Review: Emirates First Class A380-8, Dubai – Los Angeles

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The Emirates First Class Cabin on the Airbus 380-800 is one of the most featured First Class suites in the sky. The experience includes a First Class Shower Suite, a private cabin with doors, and a stand up bar at the rear of the first class deck that is shared with economy. We redeemed Alaska Mileage Plan miles for a 16 hour experience in Emirates First Class. How did it fare for the lengthy 12 hour time zones crossed experience?


This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines AAdvantage & Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Emirates First Class A380-8, Dubai International Airport – Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal


“The Sixth Longest Flight in the World was hallmarked by traditional caviar service, the famous Emirates A380 standup bar, a shower suite, and a broad selection of movies to keep you fully entertained while crossing 12 time zones”

Booking the Ticket:

If you’re going to book an award ticket in First Class, you might as well get the most out of it. With ample award availability at the 6 month mark, and before the no warning Alaska Mileage Plan devaluation, we had booked two reward seats on the Emirates First Class Mauritius – Dubai, and Emirates First Class Dubai to Los Angeles through Alaska Mileage Plan. The tickets were for 100,000 miles per ticket for an Emirates First Class Africa – North America First Class redemption, $90.96 USD in taxes and other fees and a partner award fee of $12.50 USD totalling $103.95 USD.

Emirates First Class is uniquely positioned in the market. It’s the only carrier to and from the Middle East that offers a First Class Suite in all it’s cabins and typically flies a large amount of Airbus 380’s to and from the Americas. It’s competitor Etihad doesn’t offer a first class suite on all it’s aircraft and flies a combination of smaller wide body aircraft, whereas Qatar doesn’t offer First class on all its planes.

At the time of writing, the Emirates flight was the sixth longest flight in the world. It was blocked at a scheduled 16 hours and 35 minutes of travel time, covering a distance traveled of 13,240 km or 8,339 miles traveled.

Boarding Emirates First Class:

We left the Emirates First Class lounge and walked through the concourse towards Gate B14. It was a massive sea of humanity on the concourse, which we aimed to get through quickly.

Locating Boarding Gate Area B14
Our Emirates A380 Taking Us to Los Angeles

We got down to the gate, which was the smallest A380 gate I’ve ever had the pleasure of passing through. Boarding was pretty much a mess, but thankfully there was a priority lane that was sort of unblocked on the left hand side.

An Easy Priority Boarding? Not today…

There was a long line of boarding, with an apologetic ground agent when they saw the queue which meant up the jet bridge for most of the way. It was a very un-first class boarding experience.

Queuing for First Class Boarding

I’ve never had the opportunity to see a bag of menu cards but with the elegant packaging, it’s evident that they need a means of getting them to the aircraft.

A Bag of Emirates Menu Cards
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Emirates
First Class
DXB-LAX (Dubai International Terminal 3 – Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles)
EK 215
May 5, 2016
Booked: Airbus 380-800
Flown: Airbus 380-800
Departure: 8:55 AM
Arrival: 1:55 PM

On Board Emirates First Class:

At the top of the jet bridge, we were asked to head to the top of the stairs for our first class experience. Today’s boarding was onto the main deck so we carried our rolling suitcases up the stairs on the aircraft. It’s unusual not to be greeted when flying first class. With no one around, we led ourselves to our seat. I was in 2K and Mrs WT73 in 1K today on the opposite right hand side of the aircraft from our last Emirates First Class Mauritius – Dubai flight. The Emirates First Class configuration is 1-2-1 on the A380-800 series. Each suite has walled doors.

The Emirates First Class Cabin itself is a combination of pale birchwood and gold. It’s a pretty over the top looking cabin. You certainly won’t mix this cabin up with any other First Class cabin carrier out there.

Emirates First Class Cabin A380

We located our First Class Suites and started to settle in. They offer a good amount of space, with features that include a large screen, a vanity mirror, an individual reading light, a room temperature mini drink bar, along with a fresh orchid flower.

Settling into an Emirates First Class Suite
Profile of the Emirates First Class Suite
Suite 2K
The Emirates First Class Seat
The Emirates First Class Cabin

The Emirates First Class Suite offers a room temperature mini bar. While it’s a neat and convenient feature, I’d personally rather just ask for a cold drink. The Mini Bar on our trip was stocked with Pepsi, Voss Water, fruit juices, Perrier Sparkling Water and Sprite.

The Mini Bar Suite

While we were waiting for the rest of the plane to load, we had a flight attendent introduction. A glass of champagne was brought around for us to enjoy while we settled in.

A View of the Emirates Monitor, Snack Basket, Vanity and Orchid Flower
Welcome to Emirates First Class EK 215 Dubai – Los Angeles
Champagne and a Snack Basket
Champagne and our First Class Boarding Cards

While we waited, the views over the wings showed a mostly Boeing fleet of Emirates tails at the Dubai International Airport under the usual hazy UAE skies.

Emirates Boeing Vertical Stabilizers
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Pre Departure Services:

A welcome beverage of champagne was offered, in addition to the dates and Arabic coffee served from the traditional Arabic coffee pot. Whoops, that champagne went awfully quickly!

Arabic Welcome Coffee Service with a Date

The Amenity Kit: Emirates Branded with Bvlgari Lotions

The amenity kit, pyjama, slipper order came around. The Emirates Amenity Kits are study, classy looking and are large enough to be kept as a souvenir after the flight. The kits featured Gillette and Blvgari Lotions. I find that the Blvgari Lotions are common in the middle east. While they are fancy, I don’t find them to be that exotic and sometimes the Blvgari lotions have an oily feel to them in my humble opinion.

Emirates Branded Amenity Kits & Emirates Branded Pyjamas
Contents of the Emirates First Class Kit, Including Blvgari Branded Toiletries

There was not too much passenger appetite for the shower spa appointments and it was easy to get an appointment one hour from landing at LAX Los Angeles.

There was an introduction by the crew, and both pilots and first officers. During the flight announcements, there were some techno facts provided, in that they had 550 tons of weight loaded, in addition to 220 tons of fuel for the flight. The track was to take us over the north pole, less 80 miles from the polar north.

Our Planned Flight Track via the North Pole
A Fifteen Hour and Fifteen Minute Journey

The Entertainment System: Emirates ICE

It was a slow departure from Dubai International Airport today, with us still on the ground at DXB waiting for runway clearance at T+50 minutes from the scheduled departure time. There are heaps of movies available on the flight, with a phone book like directory that features them all.

A Phone Book Directory of Movies
Controlled by a Tablet

The aircraft was equipped with wifi. I was able to use the free wifi to do some light internet. It was a bit slow overall, but good enough for an Instagram post of the Emirates First Class Experience.

Discounted Wifi on board Emirates

We were underway and I watched the climb out with a view of Sharjah on the right hand side of the aircraft. Thanks to some poor visibility, there was not a lot of sights to see.

I watched Argo for the first two hours with a Mojito.

Getting Underway with a Mojito Cocktail
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The Meal: A Full Breakfast

Today’s menu presentation had breakfast on offer first, following by a lunch service later on in the flight. The menus on Emirates are surely impressive and they are always a delight to look through.

Emirates First Class Breakfast DXB-LAX
A Sole Champagne: Dom Perignon
Emirates First Class Wine List: White Wines
Emirates First Class Wine List: Red Wines
Emirates First Class Dessert / Port Wines

For the first service, I went with a second round of breakfast. I had the scrambled eggs with chives paired with a grapefruit juice and watched the movie Sicario.

A First Class Table Setting
Scrambled Eggs with Chives, Sausages and Roasted Potatoes and Baked Beans

As we were seated in seats 1 K and 2 K, there isn’t a lot of interaction between partners. The load in First Class was 12/12 today, so there was no opportunity to get into the middle seats to share dinner.

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The On Board A380 Emirates Bar:

In a genius move, Emirates installed stand up bars in the back of all their A380 aircraft. The bar are accessible to business and first class passengers. It is probably one of their best features that they have going for them in their premium cabins.

We ended up wandering back to the bar and chatting up some of the people back there. Since the airplane was completely dark, there were about 8 people passing the time back there.

The Emirates Moving Map & Canapes at the Emirates Bar
MrsWT73 helping herself to a snack at the Emirates Bar

We took up a position at the bar just chatting with random people; we met a manager from Visa, a tech entrepreneur and a IT consultant. After 3 rounds and 3 different proactive bartenders (they seem to work a 1 hour rotating shift), we managed to consume a full 3 hours of flight time. I had a great time chatting up these people and just killing the time away with no time limitations on our conversations. It was a super pleasant way to get out of your seat and chat, talking about all sorts of things from life in Dubai, great diving destinations, and hidden city ticketing.

Nearing the North Pole
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The Second Service: A Full Course Dinner

After the bar, we were almost flying over the North Pole. I was pretty hungry at that point we decided to order some dinner.

Emirates First Class Main Course DXB-LAX

There was also a snack menu offered as well, in the event you didn’t want the full service.

Emirates First Class Snacks DXB-LAX

MrsWT73 started her dinner with the Arabic Messe presentation, captured through the drone aerial photography that is my long muppet arms.

I started with the Caviar presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis. I paired this with the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc.

Caviar with the Traditional Garnishes
A First Class Caviar Setting with Traditional Garnishes

My second course was a fresh mushroom soup served with full fresh chives. It was quite tasty and pleasant.

Mushroom Soup and Chives

My main course was the Beef tenderloin with green beans and truffled potato coquetes. It was a good news / bad news situation. The bad news was that it was pretty much cooked through and not the best meal I’ve ever had on a plane. The good news was that it was paired with the Cos Estournel 2004 Bordeaux Red Wine which was among the best wines that I have had on a plane. Thanks to the high tax in British Columbia, which is amongst the highest in North America, this wine is retailing for about $190 USD. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity to enjoy a second glass.

Beef Tenderloin with Potato Croquettes
Beef Tenderloin

I closed with the cheese board with more Cos Estournel 2004. They were not plating the cheese individually and the cheese was presented all at once without options. I was pleased to report that I was fully “First Class” stuffed with food by this point.

Emirates Selection of Cheeses

Overall, the service was a bit more diluted and less personalized, more assembly line, than our Emirates First Class Mauritius – Dubai flight. This was probably in part due to the 12/12 load, and the fact that the flight was so long and the staff took crew breaks.

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The Emirates First Class Bar:

I took a bit of a walk around and looked at the separate First Class bar. Emirates does offer a smaller First Class bar at the front of the First Class cabin. However, it’s typically a dull place being placed in the middle of a small hallway. You certainly won’t miss this one for the larger, and more pleasant space at the stand up bar at the rear of the cabin.

The Less Exciting and Dark Emirates First Class Bar
…with a View of Stairs down to the Lower Deck
However, it did have beautiful wines available

After a wonder around the plane to nowhere, I decided to turn in for a little nap. I laid down the bedding and duvet. I found it pretty warm temperature wise in the suite with the doors closed. I rested for about 4 hours. I let the flight crew know to come and wake me up for the shower suite about one hour ahead of our landing time in Los Angeles, United States of America.

The Emirates A380 Shower Suite:

Along with a wonderful stand up bar, Emirates has a treat in store for it’s First Class passengers. In the hollows of the plane’s fusilage, they have installed two terrific shower suites. The shower suites are available to it’s first class passengers and are typically booked through reservation at the start of your flight.

I woke up at about 2 hours prior to the end of flight (or 10:30 PM DXB time). I went for my shower suite appointment at the pre-arranged time. I was looking forward to a relaxing shower a la Jennifer Aniston in the Emirates television commercial. Unfortunately, one shower had since become defective due to flooding issues so they were cycling everyone through one of the two remaining showers with only 10 minutes of allotted time instead of the usual 20 minutes provided. It was a pretty rushed experience, but I was still able to get a shave, shower and a hair wash in, prior to the polite but firm knocks on the door reminding me that my time was up.

It’s such a thrill to be able to take a shower on an aircraft at 38,000 feet. You even have a moving map that you can look at as you fly away scrubbing yourself clean.

A Shower Moving Map
A Flat Screen in your Spa

The Emirates Shower Suite is truly one of the most unique and cool aviation First Class experiences in the world today.

The Third Service: A Snack

After the Shower Suite, there was still time to get a snack in as I was feeling a little peckish. I went with the chocolate cake with raspberry coulis paired with a glass of French Sauternes. A cold dessert (they had run out of hot ones) and it was quickly prepared and served.

A Chocolate Cake along with French Sauternes

Arriving to Los Angeles:

It was a super long flight but it sure rips by quick when you’re flying in this comfortable of an environment. Sixteen hours flew by made very easy by great food and better, the on board bar to keep you entertained, a shower spa to keep you clean, and a nice nap to keep you rested. We had a last look at the cabin before we got off at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

The End of a Comfortable First Class Flight

MrsWT73 thoroughly enjoyed her flight ensconced in her cocoon “where they brought her things” including several glasses of Dom Perignon champagne.

We were off and into the arrivals area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and had an easy connection thanks to Global Entry (a life and time saver) and easy connection desks after customs.

Arriving to Tom Bradley International Terminal
Arriving to US Customs and Border Protection Zone

My Thoughts on Emirates First Class:

The Emirates First Class experience was a pretty nice way to go. Although it wasn’t the best First Class of our lives, I can’t think of a better way to get from the Americas to the Middle East, including having to connect on Lufthansa First Class. The service was very good, but not excellent. In some ways, the service was similar to what you’d expect on an overseas business class flight. All in all, it was a great experience and a nice way to experience the sixth longest flight in the world. We hope to be able to do it again someday. I certainly still taste the Cos Estournel Bordeaux wine which was a highlight of the journey.


If you have flown Emirates First Class to the America’s, did you find it an enjoyable experience?

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