OK, so I’m deviating from the standard content of this blog to share a more autobiographical post, a detailed account of my experience flying Emirates First Class from IAH – Houston George Bush International Airport to BKK – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport via DXB – Dubai International Airport in October 2016.
While some people say the day they got married was the best day of their life, in some ways, flying Emirates First Class was the best day of my life. Caveat: I believe that you only know what the best day of your life was after it has come to pass and I couldn’t fully appreciate the Emirates First Class experience until I was on other flights.
The Booking Process:
We booked our rewards tickets using Alaska Mileage Plan points on November 15, 2015 to travel on October 8, 2016. It was a bit of a mad dash to find the space and book the tickets before the increase in points required for the tickets. For 90,000 points each and about $100USD, we’d get 22 hours of flying in Emirates First Class. Jason was text bombing me while I was flying to YYZ – Toronto Pearson Airport because despite 3 booking failures, he secured the tickets on the 4th try. I may have done a happy dance and “woohoo’d” while treating myself to some red wine to celebrate at the Maple Leaf Lounge, while thinking out loud “I sure as hell hope we can get our vacation approved to go on this trip!”.
In order to catch the Emirates flight, we flew on the red-eye from SEA – Seattle Tacoma Airport to IAH – Houston George Bush International airport to catch EK222. Thankfully, we were able to rest, shower, get a manicure, and eat at the American Express Centurion Lounge at IAH prior to the flight. There would be no alcohol, or very little during transit to save ourselves and our palate for the 2006 Dom Perignon!
Then, that magical moment arrived, the moment they called First Class boarding and we had to push through crowds of people to board our 777 aircraft (we were supposed to be on the A380 but they swapped the aircraft last minute). Upon taking our seats, it all started to sink in…”OMG! OMG! OMG! Yes, I’m on the flight….Is all of this space really mine? My carry-on bag fits in my seating space? And even if I lie down flat, my toes won’t touch the seat barrier! Oh, and YES I’ll have some champagne!”.
Once I sat in my seat, trying to contain my excitement and culture shock. Thankfully, Purser Carrie introduced herself and essentially told me “Today is all about you and enjoying yourself!” and that’s what I did, from the food, the drinks, and the comfort, it was all that then some.
IAH to DXB – In-Flight:
As the plane started to taxi for take-off, I switched the in-flight entertainment system to see the cameras that would show the outside view. While I’m used to sitting beside Jason, I knew he was behind me watching the cameras too and soon we’d get to talk. Well, as great as this experience was, we didn’t really talk or socialize other than through the seat-to-seat telephone. They do say that absence makes the heart grow finder; let’s see if that’s the case on a 15 hour flight!
Shortly after take-off, we were offered snacks and drinks. “Uhm, snacks? In addition to the ones I have in the basket? Okay! Why not!”. And then, they showed us the 2006 Dom Perignon bottle and poured it into some of the nicest champagne flutes we have ever seen on an airplane. Shortly after, we could request a meal and I asked the flight attendant: “I’ve never had caviar, and I’m not sure I’ll like it, but I’d like to try it. Can my husband and I share it or have a half portion?”. While I felt slightly embarrassed about this, Purser Carrie made me feel at ease by saying: “I’ll prepare it for you in a way that you will like, the new flight attendants aren’t trained on how to do this but I am and it will be delicious”. Next thing you know, I have a dish of caviar with cute little Melba toast and a shot of vodka. While I didn’t know what to expect, the caviar dish was delicious and delightful in ways I could have never imagined.
I can’t remember what I was watching but Purser Carrie seemed to think I should watch something else, something more lighthearted so she switched the channel to “Mother’s Day”, starring Jennifer Aniston. Even if you can’t hangout with Jennifer Aniston on the flight in person, you can watch one of her movies inflight. So when people ask me if I saw Jennifer Aniston on the flight, I say “Maybe!”.
Jason was in his “pen” enjoying the Arabic mezzes, which I highly recommend if you’re flying Emirates First or Business class; this meal made our top meals on a flight of all time.
Around this time, we had about 12.5 hours left in the flight so we watched some movies and eventually tried to sleep. Thanks to the red-eye flight fatigue, sleep came easily but I woke up 6 hours later hungry and decided to try some red wine that sounded good. Since Emirates had free wifi, why not Instagram this once in a lifetime experience for everyone to enjoy? I don’t recommend doing this because deep down people hate you for bragging about this, and while some may post nice comments, some of your closest friends will trash you with no shame on social media. I even feel like a bratty little dirt bag writing this post.
When I awoke again about 4 hours prior to landing, we decided to have another meal and more Dom, as one should in these situations. Purser Carrie and I ended up chatting about Dubai and gardening and I gave her some tips on how to grow tomatoes on her balcony. I was quite sad to leave the airplane for a number of reasons and while it’s very unlikely, I hope to see Carrie again to ask her how the tomatoes turned out.
The DXB-BKK Flight:
This was only a 6.5 hour flight but nonetheless we were very excited because it was on the A380; we would both get to use the in-flight shower and hang out at the bar.
So, to spare you the details, we took more selfies upon boarding, drank more champagne, ate more food, and eventually made our way to the bar to see what that was all about. While we were there, a member of the cabin crew had a Polaroid camera and took some photos for us behind the bar, which is what everyone does, and it was quite fun. When we ordered a glass of champagne, one crew member stopped the flight attendant from pouring Moet, because as First Class passengers, we get Dom! Since we were the only first class passengers aboard, it was quite the moment. We also did a blind champagne tasting and yes you can definitely taste the difference between Dom Perignon and Moet Chandon. Is Dom worth the price tag? That depends on how much you enjoy it and how much disposable income you have.
As it was time for us to take our showers, we were happy to leave the small talk of the bar. While it was to hang out at the bar and socialize with the crew and other passengers, it gets annoying fast depending on the crowd. Plus, why would those Business Class passengers want to mix and mingle with us First Class passengers and our fancy champagne Dom?
To use the shower, you reserve your “shower spa” experience once you’ve boarded. As a rule of thumb, you get the shower room for 30 minutes, you can only shower once, and you get 5 minutes of water. As you can imagine, most people want to shower as close as possible to arrival time but since we were the only people in First Class, we got to choose whatever time we wanted and showered 2 hours prior to arrival. While it may not seem like 5 minutes of water is a lot, please remember that you are on an airplane, flying at hundreds of miles per hour at 40,000 feet. The bathroom with the shower was roughly the size of our own bathroom here at home; this was truly a larger than life experience. The bathroom aka shower spa is so big, I couldn’t fit it all in one photo; a 10 second video captured all of it. As for the shower, I used up 2.5 minutes of water because you can turn it off and turn it back on again and as enjoyable as the shower experience was, I wanted to get dressed in case we hit turbulence.
We landed in BKK – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and I now know how Cinderella felt when the clock struck midnight and the carriage turned into a pumpkin as I stumbled off the airplane feeling fresh from that shower but with bloated feet that didn’t fit into my shoes. Tip: eating caviar on long haul flights might seem like a great idea, and you will probably enjoy it but it will cause bloating and swelling like you’ve never experienced before so make sure to pack “fat feet shoes”.
This was the best flight I’ve ever been on and thinking about it brings me fond memories and nostalgia. I know we’ll never get to do this again but it was really fun and I’m really happy we got to experience it at least once.
In David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” he writes about his experience of excess on a luxury cruise and his overall internal despair about the whole thing because he can’t stop comparing everything, wanting more or thinking everything should be better. My experience on Emirates Class was quite different; we saved up the points for this flight by flying mostly economy and first class sometimes (mostly North American travel). While we’d love to fly like this again and plan a similar itinerary, we don’t have the money or the points to splurge on it. We’d rather slum it in business class or economy to take more trips than drop 150,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Points for 1 trip (it takes about 15 trips between Hawaii and Vancouver to earn enough points for a ticket). In addition, there are only so many weekend trips to Hawaii that one can take to earn the points to fly Emirates First Class around the world…or is there? I guess we’ll see!
Have you every flown Emirates First Class? What has been your favorite flight and when?