Airline review: Emirates A380 business class, Dubai to Melbourne

THE ROUTE

Dubai to Melbourne, Emirates EK 408

THE AIRCRAFT

Airbus A380-800, Emirates' flagship and the luxury ocean liner of the skies.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Emirates Skywards; the airline partners with Qantas and Jetstar, among others, but does not belong to any of the major alliances.

CLASS

Business, the seats run in a 1-2-1 configuration with rows staggered for space and privacy.

DURATION

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The scheduled flight is 13 hours and 10 minutes but with a light load and friendly winds, we made the trip in 12 hours and 20 minutes.

FREQUENCY

Emirates flies this route at least twice daily.

CHECKING-IN

Online check-in is available well ahead but I approached the counter at the start of my journey, in Geneva, and with a short queue, sorted the check-in simply. Security clearance in Geneva and later Dubai is  straightforward.

BAGGAGE

Business passengers have a 40kg allowance and economy 30kg; the carry-on limits are 7kg for economy and two pieces not weighing more than 7kg each in business.

THE SEAT

It's more suite than seat, a pod of paradise. The window is my favourite seat on any flight and in 20A, upstairs on the A380, there are two windows. There's a big screen for the movies, a small mini-bar to my side and a slide-out tray in the same walnut-style finish as the suite's other fittings. There's a lot of space around it, but the seat itself measures in with a 48-inch (122cm) pitch and is 70 inches (178cm) when it lies flat; width is 18.5 inches (47cm). 

COMFORT

I seldom sleep on flights but this one is no problem, with the lie-flat seat and a mattress, blanket and pillows delivered to help things along.

ENTERTAINMENT

A vast menu on Emirates' ICE system and good watching on the big screen. I got through some of the third True Detective series and managed a couple of movies: Vice suited the screen perfectly,  but Breath and its surfing scenes might have been a better bet for the cinema. The flight information is excellent, along with cameras that see what you can't: straight down or straight ahead.

SERVICE

They speak your language: the cabin crew, according to the announcement, were from "19 countries and speak 14 languages." They were friendly, attentive and never over the top. I browsed the menu and spotted something called a "Breakfast Martini", a cocktail made of Sipsmith London dry gin, Cointreau, orange juice, lemon juice and marmalade, shaken, not stirred. The cabin crew member who made the martini came and checked that it was OK – she'd never mixed one before and nor had her colleagues. I was happy to tell her it was way out in front of OK. I know, if you want to avoid jet lag, don't drink... well, give me jet lag any day. Besides, I'm not going to pass up a marmalade martini when offered; Paddington would never forgive me. 

FOOD

A post-martini breakfast omelette came with chicken chipolatas and potato hash with some fresh fruit and yoghurt and plenty of choice in the pastry basket. Lunch came later and the spoils of my choice were a salad of cured and smoked salmon with beetroot and goat's cheese for starters, then a main course of beef fillet, polenta mash and asparagus, helped down by some French wine. The finishing touch was a cheese platter and a couple of Swiss chocolates for later. 

ONE MORE THING

Plenty of scope for lounging around with Emirates. Pre-flight in Dubai I had access to the Emirates Business lounge, a vast space that even in the early hours of the morning had some bustle about it, a queue for the showers and a fine selection of food and refreshments. There's also a lounge aboard the A380 for business and first with smiling service, drinks and snacks.

VERDICT

This wasn't my first flight in business class, but it was my first on the A380 and with the comfort, service, food, entertainment, and that martini, it went to a new level. Emirates offer a chauffeur drive service for business and first customers; in Melbourne it is restricted to 80 kilometres.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

5 out of 5

Jim Darby paid for his flight and was upgraded by the airline.

See also: Emirates introduces cheaper, no frills business class

See also: World's best airline for 2019 named as Qantas soars into top 10

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