Saturday, February 18, 2023

Emirates International First Class

Trip date: January 2023

I’ve flown a lot of Business Class, both domestically and internationally. Sometimes I’ve purchased the fare and other times I’ve used points. Some have been very basic and others have been quite posh. But until this year I’ve never flown First Class internationally and WOW what a difference that was!

I had booked a stopover in Dubai at the end of my Egypt trip specifically because Emirates flew from Dubai to Seattle non stop. I mean I also wanted to see Dubai, but I really wanted to fly Emirates Business Class; the airline is known as one of the world's best carriers and currently holds the #3 ranking.

I spent points and cash and was very excited for the 14 ½ hour luxury flight. I will admit that I was a bit bummed that I couldn't swing the First Class when I booked. I had checked the box to "contact me if an upgrade is available" and on my birthday (!!) while in Luxor I received a text offering an upgrade opportunity with points! I immediately transferred some Amex points to Emirates and I was confirmed in First Class (the cash price was $14k ­čś▓) Happy birthday to me!

14 days later (maybe 14 is my lucky number?), the ultimate luxury experience started with Emirates sending a chauffeur to pick me up at the Raffles Hotel in Dubai where I was staying. I won't lie, there was a little thrill when the front desk called and said "your chauffeur is here Ms. Miller."

It was a quick ride to Dubai International Airport. We pulled into a special departures area for First and Business Class customers only. Once inside there were separate desks for First Class Check-In. I'm pretty sure Questlove was at the counter next to me, no joke!
From here there was, you guessed it, a special passport control where we just scanned our boarding pass & passport. No agents or lines or anything. We joined the main security check but had separate lines which went quick. Once in the main airport I took the elevator upstairs to the Emirates First Class Lounge which took up the entire length of the concourse!
Emirates First Class Lounge in Concourse A is one the largest lounges in the world at 100,000 square feet! There are lots of different seating areas; you can choose couches, lounge chairs, desks, etc., there is a spa and a Le Clos fine spirits shop also. The restaurant is full service, you order from the menu and they serve you, no buffet for First Class! My breakfast was fine but the service was awesome.

I left to find my gate, walking past the bougiest of duty free shops, to the First and Business Class boarding area. Here we presented our boarding passes and then took an elevator down to join the rest of the boarding. It was a little messy compared to the other areas, but once again, on the gangway, there was a separate entrance for First and Business.

As soon as I walked onto the Boeing 777-300 a flight attendant greeted me by name and escorted me to my PRIVATE SUITE!

She showed me where my private closet was for my coat and inside the suite there was plenty of room for my carry on bags (no overhead bins in First). She asked what I'd like to drink before take off and when I requested champagne she returned with a bottle of 2012 Dom Perignon (96 points and ~$250 bottle price)!
After this she offered me a pair of pajamas and slippers and then presented me with the leather bound menu for the flight. She explained that they offer "anytime" dining up to 1 ½ hours before landing, so I could choose anything from any of the menu sections (breakfast, lunch, dinner, light meals, movie snacks, etc.) 

As soon as she left I started to check out everything in my suite. There was a lot to look at! 

As seen in the video, the suites are decked out! The sideboard, as I'll call it, had a very deep storage cupboard which held all my personal stuff.  There was an iPad that acted as a large remote for the TV, 3 lamps, seat positions, doors, privacy sign, and call to prayer with direction of Mecca. There were buttons which controlled the blinds for the 3 windows. It also had a popup mini bar full of softs and waters. Very handy!

Below the 32" TV(!!) was a desk, complete with desk lamp, and a vanity with lit mirror and skincare products from Byredo. A slide out drawer had a nice notebook and pen. On top was a snack basket complete with sweet and salty treats, and my favorite B├╝low Danish liquorice! I was truly impressed!

The stylish amenity kit was filled with expensive Bulgari products including an Emirates exclusive perfume! My suite also had fresh flowers which was just lovely! The whole thing was like being in a very tiny, luxury apartment! 

Before take-off I was offered Turkish coffee and some lovely stuffed dates. As soon as we hit cruising altitude I pressed the button to shut my cabin doors and started planning on my dining options. My flight had left at 10am and would land in Seattle at 1pm. I decided to skip the breakfast options and use my time on a nice lunch and then dinner.

I started with more Dom along with a trio of snacks; olives, chips, and nuts. When the attendant asked if I wanted a meal I responded that I was going to have a fancy lunch and she said, "Oh great! So the caviar?"

Indeed! Caviar and all the fixings for lunch... HEAVEN!

She actually brought me 2 nice little amuse before; melon with prosciutto and a miniature caprese in a tiny glass. Then she popped a new bottle of Dom for me; I'm pretty sure I drank most of that delicious bottle myself! The caviar was excellent and there was so much! I confess I ate a lot of it just from the mother of pearl spoon. There were warm blini and also melba toast, chopped egg, chives, onion, sour cream, and lemon. 
I finished lunch with an excellent cheese course, each piece served perfectly at room temperature, the feta was possibly the best I've ever had. She brought me a hot towel and a nice little box of chocolates after and I settled in with a movie. 

The suites come with a mattress and comforter, which they will come set up for you, but I just did it myself as it's pretty straightforward. I turned off all my toys and went to sleep with a ceiling full of stars.

A few hours later (I mean I had 14 to work with) I woke from my nap and took a stroll around the cabin. There are only 8 suites on the Boeing 777 and I think 2 of them were vacant.

Even the First Class bathroom was posh. Everytime I went it had been cleaned and restocked, a toilet seat cover already in place, lovely Bulgari products, and fresh flowers. There was a small common area which was stocked with different things throughout the flight; booze, snacks, sandwiches, sweets. 
I decided it was now happy hour and really had a hard time deciding on my drink as the menu had impressive options like Champagne Cocktail, Breakfast Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned... but I went with my go-to gin martini and ordered edamame to snack on with my drink. 

I could hear her shaking my cocktail, no issues as a little extra dilution was probably a good thing, which made me smile. Haven't heard that sound on a flight before! My martini arrived icy and the edamame was hot. Both were so good I ordered a 2nd round, by ringing my personal call button!

The menu had quite a write up from the "chef" about their dum pukht style lamb biryani, so I had that for my dinner and I can say it was absolutely wonderful!

Instead of dessert, I opted for a little cognac tasting (no surprise to those that know me). The first class offerings included Hennessy Paradis and Tesseron Lot 29. Paradis is an amazing blend of around 200 cognacs and aged for over 100 years. A bottle goes for around $1,600!!! The 1929 Tesseron is a bargain compared at $600! Both were incredibly delicious, I might have had to try them twice.

I had really hoped I'd would catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights as we went north over eastern Russia and the North Pole, but it wasn't there as far as I could see. With still a few hours to go I took another nap on the plush leather layflat.

14 hours has never gone by so quickly! Soon it was time to open all 3 of my window blinds, replace my slippers with my trainers, and pack up my Bulgari products. I was the first person off the plane, back to reality. Well almost... 

Once I exited from International baggage and passport control at SeaTac (thank god for Global Entry!) I had one more Emirates chauffeur service waiting for me. He took my bags, led me to his waiting Cadillac Escalade, whisked me to Ballard, and carried my bags to my front door. 

I'm officially in love with Emirates and have already started planning how I can make another of these amazing flights happen again!

All photos from my First Class experience here.

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