Flight test: Emirates business class

It has been named the best airline in the world for 2013, but how does Emirates really stack up? We try out its business class service to find out.

THE ROUTE

Dubai to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-300ER

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Skywards — passengers can earn and redeem Skywards Miles and Qantas Frequent Flyer points on both Emirates and Qantas.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

The pointy end. Window seat 7K will set you back but Emirates has one of the best business-class sections going.

TIME IN THE AIR

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Seven hours and 10 minutes to KL from Dubai and seven hours and 35 minutes from KL to Melbourne, with a two-hour stopover, giving a total flight time of 16 hours and 45 minutes.

THE SEAT STUFF

Business class has a seat pitch of 120 centimetres, which extends to form a two-metre-long, fully flat bed. Seat cushions are 47 centimetres wide. It's a 2-3-2 layout in business.

BAGGAGE

Business-class customers are permitted two pieces of carry-on baggage with a total combined weight of 12 kilograms, plus checked luggage up to 40 kilograms.

COMFORT FACTOR

Only if Emirates could get your bedroom into the air would you be more comfortable. There are full-size beds, a food service that never seems to end, and more movies and TV shows than you could see in a week.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

Emirates offers up to 1500 channels of on-demand entertainment featuring world movies, new releases, TV shows, games and kids' channels. If you haven't been to the cinema in years, you're in for a treat.

THE SERVICE

Check-in is silky smooth with no wait involved at all, while the Business Class Lounge in Dubai could be the prototype for lounges across the world. Emirates' flight crews are renowned for their friendliness and speak more than 120 languages, so they've got you covered no matter what you want to ask them — they're an interesting blend of Europeans, South Africans, Brits and southern and northern Asians.

FEEDING TIME

Two main meals are served, with my favourite being dinner served not long out of KL. I start with an appetiser of hot smoked salmon with mango and cold roast lamb loin and tandoori chicken with mango chutney. For a main I choose garoupa fillet with a saffron dill sauce followed by a blueberry cheesecake and chocolate gateau. Light snacks include steak pies, sandwiches and pastries. I bypass the Moet in favour of the Leeuwin Prelude Chardonnay 2010 from Margaret River — I must be feeling patriotic.

ONE MORE THING

Emirates offers complimentary luxury chauffeur transfers from home to airport and back for business and first-class passengers. However, the service is not available for passengers on flights between Australia and New Zealand.

THE VERDICT

Return business-class fares to Dubai from Melbourne start from $8655, which is quite competitive in this market. It's worth seeing whether you can get an upgrade to business class on points if you don't fancy splashing out.

THE FREQUENCY

Emirates operates three flights daily from Dubai to Melbourne, one of which goes via KL and the other via Singapore. The third is a direct A380.

Tested by Craig Tansley, who flew courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office.

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