Airline review: Emirates A380 economy class, Melbourne to Dubai

THE PLANE

Airbus A380. Emirates has an impressive 110 of this aircraft in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

Melbourne to Dubai.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Skywards. Points can alternatively accrue to Qantas's frequent flyer program via codeshare flights.

CLASS

Economy, seat 77G.

DURATION

14 hours.

GOING GREEN

Emirates does not offer a carbon offset option to passengers, but prioritises suppliers who demonstrate sustainable practices, such as Dilmah Tea, which has achieved carbon neutrality. The airline is also participating in the  Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which involves the purchasing of carbon emissions reduction offsets for flights from 2021 onwards.

FREQUENCY

Twice daily. Note there's a third daily Melbourne-Dubai Emirates flight aboard a cramped Boeing 777 which stops at Singapore en route and should be avoided.

CHECKING IN

Emirates' Melbourne check-in options for economy passengers include in-person, online and mobile. Arrive early so you can chill over a meal or drink at the international terminal's impressive eateries before heading for the gate.

LOUNGE ACCESS

Economy passengers can pay for access to the Emirates Lounge at Melbourne Airport, subject to availability, for $US130 plus GST. On a return flight from Dubai you can access the Emirates Business Lounge for $US150, or $US300 for the Emirates First Class Lounge.

THE SEAT

84 centimetres (33 inches) pitch, 46 centimetres (18 inches) width. Economy seats are arranged in a 3-4-3 layout.

Advertisement

BAGGAGE

Any number of checked bags to a total of 30 kg. For carry-on, one bag of up to 7 kg.

COMFORT

The Airbus A380 is my favourite aircraft, as even in economy class it gives an impression of space. The cabin is broad, the bins are high above our heads, and Emirates sets the A380's economy legroom at a quite reasonable pitch – so my knees are in no risk of colliding with the seatback in front of me. I'm also lucky in that the seat next to me is empty, a happy situation I call "poor man's business class". With this extra width and a little legroom, economy becomes quite bearable. As for my seat, it's firm but supportive, though it won't quite recline to its full extent. There are subtle signs of wear and tear in front of me too, as the seat pouch is loose and won't stay affixed via its Velcro patch.

ENTERTAINMENT

The seatback entertainment system seems an older model and is a bit annoying to use, with the screen mildly unresponsive to my touch. There's a creative variety of movie categories to browse, including ''Movie Moms'' (hello Mamma Mia and Lady Bird); "Space Movies" (from Apollo 13 to The Martian); and "Travel Movies'' (Tracks meets Eat Pray Love). I opt for the sadly bland biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The TV section is well-stocked, with collections of shows featuring wildlife, stand-up comedy, sitcoms and dramas. Unfortunately Emirates plays a series of ads before its films, which makes it awkward to jump in and out of items to try them out. The sheer number of choices is a big plus, even if the picture and sound quality aren't as sharp as I'd like.

SERVICE

The multinational, multilingual flight crew is friendly and efficient.

FOOD

Dinner is served soon after departure on this night-time flight. There's an entree of hot-smoked salmon served with brown rice and edamame salad, followed by a choice of chicken in tomato and olive sugo or a beef massaman curry. Dessert is a lemon crumble sponge. It's run of the mill airline food with the salad a little dry, but the tomato and olive sugo has a strong flavour suited to altitude-dulled taste buds. For snacks in the night there's a choice of lamb or vegetable pides, and breakfast is either scrambled eggs or an omelette. The eggs are served with a side of banana bread, which is frankly odd.

ONE MORE THING

WiFi internet access is available while in the air. The options range from two hours of free use, to full-flight plans offering data downloads of 150 MB ($US9.99) or 500 MB ($US15.99).

THE VERDICT

A sufficiently comfortable economy class ride with a good range of entertainment, though this plane's fittings were showing their age.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Tim Richards was hosted aboard Emirates by the German National Tourist Board.

See also: Why I'm not happy with the new Airbus A350 and Boeing Dreamliners

See also: What the demise of the four-engine plane means for travellers

Airline reviews A to Z: Read all Traveller's Flight Tests

Comments