comment on the Covid testing protocol for Qatar and Dubai? I am planning on visiting both in June and I've read Qatar makes you test 48 hours before departure. Is that right, what kind of test, who do you show it to (airline checkin staff, or immigration?). Loving your recent postings but without the prior in depth trip reports I am craving for those little details to help make my trip easier

    1. JB Guest

      QR requires a PCR test unless specifically noted and it is checked by the airline staff at check in. The time requirement varies by destination but last time I flew QR the requirement for the airline was 48 hours prior to departure. Sometimes, the destination you are going to will have stricter rules so you have to abide by them. Conversely, the destination may not have a test requirement but as far as I know...

      QR requires a PCR test unless specifically noted and it is checked by the airline staff at check in. The time requirement varies by destination but last time I flew QR the requirement for the airline was 48 hours prior to departure. Sometimes, the destination you are going to will have stricter rules so you have to abide by them. Conversely, the destination may not have a test requirement but as far as I know QR requires them for certain passengers depending on your point of origin.

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ DohaGuest -- Dubai has no real entry requirements for vaccinated travelers, so we just had to show our vaccine cards at check-in, and that was it. Doha is a whole different story, and it was a disaster for us, to the point that we actually missed our original flight (I'll have a post on it soon).

      Long story short, you need a PCR test within 48 hours of travel to Doha, and also need...

      @ DohaGuest -- Dubai has no real entry requirements for vaccinated travelers, so we just had to show our vaccine cards at check-in, and that was it. Doha is a whole different story, and it was a disaster for us, to the point that we actually missed our original flight (I'll have a post on it soon).

      Long story short, you need a PCR test within 48 hours of travel to Doha, and also need to complete a pre-travel authorization form. That form caused serious problems for me, but I imagine other visitors don't have the same issues, or else not many people would be entering Qatar.

  17. Mike Guest

    I found it funny that you flew on 4/20 at 4:20 and the card was signed by Mary Jane... unless that said June, i couldn't really tell.

    1. Max Guest

      Hope Ben (Lucky) could also do a 420 to celebrate.

  18. Bgriff Guest

    Concourse C at DXB used to be the concourse attached to Terminal 1, before the current Concourse D was built. So prior to ~2016 it was used primarily by non-Emirates airlines -- and it is a direct walk out from Terminal 1 (like B is a direct walk out from Terminal 3), so it used to be more conveniently located for its users, but now requires walking over from the Terminal 3 "headhouse."

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bgriff -- Ahhh, that explains it. I've definitely done more travel on Emirates pre-2016 than post-2016, so I guess that's why I've never flown out of there.

  19. Scott Guest

    You don't need to always justify what you eat, like you did here with the cake. It's ok to partake in things and overindulge, especially since you always talk about getting your steps in and going to the gym.

  20. Zach Guest

    I wonder if the “partner” designation has anything to do with the last minute stopover booking issue that you outlined in your review of the IAD - DXB flight.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Zach -- Interestingly it was on my boarding pass, but not on Ford's, so not sure how to explain it.

    2. AW Guest

      Is there any possibility that it's because of your job, and they put it there so the employees will recognize you/give a higher service level? Not saying it is, but I wouldn't entirely rule it out. It's not there just because they "mistook" you for an employee.

  21. Anthony Guest

    Another near empty flight in first class. How empty are these flights in business class / economy? Something will give here before long

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Anthony -- The flight was nearly full in business class and fairly full in economy. It was just first class that was mostly empty. Generally flights to the Maldives are pretty full in first class, so this was the exception rather than the norm.

  22. David Diamond

    420, Elon Musk approves.

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.

Megan Guest

Dude, get a life.

7
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Jcil -- Hah, no, it's a "vehicle" for me to be able to write an updated guide about how to request a birthday cake on Emirates, and what to expect when you get it.

4
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ CS -- Happy to answer your questions. Why is it "necessary" to show the bottle? Well it's not. This whole review wasn't necessary, I suppose. But with my trip reports I like to make people feel like they experience it with me as much as possible, and I know many readers like pictures like that, since Dom Perignon is probably the best consistent aspect of Emirates' food & beverage program. I didn't touch the bottle (I wouldn't do that), but rather asked the flight attendant if I could take a picture of it next to the glass. She gladly obliged, and seemed happy about my enthusiasm. First class flight attendants deal with a lot of demanding passengers, and I think this was hardly the most annoying request that the flight attendant received this year. Now I have a question for you now. I appreciate your "love you lots" comment and I'd like to think you're being genuine and not a troll, but why are you so condescending? There's a disconnect between that and you asking if I put my "dirty little hands" on the bottle, no? What's wrong with my clean big hands? I'm sorry if you're having a rough day, I know there's a lot going on in the world...

4
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