Saturday, November 26, 2011

Showering at 40,000 Feet on Emirates' A380

Emirates First Class SuitesI recently travelled First Class on Emirates from Mumbai to New York City on their latest aircraft. While I have briefly reviewed the Emirates experience in the past (here and here), the First Class cabin on the A380 - especially the Shower Spa on-board this aircraft - deserves a new post!

Emirates provides a free limo pick-up service for its business and first class passengers. The Mercedes-Benz with a prominent Emirates logo picked me up from my Mumbai hotel about two hours before departure time. Once I got past the crowded outer gate of Mumbai airport, it was smooth sailing. The First Class check-in counter was free and within minutes I had breezed past immigration and on my way to their excellent upper-class lounge.

Emirates First Class SuitesThe lounge itself is easily the best in Mumbai: large, well-designed and stocked with a variety of food and drinks. There is complimentary Wi-fi too. Soon, they were ready to board us for the 2.5-hour flight to Dubai.

Emirates First Class SuitesThe aircraft had their new short-haul cabins, with its futuristic pod-shaped seats in the first class with an attached mini-bar. The seat folded out completely into a lie-flat bed. Very soon we were landing in Dubai. The sun was up and I looked out of the window at the sandy expanse below and marveled at man's enterprise that could turn this wasted desert land into a ultra-modern oasis of steel and glass with its fountains, green lawns, trees and flower-beds.

Emirates First Class SuitesThe Emirates First Class lounge at Dubai airport is very large and luxuriously appointed. There are multiple dining areas serving light snacks, a full dinner buffet, drinks and beverages. They even have a spa for those with more time to kill between flights. After dining on a Middle-Eastern version of the biryani - fragrant rice cooked with meats and spices and garnished with nuts - and some Mediterranean staples such as Hummus, Baba Ganoush and Pita bread I sat down with a cup of Royal Ceylon tea. Soon it was time to board the A380 - directly from the lounge level and into its upper level without having to get into the crowded general boarding area. I love this part of the Emirates upper class experience when you fly the A380 from Dubai or from JFK.

Emirates First Class SuitesA pretty Korean flight attendant showed me to my private suite. Emirates First Class suites come with their own coat closets and you don't have to put your bags into overhead bins - there is ample space within the suite to store them. Soon the purser come up to introduce himself and ask me if there was anything I needed. The flight attendant returned with a elegant bag that contained a set of pajamas, an amenity kit, slippers and eye-shades. The suite itself was equipped with a mini-bar with sparkling and still water, fruit juices, etc. There was a basket of chocolate bars, mint and wafers and a vanity mirror with a set of skin-care products.

Emirates First Class SuitesThe seat itself is large but not as comfortable in the sitting position as Singapore Airlines. However, it is far more comfortable as a bed, especially with the down-filled pillow and duvet. As for the entertainment system, Emirates provides one of the largest selections: almost 400 channels including a good selection of Bollywood and world cinema. What I also enjoy are the three camera which let you look under, ahead and over the tail of the aircraft. This is especially good if you like watching take-offs and landings.

Emirates First Class SuitesFood is served a la carte and on-demand. This is another very nice feature of first-class travel - not having to wait for the service to complete before you can get some peace and quiet. Therefore, even before the flight had taken off, I was changed out of my clothes into pajamas, a glass of Dom Perignon in hand, not able to feel as depressed as I should have been with the headlines on my copy of the Financial Times.

Another interesting Emirates touch: a serving of dates and Arabian coffee poured out of a long-necked traditional brass jug.

Emirates First Class SuitesAfter we were airborne, my flight attendant came over to chat with me and explain the shower spa on-board for the use of first class passengers. I reserved a slot for 1.5 hours before landing. They have a couple of attendants to ready the shower-spa after every use, so you find it spotlessly clean when you enter. There are two of them - right at the front, on both sides of the large staircase that goes down to the lower deck of the aircraft.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa
Emirates A380 Shower SpaThe shower spa is probably three or four times the size of a regular aircraft restroom. A full-size basin, large mirrors, leather seating areas and a capsule-shaped shower stall are available here. A tray is filled up dozens of spa creams and lotions. The shower itself is timed - water will flow for a full five minutes, which I realized is more than enough.

Emirates A380 Shower Spa
Emirates A380 Shower SpaWhen I was done showering, the spa girls had a cup of green tea with honey ready for me. In my suite I also found a plate of fruits waiting for me. Doesn't get any better than this, does it?

Emirates A380On landing, they handed out Quick Connect cards to those who had connections to catch within three hours. The card allowed me to breeze through the Express lanes in both Immigration and airport security at JFK. For those familiar with this airport, you can imagine how much of a boon this is!

Emirates A380Overall, this is probably the best flight experience I have had until now. One caution however, and that is related to service quality which can tend to be a little erratic on some trips. I think Singapore Airlines has a slight edge here as also in its dining options.


@kamalkitchen said...

What can I say. You are blessed!!

Great account for those who can perhaps only read about this!

eCBSE said...

Great! You had a golden chance in your life. What else I should say. I am jealous of you.

Shantanu said...

@P, eCBSE: I have to agree! :)

Mayur said...

Very well written, as usual, you took me 40000 feet above .. before I realised, I have to come back to my desk and work.. :)
Thanks for sharing ...

Shantanu said...

@Mayur: Good to know you liked reading this post.

Priyank said...

Hi Shantanu you are one of select people who have showered in the sky. Congratulations!

Shantanu said...

@Priyank: Hey! Good to see you back here.

Jen Kumar said...

What a high-life!

Thanks for sharing.