Airline review: Emirates A380 economy class, Dubai to Melbourne

THE ROUTE

EK406 Dubai to Melbourne

THE AIRCRAFT

Airbus A380-800

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Emirates' loyalty program is Skyward Miles, but I put my points onto my Qantas Frequent Flyer account.

CLASS

Economy, seat 45H (aisle).

DURATION

13 hours 20 minutes

FREQUENCY

Daily (Emirates runs three daily Melbourne-Dubai services)

CHECKING IN

I am connecting from Cairo, and either a technical glitch or Egypt's heightened security measures means  I can't print boarding passes or allocate my seat beforehand, even on the Emirates app. I am mentally prepared for 13 hours sitting next to an eight-year-old beside a busy toilet in a middle seat that doesn't recline.

THE SEAT

Rejoice, my allocated perch is a poor (wo)man's jackpot! I don't get a window, but I am seated in the first section of the plane. Economy class is segregated into four sections, and mine is the first, just near the doors where we boarded. It's also where business class walks upstairs, so we have a large foyer to the front of the cabin, with five toilets and enough space for six people to mingle and stretch, without encroaching on other passengers. Looking up into that extra space makes the cabin feel far roomier, a win for everyone in this zone.

BAGGAGE

Following Emirates' luggage revisions in February, my fare allows 25 kilograms of checked baggage, and one 7 kilogram piece of cabin baggage.

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COMFORT

My main gripe with aisle seats is getting clipped by a speeding duty-free trolley, but service is smooth, and I pass a remarkably jostle-free night flight, which I attribute to the plane's four smaller sections. Economy passengers receive a little apple-green amenities bag with socks, earplugs and a toothbrush in a water-resistant zip-up bag, and the well-lit bathrooms include perfume and sanitary napkins.

ENTERTAINMENT

Our USB ports aren't working, but the in-seat power roars along. Emirates has one of the best entertainment systems in the business and there are plenty of new movies, including the kids' selection. Emirates also offers two hours of free text-based internet or 20MB of free Wi-Fi.

SERVICE

Emirates loves to announce how many languages are spoken by its crews (14 on this flight) and kids' meals are served early. The finicky German au pair beside me is mollycoddled, with not even a raised eyebrow from the cabin crew for her incessant questions and dietary requests, and the attendants are ready to crack a joke in the galley when I pop down for late-night snacks.

FOOD

Rival carrier Etihad now charges for anything outside the regular meal service so I'm wondering if I will have to pay for my chips.  I don't and the economy food service is lavish. Miss Eight sleeps soundly through the evening meal service, so we come begging in the galley for snacks – just as the crew are pulling hot pizza subs out of the oven. With an apple and water, it far exceeds expectations. Dinner is grilled fish and fluffy Basmati rice, while at breakfast croissants, omelettes, sausages, yoghurt and tinned fruit vie for space on the tray.

ONE MORE THING

There is a long mirror near the galley, which is ideal for make-up touch ups without having to hog a bathroom in the precious hour before touchdown. Such a sensible design idea.

VERDICT

After a break of several years from flying Emirates, its plush interiors, warm service and generous food, beverage and entertainment options will have me choosing its A380 service over its rivals on my next trip to the Middle East.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★ ½

Belinda Jackson travelled at her own expense. 

See also: Airline review: A380 economy class on the world's best airline for 2019

See also: Airline review: This business class is more like premium economy

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