Emirates Business vs. Economy Class Dubai - London - Dubai

First things first, this is obviously not a comparison between business and economy class to see which is better, it's pretty clear which is better, instead it's to show you the difference in experience on the same aircraft type on the same route by the same airline. I should also say that there is going to be alot more material on the business class side of things because that's the reality of it, there's much more to write about. With that said let's start off before we get on board...

When you rock up at the airport as a business class passenger you may have been chauffeured there by an Emirates 'limo' depending on where you're flying from, its a great way to arrive as you can't be held accountable for being late or anything as it's their service. You also get to use the dedicated business class check-in counters and the whole experience of going through immigration and security seems much faster, especially at Gatwick as you are given a special 'Premium Gatwick' sticker on your boarding pass allowing you to use the faster, less crowded lanes. You then get to go to the lounge and eat mediocre food to your hearts content and drink as much as you like without any hassle. In Dubai you can also chillout and even nap in the quiet zones, which are great after you've had a feast and just drink away till boarding. As an economy passenger after you get to the airport, you need to stand in line and checkin, of course you should have done your online checkin which does speed things up considerably, however you are slowed right back down with the other procedures. Once you are clear and in the departures area you can pretty much do anything you want except go to the lounges, and everything apart from sitting down at the gate costs money.

When it comes time to board on an A380 at an airport that supports multiple air bridges it's quite a quick affair, business class has its own air bridge going directly to the upper deck of the aircraft so you're completely separated from the mayhem in economy. In economy the boarding is done by zones, generally starting at the back of the aircraft moving forward, that is after everyone that possibly can get onboard beforehand for a variety of reasons has done so, and of course nobody remaining cares what their zone is, they are all standing up there, ignoring the mulitple calls by ground staff to remain seated, blocking the way for legitmate passengers to get on board... the huge hurry to get onboard to start your suffering as soon as possible can only be explained with one motivation, get your multiple hand luggages into the compartments above you before others take it all up with their multiple bags.

Once you're on board and settled in you can check out your surroundings, the business class on the Emirates A380 is definitely one of the roomiest I've seen, there's alot of storage place and a little personal bar with a few refreshments in there, and there's just space, you can put stuff down without it being on your seat, as you can see there's even room to accommodate my big size iPad pro comfortably without it being in the way of anything, you can also stow things in the shelf next to the seat above the drinks, and if you're sitting at the window there's even more stowage between the seat and window. You're also given a pre take-off drink choice of water, apple juice, orange juice or champagne. In economy, while the seats are ever so slightly larger on the A380 than older aircraft it's hardly noticeable amongst the absolute chaos of the boarding experience, ppl standing over you desperately looking in the overhead cabins for room to fit their plus sized cabin bags, other ppl that have just sat down trying to get back up to go to the toilet which is in the opposite direction that everyone else is, then the occasional random that is trying to change clothes so he can be comfortable for the flight, and just when you think everyone is on board and you have the seat next to you empty the last few stragglers get on board all flustered and sweaty and somehow make it to the seat next to you that you had already started populating with your odds and ends. You're then strapped in and forced to watch safety videos in both Arabic and English while the person next to you is trying to ask for water.

Entertainment on board Emirates is pretty excellent, there are literally hundreds of things to watch and in this regard there is no distinction between business class and economy. The difference is of course how you get to experience the content. In business class you have a relatively large screen and if you're lucky enough to be in a new A380 the screen is not only larger but the quality is much higher too, the controls for the screen are done either by the handheld controller or the wireless tablet device. The sensitivity of the touchscreen does vary and it can be quite random at times, so I find it best to use the controller to scroll around, also saves you having to lean forward, in addition to the large screen you get a set of noise cancelling headphones that plug into the 3 socket connecter, one point obviously delivering power. These headphones, while nothing compared to the Bose Quiet Comfort 35, do a reasonable job so much so that I don't even bother using my personal headphones. In economy there's also two types depending on how new your A380 is, the new one is actually quite a reasonable sized screen, taking up almost the whole of the rear headrest of the seat in front of you, the controller is also newer with a small LCD in it exactly the same as the one in business class. The touchscreens are again quite random, theres a real good chance you'll have issue with it so using the controller is definitely the way to go. The headphones you get are of course standard $2 Chinese made things that sound terrible, bringing your own noise cancelling headphones with you is a must, and using a quality pair really helps with drowning out the screaming babies and yelling toddlers, sometimes I just put on my headphones and listen to nothing but the less noise. Don't forget the adapater of course otherwise you'll be listening to whatever you're watching in mono.

Another very important part of your flight is meal time. And while all the food onboard, regardless of class is churned outta the same mass kitchens, there is a difference in what you are offered and how it's served to you. I've had pretty good meals in both classes and I've also had some disgusting ones, of course generally the meals are nicer in business with a wider selection, and very importantly you are usually a little more whacked by the time it comes to meal serving time so you more things taste good. Something I really like about the business class service is there is no trolley that goes up or down the aisle, the cabin attendants set your place, then go and get your meal according to what you have ordered when you are asked about 30 minutes earlier, and due to the spacious surroundings and seat layout you can easily get up out of our seat without knocking anything over or into anyone. First up you are served your entree and only when you're ready does this get cleared and your main is nuked freshly for you, it also doesn't come to you with a foil top its open and sometimes even served on a round plate.

All the while this is going on there are dedicated cabin attendants walking around with wine and champagne and will fill your glass with your chosen drop without you ever needing to ask, then of course the breads come around and I can't help but always go for the garlic bread, yes it soggy and soft, and kinda bland but I love the idea of having it on a plane, after your done the entire table is cleared and you're asked if you'd like dessert now, sometimes I choose to wait a bit and have another glass of wine either way when it does, it's clear your in a different class, the desserts you get in business class far out class the ones dished out in economy. Sadly though I'm not too much of a sweet tooth so I rarely finish them, but what I do eat of them is enjoyed, throughly.

In economy you also get a selection of meals, it's just one tray however and no choice of dessert, and to be fair I've had a couple of meals here that were not too bad, but definitely had more that were too bad. Whenever flying economy I also pack a few snacks so that after photography if I want I can just not eat the meal, you are however trapped, with it stuck to you until the tray is mercifully removed about 30 - 40 minutes after you first get it. Although if you sit in the aisle, the new trays in the A380 are foldable so you can actually sneak out if you're nimble enough, but you are still stuck with the trolleys blocking the aisle and you definitely dont wanna be that person that makes the poor cabin attendant have to roll all the way back just to let you out.

Yet another perk of the business class meal selection is the 'light bites' where you can select from a range of hot and cold dishes to be brought to you at any time during the flight. They vary depending on flight and leg etc. but you usually have a selection of three to choose from on each flight. I've had quite a few different ones and honestly some are pretty lame like the samosa but the curry and rice was quite good.

Generally in the cabin theres much more going on for the business class flyer, the biggest perk is definitely the sky bar, where you can pretty much go and hang out for the entire flight and keep drinking eating little canapes and other snacks, not only can you sit at the bar you can sit on the lounge style seating near the windows. I've been on a few flights where I've spent most of my time up here, it's a great idea and really adds something different to the flying experience. Meanwhile in economy you can visit the toilet thats right next to the cockpit door, although you can't see in unless its before the flight leaves the gate and you can stand at the base of the cordoned off staircase staring up and wondering about the great fun times the people upstairs must be having, you are also free to roam the entire bottom of the aircraft and piss off other passengers as you inevitably crash into an arm or even head that slightly sticking out from their seat, and perhaps most exciting of all you can check out the office that I think the lead cabin attendant users from time to time, its situated under the stairs that lead to the upper deck.

As you can clearly see business class on the Emirates A380 completely wipes the floor with the economy offering, this isn't just a bigger seat and warmer meals, no here you're getting everything from a decent meal before you even board, warm nuts and drinks when you board to a dedicated bar, completely flat beds, any time hot meals, pretty kick arse desserts, massive hi-def touch screen with great headphones, lots of storage space, an amenities kits with Bvlgari toiletries, complete segregagtion from economy for boarding and disembarkation, fast track cards to speed through airport arrivals and free transfers to and from the airport in a Volvo or better.

Posted May 2017

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