Emirates Business Class - Boeing 777-300ER DXB - IAH - DXB Review

Flying from Dubai to Houston is one of the longest commercial airline routes currently in service, with a quoted flight time of 16 hours and 30 minutes. In reality the flight time was closer 15 - 16 hours. Either way being able to fly this in the pointy end of the aircraft is a very fortunate experience. Emirates choose to use the Boeing 777-300ER on this particular route, and here's what I thought of the entire experience, flying back and forth on two differently fitted out 777's

Starting any business class journey with Emirates from Dubai is always a little classier for me as it starts with a pickup in a Volvo V70, while hardly the 'limo' they call it, still very comfortable and a hassle free way to start off. After the express checkin at the dedicated, completely separate area for business and first class check-in only I speed through security and immigration thanks to the e-gate system. This is great becuase I've got more time to relax in the lounge and take advantage of all the free stuff! The food at the lounge can be hit and miss, but generally it's edible, there's also a large selection of sandwiches, and fruits etc. And of course limitless drinks. The addition of a Costa coffee branch to grab a quick americano and a pastry is pretty good, and even though it's only Costa... it's free.

Boarding of course is pretty quick as well, you get onboard nice fast, have ample space for your cabin luggage, however the seats are not as nice as ones in the a380 business class, as you can see though they are making them better, above you see the clear difference between the seat and screen on the older 777 vs. that of the new one. Not only had the system crashed in my seat and was restarting, the screen is smaller and lower quality, the seat is also a little more cramped and cheap feeling, and the general layout wasn't as nice. Also the new style has a little drinks storage area, similar but not as large as the one on the a380 and few other knicks and nacks like a new swiveling light, a storage area under the screen and generally is a much more responsive system with a great hidef screen that really showcases the quality of the outdoor cameras.

There's also a HDMI port, I guess this is to display your laptop on the screen, however I couldnt test it out as the security boffins in the US have banned anything larger than a smartphone to be taken with you into the cabin when flying in from extremely dangerous cities like Dubai... idiots. I always start my flight with an Apple Spritzer, which is just a mix of apple juice and soda with a bit of mint, a simple drink but it's quite refreshing, and in true Emirates style we don't take off in time, so I had another. Finally once in the air, I start with some merlot to enjoy with my warm mixed nuts. The WiFi on board of course did not work, something to do with the fact the flight goes over the north pole, I'm not exactly sure why that would make a difference as my understanding is the internet connectivity comes from space, and even so why didn't it work for the entire 16+ hours of the flight? Yes yes, we're all spoilt fat fks that want high speed broadband while we're strapped to a chair drinking expensive wine in a metal box going through the air at nearly the speed of sound, fact is they say its available and I want it. I did have it finally explained to me properly on my way back to Dubai, apparently the aircraft is very new, and for some reason Boeing does not fit the wifi onto them at the factory like Airbus does, so Emirates have to retrofit them when they get them, however this doesn't happen immediatly, it's scheduled, and can take up to a year, after all they want this shiny brand new plane in the air ASAP to start getting some ROI, still doesn't explain why it didn't work on the older 777.

Something that really bugs me about flying, especially when you're flying business class is the apparent lack of attention the cabin crew gives to the call bell. A few times I've waited so long that I've fallen asleep only to wake and find it switched off for me, this happens on all airlines and Emirates is no exception, it's called a friggen call bell for a reason... when I press you come calling ffs. The toilets onboard are exactly the same as the ones in economy, maybe depending on which one you use and what type of aircraft there's a slight space difference but generally basically the same, the business class ones are however stuffed with more amenities like Emirates branded towels and dental kits. I will say though that I've never, not once had a problem with the toilet situation on an Emirates flight, always clean and always functioning, something that is vital on a flight as long as this one. Now from the toilet to the kitchen...

Despite what you may think and are told by marketing, the food we have on aircraft whether you're in economy, business or first is just churned outta the same kitchens, by the same cooks, they are just served differently to you in the air so it seems they're superior. That said I was geniunely surprised at how good the breakfast meals were, the eggs whether in omelette form or scrambled with spices were quite reasonable and the lamb and lentil mince that accompanied one particular spicy scrambled eggs was very nice, no surprise really, I've always been an advocate of curry dishes on planes as they are perfect to be reheated later, and infact may increase in flavour. The croissants are also unexpectedly fluffy and soft however the fruit, usually my favourite part of breakfast on board... on the way to Houston, in the older 777 had fungus growing in the blackberry, I was very fortunate to spot it as usually I just pop them straight into my mouth, when I mentioned this nothing more than an apology was given... I suppose that's all I could expect.

The mezze plate that comes out as the entree is also something that's quite reasonable, the hummus, while not the creamiest, is certainly not the worst I've had, the vine leaves, which are probably just out of a tin arent too bad. Overall with the olives, the bread and other spreads, its a pleasant way to begin a meal with a glass of wine. This was better than the tomato soup I tried on the way back, but even that was decent. Chicken Hariyali was the main and despite the raisins and cashews in the pulao was actually pretty tasty, again lending weight to my curry on a plane theory. Finshing off with a vanilla bean cheesecake with chocolate topping and a berry compote, was ok, I ate a few bites to clean the palate mainly. A little later in the flight I decided to try one of the hot light bites, I chose the steak sandwich, it was a filthy as I imagined and because of that I wasn't too disappointed by the soggy bread and chewy steak.

Above you can see the beef short ribs, served off the bone in a bbq sauce with fingerling potatoes and green beans, this was a really disgusting meal and I highly suggest not selecting it if you are unfortunate enough to be on a flight that is serving this, I ate the garlic bread with potatoes and salad, awful meal, but the wine was nice especially with the pretty reasonable fig cheesecake. This time as a light bite I went with the lamb pie with a side of crisps, for some reason this took over an hour to come to me, and it certainly wasn't worth it, very dry pie, the flavour inside was of a decent stew type but just too dry overall.

Long haul flights in business class with Emirates entitles you to a grooming pack, filled with all kinds of goodies like deodorant, tissues, a comb, some shaving cream and some lotions and cologne from Bvlgari, I have amassed quite the collection of these during my multiple flights with Emirates over the years and noticed that they have slightly changed them from the brown bag to a grey bag with a different flavour of Bvlgari stuff inside. Emirates also offer a mattress service for long flights, I never take this option as being able to lay flat on what is a reasonably comfy seat is way more than enough for me, the hassle of having to get up and make the cabin crew put a mattress down, and then for them to come and get it a few hours later to me is stupid. As stupid as those fellow passengers that feel the need to come on board in a tight pair of jeans, leather shoes, pressed shirt and jacket, only to change into snoopy pyjamas 10 minutes after taking off... gimme a fkn break, find some middle ground and keep the one costume on the whole flight.

The inflight entertainment system - ICE, is quite comprehensive, there are literally 100s of things to watch on demand in many languages, whether you want new release hollywood or bollywood or you want to watch nature documentaries or an animated sitcom, it's pretty much all here, there's a heap of flying info available and outdoor cameras you can watch, mind you these are extremely boring apart from takeoff and landing times. The massive in screen displays on the new 777 are crystal clear and super responsive to touch and also controllable from either the tablet or handheld controller in the seat. Take a look of the onboard promo video you are forced to watch in both Arabic and then English every single time you fly, can be a bit annoying after watching it 100 times, and I'm not exactly sure which aircraft they shot the video on, I've never seen a dance floor like that on any Emirates plane but I took this video from the seat of my time on the upper deck of an a380, review of that coming soon.

Overall, I've got mixed feelings about the business class service from Emirates. Considering the staggering cost of flying business class with them I reckon the service, comfort and general experience doesn't represent value for money, DUH I hear many of you say, but that's what they are trying to do, give you the customer some level of value, while the service is up there, the inconsistencies between planes, the cabin attendants ranging from ignoring you to overbearing with hellos and welcomes and the fact that in a new plane in 2017 you can still be trapped in the middle of two other seats having to hurdle over other passengers legs to get to the aisle is just stupid.

Posted May 2017

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