Back in the start of March I had to fly back to the United States. I’d been invited to sit on a mentorship panel for up and coming helicopter pilots at HAI’s Heli-Expo 2016, and to participate in the Mil2Civ (Military to Civilian) mentorship and transition workshops that were being held in Louisville, Kentucky.
I remember when the Airbus A380 first rolled off the line and I thought to myself – I can’t wait to fly on one of those! And then the pictures of the business and first class areas started to make the rounds on the internet and I swore that I’d be flying business class on Emirates one day – soon. Well, this was the perfect opportunity.
Emirates is fairly world renowned for being, out-the-gate, awesome. I love flying with them. My uncle boasted of flying them nearly exclusively on his around-the-world business and travel adventures. My boss, with HeliOps Magazine flies them regularly and posts pictures of the sweet suites they have.
I’ve been flying Emirates for nearly a year now with my current flying position and I was fast taken with them. However I had not yet made the step forward of the dividing curtain between steerage and Business class.
As this trip to speak and mentor at Heli-Expo was business, I saw an opportunity to take the trip exactly as I saw fit – on an Airbus A380, in business class. When it came time to book the tickets I pulled up the Emirates site and began looking at routes, selecting only A380 ones. In a wink of an eye I was booked back to the United States. A business expense that maybe set a small fire on my business account credit card, however it is a write off later so I’m comfortable with the choice.
I’m no stranger to flying in Business and First class, it’s just been a very long time since I’ve had the privilege to do so. A very long time. The experience is so vastly different the battling with the masses and waging war with the throngs of people trying to get into Economy. The painful thing with traveling FROM international destinations is that all too often, if you’re in economy, you’re paired with several hundred people that have no experience what-so-ever with flying. First timers often make air travel stressful beyond belief. Add in language barriers, education deficits, cultural mismatching, and it’s a nightmare. (A friend tells the story of an Indian man who just couldn’t comprehend why he couldn’t bring is curry soaked pickled mango filled suitcase with him on the flight…talk about a nasty stench for 13 hours).
Business class remedies all of that by weeding out those stressors. Check in at your own counter, with no line. Check. Private lounge fully stocked with everything you could want (except alcohol since I’m in a dry country in the Middle East), check. Private attendant that comes to tell you your flight is ready. Check.
So here is the bummer – I have succumb to the agony of having lost photos when I upgraded my phone from the Galaxy S5 to the new Galaxy S7. So I don’t have all of the ones I took onboard available, just the few I shared out over social media. Still – here’s a glimpse into business class on the A380.
There she is! This was my ride from Dubai to New York, my second leg of the journey. The first, from Kuwait to Dubai was on another A380. The lounge experience in Dubai is fantastic, it’s massive, with several bars and several grills all popping out food, from fresh pastries and sushi to regional dishes. There was an entire wall of VOSS sparkling or still water you could pull bottles from. Then, to further keep things simple and stress free for us – we had our own private jetway to the airplane. Making boarding so much more simple.
My home for the next 16 hours. Between the two flights of course. The seat reclined entirely and turned into a full bed, the flight attendants actually brought a small mattress to lay down on the chair to further the comfort. The tablet controlled everything from the seat, the foot rest, the lights, the mini-bar lights, the window shade, the window blind (yes two different things – the blind was cloth and still let light through, the shade was your typical airplane window shade). I could control the media center from the tablet, order beverages, the works. It is probably worth mentioning that the entire chair was a massage chair too – all of the zones and intensities were tied into the tablet. Also, power outlets. Several USB and a single normal 110 plug-in for my devices, when I landed everything was fully charged and ready to go. Everything.
There was ample foot room on the upper deck as well, the cushion lifted up and gave me a place to store my shoes before donning my emirates issued slippers, and raising the footrest. Oh – bonus highlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (EP VII) was on the Emirates entertainment system, along with all 6 other films. TFA was still in theatre’s at this time!
The highlight, and reason I chose the A380 was the lounge. I probably spent 8 hours back here talking with the (very) attractive FA’s from around the world, or rubbing elbows with high class travelers from around the world. In fact, one of the guys we were flying with got an email (the WiFi works almost the entire way to America) that his son had been born back home, so…a rather rambunctious and rowdy celebration ensued. Needless to say, Emirates had to restock a thoroughly tapped bar.
Missing from this photo series (and lost in oblivion): Photos of the lounges, photos of the meals on the flight (WHICH WERE AMAZING!). Alas, in order to make that up to you – my readers – I’ll simply need to travel in Business class on Emirates again.