Airline review: Emirates A380 Dubai to Melbourne, business class

THE ROUTE

Dubai to Melbourne, Emirates EK408

THE AIRCRAFT

Airbus A380-800

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Emirates Skywards. Though not a member of any of the major alliances, the airline does partner with Qantas and Jetstar.

CLASS

In business, the seats are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. A privacy screen slides up between the two middle seats. With a window seat, I feel cocooned in my own little pod.

DURATION

14 hours.

FREQUENCY

Emirates flies three times daily from Melbourne to Dubai and three times daily from Sydney to Dubai.

CHECKING-IN

Online check-in is available and I cleared customs quickly and easily thanks to a priority pass issued to business class passengers. My carry-on luggage, separate to my handbag, was taken at the airport in Dubai and repacked by staff in boxes which were then heavily taped, to be retrieved in Melbourne. We were in transit from Cape Town and I assume it was because people had bought breakable items in Africa. This caused a delay for those travelling in economy; holding a business class ticket I was waved through.

BAGGAGE

Business passengers have a 40-kilogram 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

The seat pitch is 44" inches (110cm), extending to create 76.6" to 78.6" (194-200cm) fully flat beds, which are 18.5" (47cm) wide.

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COMFORT

Comfort is next level, with the seat reclining to a flat bed, which when set up for sleeping is covered in a mattress. I sleep soundly for five hours.

ENTERTAINMENT

There's a massive choice of movies, TV series and music available: 3500 channels to choose from, including live sport, as well as 750 movies from around the world. Unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi is provided for business class passengers. If you want to stretch your legs, a change of scenery, a drink or snack between food and drinks service, or to meet fellow passengers, there's also an onboard lounge.

SERVICE

As I get settled in my seat, I am greeted by name, welcomed and asked if I have any particular needs or requirements. Service is warm and responsive; I get the impression nothing is too much trouble. Emirates promises three to five multi-lingual cabin crew exclusively for business class customers. Amenity kits are created by Bulgari.

FOOD

There's a lot of food and a myriad of options; quality is top-notch. Lunch is three courses, starting with a smoked salmon tartare with a citrus salad and a poached prawn. For main, I have grilled veal with a mushroom sauce, potato gratin and green beans with veal rashers; it's hot and the beans are crunchy, no mean feat when serving such numbers. All lunches are served with moghrabieh and feta salad, and freshly baked bread. To finish, I can't go past the cheese board (because cheese); my favourite is a young French double cream cheese, the Pave d'Affinois. On offer are five juices, five mocktails or a selection of some of the world's best wines from a lengthy list, complete with champagne, cocktails and spirits. Menus are changed monthly; a heart symbol denotes the healthiest offerings. Linen and china make the dining a fine affair.

ONE MORE THING

Three Emirates lounges cater specifically for business class passengers in Dubai and another is for passengers in first and business, each with restaurants offering a full bar service, office facilities (daily newspapers from around the world, power for laptops, charging stations for mobiles; conference areas), as well as a good range of magazines provided. (Economy passengers can pay for access, with reduced rates for members of the Emirates loyalty program.) The airport in Dubai is so large it allows me to exercise; with time to kill, I lap it several times. There are showers if a full freshen-up is desired. Alternatively, if you have a lengthy stopover and are looking to catch up on sleep on the ground, there are several beds available; all were occupied the day I flew.

VERDICT

This is the only way to travel – if only one could do so all the time. Given how competitive the airline business is these days, quality of service – the entire offer including food, wine and entertainment – makes all the difference. The complimentary chauffeur service offered by Emirates (within 80 kilometres of the airport) means a welcome at the airport upon arrival and a seamless journey home, all the way to my front door. Long haul flights are made a breeze thanks to the spaciousness of the Airbus and the recliner beds in particular: jetlag minimised is a joyous thing indeed.

RATING

4.5 out of 5.

Kerrie O'Brien was a guest of Emirates.

See also: Airline review: Excellence surpassed in business class

See also: Flight test: This airline should be aiming higher

Editor's note: A previous version of this review incorrectly showed an image of an Emirates A380 first class seat.

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