Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Emirates First Class - Sydney to Auckland return on the A380

Emirates First Class - Sydney to Auckland return on the A380

Old Jan 14, 12, 9:16 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
Emirates First Class - Sydney to Auckland return on the A380

Emirates First Class - Sydney to Auckland return on the A380


The First Class Shower Spa

Welcome!

Welcome to my 16th trip report.

Join me as I take a little taster flight on the Emirates A380, across the Tasman from Sydney to Auckland, spend a few days in the city and then fly back again, all in First Class.


This report features the following:

- The Emirates Lounge at Sydney Airport
- First Class suite on board the A380, Sydney to Auckland, including the bar and the shower suite
- A few days in Auckland, including a sail on an ex-Americas Cup racing yacht and a tour out to the West coast
- The Emirates Lounge at Auckland Airport
- First Class suite on board the A380, Auckland to Sydney



Background

Ok, so I have a list. A list of things that I want to do, aviation wise. I managed to do a couple of them last year, flying First class for the first time, and on BA, and in the nose of a 747 (3 things on the list), plus I flew to Longreach and toured a retired 747, inside and out. Another entry on the list is to fly Emirates in First class on the A380 which included of course, having a shower at 40,000 ft!

It is reasonably well known that the A380 that Emirates send to Sydney carries on to Auckland after stopping off for a few hours first. Rather than being an add-on connecting flight, it is treated as a separate flight in it's own right and can be booked, in all classes. Ok, so it's not exactly the longest flight in the world, but for those looking to 'try' some of the Emirates on-board products, it's the perfect opportunity. I have flown with Emirates before, and on the A380, but in business. I found the experience mixed, with the hard product (the seat) being very good, but the cabin crew downright rude on occasion.

Around November time I started looking at prices and dates. My company shuts down over Christmas, not returning until the 9th of January. This meant that I plenty of time to take a trip over to Auckland. Looking at the flight times (08.45 out and 18.40 back) I decided that I definitely wanted to fly back in First, but wasn't sure if it was worth spending the extra cash to fly out too. First class on a morning flight might not be the best use of my hard earned cash. After a bit of discussion on the Emirates forum, Dave Noble pointed out that the price difference from Business to First is mostly offset by the included chauffeur transfer with First which you don't get with Business. The price difference between the two was about $400. A return chauffeur trip to Sydney Airport from my apartment is about $250. When you factor in the chauffeur drive in Auckland too, travelling in First almost seems 'free', so I decided to book both legs as First.

Emirates allows you to choose your seat at the time of booking. There are 4 rows in a 1-2-1 layout located at the front of the upper deck on the A380. I quick PM to our wonderful Emirates forum moderator and trip writer extraordinaire eightblack and I'd picked 2K on the way out and 3A on the way back, based on his recommendations. I tried to go as far forward as possible, sticking with the window seats but avoiding row 1 as it is said to be narrower and has less windows than the other suites.

Then it was time to book the hotel. I'd previously flown to Auckland in September, before heading to Palmerston North on a business trip. However, I only spent 16 hours in Auckland itself. 8 of which were sleeping in a hotel, 6 at the office and 2 at the airport. It's fair to say that I didn't get to see the sights. So this trip gave me the opportunity to rectify that. I went ahead and booked 4 nights st the Crowne Plaza as the rate was very good and it is centrally located. I normally like to stay in Marriott hotels, however, in their wisdom, they have decided not to locate any hotels in the whole of New Zealand; so that wasn't an option.


Route

- Sydney T1 (International) (SYD) to Auckland International (AKL): Emirates (EK), First Class (F), Airbus A380-800
- Auckland International (AKL) to Sydney T1 (International) (SYD): Emirates (EK), First Class (F), Airbus A380-800


In case you don't know where Sydney and Auckland are, here's a map:



Sydney to Auckland on Emirates

Getting To The Airport

As I've previously mentioned, booking First class on Emirates entitles the passenger to a free chauffeur driven transfer from home to the airport. There is a mileage limit although I'm not sure what this is for Sydney. As I live close to the centre, I qualified. The car company phoned me up a few days before the flight and asked me to confirm the time that I'd like to be picked up. I'd previously entered my details in the 'manage my booking' section of the Emirates website. The flight departs at 08.45 in the morning, so I decided on a 6am pick up. That would probably give me over an hour in the lounge as I didn't expect that the airport would be too busy.

I'd set my alarm for 5.15am, having done all of my packing the night before. Try as I might, I didn't manage to get to sleep until late, about 1am, so getting up when my alarm went off was tricky. In actual fact, I woke up at 5.45 realising that I'd shut off my alarm! I jolted out of bed, ran to the shower and was still in my towel when the driver called my apartment at 5.55! I told him that I'd be a few minutes. I managed to make it downstairs for 6am. I was greeted by the sight of a very plush and large Holden with a very friendly driver. We chatted about the New Year's Eve celebrations as we made our way over the bridge and towards the airport. The journey was good, only taking 25 minutes or so. The driver dropped me off outside the right door for the Emirates check in desks, in row E.



Heading over the Bridge


Check In

There was one First Class desk, a couple of Business Class desks and plenty of Economy desks. There was hardly anyone around, but as it would turn out, the First Class desk was busy. I stood around for a while, before being motioned over to the nearest Business Class desk by a rather grumpy agent. This is starting to be a pattern, as I wasn't able to use the First Class desk when I flew out of Sydney on BA last time either. Not that it matters.

The agent asked me loads of questions about my residency status in Australia, I guess, it was to ensure that I would be allowed to return to Sydney. It might explain why I was unable to check in online when I tried the day before too as I got a message indicating that my passport needed to be checked by an agent at the airport.

The grumpy agent went through the motions. She didn't really ask the usual questions like whether I had flown with them before and knew where the lounge was, questions that you might expect someone to ask a passenger who was flying First. Nope, I'd have to figure the lounge out for myself. What she did do though is give me an express lane pass to skip some of the queues at immigration and security.



Occupied First Class desk


Rather than head straight to security, I decided to check out the observation deck. I think that I had been up there once before, many years ago. It offers reasonably good views over the air field, although I didn't manage to witness any take offs whilst I was there. I'm sure that I will return to take some photos later in the year.



From the observation deck - A recently arrived Qantas 747


Security and Immigration

After leaving the observation deck (and having filled out my immigration card) I headed for the ‘Express Path’ entrance which is actually a separate door near to the normal immigration and security entrance.

A lady checked my immigration and express path card and ushered me to the front of the queue where a friendly officer checked my passport and waved me through. I very often find that the officers working on the ‘exit’ immigration are much more friendly than those working on the ‘arrivals’ desks. I’m not sure why, although this is perhaps it is a much easier task.

I made my way to the separate lanes for security and was through very quickly. My general observation of both immigration and security was that it was rather empty, with not many passengers departing on flights that morning.


The Lounge

So, next, it was off to the lounge. The last time that I flew out of Sydney when not travelling on either BA or Qantas was back in 2004, on Emirates, when I went backpacking around Australia as a student, consequently, I had no idea where any of the other lounges where. Apart from the main duty free and waiting area, there is an additional part of the airport located to the right when existing the main duty free shop. This is labelled as gates ’51-63’ and is where many of the non-Qantas departures are located.

I just so happened to look at my boarding pass and noticed that a map showing directions to the lounge had been stuck to the back. Here it is:



Map to the Emirates lounge


The walk to the lounge actually took quite a while, as the corridors were very long. There were however signs to help along the way. Once I got near the entrance I took the lift down a level to make my way into the lounge itself.




Entrance to the Emirates Lounge


I arrived at about 6.55am and as I presented my boarding pass, my name was ticked off the passenger list. The lady at the lounge entrance was very friendly and addressed me by name. She asked if I had used the lounge before and whether I would need Wi-Fi access.

Upon entering the lounge I wasn’t surprised to see that it was styled in the same manner as the London Emirate’s lounge (the only other Emirates lounge that I have visited outside Dubai). The styling is really not to my taste and it reminds me of something from the 80’s, with lots of beige leather and wood.

However, the lounge looked to be well appointed, with lots of seating areas, located around a central dining area. The front of the lounge was bathed in sunlight, so I made my way over to one of the pairs of seats directly facing the window. The lounge wasn’t too busy at this point, but the dining area had a number of groups of people tucking into breakfast.



Looking into the lounge from near the entrance, seating on the left, dining on the right


Seating areas at the window


Dining area (it was too busy to get a better shot)


I sat down and then went to explore the food and drink options. As I have come to expect from Emirates lounges the range and quality of the food on offer was fantastic, certainly far better than many other lounges around the world that I have visited. There were two bars, one in the main dining area, the other at the far end of the lounge, near to the entrance.

The drinks on offer included a good range of spirits and mixers, three different red wines, two whites and two Champagne offerings. These were Veuve Cliquot NV and Moét Rosé NV. There was also an extensive selection of soft drinks including juices at the dining area bar. One thing that I like, that I wish more airlines would do, is that a card is presented along with the wines giving you a little information about each wine on offer.

On the food front was a very good selection of hot and cold items including a full breakfast (although no bacon of course) as well as omelettes made to order. There was a good selection of cereal, pastries, yoghurts, smoothies and fruit. I really cannot fault Emirates on the food front, the quality, presentation and selection is always top notch. Eating in the lounge is no compromise, it is entirely possible to have a full meal and not feel like you’ve just eaten ‘lounge food’.



The secondary bar area


Hot food items on display

I decided that it was a little early to tuck into the Champagne, straight at least, so I went for a Bucks Fizz/Mimosa with the Veuve Cliquot. I’m not sure how it would have worked with the rosé!

One thing to note about the lounge, it is a shared First and Business class lounge, there is no separate First class section. For Business class passengers this is certainly a bonus as you would expect that the facilities would be uplifted a little to cater for both groups of passengers. However, as a First class passenger, it feels a little bit like a downgrade. A smaller, quieter First class lounge would be very welcome. Someone on the Emirates forum may be able to correct me, but I believe that the only place where the lounges are split is in Dubai itself. At all other locations, they are shared.

I returned to my seat and sat in the sun, watching the early morning arrivals trundle by. This included a Singapore Airlines A380, a Korean Air 747 and a Virgin Australia 777 which parked up at the gate directly opposite to where I was sitting. It was so close that I was able to watch as the aircraft was turned around.

One very interesting thing, and related to my previous trip report was that as the 777 arrived and was secured, an engineer opened up a panel directly behind the nose gear and disappeared inside the aircraft. I assume that this is in fact the entrance to the avionics bay. A similar hatch exists on the 747 and the A380 too (if you know where to look).



Bucks Fizz in the morning sun – note the Emirates branded glassware


SQ A380 trundles past


Here comes a Virgin Australia 777


Disappearing into the avionics bay


Virgin Australia 777 livery


The lounge started to fill up and actually got very busy. By 8am, it was rather full indeed. Boarding was due to start 8.20am and so, rather than sit around, I decided to head out to find the gate and perhaps get a shot of the aircraft before boarding.


Verdict

The Emirates ground experience in Sydney was pretty good. The check in staff could be friendlier, although I don’t know what the First class service would have been like, since I ended up at a Business desk. The lounge is located quite a distance away from the main departure area, although the secondary area is much quieter, which is a bonus.

The lounge in Sydney is rather good, with the friendly service. The styling of the lounge is not to my taste. I much prefer the contemporary styling of the Qantas and BA lounges around the world. To me, the Emirates styling makes the lounge look very dated, and not at all classy, as it should be. I also do not like the fact that it is a shared lounge, with First and Business class passengers sharing the same facilities. However, this isn’t really a major point, but it does dilute the First class experience (more on that later).

On the positive side, the food and beverage selection was excellent, as expected, and this is probably the strongest feature of the lounge.

Overall, a pleasant place to spend an hour or so before the flight, but not particularly memorable when compared to other similarly positioned lounges.

Last edited by matthandy; Jan 14, 12 at 10:07 pm
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 14, 12, 9:58 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: ATL/LAX
Posts: 4,869
^ Eagerly awaiting the rest of this report. I'm hoping that a trip to South Asia very soon will force me to fly the HKG-BKK route on EK F (i.e., the poor man's route to having a shower at 35K feet ).
amolkold is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 12:41 am
  #3  
`X'
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SEA (close to KPAE)
Programs: QFF NB, DJ Gold, A3 Gold, HHonors Gold, Marriott Silver, Carlson Silver, A|Club Gold
Posts: 479
im doing this myself in just over 2 weeks. I have 4A assigned for AKL-SYD at the present moment.

You will have to let me know if its worth changing the seat assignment to 3A.
`X' is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 12:53 am
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
Originally Posted by `X' View Post
You will have to let me know if its worth changing the seat assignment to 3A.
Cool. Absolutely yes. You should try to be as far forward as possible to avoid noise from the galley. Row 2 is best.
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 2:12 am
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
Sydney to Auckland in First Class with Emirates

Flight: EK412
Carrier: Emirates
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 – A6-EDD
Scheduled Departure time: 08.45
Duration: 3h 15m
Scheduled Arrival time: 14.00
Class: First
Seat: 2K (seat plan)

After using the facilities I left the lounge and made my way to Gate 57, where the aircraft was waiting. There was quite a crowd at the gate and it was clear that boarding had already started. Economy boarding was underway, by row number, and there was a long queue for the left most door which led to a separate air bridges at doors M1L and M2L, both for economy passengers.

I skipped through the queue to the other side of the gate to get a shot of the aircraft. The view wasn’t that great, but I was able to get a photo.



Emirates A380 – A6-EDD


I made my way back through the economy queue and waited around the ‘First and Business’ barriers. An agent was there and she started checking boarding passes. She told us that the crew were not yet ready for boarding, but we could make our way up to the gate door and wait a few minutes.


Boarding

Boarding for First and Business Class started at 8.20am, as advertised. My boarding pass was scanned and then I followed the couple in front of me as we made our way to the First and Business air bridge which was connected to door U1L. The slight incline was noticeable as we made our way to the aircraft.

The couple in front of me were, ironically, the same couple that occupied the First class check in desk earlier.



Boarding


As I boarded my boarding pass was checked by a friendly crew member and another crew member was ushered over to show me to my seat. I made my way across the galley and turned left (yes!) and headed towards my seat, 2K.

The crew member opened the wardrobe and offered to take my jacket from me. Oddly, when in the wardrobe, jackets hang down into the front of the suite. This is a little odd in my opinion, as a small divider would not have significantly eaten into the available leg room. Once done I started to get myself sorted out whilst the crew member asked if I would like a drink. She didn’t offer any choices, but of course I went with Champagne.



Making my way to 2K


The Suite

My first impressions were that the cabin seemed a little cluttered, with all of the individual suites and the high walls. The configuration is 1-2-1 with 4 rows (staggered), giving a total of 14 suites. In contrast, Qantas for example place their First class suites on the lower deck, which is much wider, with a configuration of 1-1-1 and 14 suites. This meant that the Emirates suite was a lot less spacious than some of the competitors, although more specious than others (BA on their 747 and 777 aircraft for example). As far as I am aware, Emirates is only one of two A380 operator’s to place First class on the upper deck (the other being Lufthansa, although in a much less dense configuration).

The seat of course did not feel cramped however, and there was plenty of space at the front of the suite, whilst the side was taken up with the table, mini bar and storage areas.

There are no overhead lockers in First class, so all bags are stored in the suite itself, at the front and are secured by two straps to stop them moving around in flight.

On my seat was a large pillow and blanket with all of the other amenities located around the seat. The mini bar was open, as was the vanity mirror and writing kit drawer. Headphones were placed in a pocket in the side of the suite.



Overview of 2K


Leather seat – fully adjustable


Looking forward – reading light, IFE screen and table lamp


Magazine pocket and headphones


Luggage storage


The seat itself was very large and comfortable. It was quite high off the ground and consequently, my feet didn’t actually touch the floor when I was seated! In front of me was the large 23 inch IFE screen as well as a separate desk, reading light and desk lamp. Seat 2K has three windows, all of which have electronic blinds that can be raised or lowered individually or together. Additionally, there was the standard Emirates touch screen remote controller. I haven’t really got on with this is in the past, having found it particularly difficult to use when trying to control the IFE. Luckily, there is a separate IFE controller handset which is very similar to those found on most aircraft.



Wireless controller, window blind buttons and call bell


IFE controller


Mini-bar, with a selection of soft drinks


The seat has multiple pre-set positions, for take-off and landing, dining and sleeping. The problem with the take-off and landing position is that it moves the seat too far forward so that the controller (which has to stay in place on the ground) is very difficult to see and use. In addition, the seat is too far forward to make the side drinks table useful. The side area near the mini bar is very thin, so placing a drink at a more comfortable distance is precarious. The seat is also not close enough to the front desk area to make reaching comfortable either. All in all, not particularly ergonomic. In flight however, the seat position can be adjusted backwards and forwards to make accessing these areas easy.

In terms of privacy, the suites are staggered, so it is not possible to see more than the IFE screen and table of the other suites when looking forward, it therefore feels very private. There are also electronic doors which can be closed when sleeping or resting to further add to the privacy. The controls for these are located on the wireless controller. In addition, it is possible to light up a ‘do not disturb’ light when the doors are closed.

It seems as though Emirates would like passengers to treat the suite much like a hotel room. The suite guide constantly makes reference to this and even encourages passengers to call ‘room service’ if they need something. It is possible to use the in-seat phone to speak to the cabin crew in the galley. Although, I’d just press the call button!



Seat position, PC power and privacy lights


Looking back to the rear of the cabin


Looking forward – view into 1F and beyond


Emirates logo at the front of the cabin


Cameras – if you are eagle eyed, you may notice a small dark grey panel on the wall at the rear of the cabin. Well, this is a video camera, part of a multi camera set up that Emirates have on their A380 and a customer option offered by Airbus. If you’d like, you can see how many you can spot in the photos taken around the aircraft!

As I started getting used to the seat controls and familiarising myself with the suite another crew member came along to offer slippers and eye shades. No amenity kit was offered on this flight. On longer flights an amenity kit and sleep suit is offered. She also checked to see whether I had ordered a pre-flight drink or not. I mentioned that I had and she said that she would be out with it shortly.

A note about the styling: I’m not a huge fan. To me, the wood and gold aspect is a bit chintzy. I much prefer modern European styling such as can be found on the Lufthansa A380, with use of white panels, dark panels and light wood to create a classy, quality feel. The gold trim and around everything does nothing for me and if anything, spoils the feeling of ‘class’. However, it doesn’t of course spoil the feeling of space and comfort, which is where Emirates First Class suite performs well.

My Champagne arrived, as a pre-filled glass, rather than it being poured at my seat. I couldn’t tell you whether it was actually Dom Perignon or not as there have been rumours of the crew only serving the Business Class Champagne on the ground. Based on the colour and the smooth taste, I’d like to think it was the Dom.



Pre-departure Champagne


As boarding continued, the crew came around to offer the menu (leather bound) and wine list and then came through the cabin offering dates and Arabic coffee, both of which I declined as I do not like either, but it was still a nice touch.

At 8.35am, 10 minutes before our scheduled push back, the Captain came on the PA system to announce our flight time of 2 hours and 40 minutes (boo, I wanted it to be longer) and our cruising altitude, 42,000 ft. He explained that boarding and cargo loading were both still in progress but we should expect to push back shortly.

The crew then came around to offer a hotel towel, which was gratefully received by me as I was feeling a bit tired because of the early start and the lack of sleep the night before.

Landing cards were then handed out, and quickly recollected! The crew member had handed out the ‘aircrew’ landing cards rather than the passenger ones. Oops.

I looked over at 1F whilst finishing up my Champagne and noticed that she had placed her feet up on the writing desk. What was that saying about ‘First class but no class’? I don’t really blame her as the foot rest was integrated into the seat itself and could therefore only be extended after take off.



Classy


Five minutes later I heard the doors being closed and we started to push back. It was 8.50am at this point, so we were only running five minutes late. I switched to the tail camera and watched as we taxied out the main runway. Like some other airlines, Emirates allow passengers to use the IFE at all stages of the flight.

The safety video was played, firstly in Arabic and then English. It was odd that the crew were no-where to be seen at this point, not even to point out the nearest exits.

We took off at 9am and when we actually left the ground it came as a bit of a surprise as for one, it didn’t seem like we were going fast enough, and two, it didn’t sound we were going fast enough! I had forgotten how stupidly quiet this aircraft is and I suspect that with the suite, extra sound proofing had been included making it even quieter.



Lining up for take-off


Climbing up through the clouds


The seat belt sign was turned off after 10 minutes and passengers were free to move around the cabin.
I started by taking a quick video to give an overview of 2K. You can view it here:

Video – An overview of 2K

Last edited by matthandy; Jan 15, 12 at 5:28 am Reason: Correcting the number of seats.....
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 2:15 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
In-flight service

The crew member mostly serving my side, Kim, came around shortly after to take the breakfast orders. The menu seemed rather extensive, but I knew from reading previous reports that it at least had elements from Business Class if not the entire menu.

Here is the menu and wine list:








I ordered the mixed grill as my main course. Kim asked if I wanted any fruit, but I declined. One thing that I have consistently noticed about Emirates crews when it comes to taking food orders, they don’t make much of an effort to point out items on the menu, and it is not always clear what is optional, or could be had in addition to the main course. Subsequently, I often end up missing out. I wasn’t offered any cereal or yoghurt which was slightly annoying. I think that crews need to recognise that perhaps people are not 100% familiar with the menu and therefore they shouldn’t have to explicitly state that they want everything on the menu, as opposed to the current method of assuming that they don’t. For example, just because I said that I didn’t want the fruit it didn't mean that I wanted to skip the other selections in that ‘course’ as well. Maybe it is a cultural thing. Drinks orders were also taken, and I chose to have some apple juice, along with some more Champagne.

Anyway, Kim returned promptly and laid a table cloth out on the rather large table. The table itself does not move backwards or forwards, but unlike Business class, the seat does, so it is possible to find a comfortable position for dining, rather than feeling trapped in.

Kim noticed that I wasn’t watching anything on the IFE (just the moving map) and asked if I wanted to. She offered to hand me the headphones, since they were difficult to reach once the table was in position. This was really good service, as she recognised a need that I might have had, without me having to ask. I took her up on the offer and started to explore Emirates’ ICE (Information, Communication and Entertainment) system whilst waiting for my food to be prepared.



Noise cancelling headphones


Kim returned with my apple juice, and a fresh Champagne glass, which she ceremoniously filled with Dom Perignon, presenting the bottle to me first for inspection. At least now I knew that I was drinking the good stuff!

My meal arrived, with a water glass, cutlery, condiments and a side plate. Kim then arrived with the bread basket and I selected a croissant which I started on, before my main course arrived. The tray arrived with marmalade, which I am not a fan of, so I asked if it could be swapped. Kim apologised and then reeled off the jams that they had for me to choose. She then came back with strawberry. I know that it’s only a little thing, but it’s these little things that make or break good service. So far, Kim was doing a fantastic job and I made a note to contact customer services after the flight to send in my praise.



Meal tray – mixed grill, croissant, Champagne, apple juice and water


Mixed grill


The food itself wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was properly cooked, but the portion could have been larger. I know that this a Business Class main course, which might explain it, however, I do think that it is pretty poor of Emirates not to at least offer separate catering for First Class, even if it is a cut down service. This is another example of how, on short flights such as this, the First Class experience becomes diluted somewhat.

I finished at about 9.50am Sydney time, only 50 minutes after take-off, so that would leave me plenty of time to tick off a couple of things, the shower spa and the on-board bar.

The purser came around to say hello to the First Class passengers, to welcome us on-board and ask if there is anything that he could do to make our flight experience better. I asked about a shower, which was met with an initial look of surprise on his face, as if he hadn’t actually expected to get an answer to the ‘anything I can do’ question. I had seen the shower attendants going back and forth through the cabin throughout the flight so far, but I didn’t see them talking to any of the passengers, or taking appointments. I wasn’t sure how to book a time, and I mentioned this to the purser. He said that a shower was no problem and that he asked what time I would like one. He mentioned that he should be able to sort something out for me in the next 10 minutes and said that someone would be along to soon to take me through to the shower spa.

Sure enough, 10 minutes later, one of the crew came to my seat and invited me to use the shower. Yay!

Last edited by matthandy; Jan 15, 12 at 2:45 am
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 2:16 am
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
The shower spa

I was slightly excited as I was about to tick off another entry on my ‘aviation to-do list’. I had seen many photos and videos of the shower suite before, so it wasn’t a surprise when I eventually saw it with my own eyes. I suppose what isn’t very well conveyed is the size though, it’s actually quite large, and even the shower cubicle itself is a decent size and doesn’t feel claustrophobic. In fact, it was probably larger than my shower at home.



The shower cubicle and sink, with a fluffy floor mat


The view as you enter the shower spa – sink, toilet and amenities


Central console with hair dryer and more amenities


The shower itself


The crew member asked if I had used the shower before, to which I said that I hadn’t so she proceeded to explain everything to me. There is a five minute limit on the water, but it stops at one minute remaining as a warning. To restart, I simply had to press the start button again. She explained also that the shower door had to be closed otherwise the water would not flow.

She then took me through the amenities, including where the hair dryer was and other toiletries which were not on display. She also pointed out the seat belt sign and where the oxygen mask would fall from in the event of an emergency.

It’s not 100% clear what would happen if the seat belt sign did go on. The shower spa guide mentions ‘being helped back’ to one’s seat by the shower attendants. The thought of walking through the cabin with a towel wrapped around me is not particularly appealing to be honest!



Shower amenities, ‘Relax’ and ‘Revive’


Cold towels


Water indicator (post shower, I only used 4 minutes worth!)


Start/stop and temperature control


The crew member closed the door behind her and then I started getting undressed. I’d checked the moving map before entering the shower, and noted that I was about to have a shower at just over 41,000 feet and approx. 565 miles per hour, surely the highest and faster shower that I would have had to date .

Here is a video of the shower spa (with clothes on, don’t worry!):

Video – An overview of shower spa


As I started to get undressed, I admit that it did feel rather weird. Actually getting to the point where you are standing there with no clothes on takes a little bit of courage!

Anyway, I selected some shower gel and shampoo from the selection on offer and then started up the shower. I was pleased to see that it was warm straight away. The pressure wasn’t that great though, and with the limit on the water, there was no time to waste. It was a bit weird to be showering as the aircraft moved around slightly!

My thoughts on the shower are that it is not at all a gimmick. Being able to freshen up after a long flight and look presentable and feel refreshed before going through customs and travelling to one’s final destination is invaluable. On this short flight of course, the value of it wasn’t quite there, as of course, I just used it for the sake of it. The size of the room itself is fantastic also. There is plenty of room to change. No more fumbling around in tiny standard size bathrooms to change back into your normal clothes!

After the shower I dried myself off and made myself presentable, before heading out and back to my seat. It was about 12.40pm Auckland time, so there was still around an hour to go before everyone would have to prepare for landing.



The stairs leading down to the main deck


I started up the IFE again, to resume what I had been watching previously. I was quite thirsty at this point, perhaps due to the Champagne consumption, and the heat of the shower. For the first time that I can remember, I used the call bell, and felt a little guilty about it. Kim arrived almost immediately and asked if there was anything that I needed. I asked for some iced water which was promptly delivered.


The Bar

After twenty minutes or so I decided to head to the back of the aircraft to check out the bar. I timed it just right as the purser was escorting a couple of other First Class passengers to the back as well. These turned out the be the couple that were standing in front of me at the check in desk and were in front of me during boarding too.

I asked for a glass of Champagne to take back with me and Kim suggested that she send the bottle down the back so that we could enjoy it at the bar.

On the way I took some photos of the First Class and Business Class cabins from the rear.



Looking forward from 4F


The main business class cabin


There were a few people in the bar area, but it wasn’t particularly busy. The purser introduced the crew member serving at the bar to us and she poured out some Dom whilst I started chatting to my fellow passengers. It turns out that they were Americans, travelling over to New Zealand to tour around for a couple of weeks, and that this was their first time on the A380. They certainly seemed to be enjoying the experience and the husband was snapping away with his camera as much as I was.



Our lovely crew member serves the Dom


Side seating


The bar, from the other angle


The view from the side sofa


The view from the side sofa


We sat and chatted for a while and after they left I just enjoyed the view out of the window. I had my photo taken with the crew member behind the bar who seemed very friendly. As I sat down the guy in the grey t-shirt was being a bit of an idiot. He’d clearly had a few drinks and was trying to chat up the crew member behind the bar. Pretty pathetic really, she must get that all the time unfortunately.

Last edited by matthandy; Jan 15, 12 at 2:52 am
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 2:18 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
Landing into Auckland

I returned to the front of the plane, snapping a picture of the Business Class seat along the way.



Business Class seat


Shortly after, the Captain announced that we’d be starting our descent shortly, and would be expecting to land at 1.45pm Auckland time. We were to expect cloudy weather, but no rain, so a bit of a contrast to sunny Sydney!

I used the facilities before settling down and packing everything away and in to my bag in preparation for landing. Something which I didn’t know is that there is First Class toilet located at the back of the cabin, as the shower spas are not for general use. The toilet isn’t anything special, and is decorated exactly the same way as the Business Class toilets, however, it did have an fantastic view, just forward of the wing.



View from the toilet


At 1.20pm the seat belt sign came on and we were well into our descent. Kim made an unexpected visit to my seat and bought with her the suite guide, shower spa guide, ICE guide and two in-flight magazines. She said that she used to collect the magazines before she started as crew and thought that I might like to take them off the aircraft. I gladly accepted. It was a really nice personal touch and made the flight more memorable for me.



The literature that I was allowed to take off the aircraft


As we made our way down to land we got hit by some turbulence and we had a rather bumpy cross wind landing. It was possible to watch the landing on the IFE, via the tail cam and according to the details on the screen, we actually approached the runway at an angle of 17 degrees. It was actually very interesting to watch as the aircraft was ‘flicked’ into alignment just before we touched down. We landed at 1.45pm, as promised. The taxi to the gate took about 10 minutes or so.



Views of the Auckland coast line as we land


Welcome to Auckland!


Arrival

The air bridges were attached and we were the first passengers to disembark from the upper deck at around 2pm. As I did so I said a really big thank you to Kim, who was waiting in the galley to say goodbye.

The aircraft was parked on a stand that seemed quite far from immigration and customs there was a bit of walking involved to get to the immigration hall. Along the way though it was possible to get a good view of the aircraft that I’d just arrived on.



At the gate


At the gate


Walking, and walking….


There didn’t seem to be any sign of any type of ‘fast track’ system for immigration, although being one of the first passengers off the aircraft, the queues were not that big and I was through in no time. I don’t even think that the agent even asked me any questions.

I made my way through to the baggage claim area to find that my bag was already making it’s way around the carousel, which is always a good thing! What wasn’t good was the massive queue that had formed to get through quarantine and customs. I think that we’d timed it just right to catch the bulk of passengers from a Thai flight, so the queue extended right into the baggage hall. Again, there was no priority or fast track system for First or Business class passengers and annoyingly, the ‘New Zealand and Australian Passport’ lanes were empty. It took me about 30 minutes to get through quarantine and as I emerged into arrivals my driver was waiting for me with a board with my name on it. His car was waiting just outside and I was soon on my way to the Crowne Plaza in the centre of the city.


Overall Verdict

Well, this was a really good flight although I mostly put that down to the fantastic service that I received from one particular crew member and the novelty of flying Emirates First Class on the A380. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, but there were areas that were a little disappointing.

The suite itself was very comfortable, but I wasn’t particularly fussed with the styling of it. More of a concern was the ergonomics, it didn’t seem too well thought out in that respect. It didn’t feel as classy as some of the other products out there. I have to say that with my experience of other First class products, namely BA’s New First on the 747 and the Qantas A380 suite, the Emirates product falls slightly short of both of them. Clearly, it has more overall room than the BA product, but the styling and the materials let down the Emirates suite. For example, the suede used on the IFE screen surround made it look dirty from certain angles, and the gold trim on everything is a bit tacky. I also didn’t like the fact that the seat was all leather. I prefer a cloth seat, personally.
However, the privacy offered by the suite was fantastic, and the IFE screen was the largest that I’ve experienced previously. There was also plenty of storage around the seat area, which was a bonus. I quite liked the lighting options too, as well as the multiple, personal air vents that could be directed as required.

The food wasn’t great. I was a little annoyed about not making the most of the menu, although I didn’t go hungry. The fact that a Business class meal is served is quite poor too. Surely it would be possible to perform an abridged First Class service on this flight? The Dom Perignon was divine though, and that did go some way to compensate for the food.

The shower experience was excellent and I can see a real usage for it on longer flights with no arrivals facilities. The bar was also a good feature, and it was fun meeting with fellow passengers, rather than being stuck in one’s seat all of the time.

The arrivals experience wasn’t great, although that is up to the airport, rather than the airline itself.

Did this feel like a First Class experience? I’d have to say no, it didn’t, it felt like a Business Class experience in a bigger seat. Would I book it again? No, but I did enjoy the experience overall and if a cheap upgrade was offered on the route again I’d consider it.


Next Up

A few days in Auckland, including a sail on an ex-America’s Cup yacht and a tour out to the West coast, plus the return flight, and more Dom Perignon!

Last edited by matthandy; Jan 15, 12 at 3:01 am
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 2:57 am
  #9  
`X'
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SEA (close to KPAE)
Programs: QFF NB, DJ Gold, A3 Gold, HHonors Gold, Marriott Silver, Carlson Silver, A|Club Gold
Posts: 479
Originally Posted by matthandy View Post
Cool. Absolutely yes. You should try to be as far forward as possible to avoid noise from the galley. Row 2 is best.
Seat moved to 3A!
`X' is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 4:43 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: OSL
Posts: 4,473
Another excellent report! Thanks for sharing.

A couple of things though:

The cabin actually has 14 Suites, not 16. They're in a 1-2-1 layout, but the window has 4 rows while the center has 3 rows.

About not being offered a choice of drinks on boarding - they'll get you anything you want. Most airlines do water/ orange juice/ champagne, but you can ask for a cappuccino and they'll whip one up for you.

I don't know if you've already flown your return segment, but any preferences between the A and K seats?
ung1 is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 5:14 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Programs: No more shiny cards -- former LH SEN, SPG Platinum, Flying Blue Platinum, BA Silver
Posts: 704
We did a similar "A380 in First" short hop before Christmas.

Thoroughly enjoyed the experience although we both agree with your comments on the food. The gold I can get past, most important to me on long haul is space and privacy -- the EK suite would be the way to go on ultra long haul for those very reasons, indeed this is also when the shower would come into its own.

All in all, I am very pleased to have ticked it off my bucket list and would try EK suites in the future on long haul if the price was right.
pdsuk is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 5:37 am
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Kent, UK
Programs: BA Gold, SPG Platinum, Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 3,809
Originally Posted by amolkold View Post
^ Eagerly awaiting the rest of this report. I'm hoping that a trip to South Asia very soon will force me to fly the HKG-BKK route on EK F (i.e., the poor man's route to having a shower at 35K feet ).
Thanks amolkold, it's posted, hope that you like it. It's certainly worth doing, not many people can say that they've had that experience!

Originally Posted by ung1 View Post
Another excellent report! Thanks for sharing
Thanks ung1! Let's hope that Sir eightblack approves too.

Originally Posted by ung1 View Post
The cabin actually has 14 Suites, not 16. They're in a 1-2-1 layout, but the window has 4 rows while the center has 3 rows.
oops. Duly noted and changed, thanks!

Originally Posted by ung1 View Post
About not being offered a choice of drinks on boarding - they'll get you anything you want. Most airlines do water/ orange juice/ champagne, but you can ask for a cappuccino and they'll whip one up for you.
Makes sense, thanks. I guess that I'm too used to the 'Champagne, water, orange juice' routine. I'm learning that on Emirates, you have to ask questions, because the answer will not be forthcoming from the crew, as in "what can I order?".

Originally Posted by ung1 View Post
I don't know if you've already flown your return segment, but any preferences between the A and K seats?
I'm an A person, simply because being left handed, I like to have things on my left hand side. However, the biggest difference for me was being in row 3 on the way back versus row 2 on the way out. In 3 you are much closer to the galley and there is some noise pollution because of it. I did wonder whether the A side got more general foot traffic though, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

Originally Posted by pdsuk View Post
The gold I can get past, most important to me on long haul is space and privacy -- the EK suite would be the way to go on ultra long haul for those very reasons, indeed this is also when the shower would come into its own.

All in all, I am very pleased to have ticked it off my bucket list and would try EK suites in the future on long haul if the price was right.
Have to agree pdsuk. I'd certainly fly First again as it was very comfortable. I tried out the 'bed' mode on the way back and it was excellent. I'm not sure that I would choose EK F over say Qantas F on the A380 though, if the prices were similar (unlikely!).
matthandy is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 7:05 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: London, UK
Programs: AA 2MM - PLT, BA GGL, SPG Plat, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 6,221
Thanks for another detailed report matthandy.

I am not a fan of the styling of the EK suites either. From your description of what you do and don't like I would suggest you see if you can get yourself into a CX F seat. I presume that is on your list also?
Moomba is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 7:27 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: UK
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 1,144
Another Great TR matthandy and some great pictures!

I must agree all the Gold on show with Emirates just looks way to Tacky for me i much prefer a more understated classy experience
Padmeister is offline  
Old Jan 15, 12, 10:29 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SEA
Programs: DL DM, AS MVP, Marriott Plat, SPG Plat
Posts: 237
Excellent, very detailed report ^
Drile is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: