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Best Flights: Emirates Business Class Review, Sydney-Dubai
The Airline: Emirates
The Flight: EK415 Sydney to Dubai
The Equipment: Boeing 777-300 ER
The Cabin: Business Class
Time & Date: 0605 on 21/2/10
The old Kangaroo Route from Australia to Europe has never been more congested, and the days of Qantas and respected Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines leading the way appears to be over - for now. In recent years, Middle Eastern airlines have set new benchmarks for service especially in business class, and at the top of queue, and growing its impressive network at a phenomenal rate, is Emirates, the airline of the UAE. Word of mouth from many travellers is they have the best business class in the air at the moment, and they're frequently rated as the best airline by travellers.
On Emirates, when you fly business class you can organise a lot of things connected with your reservation online, from seat selection and ordering any special meals, to checking-in. My flight to Dubai from Sydney departed at 6am, which is an ungodly hour requiring an early start before sunrise. However, when you are flying in business class or first class with Emirates, you qualify for a chauffeur driven limousine pick-up to and from the airport if you live within 40 kms of the airport (in Sydney). Also, as the first flight out of the blocks when Sydney's Kingsford Smith opens, you can be assured of an on-time departure!
The flight attendants are polite, polished and professional, and as soon as you are sitting down they are quick to check that you are comfortable, and start to hand out newspapers, drinks and additional pillows and so on, as you'd expect from a business class service on a premium airline. The inflight kit is equally as impressive and one of the nicest I have seen. It comes in a cream coloured pouch which you would actually use again, and is stocked with Bulgari essentials including hand cream and a mini bottle of fragrance, tissues, a comb, toothbrush and toothpaste and a handy vanity mirror.
Given that my flight departed at 6am, and I had been awake since 2.30am, I wasn't really in the mood to eat and sleep was proving more of a priority. However, in order to avoid waking up in a few hours time with my stomach complaining of neglect, I decided to try some breakfast before putting the lie-flat business class seat to the test. Breakfast was comprehensive, with fresh juice, seasonal fruit and yoghurt, with no less than four main courses to choose from. They included cheese and chives scrambled eggs, and a toasted waffle with pear and lychee topped with vanilla sauce.
The Seat & Entertainment
My flight wasn't on board the new A380, but a B777-300 ER with a three class configuration - economy, business class and first. In the business class cabin, the seats run 2-3-2 across; on this flight I sat in seat 11K, a window seat on the side. The decor in the cabin is bright and airy; the seat fabric is a regal plum colour, the cocoon grey and the interactive screen on the back of the seat in front is surrounded by a rich honey-coloured laminated wood.
Between breakfast and lunch, I opted to sleep and then be entertained; with 14-plus-hours on board, there was plenty of time for both. The primary reason why people spend big on a business class seat today is sleep, and on Emirates the seat converts to a fully lie-flat bed. Upright, the seat felt like it was sloping forward slightly, but when it was fully reclined there was no questioning its comfort. In business class you also have a lot more privacy which can be handy if you are travelling alone. The centre console is more pronounced than on some business class seats, and there's a privacy shield you can raise between them at head level.
This was an impressive flight and one of the best flights in this sector, and my return to Sydney proved to be exactly the same, from the level of service to the quality of food. Emirates has undoubtedly worked hard to carve themselves a niche among premium international carriers, and the praise many travellers have given the airline for its efforts is well deserved. The equipment was top notch, the crew were polished and professional, and for my part I arrived in Dubai in excellent shape.
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