a bed with a television on it
The Final Verdict
The Suite
Seat Comfort
Sleep Comfort
Food And Beverage

Many years ago now, Emirates paid Jennifer Aniston quite a lot of money to introduce the concept of never wanting a flight to end. At the time, it was an absurd thought for most travelers.

In the ad, Aniston famously wakes up from her first class Airbus A380 suite and asks if they can “keep flying this thing around a little bit longer”. Years later, and after 14 plus hours in the air, I felt exactly the same way.

Emirates first class is an exceptional way to travel, and in terms of flying novelty, there’s no better way to experience this luxurious setup than onboard the flagship Emirates Airbus A380. With many airlines closing up shop on the A380, there’s never been a better time to prioritize this ‘golden age’ experience.

Here’s what to expect…

Emirates First Class Experience At Dubai International Airport

If you’re flying first, chances are a chauffeur will be taking you to the airport. I certainly never mind.

Pulling up at DXB, you’ll find a separate area for first and business class drop off at Terminal 3, and then quickly a huge dedicated first class check in facility. The privacy is great but it’s the scale that’s wowing. It’s not as design focused as one might expect for a first class space, but you certainly won’t be waiting in any lines…

a room with red chairs and a table

After a quick tram ride to Dubai International’s A gates, where all Emirates A380 flights depart, you’ll find the sprawling first class lounge up a lift or elevator.

When I say sprawling, it’s actually absurd. Think of it more like a fully private airport terminal for first class passengers than a lounge, because it takes up the entire length of the terminal. Everything one could require can be found here.

a room with a lamp and chairsYou’ll find mini appetizer stations at every gate, as well as a stocked bar, and if you want a substantial sit down meal, spa treatment or nap room, they’re littered across the space.

If there’s a complaint to make about this lounge, and I’m certainly not saying there is, it’s that it’s best enjoyed in running shoes. You really can cover some ground, which is actually maybe a positive before a long trip!

a room with a table and chairsBoarding takes place directly from the lounge, which means you really won’t have to see another soul, other than those also flying first class from the time you set foot in the lounge. It’s brilliant.

Emirates A380 First Class Experience

For curmudgeons like myself who have been on perhaps one too many flights, it’s rare to have that “omg” feeling upon boarding a plane anymore, but I can’t help but smile walking onto this aircraft. Boarding through the upper deck door, it’s a quick left with an escort from the crew to your suite.

a small table with a tv and a laptop on it a seat in an airplane

It’s bold, it’s ornate, it’s even argued to be ostentatious, but it’s simply superb by any metric of comfort and refinement.

The privacy door is as substantial as they come, the seat is almost too comfortable, the 27” screen is massive and the iPad like device which allows you to remotely control every element of the seat and suite makes this an effortless cake walk.

In terms of suite experience, some Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are equipped with an even newer and more comfortable suite, but the 777 lacks on board showers. Be sure to check whether your route offers both aircraft, and choose accordingly.

a bottle of champagne next to a glass of wine

Within seconds of settling in I was greeted by name and offered a welcome drink. As expected, welcome drinks are far from standard in Emirates first class.

Emirates has a great feature where you can look at the wine list and menu for the flight 30 days in advance using the app or website, and after seeing that they were serving Dom Perignon P2 2002 on this flight, I knew which drink option I’d be leaning toward…

a table with a tray and a glass of champagne on it a glass of wine on a table in an airplane

Another fantastic feature of the Emirates A380 first cabin is the lack of overhead bins entirely. There’s enough room in each suite to put a full sized carry on and bag under the entertainment screen, and even in bed mode it’s untouchable for an NBA player.

Having all your belongings in arms reach, or nearby is oddly comforting, and there’s plenty of other storage space too. Emirates has been a leader in on board cleanliness, adding deep cleaning to more surfaces between each flight in response to the global health situation.

But don’t worry Emirates still hands over pyjamas, slippers, a huge amenity kit and everything else to line your pockets with.

a table with food and a lamp on itThe Meal Service And Drinks

Most take offs feel like a violent rumble, but up in the front upper deck of the A380, life is almost alarmingly quiet and graceful. You really actually wonder if there’s enough to get moving, because it feels so calm. Obviously, it works out just fine.

Up in the skies, it was time to settle in for the dine on demand food and oh how lovely it was. Really, most airplane food sucks immensely, but this was a show.

Emirates shows superb variation between regional Arabic, Middle Eastern dishes and continental European and pan Asian favourites. And of course, caviar is universally accepted as the ultimate way to kick off a good time…

a plate of food with a yellow bag a plate of food on a table

Pre caviar, Emirates partnered with Dom Perignon to create a signature canapé set to kick things off, and well, it paid off. The food really brought out the depth of the Plentitude 2002 and set the mood for a couple hours of dining indulgence.

a plate of food on a table

Each dish was beautifully plated, and served with perfect temperature.

Apart from the lovely caviar, I was particularly impressed with the paneer and spinach dish, which was served with something along the lines of a biryani and some roasted vegetables. You need flavor in the sky – and this was packed with buckets.

a plate of food on a table a plate of food on a tray a plate of food on a table

The wine list was expectedly fantastic, with a Petit Lafite, Moon Tsai and other welcome bottles. Hot tip: look for the wine in the middle of the list presented, which represents the sommeliers choice. It’s a special (generally 3x more expensive) bottle. You’ll find some absolutely wild stuff being poured.

Rest And Relaxation In The Emirates A380 Suite

The wireless remote control makes basically every element of the experience easy. The seat can be controlled via four easy “take off”, “dining”, “lounging” or “bed” modes, and each individual element can also be customized to your personal taste.

a tablet with a screen on it a table with a book and a lamp on it

The iPad like remote also controls the screen and privacy doors and if I really had to nitpick, and I’d really f**king have to try, I wish that it was easier to switch between functions without having to tap back a few times, particularly when interacting with crew and trying to open doors, pause films etc.

a close up of a signI found the star of the show to really be the mattress topper, duvet and pillow set, which literally feel like sleeping in the clouds, which is appropriate when flying at 40,000 feet.

We’re talking high thread count sheets, memory foam-esque mattress topper and a lovely large pillow. I slept probably 7 hours completely undisturbed, which would be a result on the ground, let alone on board a commercial flight.

a bed with a table and a lamp on it a bed with pillows and a phone on the side of it a bed with a television on it a bed with a television on the side of it

In lounging mode the Emirates First Class seat is like the very best movie theatre seat you could imagine, and in fear of being outed on passenger shaming, I chose to prop my feet up with my carry on, rather than on the wood surface of the suite.

It made for a nice relaxed way to enjoy the mellow dramedy of Succession S2 on HBO. Shout-out to Emirates for having lots of box sets in their in-flight entertainment, which makes passing time easy, without the need to constantly browse.

a bathroom with a sink and mirror The Ultimate Experience: A Shower At 40,000 Feet

No matter what anyone tells you, there’s nothing like showering at 40,000 feet. And in Emirates A380 first class shower, it’s easy to forget you’re in a plane. The shower suite is huge and the plane offers a dedicated staff member to ensure it’s stocked with fresh towels, toiletries and luxury skincare and hair products.

Seriously, Emirates First Class Shower on the A380 is comparable to most bathrooms on the ground. The only thing to be aware of: you have limited time in the shower. A little gas tank style gauge will display how much time is left.

a bathroom sink with a mirror and a towel on it

Figure on about 5 minutes of shower time, so don’t dilly dally. Just tap the on button one more time to soak up those last few moments. There’s plenty of space to comfortably change into fresh gear and get paparazzi ready for arrival.

Even if you’re not a star, you kinda feel like one in Emirates A380 first class…

a paper with text on it

In Flight Service, Crew And The Big Picture

Business class is about maximizing sleep, comfort and business efficiency. First class is about the best, the best, and nothing but the best.

Every time I got up from my seat, or suite, even just for a quick walk around or visit to the bathroom my suite was freshened with towels folded or a hot towel. When you think about this attention to detail over 14 hours, the cabin service is exceptional.

a close up of a device

Unlike some first class experiences, I really felt the proactive nature of the crew, who were ready, willing and able to assist.

I had brief issues with the wifi (mostly due to flying over the North Pole — duh) and within a minute of a brief little grumble from my end, the head cabin crew member was over to let me know the deal and that he’d be happy to take care of it should it turn out not to get back in action shortly.

a bed with a woman on it

Putting this experience into perspective, you’d have to be a real piece of work not to enjoy this. It’s heaps above business class, and heaps above many first class products.

You can’t ask for more in terms of seat comfort, food, service or champagne. What was most surprising to me was how well this experience stands up, even after years of new first class launches from other airlines.

There may be others with more square footage, but this is top 5 and it’s certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. If you can swing it with miles or money, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Agree with you! It’s definitely one of the best airlines worldwide. I wonder how some European Airlines revived 5 stars from skytrax.

    Thank you for the detailed review. Looking forward to my next flight with them.

  2. This is heavenly bliss worth trying in a lifetime keep improving one day I will be your passenger most likely in February 2020

  3. Couldn’t agree more with this review. I’ve flown EK F on the A380 and B777, and the product is largely the same, other than the absence of bar and shower on the latter – that doesn’t even matter though.

    We used to be relatively blessed with EK F offerings trans-tasman; only SYD-CHC remains, but it’s a great way to experience their A380 product on the cheap (A$1,000 ish in a sale one-way, or a modest stack of QF points). Of course trans-tasman doesn’t make for a very long flight but, when you include the lounge, you can put away a fair bit.

    Their 5F routes are being cut ex-Australia, but MEL-SIN still remains on a B777, and is also a more than acceptable way to experience it for a longer period.

  4. Experienced the comfort of travelling by Business Class in an A777 recently. Now yearn to travel by First Class in an A380 from MUM to JFK. Hope my dream comes true at the earliest.

  5. Great review!

    There is of course one thing better than this: the new Emirates First on certain 777s (including those out of Stansted). There’s no bar or showers onboard, but the fully enclosed (floor to ceiling) suite and additional space is incredible.

  6. Used 135k Skywards miles to redeem JFK-DXB-MXP round trip! Did it the long way round rather than the direct 5F JFK-MXP flight to maximize time in air. Interestingly if you can find availability the cost is the same.

  7. My RTW in F all on A380’s on KE & EK is approaching. Now after reading this I am getting a bit excited.

  8. Wondering, did you book the trip with EK points? Just curious if lounge access is included on award tickets?

  9. I agree. We flew from DFW to HKG A380. What a life memorable experience that we will do again. Nothing compares!

  10. It was an experience that will remain near the top of OMG moments and I had 7 of them, all in a flight from London to Christchurch NZ, via Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney to Christchurch and then Christchurch, Sydney, Dubai and London in August/Sept 2010. Complete with a 4 day (included) stopover in one of Hyatt’s suites in Dubai. Complete with transfers to and from the airport in some very top end luxury car, which had almost more buttons to press in the back than my suite onboard! I did have one complaint though … I slept most of the way there and back. Just waking to sample what the crew felt I should, as I left it in their hands as staggaringly 3 of those flights I was the only passenger in 1st. All thanks to Trailfinders who rang me one Saturday morning and asked if I could tweak my date flying out by 2 days. I could so I paid £400 less than I was going to pay in Business Class.

  11. Recycling the old Emirates First Class chestnut again? Really? How many hundreds other reviews are also out there. Slow news day?

    Yup: Fantastic, Comfy Grand, Gaudy, Over-the-top everything, Hennessy Paradais, yada.

    You didn’t mention the two Malay or Filipina “sky maids” who exist to clean the bathrooms in First after every use, or the ability to use cotton cloths instead of toilet paper.

    1. You know, it’s pretty easy to just see things you aren’t particularly interested in and just carry on. Takes far fewer characters and those minutes wasted leaving this comment could be used to…
      1) donate to charity
      2) make a home cooked meal
      3) tell someone you haven’t seen in a while that you miss them.
      4) Pop on a great tune and dance.

      Enjoy the weekend, Ray!

      1. Yes. Did all that.
        Then I played golf, went and served food at a shelter, and walked the dog.
        Returning to see the tired re-publish of an old review

        Of course, the sensible response to criticism is never self-evaluation and improvement, but rather to whine.

        Do carry on

        1. What do you do for a living? In my living, keeping “evergreen” articles current is a best practice in business. The review is updated to add timely info, such as covid-19 precautions being taken and any changes in experience. Doing so keeps the article viable from a commercial standpoint and relevant to readers at the same time. Don’t know why you’re so bothered by someone following best practices in their field.

  12. We flew Dubai to Sri Lanka and agree with everything just one aspect that was not great – the shaving /shower facilities are not great at DBX. The showers are stalls and not private rooms so you have to shave in an open area with multiple sinks.

  13. Now that Alaska is gone as a redemption partner you have to elaborate the best way to redeem!

  14. The hard product is great but unfortunately the fas and this not just me Other reports are saying the service is not that good, I just flew Thursday dxb-jfk and across the board just mediocre service

  15. You get extra credit for watching SUCCESSION while living large on the a380! What better company than Logan and Shiv while you enjoy the friendly skies. Not that they would actually fly commercial, but still… 😉 great review. thanks!

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