The Emirates A380 First Suite Experience
12 April 2011

No new aircraft has let aviation aficionados’ heart’s fly higher (pardon the pun) since the introduction of Concorde or the 747 Jumbo Jet. It is a beast of an aircraft and also a gamble, for the manufacturer and the operating airlines, to see if the market will move towards smaller point to point connections bypassing the traditional hub and spoke system?

Or as Airbus and the airlines that ordered the A380 believe the market is growing with ever new parts of the world gaining access to the infrastructure and funds needed to participate in the global world. With 15 Aircraft already operating, 2 coming online this year and 12 aircraft slated for delivery next year, Emirates flies the A380 to destinations such as London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and Beijing. Emirates with its mega-hub is banking on connecting the world – via the small emirate of Dubai. With 90 Aircraft on order EK makes up about half of the worlds orders for this aircraft type, they are gambling on the growth of South America / Russia / China / India and Africa to fill their planes and make the investment worthwhile. After years of speculation about on board casino’s, nightclubs ,bowling alleys and Jacuzzis, Emirates is as close to those dreams as financially viable for an airline operating at $100 oil. There is the “Emirates A380 Shower Spa” with the world’s only commercial in-flight shower, the rear bar area that can be accessed only by first and business class guests. As EK has the upper deck reserved solely for first and business class travelers, and you board through a separate jetway, you do get a feeling of being on a 330 sized plane consisting of first and business class only. The 14 Suites are the same as found on other Emirates aircraft with the addition of automatic window blinds that can be operated at the push of a button. There is the in suite mini bar with juices, soft drinks and water. The snack basket in case you get peckish after that multi course meal you just had. A 23 inch widescreen TV with the incredible Emirates ICE entertainment system offering more than 1400 channels of programming. The “Emirates A380 Shower Spa” Offering plenty of space (which is not a given in today’s first class restrooms), the 2 shower spas at the front of the first cabin come with heated floors, so you feel comfortable stepping out of the shower, that has a built in bench and 5 minutes of water with decent pressure, especially at 41,000 feet. Behind the sink you will find the Dubai skyline complemented by mood lighting while you prepare to rest or your meeting upon arrival. In all this is a great addition and more than just a gimmick to me as I always felt that an onboard shower for first would make the guests feel more refreshed upon arrival. As there are only 2 forward shower spas and one rear lavatory for 14 first class guests, Premiumwings recommends informing the purser of your preferred shower time upon boarding the aircraft to ensure you can enjoy the use of this great facility at your leisure. In my journeys, the cabin staff was more than happy to reserve a spa at my (and most likely many others’) preferred time, right before landing.

The bar is also a nice addition (seen on other airlines such as Virgin before) but will probably be used more on ultra long haul and shorter regional sectors. Also, this area will likely receive more use from business class passengers as the added space to mingle is a plus. There are no seats at the bar, but couches along the side of the cabin with bar tables at the aft of the cabin and along the emergency exits. Snacks, canapé’s and deserts were on hand all throughout the bar area, with staff refilling constantly. The bar stocked top shelf liquor such as 15 year old Glenfiddich, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose vodka, and a vintage Veuve but the staff is more than happy to bring first class passengers their preferred choice from the front, including 21 year old single malt, 30 year old port wine and of course Dom Perignon. With all the great additions, there are some aspects not all passengers will like. The crew, even though in my experience motivated, just doesn’t have the refinement, training and perfect execution of service found on other European or Asian carriers. Also with 17 different languages spoken by the crew on one of my flights alone, ranging from Tagalog to Flemish, the difference of mentality was also noticeable. Also being the flagship of Middle Eastern glitz (or the Burj al Arab of the Sky), the brass and light wood color scheme is not everyone’s favorite. Also boarding through 3 jetways was great, but waiting at the gate with 550 people in a space designed for about 350 is not the greatest experience. The A380, regardless of operator makes for one great ride. It is a lot quieter in the cabin, but most important the humidity is higher, which is especially noticeable after sleeping and upon arrival. Just like the 747, we’ll get used to the sight relatively soon, but it is good to know that this aircraft is not just bigger, but also makes for a more pleasant travel experience for the passenger. If you would like to book a flight on the A380, simply send us an inquiry or email.

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