Jennifer Aniston is my spirit animal. Or at least as far as travel goals go. Watching her sip champagne while standing in an elegant lounge on Emirates Airline and slipping under a plush duvet in her private bed 40,000 feet about the earth has been my travel dream since I first spied the ad. So imagine my delight when on my recent flight to Dubai my seat for the 12-hour fight from New York was on one of the carrier’s deluxe A380 planes in a spacious business class seat. And extra bonus: It turns out Emirates bends over backwards to welcome kids. Read on for my full Emirates Airline Business Class review.
Here’s something you don’t hear very often: Getting to the airport was a great part of my journey. That’s because all business and first class Emirates tickets include chauffeured rides to and from the airport on both ends of your journey. Instead of calling Uber and crossing my fingers, a luxe black sedan whisked me straight from my front door right to the check-in desk (an amazing perk if you’re traveling with kids and don’t want to navigate the airport departure). Then it was off to the sleek Emirates business lounge at JFK where champagne flows freely and the buffet of treats on my morning departure ran the gamut from rich banana bread to Middle Eastern dips to eggs benedict.
Boarding was a civilized stroll from my perch in the lounge directly onto the plane since flights board right from the lounge. And for this flight, on the double-decker A380, all of business and first class (where they even have spa showers!), occupy the top deck, creating an oasis of luxury in the sky.
It’s so incredibly roomy up here you an easily forget you’re on a plane, making it fabulous for families, with plenty of space to stretch out and even walk around (more on that later). I check out my seat, which is a polished cocoon that transforms into a fully flat bed; there’s an iPad in addition to a flat screen TV and a minibar stocked with drinks (water, Perrier, Coke, 7up). Not that I have to worry about getting thirsty since the on-point cabin crew has a tray of champagne and juice on offer within moments. Next, I receive my Bulgari-branded amenities kit filled with high-end toiletries. Kids receive even more fun at their seats, with Lonely Planet-branded, retro travel bags stuffed with games, stickers and activity books, plus snuggly stuffed animals. For tots there are even cuddly baby blankets.
As soon as we’re at altitude, I meet my traveling companions at the bar and lounge. Yes, just like Jennifer, I’m standing up at a proper cocktail bar while a bartender mixes me my favorite aperitif, a Veuve Clicquot and cassis Kir Royale. There are mocktails as well for the kids and snacks on offer for the entire flight, including hot and cold food and delectable cakes. After I stuff golden bags of M&Ms and snack mix into my pocket, the bartender breaks out the nuts and chips, then offers to take a Polaroid of our group, which he places in fun frames to create instant souvenirs. For anyone who’s ever worried about keeping kids in their seats for a flight, this entire experience of having someplace to go other than the aisle is the ultimate perk. Not to mention the food on demand, and fun take-home gifts so cranky plane tantrums out of boredom are a thing of the past. There are even couches and seats where you can sip your drink. Another perk of the two floor design: Plenty of bathrooms, with four in the back of business and two in the front of the section, so there’s almost never a wait – another plus for families.
Back at my seat, lunch gets started with a crisp white linen draped across my tray table, scented hand towels, warm nuts and wine. I try the crab and avocado appetizer (which comes plated like a 5-star restaurant), delicately cooked cod and a decadent chocolate cake. The ever-amazing flight attendants circle with a selection of wines, warm breads and coffee. Chocolate truffles cap off the end of the meal. Kids have their own menu with favorites such as pasta and chicken tenders.
After the meal, I switch on my noise-cancelling headphones, an Emirates signature, and recline 90 degrees to watch one of the 4,000 options on the entertainment system, which includes several hundred options just for kids. There’s also free WiFi in the sky on Emirates, too.
The only problem with such an entertaining flight, is that I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep. But after my flight attendant placed a soft mattress pad on my seat, the plush duvet, fluffy pillow and flat bed beckoned and I drifted off to sleep. I wake up in time for a breakfast omelet, cappuccino and a basket of warm croissants and pastries, before landing in Dubai where my private car awaited to effortlessly deliver me to my hotel.
The whole experience truly made me feel like a movie star. Who knows, maybe on my next flight I’ll run into Jennifer Aniston at the bar and we can become, ahem, friends.
By Melissa Klurman