Emirates First Class with a toddler

This article is part of a series documenting our flight and lounge experiences as we travelled to and from Europe in First and Business Class (on points) through April and May 2016.

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We were very lucky to have the opportunity to fly First Class with Emirates. It’s a marvellous experience, and it’s certainly not lost on me that most people won’t encounter it. It’s also not lost on me that we’ll probably never have this opportunity again.

This trip has been paid for with points that we’ve been saving for a number of years. When we booked it last year, we decided to go for broke and try and be as luxurious as possible. Hence this article, and the one that will follow it, being “Emirates Business Class with a one-year-old.”

Our return journey is with Cathay Pacific, also in Business Class, so we’ll be posting articles about that once we’re back in Australia, as well as comparisons between the two airlines.

Just to give some perspective, our last international flight was in Economy, flying with Jetstar to and from Hawaii, so yes, this flight was far from the norm for us.

This flight was EK407, Melbourne to Dubai in an A380.

Emirates Chauffeur Drive

Emirates Chauffeur Drive

Our ride from home to Melbourne Airport courtesy of Emirates Chauffeur Drive

We were picked up on time by the Emirates Chauffeur Drive service. With a departure time of 9:30pm, we opted to leave home five hours early.

This was for a few reasons. Clarrie’s usual dinner time is around 5pm, with bed time anywhere between 6 and 7pm. By leaving home at 4:30pm, we figured we’d get to the lounge for a slightly later dinner and then we could all relax as we waited for the flight.

As is common with the best-laid plans, it didn’t quite go that way. The traffic to the airport was abysmal (more so than usual), mainly due to some pretty heavy rain. The trip took an hour and a half – over three times more than usual. I’m glad we had booked our driver so early.

Read more about our experience with Emirates Chauffeur Drive in Melbourne and Rome →.


Emirates First Class Check-in

Oddly enough the check-in counter wasn’t staffed when we arrived. Admittedly we were pretty early, but the queues also started forming for Business and Economy as well before staff arrived.

In the weeks before the flight, I logged in a number of times to see how many others were in First with is. The number fluctuated from none to 6. We were the only ones to check-in for First, so hopes were high that we’d still have a fairly empty cabin.

We received our ‘priority boarding’ slips which we didn’t need as immigration was deserted too.


Emirates Lounge (Melbourne)

Emirates-Lounge

The Emirates Lounge is quite large and situated right next to the boarding gates. The food and drinks on offer are quite varied and plentiful.

There’s no division between First and Business in Melbourne, so the lounge can get quite crowded. We arrived reasonably early with the idea to get Clarrie fed there and then relax.

Even with our early arrival time, we seemed to forget that getting through immigration takes time. Even so, we eventually made it through and Clarrie got to have a good feed on some classy airport lounge food.

The staff were fabulous, offering toys and activities for him to do when he started to get a little grumpy. We’d heard great things about Emirates stuff when it came to kids, and this certainly seemed like a good start.

You can read more of our experience at The Emirates Lounge in Melbourne.


The flight

Emirates First Class boarding pass

There are a bunch of photos below of all the bits I talk about, but if you want to see the top deck in context (as well as some Business Class pics from another forthcoming review), then open my dodgy collage of the Emirates A380 top deck in another window to refer to.

Boarding

2016-04-21 21.20.01We boarded on time, and were immediately waited on hand and foot. There were only two other passengers in First, both of whom seemed old hat and did not want to be bothered by cabin crew.

In effect, we had the entire First Class cabin crew of 4 or 5 people all to ourselves.

Walking onto a plane and turning left instead of right is a nice way to start a flight. The First Class cabin is pretty surreal. We’d seen numerous photos of it online, but like most things- actually being there is a whole different ball game.





The layout

The entire top deck of the Emirates A380 is dedicated to First and Business.
Emirates_Airlines_Airbus_A380_BAs you can see from the seat map (courtesy of www.seatguru.com), there are 14 First Class suites on this Emirates A380. We were in 3E and 3F (circled in green), while the other two passengers I mentioned earlier were in 1A and 2K (circled in red).

Your pod

The Emirates decor in First Class is so gaudy, it’s wonderful. From the table lamp to the vanity mirror embossed with LED lighting. It felt like something out of Boogie Nights.

There’s a push button pop-up mini bar which was fun to play with in a very Homer Simpson type fashion for a while (drinks go up, drinks go down, drinks go up, drinks go down), that was not refrigerated. So, if you’re after a room temperature lemonade, just open the bar at your fingertips. If you want it cold, just push a different button and ask for one to be brought to you.

There’s also a basket of snacks, such as Pringles and Mars Bars. Hilariously, the snack baskets would get swooped away for take-off, landing and turbulence. I imagine the crew find them to be quite irritating.

The amount of space here is quite difficult to describe. I hope the photos do it some justice. Considering the last international flight were on was Jetstar Economy when we came back from Hawaii last year, this was quite the step-up.

One thing to note is that are no overhead bins in Emirates First- so all your baggage goes on the floor in front of you.  There’s plenty of floor for the baggage to be in, so it’s not a drama.

The only real annoyance with the setup is that you have to walk through the galley, or around through the First Class bar to physically get to one another.  Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but with kiddie wrangling, it can be a bit up/down/up/down.

Oh, there’s also a door.  Like I said – I’ve never been in First Class before, but from what I’ve seen online, I don’t think many others have a door so you can actually just disengage from everything…. unless, of course, you’re in that fancy “The Residence” that Etihad have.  If that’s you- call me.  I need to know someone with that much cash and/or points.



Emirates First Class amenities kit

2016-04-21 21.39.16Both of us received a Bulgari amenities pack containing things like deodorant, moisturiser, foldable hair brush and toothbrush and toothpaste. Mine also had some Bulgari aftershave, Gilette shaving cream and reusable razor, while Elyse’s came with a travel mirror and face wash.

The men’s toiletries came in a pretty stylish leather zip up bag, while the ladies one was a cheap looking button up pouch.

The amenities packs, as well as soft pyjamas and slippers, were delivered in Emirates branded tote bags.

There was also a writing kit, which consisted of a pen and an enormous book with 4 pages of writing paper. Needless to say, the book was left for the next passenger. While the pens came with us.

Ironically, both pens ran out of ink within days of us arriving in Rome, so for the rest of the trip my trusty Jetstar pen (that is years old) was used. Jetstar Economy Class pen beats Emirates First Class pen!

Clarrie was also given another toy pack containing much the same stuff we’d received at the Lounge in Melbourne.

If you’re flying Emirates First Class, leave your toothbrush at home.





The seat and bed

2016-04-22 01.11.28The bed is seriously comfortable.  When you want to sleep, the crew come and put a mattress down over your seat.  This was the first time in my life I’ve ever been in a lie flat bed on a plane.  Wonderous.

I did momentarily lose my pyjama bag with all my cabin clothes in it.  It had fallen behind my seat at some point.  After reclining for bed, it had then been pushed under the seat and subsequently into the gears of the recline system.  My Emirates pyjama bag now has a stripe of grease on it.  That’s ok though, as it’s First Class grease.

At home, Clarrie will generally only sleep in three-hour bursts.  He’s generally happy to go back to sleep, but appreciates a good cuddle and most of the time a parent to join him.  On this flight, he slept for five hours straight.

Moral of the story- we need a First Class cabin in our house.

Another thing- there are stars on the ceiling.  When I woke up after a good 6 or so hours of sleep, I couldn’t have felt more relaxed as I gained consciousness with the hum of the engines and looking up at the dark starry night above me.

2016-04-22 06.42.10


The food

Absolutely delicious. I had Grilled Beef Tenderloin for dinner and an amazing omelette for breakfast.

You eat when you want to- there are no meal times in First. You have a scotch at 7am and an omelette at midnight if you like.


The entertainment system

2016-04-22-09.38The Inflight entertainment system consists of a screen that is bigger than an economy seat.

Although my favourite channel on these things is usually the flight tracker, I did browse the wide selection of movies and TV options as well.

I started watching The Revenant but got bored so ended up watching a few episodes of Big time in Hollywood, which is hilarious.

Clarrie has watched approximately 37 seconds of television in his whole life so far, so the entire back catalogue of Peppa Pig et al was a little lost on him.


Bassinets in First Class

2016-04-21 23.42.10I had unsuccessfully tried to find out whether there were bassinets in Emirates First Class.

As it turns out, every seat has the ability to plug a bassinet in. Unfortunately for us, the crew was concerned that Clarrie was too big for his. As you can see, his feet are poking out the end which isn’t supposed to happen.

Our baby is a giant.

They tried a few different ones (the Business Class bassinets are actually a little bigger), but to no avail.

Due to the lack of passengers, the crew let us put Clarrie in his own pod for a while, which was great. Eventually, Elyse climbed in with him and slept comfortably in the bed.

2016-04-22 00.35.43


The shower

Yes, there’s a shower.

The crew come around shortly after takeoff to take your reservation.  You’re allotted 15 minutes of bathroom time, which includes 5 minutes of hot water.  Being that our flight was so empty, the crew were happy for us to not make a firm time and just get to it when it suited us.

The bathroom itself is enormous, with lotions and soaps aplenty. When you decide you want to have a shower, one of the cabin crew takes you through the process and lays out towels for you. With a heated floor and so much room, it’s hard to believe you’re actually on a plane.

That 5 minutes of water is wonderful, and you can shut the water off for a period if you want to break your shower time up (to lather your hair or something). A nice hot shower at 40,000 feet. Pretty remarkable. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been completely naked on a plane.

Did I mention the floor is heated?

My shower was wonderful, although Elyse didn’t fare so well. After she’d used her allotted water time, Clarrie decided to poop all over the bathroom floor.

After my exceptional shower experience, I was greeted with tea and fruit back at my pod. I will say the whole experience was far more refreshing than I’d anticipated.


The Bars

Emirates First Class Bar

Emirates First Class Bar

Stairs leading from First Class Bar down to Economy

Stairs leading from First Class Bar down to Economy

There are two bars on the plane. One is just for First Class, and the other is for First and Business. Being that we were really the only two people in First Class that were moving about, the First Class bar was wasted on us.

The stairs down to Economy are right there, so there was no way Elyse and I could have a drink together and let Clarrie scoot around the floor, as he’d just go straight for the stairs. Bit of a bummer really.

We did spend a fair bit of time in the Business Bar- really for no other reason than to stretch our legs and let Clarrie have a run. I had a couple of beers there and Elyse indulged in a couple of champagnes.

Although there were children in Business Class, we found none of them at the bar, so Clarrie just had to do his best with entertaining the adults as well as the crew.

There are more toilets down at the Business Bar as well, and although nowhere near the size and opulence of the First Class bathroom, they’re still a step up from Economy, mainly due to the fact that there’s a window. Which is a little weird.

We’ll talk more about the Business Class toilets in the Business Class review which won’t be too far away.

Emirates Business Class Bar

Emirates Business Class Bar

The Business Class bar really is where it’s at.  I can imagine the only people who would get something out of the First Class bar are big name celebs who want to have a drink and a chat without having to deal with the plebs in Business.  It’s small and awkward, and right in between both First Class bathrooms.


Prince is dead!

As a slight aside….. you know when people say “Do you remember where you were when X happened”?  Maybe X is 9/11, or when John Lennon was shot, or when Kurt Cobain died.  Maybe it’s when Obama won in ’08 or when the Berlin Wall fell in ’89.

I’ll always remember where I was when Prince died because I was on this flight.

Prince-death


The Emirates First Class crew

2016-04-22 11.48.53The crew were remarkable. They were always there to help and chat. We got to know a couple of them quite well (as well as you can in 14 hours anyway) and it was a refreshing change to the usual frazzled cabin crew at the back of the plane.

They were wonderfully helpful with Clarrie and lent as much of a hand as they could.    I’ll be honest and say we were hoping that they’d volunteer to take Clarrie away for a few minutes every now and then, as we’ve heard other cabin crew do occasionally, but it wasn’t to be the case.


What did Clarie think of First Class?

He ended up getting a cabin to himself for a while, so I think he was impressed. There was plenty to distract him while he was awake and with that much space, giving him a good sleep was a piece of cake comparatively.


Would I travel Emirates First Class again?

2016-04-22 07.52.45-2A great question – I’m glad you asked. First Class was incredible, and an opportunity I’m so glad we took. As I said earlier in the piece, we paid for all of our international flights with points, so it theoretically didn’t cost us anything (except for the taxes). That being said, the points used for this trip could have been used for four or five trips in Economy. I don’t care- YOLO, etc.

By doing a quick search on the Emirates site, First Class tickets for 2 adults and an infant from Melbourne to Dubai come in at $AU24,000.

I’ll just let that sink in.

Twenty Four THOUSAND Dollars.  That’s more than both of our cars are worth, combined.

Who the hell pays $24,000 for 14 hours of luxury?  I suppose, in a way, we did.  And loved every self-indulgent second of it.

When we started saving the points for this trip, it was five years ago. We had no mortgage or children. Now we have both, so it’s unlikely we’ll be this extravagant again for quite some time. Add to this is the fact that we’ll have to pay for a seat for Clarrie once he turns two. To fly in this configuration really was now or never (or not for a long while anyway).

We have absolutely no regrets on blowing our points on this flight and the subsequent ones on the trip. Once we eventually arrived in Rome, we arrived refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Had we done 30 hours in Economy with a 15-month-old, I daresay we would have felt a little differently!

As far as travelling Emirates again – well I suppose that all depends on availability.  As you may have guessed, I’d never shell out the cash for those tickets (unless this blog got stupendously popular), and if it came down to points then yeah- I’d more than happily bask in the glory of Emirates decadence once (or twice) more.

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