Airplane travel is often associated with long waiting lines, stress, tiresome procedures at the customs, concern for luggage, constrained seating spaces, dense crowds and the lacklustre menus of airline food, writes Rachel Smith.
However it doesn't have to be this way, and for the right price, one can benefit from premium services and a luxurious experience. There are more than enough providers of deluxe flights and their competition with one another pushes them to constantly keep improving their amenities. Choosing one amongst many can be rather challenging, therefore we have taken the time to sift through the available options and find the best selection for your travels. A company that is undoubtedly worthy of consideration is Emirates.
Based in Dubai, Emirates sits at the top of the airline food chain in the Middle East and it is the fourth largest airline in the world. Founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, the company was created in response to the decline of Gulf Air service to Dubai. With the backing of Al Maktoum, the ruling family of Dubai, the Emirates grew to international prominence and diversified its destinations and its fleet. It is known for its lavish lounges, the stunning luxury of its First and Business Class cabins, the exemplary service of its employees and the quality of its amenities. With a total of 233 passenger planes in service and 141 destinations, Emirates is one of the most popular companies on the market.
For starters, it should be noted that Emirates takes care of the passenger's comfort before and after the flight. In major cities such as San Francisco or New York for example, First and Business Class passengers have the right to the Chauffeur-drive service that offers clients a complimentary ride from their doorstep to the airport prior to the flight and from the airport to their destination upon landing. On the Emirates' website, one can find the list of over 70 cities worldwide that are eligible for the Chauffeur-drive. Additionally, Emirates provides an exclusive lounge experience in many of the airports across the world where the passengers have the chance to taste delectable cuisines of both warm and cold plates at the local buffet, have a good drink at the bar, network with others or find a quiet place to unwind in the commodious reception room, and even enjoy a refreshing shower before the flight.
FIRST AND BUSINESS CLASS LUXURY
Amongst the Emirates fleet, one of the most recommended planes is the Airbus A380 – a wide-body jet airliner with a double deck and four engines. The A380 is a sizable flagship with a maximum capacity of 853 seats, making it the biggest passenger plane in service. Its cruising speed is of Mach 0.85 and its cruise range is of 8,500 nautical miles – the second longest non-stop flight in the world. Emirates is the perfect choice for long flights, especially when one can enjoy a pleasant stopover in Dubai. The A380 was designed to reduce its impact on the environment, it is also less costly to operate and, fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, it causes less noise pollution and generally makes for a smoother flight. Within the plane itself, the passengers are certain to find themselves in the very definition of luxury; even the rows of Economy Class seats offer more than enough space for comfort and are equipped with new technologies that provide entertainment during the trip. However it is the Business and First Class options that are particularly worthy of your attention.
The Business Class package features cozy cabins, not entirely closed off yet sufficiently isolated to allow for privacy. The first section, just behind the First Class, has 58 seats while the second section, at the rear end of the plane, has only 18 – offering more intimacy and a closer access to the lavatory and the bar. The personal cabin features a comfortable seat that can transform into a flatbed. Storage space is abundant, particularly for window seats that benefit from an extra compartment. Each seat is equipped with a side table, a personal cabinet containing soft drinks, a 17-inch touch-screen display and a power supply that allows for the use of a laptop (Emirates also provides its passengers with internet access and while the first 10MB are free, additional 600MB can be purchased for 1$). Other items include: the set of a cozy blanket, a pillow and a duvet, socks, earplugs, noise-cancellation headphones and a luxurious amenity kit by Bvlgari.
The entertainment system, ICE – information, communication & entertainment, features 1,800 channels of new and classic movies, TV shows, podcasts, music and games on demand, along with
two mobile controllers that let you regulate every detail about your personal cabin and the content upon the screen. The extensive menu presents a variety of cultural and international selection well worthy of top tier restaurants: appetisers, light bites, soups, salads, desserts and the main course, served twice during long flights, with optional snacks in between. Beside soft drinks, juices, coffee and tea, the bar service also offers: aperitifs, beers, cocktails, spirits and liqueurs. The Business Class section comes with an access to the A380 Onboard Lounge – a social hub reserved to Business and First Class clients where passengers can stretch their legs, interact and enjoy an extended selection of drinks at the bar.
However. to get the actual best, the very crème de la crème of luxury airline travel, one should definitely consider an upgrade to First Class as it is well worth the investment. Easily, the most striking difference between the Business Class and the First Class seats is, naturally, the quality of the seats themselves. While the Business Class section features several separated cubicles that populate a common area, the First Class section consists of only 14 places, each of them offering complete intimacy behind closed doors – an experience that feels more like a private room at 40,000ft in the sky than a congested cabin. Clad in pleasant white with golden accents, the colours alone permeate with a sense of luxury, along with little touches that shall not go unnoticed: such as an occasional flower on a wall or a custom fitted shower rug by the booth. The details make the difference, for they are an indication to the fact that the company truly cares about your experience and takes the time to polish every aspect of it – that is real luxury and as a First Class passenger, you deserve nothing less.
A PLEASURABLE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
Within your First Class suite, your full privacy is within your hands – you may shut the doors and enjoy some quietude at any given time. The personal seat is pretty much a one-place couch that is fitted with a controller as well as a power supply for your electronic devices. During long flights, Emirates offers a turn down option where the seat can be converted into a flatbed with an actual mattress and blankets, while pyjamas and slippers make for a truly homey feeling. Two sets of blinds on each window guarantee that no light would disturb your sleep and the ambient lighting of the cabin can be adjusted with the provided touch pad. Beneath the windows you can find storage space and a minibar stocked with refreshments. Facing the seat is a vanity table fitted with a mirror and a 32-inch IFE screen with a multilingual interface that features over 4,300 hours of on-demand entertainment – all linked to the touch pad device that also controls the position of your seat and the communication with the personnel in case you would require something.
Amongst the benefits of a First Class ticket, particularly noteworthy is the access to the onboard Shower Spa – a splendid addition to your travel experience that allows you to enjoy a rejuvenating shower at a time of your choosing. The large cabin has plenty of space to set up and comes equipped with a variety of amenities: towels, creams, razors, tooth brushes, cologne, and the list goes on. The selection of Bvlgari toiletries and Timeless Spa products will make sure that you arrive at your destination looking, smelling and feeling fresh. The flight attendants are pleasantly attentive to all of your needs and little gestures such as a fruit snack waiting at your table upon your return definitely contribute to the overall pleasant experience of the Emirates A380 First Class. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, flying with First Class is also practical in the way that it saves you from the dreaded waiting times and congested lines at airports by offering separate gates to First Class passengers and a fast track card that helps speed through the immigration. EG