We’ve flown Business Class on international long haul routes before, but never on international short haul so were excited, when given the opportunity to fly to Auckland and back recently with Emirates, to give it a go. How does the Business Class experience differ when you’re only on the plane for a few hours? We found out when flying back to Melbourne after a few days exploring Auckland, and enjoying a special Emirates “Taste Of The Tasman” experience. The flight we were on is one of three Emirates A380 flights that operate daily between Auckland and Dubai. One flies via Melbourne, another via Sydney and the other via Brisbane.
The Emirates Business cabin on the Airbus A380 is set up in a staggered 1-2-1 formation which creates a generous amount of personal space and gives everyone direct aisle access. Colour wise it’s cream, gold and burled walnut veneer, with warm lighting, keeping in line with Emirates’ branding. When it comes to cleanliness, everything is as expected – nice and clean.
What sets the Emirates Business cabin apart from many other airlines Business cabins is the fact that there’s a bar at the back of the cabin – that’s right, a fully stocked bar with snacks, drinks, and a bartender who can make up cocktails to order. This was one of our favourite parts of the cabin, giving us the opportunity to stretch our legs and chat to other passengers and the bartender.
There’s also a first class cabin available on this flight by virtue of the fact that the plane is continuing on to Dubai. We got a tour of the first class cabin, which is very swish and even includes a full bathroom with shower and spa, but unfortunately didn’t get to experience the full first class experience.
The seat is really what flying long haul Business is all about. The ability to fully recline your seat and actually get some sleep means long flights breeze by and you arrive at your destination fully rested. The ability to properly sleep is the number on reason you fly Business, which isn’t so relevant on a short haul flight like this, but much more relevant if you’re continuing on to Dubai. The seat cabin also contains multiple areas where you can store personal items, a footrest at the end and quite a large screen for entertainment. Each seat also has its own in built mini-bar which is great and always restocked by staff if you consume anything from it during the flight.
The provided connectivity is extensive with a dedicated power point in each seat, as well as a USB port, and iPod and AV connectors so you can watch your own videos through the entertainment system. Provided noise cancelling headphones means you can enjoy whatever you’re doing in peace and quiet.
All in all it highlights one of the other major advantage of flying Business – you can be very productive. Plug in your laptop, spread it out with some papers and comfortably type without having your arms cramped at a weird angle, worrying that the person in front of you might suddenly recline their seat and break your laptop. While you might not be taking advantage of the seat for sleeping on a such a short flight, you can definitely get a solid few hours of work in.
In-flight entertainment is delivered via the “ice” system which offers up to 2,500 channels featuring a wide variety of on-demand movies, television shows and audio programs all of which rotate on a monthly basis to ensure that the content remains fresh and current. The range of programs available is on par with other airlines and covers all of the major genres and styles.
One of the aspect of flying Business with Emirates that they like to really emphasis is their wine selection. Out of the USD$140 million spent by Emirates on wine in 2015, USD$4 million was spent on Australian wines and USD$2 million on New Zealand wines. The focus of the Australian wines is on Shiraz and whites, while the New Zealand range spans a wider selection, including some very highly regarded Pinot Noirs. On the average Emirates flight in the world, there are around 70 different Champagnes, wines and ports on board. Bottom line is that if you want a great wine when flying Emirates Business, you’re in luck.
For us it was a Moet & Chandon NV Brut Imperial Champagne when we first sat, followed by a Chablis Premier Cru La Chantrerie Michel Laroche 2015 to pair with our meal, followed by an off-menu cocktail at the bar that the barman had been trying to perfect for the past few weeks. It all went down a treat.
As for the food itself, we had a “seafood duo” appetiser of smoked salmon and poached prawn served with potato salad, followed by a choice of mains – salmon massaman curry, pan-fried beef fillet, and grilled chicken with her butter. We went for the salmon which was served with steamed jasmine rice and vegetables in coconut cream. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the coconut cream sauce was very tasty. The appetiser meanwhile was fresh and light, with the quality of the salmon particularly apparent. For dessert there was a choice from chocolate and blackberry delice, lemon tart, seasonal fruit and a cheese board. We selected the lemon tart which had a nicely balanced sweet and zesty filling, but could have done with a more crumbly, buttery pastry.
A selection of snacks and drinks are available throughout the flight, and there’s always the option of the cabin’s bar as well if you have the need for more food a drink.
On all long haul night flights and flights over 10 hours passengers are provided with a Bvlgari amenity kit, but those flying short haul miss out.
When flying short haul some of the advantages of flying Business Class are diminished but there’s still a lot to like. Emirates A380 Business Class cabin is top notch, and little things like the in seat mini bar and the proper bar at the back of the cabin really stand out. Even if you don’t want to take advantage of any of the extras, the spacious, comfy seat and friendly, professional service make this flight one to consider if you’re going to be flying Business Class, especially as part of a longer connecting journey.