Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

What It's Really Like to Fly in Luxury in Emirates Business Class

Luxe Travel Airports + Flying
by Maren Engh Jul 7, 2022

As I write this, I’m cruising at 43,000 feet, sipping Veuve Clicquot in a literal bar in the sky and this is the first time I’ve had the privilege of typing those words. Ever since I was young, it’s been my dream to fly on, arguably, the most innovative, luxurious, and unique airplane in the world: the Emirates A380 business class.

There is truly nothing more glamorous than creamy leather seats, dim, warm lighting, and the rich wood inlays, so if you’ve been wondering what it’s like to fly one of the coolest business class products in the sky, here’s everything you need to know.

The ground experience

While the aircraft itself is obviously the highlight of the experience, everything starts on the ground. The bold red color of Emirates Airlines greets passengers in the JFK terminal and business travelers get a little something extra with the red carpet welcoming them to the separate check-in station.

The A380 features a whopping 76 business class seats and in total holds over 450 passengers, essentially an extra 100+ more than a standard Boeing 777. This means there are a lot of people going through check-in, security, and boarding. Economy check-in lines were particularly long at JFK airport this evening, leaving passengers waiting for over an hour to check-in.

Depending on where you are flying from and if you have access to a lounge, you may be boarding on the second floor of the plane. However, entered with the rest of the plane and therefore had the opportunity to climb the stairs of the A380, which was actually a magical experience in and of itself.

Emirates A380 business class cabin

The brand new Emirates A380 business class cabin is made up of 76 seats, all with aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration. Business and first are located on the top deck of the plane with the famous bar located at the back of the aircraft.

The newly retrofitted A380 features plush, creamy leather seats, dark wood trim, and elegant lighting, a big upgrade from the older A380s you may have seen around the internet. The seats themselves remind me more of a luxury Maserati or Lamborghini rather than an airline seat.

One of the famous features of the aircraft is the in-seat minibar. Each passenger will find a minibar that contains a Perrier, two sodas, an Evian bottle of water, and a glass. While it’s not refrigerated, it does feel like an added luxury touch and I definitely took advantage of the in-seat Perrier before take-off. Guests are also provided with male and female Bulgari amenity kits.

If you’re looking to score the best seats in business, look for open seats A or K for the most privacy.

Each seat features a large LCD screen, separate hand-held remote, and tablet for entertainment. There are thousands of hours of content in many languages, ranging from podcasts to TV shows, to movies and radio.

Emirates A380 business class menus and takeoff experience

Your Emirates experience begins before take-off with a glass of Veuve Clicquot or orange juice while you get comfortable in your seat. Paper wine and dining menus were handed out before take-off and orders were collected shortly after we were in the air.

The Emirates A380 business class bar

As we waited for our meal, we had to go to the bar. The bar is such a novelty and it really was a dream come true. The flight attendants mix up cocktails from their recipe book while you get a chance to relax in a different setting than your seat at 43,000 feet. They also serve hot and cold snacks and appetizers in the bar. Throughout the flight, it was fairly quiet so we never had trouble snagging a booth.

The Meal Service

After returning to my seat, I started the meal service with some seared prawns, which had a very nice, refreshing taste along with the lobster and prawn ravioli. While it wasn’t quite the meal we had on our Air France business flight to Paris last year, it was certainly delicious and went well with the constant flow of Veuve Clicquot.

After our meal, the flight attendants came through to turn down our “bed” with a fluffy down mattress topper, making the leather seat into a very comfortable lay-flat mini-twin bed.

We headed back to the bar, regardless of the fact that it was well past 2:00 AM at this point, because…there’s a bar in the sky, duh.

We spent several hours chatting with the flight attendants and taking pictures behind the bar, so much so that we never realized it was after 4:00 AM. At the point when we could barely keep our eyes open any longer, we headed for a restful sleep in our lay-flat beds.

Given that this flight was about 15 hours, I didn’t feel guilty for sleeping a solid seven of them under a cozy down comforter. By the time I rose from my surprisingly comfortable slumber, it was breakfast.

I settled in with a nice avocado omelet, fresh croissant and fruit, along with a cappuccino. I had been far too excited and preoccupied to watch a movie earlier in the flight, so with a few hours left, I settled in to watch Queenpins from the comfort of my seat.

Overall, the Emirates A380 business class experience is truly unique and unforgettable. The newly renovated cabin is stunning, the service is attentive and excellent, and the ability to enjoy a few cocktails in the bar is next level. So the question remains…

Where do they fly and how do you secure a seat?

Emirates is flying their famed A380s all around the world, with new routes popping up in the post-COVID world. For now, here are some of the latest routes you will find with the A380.

  • Los Angeles to/from Dubai
  • New York (JFK) to/from Dubai
  • New York (JFK) via Milan to/from Dubai
  • San Francisco to/from Dubai
  • Washington, DC (IAD) to/from Dubai
  • Dubai via Bangkok to/from Hong Kong
  • Dubai to/from Kuala Lumpur
  • Dubai to/from Birmingham

Whether you’re looking to purchase the business fare or, hopefully, upgrade your seat, here’s how to tell what plane you are booking. On the fare page, you’ll see the plane identifier in the top right corner above the flight details. In this example, you can see it’s an A380.

Screen shot of flight for Emirates A380 business class

Photo: Emirates

You will see the B777 in the upper right-hand corner for the other aircrafts, if not the A380.

Screen shot for Emirates A380 business class flight

Photo: Emirates

Be sure to look out of the main hubs like JFK and SFO to ensure the highest likelihood of booking an A380.

Finally, that leads us to the question: how do you book the business class on an A380?

The most obvious way is to book the business class fare, to begin with. Booking the business class ticket allows you to access the airport lounges, as well as the chauffeur service. The chauffeur service will pick you up at your home, hotel, or rental before your flight and take you to the airport, complementarity. These benefits are not available for upgrades.

Otherwise, you can upgrade anytime after purchasing your ticket by booking the flex fare economy ticket and paying outright for the upgrade via the manage booking page of your reservation. You can also upgrade via points with this fare.

Lastly, if you book an Economy Saver, you will likely have the opportunity to upgrade your flight upon online check-in. If there are seats available, you will be able to select an upgrade and pick your seat in the 48-hour period before your flight.
If you’ve been saving your points and miles for an upgrade, the Emirates A380 is worth the wait. The novelty of the bar, the exceptional service, and the gorgeous cabin make for an unforgettable experience, so much so that the actual journey itself is truly a destination.

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