I recently had the opportunity to redeem 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles to fly from Bangkok to Los Angeles in Emirates First Class. Over the past few weeks, Emirates has released plenty of premium cabin space for people with frequent flier miles. It was a fairly easy booking that was completed 100% online. Alaska Airlines even offers the opportunity to build in a stopover with one way travel. Although I didn’t take advantage of that, you do not need to call in to book a complex itinerary.
I arrived at the airport about 4 hours before my scheduled flight and headed to the check-in counters. Emirates runs flights all day from Bangkok to a variety of destinations in Australia, China, and Dubai. You can read Amol’s review of his Emirates A380 flight here. It seems that the Australia routes do well from Bangkok as I overheard the agent offer a passenger next to me some compensation and a one night hotel stay for a bump to the next flight.
As I was checking in, I ran into some issues with Alaska Airlines and Emirates not being able to issue my boarding pass. After paying an extra fee, I was finally given a boarding pass. The counter agent pointed me to the direction of the expedited immigration lane and I was off.
In Bangkok, Emirates has a dedicated lounge due to the high number of flights that go through this airport. The lounge itself is not spectacular at all. The seats are leather mini-couches and they either face out to a garden or towards each other. In addition to the lounge seating, there are a few family areas throughout and a restroom equipped with two shower facilities. At the time that I went to the lounge, it was fairly empty.
However, almost everything — including a shower room, sink, and urinal — was out of order. It was also a bit disappointing when the shower attendant showed me to a shower room that hadn’t been cleaned. There was still a few towels on the floor leftover from the previous guest and a few open bottles of shampoo on the floor.
After changing, I went to see what food spread Emirates had and it was actually very good. There were traditional appetizers as well as arabic mezze. There was also hot meals served buffet style and some finger sandwiches. There was plenty of alcohol and some Moet in the chilled bucket.
After an hour of sitting around, I decided to head out to the terminal to see what kind of last minute souvenirs I could pick up. By the time I was finished shopping, boarding was announced.
Emirates EK 373
6 Hours & 40 Minutes (Scheduled)
Suite 2K (First Class)
Boarding was done through two doors, and I followed the door that said “First/Business Class.” It still led me to the downstairs section of the plane and I had to lug all my things up the stairs. It wasn’t too bad though because I was welcomed by two shower attendants and the head purser for my flight. She showed me to my suite and started to explain all the features. This A380 happened to be one of the older models that they had in the fleet. It didn’t matter to me and I couldn’t tell the difference between the old and new except for the response of the tablet and speed of the entertainment system.
My initial impressions of the suite were that it was just way over the top and gaudy. However, the more I flew it, the more I realized that maybe some of these options were needed. One of the many features of this suite was the minibar. I managed to drink a few drinks from the retractable minibar like Pepsi and Voss water. Each suite also came with a separate built in amenity kit made by Temple Spa.
The entertainment selection is the most of any airline I’ve seen, and it can all be watched on the massive 23 inch LCD TV. There is also a controller to the left of you that can be released and held in your hand. This controller can access and command everything from lighting to the closing of the suite doors. If you need to connect to the world at 40,000 feet, Emirates offers in-flight wi-fi on all their A380s. Prices range from $2.75 – $20.00.
A writing kit was also provided in case you want to write a letter to someone. What I liked most about the entire suite was the accents and availability of two air ducts. Often times, it gets really hot inside a plane, especially if you’re under down comforter. It was nice to feel cold air coming out of both ducts.
After the initial phase of awe and excitement, I sat down and decided to stay in the suite while others boarded. The doors closed about 5 minutes ahead of schedule, and we left the gate right on time. The take-off was smooth and about 10-15 minutes later the attendant came by to offer me a drink. As horrible as it is, I think I drank close to five cans of Coke on this flight alone.
Around the same time that my drink order was taken, my pajamas and amenity kit were brought to me in a very nice Emirates canvas bag. I have to say, the amenity kit is amazing! (Pictures in next report.) It is an all-leather kit with the normal amenities plus a travel set of cologne and lotions by Bvlgari. The pajamas were also extremely comfortable and soft. The pants especially were very comfortable to lounge in.
Dinner service soon started and the menus were handed out.
I decided to pick the Arabic Mezze for starters and then continue with the filet of beef.
The dinner service was spectacular. Not only was the service wonderful, but the food was absolutely delicious. There were three different types of Hummus and my most favorite was the roasted tomato hummus. The filet of beef was equally delicious and cooked perfectly. It’s one of the rare times that I actually finished all of my food!
Dinner service took about 2 hours and afterwards, I headed to the back of the plane to hang out at the onboard bar. It is one of the coolest features of this A380 and was designed beautifully. The Emirates A380 is designed as having an all business/first class on the second floor whilst economy is on the main deck. By doing this, they have been able to create two bars upstairs. The First Class bar does not have a seating area but features more prominent wines and spirits. However, the Business Class bar is where it’s at if you want to socialize with other passengers. Snacks, light bites and drinks are all served in the bar area and there is seating available for about 7-8 people. While there, I managed to strike up a conversation for a couple hours with some very interesting people! I also became friends with the bar attendant Michal who continuously served up some ginger ale. We talked about the process of how he came to work with Emirates and what the situation was like in his home country of the Czech Republic.
I managed to get some pictures of the Business Class cabin before returning to my suite.
By the time I got back, the bed was made for me and some water was left on the bedside table. I managed to get about 2 hours of sleep on this flight and although I scheduled a shower for 2 hours before landing, I never woke up to take it. I was a little sad to not be able to shower but I still had another flight to take advantage of it.
I was woken up by the attendant about 30 minutes before arrival so that they could ready the seat for landing and was left to watch the decent into Dubai. Ultimately, I watched more and more as we were put into a 40 minute hold. Midnight is the peak time to land into Dubai, and with only two runways the airport was busier than ever.
Eventually, we did land and were given fast track passes to get through transfer security and immigration more quickly.
Overall, Emirates First Class is quite a product. The service was impeccable, and the attendants always looked over me. I didn’t really give the attendants much to work with this flight as I was busy conversing and sleeping for length of the route. The one time that I could judge their service was during dinner service.
I do have to say that Emirates attendants do strike a similarity with Singapore Airlines attendants in the sense that they may be too attentive. They would constantly come by through the cabin and refill my drink. At one point, they also noticed that I was running low on pita bread and immediately brought me more. It may have had to do with me being one of 2 people in First Class but I appreciated the level of service offered to me.
I went into this flight thinking the extraordinary and wasn’t disappointed. Emirates delivers a level of quality and service that is close to or rivaled by the major Asian carriers. Coupling that with the crew diversity and far reaching destinations Emirates flies to and you have an all star airline.
Did you enjoy the trip report? Enter the first of three giveaways in the comment section below! Just let us know what collection (if any) you would add these prizes to! You can also read more about the rules in the original announcement post.
Emirates A340-500 Model Plane Scale (1:200)
Emirates First Class Amenity Kit