Last week, a few members of the Turquoise team and I set off from leafy Bucks in the direction of Heathrow’s Terminal 3, for a behind the scenes A380 tour with our friends at Emirates.
Firstly, here are four quick things that I didn’t know before I arrived;
- Emirates have their own dedicated zone within T3. It’s not vast in size, but it’s nice to know you’re in the right place and that you’ll be looked after from the moment you check in to the moment you land in your holiday destination.
- On every Emirates flight, there is a dedicated team looking after the cleanliness of the airline and in particular the washrooms. Again, this is a small detail and not a job I would love to do, but it goes without saying that it makes a long-haul flight much more pleasurable if everything is clean!
- If you are travelling in a premium cabin, I liked the fact that the lounge, which is complimentary to all those travelling in Business and First class, is located at the gate. Therefore, there is no trouping from gate to plane and no awkward line ups next to those of us travelling in economy. You can get straight to your seat and start drinking champagne within a few minutes of being called to board.
- Finally, did you know that all passengers travelling in Business or First Class are entitled to a complimentary chauffeur service within 70 miles of the airport in the UK? Plus, many routes extend this service onwards in your destination, which will bring down overall transfer costs for your holiday and make the upgrade cost of your flight more affordable!
The Emirates Economy Cabin
Pre-booking seating on long haul flights is becoming increasingly expensive, confusing and frustrating. It is now quite usual to have to pay to pre-book seats in advance and whilst this is a cost all of us want to avoid, I would highly recommend considering it with Emirates to bag the best spot. 80% of the seats are available to be pre-booked for a fee up to 6 hours before the flight departs. After 6 hours before departure the extra legroom seats are complimentary if they are still available. Another top tip if flying on the A380 aircraft is that the Economy cabin is split into four, with the front cabin having a much more intimate and premium feel due to being smaller than those at the back. For those who don’t wish to pre-book, you are able to select seats for free 48 hours prior to departure. If you forget, don’t despair, the 20% of seats which the airline hold back from online reservations can be booked at the airport, so get to check in early and head to the sales and ticketing desk.
Overall, the Economy Cabin on Emirates is one of the best in the world. The seat pitches (distance between the back of the seat in front and your seat) is wider than average and all the arm rests, apart from those in the bulkhead, raise all the way up allowing full stretching, leaning, cuddling room. Pillows and blankets are provided free of charge, the seat recline is great (unless you’re trying to watch a movie in the seat behind) and the headrests are modern, comfortable and supportive…made for all shapes and sizes wishing to rest weary necks, without falling embarrassingly onto your neighbour’s lap half way through the night. The seat back screens are enormous and the entertainment system is the best in the business. After a glass of wine and 10 minutes of a movie, I’m usually snoring, but all the latest blockbusters and TV series are available on demand.
Airline food is always questionable, but Emirates pay particular attention to ensuring their (five courses!) menus are fresh, varied and delicious. Alcohol (apart from champagne) is complimentary and most spirits are premium brands. The crew operates a simple sticker system – you simply place on your seat or somewhere obvious like your forehead, for the cabin to see – do not disturb, wake me to eat etc.
The Emirates Business & First-Class Cabins
Two staircases, one at the front and one at the back, lead you to the beautifully appointment premium cabins on the Emirates A380. I loved the bar and casual eating space at the rear of the aircraft, giving passengers somewhere to relax away from their seat. If you are seated close to the bar, never fear, sound proof curtains cleverly masque all revelry and will block out any onboard party action.
TOP tip for couples travelling in premium cabins would be to pre-book seats E/F. They are forward facing, located in the centre of the aircraft which gives you aisle access on both sides, as well as a cosy romantic feel, with plenty of privacy too.
First Class passengers will not be disappointed with the Emirates experience. No cost has been spared on this cabin, there are even two onboard showers (limited to 5 minutes on a clever meter I’m thinking of installing for my teenage daughter and wife at home!), more space than I had in my first flat and the very best brands, amenities, food and wine in the sky… it is all glitz and glam galore for First Class fans.