There’s been a ‘Battle of the Suites’ lately with both Singapore Airlines and Emirates launching brand new versions of their popular high-end products in the last year. Having sampled the latest SIA Suites in July, it was time to put the latest offering from the Middle East giant to the test.
Fitting it in on the way back from London to Singapore meant positioning myself to Geneva to pick up this rare product for less than half my routing. Those weren’t significant enough reasons to put me off trying one of the latest First Class seats in the sky.
- Flight: EK84 Geneva to Dubai
- Class: First (Suites)
- Seats: 1A & 1E
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft Registration: A6-EQJ
- Aircraft Age: 0.7 years
- Date: 9th September 2018
- Departure / Arrival: 21:40 / 06:10
- Flight Time: 6h 30m
In recent times, increased competition, spiralling fuel prices and reducing yields have led Emirates to rethink its audacious plans of world domination. What concerned us most was their move to withdraw First Class completely from some newer A380s allowing them to pack in even more Economy Class seats.
Was the First Class product a dying breed?
Just when we were starting to lose hope, a brand new Emirates First Class product was unveiled in November 2017 as part of a multi-million dollar fleet-wide upgrade plan, intended not only to keep up with Emirates’ stiff competition (such as Qatar’s Qsuite), but once again make it the market leader.
The carrier’s original First Class suite was revealed in 2008. At the time it was a strong product but it fell short of Singapore Airlines’ A380 suite in terms of the outright luxury of a double bed option.
Instead, Emirates were the first in the industry to offer an in-flight spa including the famous shower suite. We’ll cover that product in an upcoming review as I flew it on next sector of this journey, but it’s clear that Emirates has always been serious about producing a top-notch First Class offering.
A rare breed
Having travelled together for 18 hours in the ‘old’ Emirates First Class product on an A380 some years ago, starting as sceptics and finishing as converts, we knew we had to try this brand new product. The question was… how?
It’s currently only being rolled out on the newest Emirates Boeing 777-300ERs and at the time of writing this article, it’s only available on 8 aircraft (Emirates has around 250 planes in total).
The routes the new First Suites launched on were obscure, to say the least. Instead of targeting its ultra-premium markets, Emirates instead chose Stansted (a distant London airport, usually served by charter holiday airlines and low-cost carriers), Brussels (the capital of a small European country with comparatively few international air links outside of Europe) and Geneva (Switzerland’s second busiest airport).
Emirates has promised that this product (or a similar version) will be increasingly available in the future, with the A380s due to start receiving it in 2021. However whether a full retrofit program is launched for existing aircraft remains vague and even the newer A380s are still being delivered with the old First Class product for now.
Redemption was an option. Following the ridiculous Citi Apple Pay 8 miles per dollar promotion in Singapore, I’d managed to accumulate nearly 400,000 additional miles in the preceding months.
Citi does not transfer directly to the Emirates Skywards scheme, but instead you can transfer to Qantas Frequent Flyer and redeem from there. Sadly, there was no redemption availability on these routes on any of the days I checked – so either it had already been snapped up by other travellers keen to try the new product or Emirates has restricted availability to reserve this product to fare paying passengers while it remains rare and exclusive.
We did take a recent look at the Geneva route and it appears availability, typically for 2 suites on each flight, does tend to appear around 2 days before departure subject to the booked load. That’s to say if you’re looking to fly tomorrow or the next day, you may well secure these seats with points. Qantas Frequent Flyer had the same access to these award seats when we checked.
As I was planning a trip to the UK in September anyway, getting home to Singapore via any of the three cities with this new product seemed possible. After trying a number of options – Geneva produced the best timings and included the A380 First Class on the second leg (EK404) giving me a chance to see both products side by side.
Each ticket cost S$5,500, one-way, including taxes. I chose to ApplePay using Trip.com during the Citi promotion mentioned above. I also paid for my travel companion (not Andrew this time, who was busy reviewing Qatar Qsuites!). She paid me back for her ticket, but this way I was able to accrue maximum miles with the Apple Pay promotion.
The total transaction netted me a cool 88,000 miles. Enough for a Singapore Airlines Business Class redemption to Europe!
Crazy rich Asian?
Whilst S$5,500 might sound like an eye-watering amount of money lets put it into perspective – a return flight on Singapore Airlines Business Class is typically between S$6-7,000 depending on the time of year and demand levels.
Let’s also not forget the miles accrued from this booking. Many people would simply enter their Emirates Skywards number and earn 16,250 miles for this flight. But 16,250 miles on Skywards just isn’t enough to do anything useful from Singapore.
To upgrade the most expensive Economy Class Emirates tickets from SIN-DXB is 39,000 miles alone. I knew what would happen – they would sit in my account until near expiry where I would end up using them to buy a new toaster… no thanks!
We’ve talked about wheretocredit.com before here. It’s genuinely a very useful tool that allows you to look at alternative options instead of ending up with orphan miles (or a stack of new toasters). A quick check showed that the GVA-DXB-SIN in Emirates First Class, when credited to Alaska Mileage Plan, is worth 23,414 miles.
Even assuming my Alaska account was empty at the time, buying 2,000 more from them for S$80 would mean I can then book the following itinerary SIN-HND-KUL in Business Class, using the JAL stopover trick that we discussed in detail here.
So in summary, for S$5,500 (only my own fare), plus S$80 (for the Alaska miles top-up) and S$86 in taxes on the JAL flight, I received the following:
- Emirates New First Class 777 suite from GVA-DXB
- Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai
- Emirates Old First Class A380 suite from DXB-SIN (including the shower and onboard bar)
- Mercedes chauffeur service to and from the airport
- 44,000 miles from the Citi 8mpd promotion (Singapore to Cape Town on Singapore Airlines, 13 hours in 2013 Business Class is 45,000 miles, usual cost S$5,600)
- JAL Business Class Singapore to Haneda returning to Kuala Lumpur using the Alaska miles detailed above (usual cost S$3,240)
So maybe, just maybe – I’m not so crazy after all?
Emirates doesn’t have its own lounge in Geneva so instead, we were invited to the DNATA (an Emirates-owned ground agent) Skyview Lounge. This lounge can also be accessed by Priority Pass holders and premium class passengers from several other airlines.
There isn’t much good to say about this lounge. It was dirty, most of the chairs were covered in crumbs, lots of tables were stacked with used plates and glasses. The service was bad, nobody came to clean or attend to the food counter. The food selection was limited and very bland. The lentil salad appeared to have been warmed up and was offered as the sole hot option.
The only redeeming feature was the view of the Swiss Alps from the window. We were put out of our misery earlier than anticipated with boarding being called 1 hour 20 minutes before departure. Confused, I repeatedly checked my watch to see if I was somehow mistaken but the reason for the early call quickly became clear as we approached the gate – passport control with a long snaking queue and no priority lane.
Around 30 minutes later, we were through to the gates where First and Business Class was already boarding. I didn’t have much to worry about, as all that the early boarders had achieved was a seat on a bus to take us to a remote gate. After a solid further 15 minutes waiting on the bus, we departed for the aircraft.
All things considered at 45 minutes from lounge to plane, this wasn’t the seamless luxury experience that I had expected from Emirates First Class.
First impressions and design
After some strategic shuffling on the bus, we were the first to board the aircraft. As you approach the second cabin door, located between the two Business Class cabins you spot the new cabin decor.
A short walk through the forward section of the new Business Class product (we remain unimpressed that Emirates stuck with 2-3-2 on the 777-300ER) and we were into First Class.
The aisle floor transitions from carpet to a wood effect material as you move from Business into First Class.
This two-row cabin is laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration, for 6 suites in total.
From the left aisle you can access suites 1A and 2A, the window seats, and 1E which has virtual windows.
From the right aisle you can access suites 1K and 2K, again window options, and the other virtual window suite 2F.
We chose 1A and 1E, though I had to call Emirates in advance to have my seat ‘unblocked’ as I suspect it is the allocated bassinet position in this cabin.
The middle suite has a row of “virtual windows” so that they feel like window seats, we’ll talk about them later on in detail but they are pretty stunning.
The pictures don’t do justice to the size of this suite. It is a big space, enough to make you stop in your tracks and appreciate how amazing the product is.
The design accents centre around motifs of the Ghaf tree (the national tree of the United Arab Emirates) that are reflected at the entrance, throughout the cabin and are even embroidered into the walls of the suite. It’s nice to have a consistent theme that actually reflects some meaning.
Also, this suite design includes much less gold and bling that personally was a constant source of cringing in the previous Emirates premium products. Instead, they’ve chosen light modern colours and materials that are easy on the eyes. The overall design is a nod to the Mercedes S-Class. I’d have said it feels more luxurious than that but I understand the luxury car comparison.
A glass of champagne was offered, and if you’ve travelled on Emirates First Class before you’ll know that dates and Arabic coffee are the traditional start to any journey.
The crew took time to point out that the welcome champagne was “only” Veuve Clicquot, not the Dom Perignon 2009 usually served.
She assured me that this was only on the ground and the Dom would be opened in the air. This is common practice to avoid paying excessive taxation for alcohol opened whilst the aircraft doors are open.
The suite is large, much larger than I had expected from pictures I had seen online. Measuring 3.55 square metres it’s just slightly larger than the suites in the third row of Singapore Airlines’ new A380s – 3A and 3F (see our review of SIA’s much larger double suite here).
There is a lot more packed in here which tends to make it look smaller but it’s certainly a roomy space, even by First Class standards.
When you first sit down in the seat it’s a lot more comfortable than it looks. The deeply padded soft leather feels very comfortable in everything from an upright position through limitlessly adjustable further options including a so-called “zero gravity” position apparently inspired by NASA. I’m not sure how closely it replicates space, but it was a very pleasant recline for sipping wine and watching films.
The key here is intuitive design with a seemingly endless number of compartments. What I mean by that is storage, of a useful size, where you instinctively expect it to be.
Firstly a large luggage compartment is located near the suite door, under the table. This makes up for a lack of traditional overhead lockers. All Rimowa carry on size cases except for the “plus” variant will fit here, with space to spare on top.
Opposite this luggage compartment is a full-length wardrobe. It’s equipped with hangers and various pockets containing flight literature and the headphones.
Above and behind the seat is another large compartment. It normally contains the bedding but should you need to use it for luggage then the cabin crew will happily move the bedding until required.
Within one armrest there is additional storage space, ideal for your mobile phone or passport, etc.
The only place where items cannot be stored is beside the seat nearest the windows as this area is used by the seat mechanism.
Desk and table
A large desk area includes a pop-up compartment containing a number of additional toiletries by Byredo. There’s a towelette, facial toner, eye cream, pillow mist and sleep oil. Additionally there is a writing kit including an Emirates leather-bound notebook.
Above this is a huge, high definition touch screen TV with what we believe to be the widest selection of entertainment among any airline in the industry.
Either side of the screen sit two so-called “mini-bars”. I still cannot understand the point of a compartment containing snacks and drinks which aren’t refrigerated, especially when the cabin staff are so close by and happy to present you with any number of snacks and drinks from the ice-cold galley bars at a moments notice.
Regardless, Emirates has decided to stick with concept so clearly some of their passengers enjoy the novelty. Above the mini-bar are two more magazine racks stacked full of the latest editions from around the world.
Beneath the table is a long leather bound handle that when pulled unlatches the table. The locking mechanism seemed a little worn already in my suite but the movement was smooth, the position was easily adjustable and it was a large sturdy workspace.
Below the windows, to the side of the chair is a further small fold out drinks table, which is perfectly located.
The sideboard also features a number of physical buttons for controlling various suite functions such as cabin crew call and window shades.
Most pleasingly, a physical “play/pause” function to quickly stop the IFE should your attention be required elsewhere (e.g. when the next course of dinner arrives!). All of these controls are reflected again on the large wireless tablet that controls nearly everything in the suite (with the exception of lighting colour and temperature controls which are controlled through a further small shoulder height control screen).
A further novelty is the ability to voice or video call the cabin crew from this screen. It works rather well and the novelty hadn’t worn off for the cabin crew serving us on this flight either. They were very keen for us to try it. I’m not entirely sure it’s necessary but it’s nice that it saves them a wasted trip to your suite to find out what you need when pushing the traditional “call bell”.
Another huge plus for me was dedicated “gaspers” (or air vents to the uninitiated). This feature was a mainstay of many older aircraft, even in economy seats. More recently almost every new aircraft I fly on doesn’t have them installed – much to my disappointment. It’s one of the most simple seat controls and allows you simply and quickly control your temperature. So kudos to Emirates for keeping them.
Power & USB sockets
At the side of the desk closest to the windows there is a universal charging socket and USB charging socket. There are also a USB and HDMI connections to the TV, if you prefer to watch your own content or mirror your laptop screen for example.
There is also a USB-C connection below the side table, quite a neat addition for fast charging of your latest devices.
Additional controls and functions
Four physical buttons at the end of one of the armrests move the seat to some ‘favourite’ pre-selected positions.
As mentioned above, a further smaller screen sits alongside your shoulder in the wall of the wardrobe. This seems most suited to controlling lighting and temperature but as with the other screens – many more seat related functions are also available.
Two aspects of this screen attracted my scepticism immediately. Temperature control and lighting colour control. When researching the product before my flight they seemed like gimmicks that I’d be unimpressed by in real life.
I was wrong. Firstly, the temperature control. I usually find that I am too cold when lounging and too hot when sleeping and this is true of almost every airline I fly on. I admit to being a rather temperature sensitive fellow!
The temperature scale seems to only show degrees of warmth instead of warm and cold so I set my suite to minimum “warmth”. After I’d finished looking around the suite and dinner began to arrive I realise I was actually feeling rather chilly – “Wow! It works!”. Now to test if it worked in reverse. I moved the slider to the middle position and sure enough a short time later my suite had warmed up appropriately.
Secondly, lighting colour control. A control wheel allows you to vary the colour of the background lighting in your suite. From the outset, this would all seem a little unnecessary but when you settle down after dinner, being able to switch the lighting to a soft orange, or warm red certainly made it easier to relax. Likewise, after waking up, being able to choose a less affronting colour helped me wake up more slowly.
Under the armrest closest to the window was the main IFE remote. It’s a beautifully simple, weighty piece of design that left me asking myself, “Why is this the first wireless IFE remote I’ve come across?”. Its function was also no less pleasing allowing for simple navigation of the many IFE menus.
The suite door
A large sliding door and a further service hatch door are open when you arrive at your suite. These are locked open for safety reasons during taxi, take-off and landing. Shortly after takeoff, the crew came and closed the service hatch door. I elected to keep my suite door open initially whilst we had dinner so I could share some of the experience with my travel companion across the aisle.
After dinner, I was keen to close the door to truly experience the world’s first and only fully enclosed First Class suite. The door isn’t motorised like the older Emirates First Class suite and was quite tough to move.
Once fully enclosed it’s a very private experience, with the suite compartment fully enclosed from floor to ceiling. The door has a closed Venetian blind effect so isn’t totally solid but still provides almost complete privacy. There are small holes in the service hatch that allow the cabin crew to see if your drinks require replenishment. Any further service from the cabin crew is also conducted via the service hatch.
It is a very private experience and really one that other airlines should try to replicate for their future ultra-premium First Class products.
Binoculars and virtual windows
Now that’s a title that I never expected to be writing in a review any time soon!
As Emirates has opted for a 1-1-1 configuration with this new product, they face the perennial problem – almost everyone wants a window seat. This is further exacerbated by the addition of floor to ceiling walls and doors. Without a solution, the middle seat was certainly going to feel very claustrophobic and be the seat to avoid.
Instead, they have installed three small high definition cameras in one of the plugged windows on each side of the aircraft. These subsequently feed high definition monitors with window-shaped dressings in 1E and 2E.
Again, I was very sceptical. In fact, I initially booked into 2A to avoid these “fake” windows, but as the booking drew nearer, and reminding myself that a review without experiencing them would feel ultimately incomplete, I decided to move into 1E and take the plunge. I’m glad I did.
As it was a night flight, there wasn’t too much to see even from a traditional window but that’s really where the benefit of these windows was clear. As the image was being processed, clearly the contrast was being bumped too and I was able to clearly see small towns and cities that would be too dark to see with the naked eye. Dawn was rapidly approaching as we started the descent into Dubai and images I was being presented with of the city skyline were stunning.
There is no delay in the image, no stuttering or blurring and the quality is crystal clear. I could even read the registrations of other aircraft as we taxied to the gate. It’s clearly not better than a real window, but it’s really not far off being as good as. Installing the infrastructure to support these for just two seats must have been an eye-watering expense – but as with many things that Emirates does, cost isn’t usually a stumbling block.
In the actual window seats (for the bluff old traditionalists), Steiner Optik binoculars are provided should you wish to have a closer look at the landscape passing you by. Personally, I think this really is a gimmick. Whilst trying to think of everything – they may have gone a bit far here.
Thankfully common sense prevailed in the virtual window suites – binoculars are not provided here!
Dining is on demand, as you would expect in First Class. As the offerings in the lounge were rather poor, I chose to eat straight away.
The choices were both Breakfast and Dinner. I stuck with the time zone I was currently in and had Dinner.
|Breakfast & Appetisers
(click to enlarge)
|Main Courses & Dessert
(click to enlarge)
I started with the Caviar, which was excellent (although admittedly – hard to get wrong!).
Next, in the absence of my favourite Emirates dish – the Arabic Mezze, I elected for “A taste of Europe”. The crew described it as like a European Mezze and indeed I wasn’t disappointed. It was beautifully presented and was all fresh, flavoursome and excellent.
For my main course I chose the Veal, which was excellent.
One point to note here, as you can see in the photo above, the wine can be served in a carafe (like a decanter) to help it breathe. As I’d opted for red wine with my main course, I took this option.
Emirates offers an extensive wine list in First Class, on a par we would say with Singapore Airlines. There were a total of four white wines in addition to Champagne, and five red wines. To top it off, a dessert wine and port are also available.
(click to enlarge)
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As always, here’s our check on the Vivino rating out of 5 for the wines offered on this flight.
|White & Champagne|
|Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne 2009||4.5 stars|
|Château Smith Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2012||4.2 stars|
|M. Chapoutier Ermitage de l’Orée 2006||4.4 stars|
|Château de Tracy Pouilly-Fumé 2015||4.1 stars|
|Dreissigacker Wunderwerk Riesling 2016||3.6 stars|
|Château Léoville Poyferré Saint-Julien 2006||4.2 stars|
|Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5º 2008||4.5 stars|
|A.F. Gros Richebourg Grand Cru 2007||4.2 stars|
|Château Barde-Haut Saint-Émilion Grand Cru (Grand Cru Classé) 2004||3.9 stars|
|Caiarossa Maremma 2009||4.0 stars|
|Château Suduiraut Sauternes (Premier Grand Cru Classé) 2017||4.1 stars|
|W. & J. Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port 1963||4.8 stars|
Some very good scores here, and having sampled a couple of the options I’d certainly agree with the high rankings. There’s no skimping on cost either, the Dom 2009 retails at an average of S$230 per bottle according to Vivino.
Even the headline red wine Château Léoville Poyferré retails at around S$170 per bottle, while a 750ml bottle of the Graham’s 1963 Tawny Port will set you back S$600+.
Last but not least the Cocktails, Aperitifs and Spirits menu (click to enlarge).
Speaking of no expense being spared here, I had to sample the Hennessy Paradis Cognac. You won’t find a 700ml bottle of this in Singapore for less than S$1,000. On this flight, it was free-flow.
IFE and connectivity
As already mentioned above, Emirates boasts the largest selection of entertainment options of any airline out there. There is no shortage of options to keep you amused, plus external cameras allow you to watch the flight from the pilot’s perspective.
A noise-cancelling headset from Bowers & Wilkins was provided in the wardrobe. I like their retro design and the sound quality was good.
Wi-Fi was available from shortly after takeoff. Emirates Skywards members flying in First Class or Business Class get free Wi-Fi. Whilst I am a Skywards member, as I had chosen to credit my miles to Alaska Mileage Plan for this trip it wouldn’t let me log in for free Wi-Fi with those credentials.
|Data Limit||Time Limit||Cost*|
* Free for Emirates Skywards members flying in First Class or Business Class
The pricing is quite standard, cheaper than Singapore Airlines offers in its A380 Suites Class once your 100MB allowance is exhausted. I went for the 150MB option and the speed was good throughout the flight.
After sampling a fair number of the wines and a rather large dinner it was time to sleep. The cabin crew kindly offered to make up my bed in the spare suite 2K. As mentioned earlier, a large mattress is stored above the seat. The duvet and several pillows are stored in the adjacent wardrobe.
Pyjamas come enclosed in a smart felt folder with plush slippers tucked in. This was my first time trying Emirates’ new moisturising pyjamas and I have to say, I didn’t notice much difference. They are quite light and comfortable. The sizing is very large so where possible I’d recommend going a size down.
The seat itself reclines into the bed position. To my surprise, it isn’t fully flat. Instead, it remains slightly angled. Immanuel over at Flight Hacks seems to have been the first to spot this and helpfully pointed it out whilst I was in the air. I also had a look around at the other seats in the cabin they all appear to be this way so it isn’t a seat malfunction. If you sleep on your back then it’s hardly noticeable. Side and front sleepers will find it quite disturbing.
It seems like an odd decision, as there is clearly sufficient space for the seat to go fully flat. In fact, in other positions you can raise the footrest up above the height it sits at in the default bed position. It seems like the sort of thing that Emirates should be able to fix simply with software. Let’s hope they are listening!
Despite the slight angle, the bedding was luxurious and comfortable. As a back sleeper combined that with the temperature control, air vents and excellent wine list I was able to sleep very well. Just a shame the flight wasn’t a bit longer.
Emirates has stuck with a standard size for the First Class toilets on the 777-300ER. The fixtures and fittings are modern and happily they have also done away with almost all of the faux wood and gold that adorned previous premium cabin facilities.
Towelettes, aftershave and perfume are stocked on the shelves next to the sink with additional toothbrushes, razors and combs in the drawers.
There is also a dispenser of individual wrapped soap bars to the left of the sink, which I liked.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the toilets, but given what Singapore Airlines has done in its latest Suites product on the (admittedly larger) A380, there’s nothing special about them.
Amenities are provided in a kit to each passenger. Separate male and female kits are available and they are well stocked with relatively high-quality Bulgari products.
The cabin crew came round to distribute the amenity kits shortly after we boarded.
The (male) amenity kit contains:
- A comb
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
- A Lynx deodorant
- Guilette shaving foam
- A packet of tissues
- A Bulgari scented refreshing towel
- A Truefitt & Hill Razor
- Bulgari After Shave Balm
- Bulgari Body Lotion
- Bulgari Cologne
- Bulgari Lip Balm
This amenity kit was actually a different shape and size to the one provided on the next sector from Dubai to Singapore on the A380, though the contents were nearly identical.
Look out for the details in our upcoming review of the A380 First Class products.
You guessed it, we started on a bus and that’s how we ended up transferring from the aircraft to the terminal in Dubai.
This time however First Class passengers were provided with their own bus featuring large leather armchairs and side tables.
As we drove away I managed to get an external shot of the aircraft to illustrate the way of determining whether the plane has the new Suites or the old ones.
Count 4 windows back and you’ll notice a missing window, replaced by a panel with 3 cameras. These feed the virtual windows in Suite 1E. A similar trio on the left side of the aircraft do the same job for Suite 2F. Again, we baffle at the likely expense of this system!
Most Emirates First and Business Class journeys start and end with the complimentary chauffeur service, taking you seamlessly door-to-door. On this particular journey there was none of that, as we positioned on British Airways to Geneva airport to take the first flight, thereby not needing chauffeur in Geneva itself, and by virtue of being in transit in Dubai.
We did however take the chauffeur car home on arrival in Singapore.
Flying the latest Emirates suites
As I mentioned near the start of this review, this seat is a rare breed fitted to only 8 of Emirates’ 250-strong fleet.
Finally an Asian route is included in the roster, though there has been no publicity from Emirates about this, probably because it does not receive a newly configured aircraft every day of the week. EK312 from Dubai to Tokyo Haneda now features this new product, as of 28th October 2018, except on Tuesdays and Fridays.
If you’re looking to fly on EK313 from Tokyo Haneda to Dubai, it’s Wednesdays and Saturdays which don’t have the new product, due to departure on the same aircraft shortly after midnight.
This is now the longest route regularly featuring the latest Emirates First Class suites, taking 9 hours 10 minutes from Dubai to Tokyo and a much longer 11 hours 50 minutes from Tokyo to Dubai, against seasonal winter headwinds. That means plenty of time for a much longer sleep than I got in this seat!
If you can find award space, this one will set you back 108,000 Qantas points in First Class (Geneva to Dubai on the other hand, the routing I flew, is 75,000 Qantas points).
Aside from Tokyo it’s still the regular routes running into the northern winter season with these new suites:
- Geneva (EK89/90, EK83/84)
- London Stansted (EK33/34)
- Brussels (EK181/182, EK183/184)
- Frankfurt (EK43/44)
- Hamburg (EK59/60) Selected days only
The product does pop up on shorter flights every so often, like Dubai to Dammam and Kuwait City, though these are likely last minute equipment swaps as they do not regularly receive the new product.
Battle of the Suites
I have been asked more than once, “Is it better than SQ’s new Suites?”. Opinions on seats vary widely, but it depends on your priorities. I like unobtrusive intuitive designs, with privacy and luxury.
This product ticked more boxes for me than Singapore Airlines’ new Suite and I’m happy to give up the small amount of extra space in favour of a well thought out design that caters for all my needs as a passenger.
But I have to say – there is not a lot in it and I, like every other sane reader, won’t be turning down another chance to fly in either one!
What is most striking about this new seat is the attention to detail. Our biggest gripe with Singapore Airlines’ new Suites product was that whilst it was amazing, it didn’t really make sense. It seemed like a collection of good ideas that were then thrown together in a badly orchestrated manner – it was actually rather frustrating. This product couldn’t be more different. It does not feel as spacious as the SQ suite but everything is intuitively placed, solidly designed and works flawlessly.
The quality of materials is also outstanding. The leatherwork and stitching in each suite is spectacular. I’m also very happy to see less of the faux wood and plastic gold from previous designs.
Having travelled extensively on Emirates in Business and First, I have experienced a range of different service standards. These have varied from exemplary to non-existent. I’m happy to say on this flight the crew were excellent. They were professional, motivated and as excited about this new product as I was.
All the staff were well versed in the seat functions and how to use them. They had good knowledge of the menus and were happy to make recommendations. Little touches too made all the difference – like for example offering to make up another empty Suite just for sleeping.
I thoroughly enjoyed this flight and look forward to this product being more widely available as it is rolled out across the Emirates fleet.
That said, there were some minor issues with the overall experience – the sub-standard lounge arrangements in Geneva, being bussed both to and from the aircraft rather than having a jet-bridge connection to the terminal, the not totally flat ‘flat-bed’ and the fact Emirates didn’t do anything particularly fancy with the toilets, means this trip falls just shy of our full 5-star rating.
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)