While Emirates economy class was not a life-changing experience that made me want to fly Emirates for the rest of my life (read here), Emirates business class was an excellent redemption of 156,000 Amex points (78,000 per person).
We ended up buying roundtrip tickets on Emirates as fares were extraordinarily reasonable (about $1200). We flew into Mauritius and out of the Seychelles, heading through Dubai each time (so routing was IAD-DXB-MRU/SEZ-DXB-MRU). Emirates upgrades are based on distance flown, which is actually kind of nice. The absolutely lovely thing about Emirates is that while you can’t see upgrade award availability online, you can just call and they will tell you whether there is availability on your given flights. This is particularly helpful as I was transferring Amex points to Emirates–and I definitely didn’t want to transfer those points before I knew there was availability.
For what its worth, there have been some reports of delays in Amex points posting to Emirates accounts after transfer, but mine were nearly instantaneous.
The cheapest tickets–economy saver–can only be upgraded within 48 hours of departure. But for only $130 more per ticket (for the $1200 per person fare in total)–economy plus–we were able to immediately upgrade after the purchase of our itinerary. This was definitely worth the peace of mind. So as soon as we purchased our itinerary in Emirates economy, I nearly simultaneously transferred my Amex points, and quickly used the Emirates website to upgrade. Poof! All done! I have a whole different outlook on 20 hours of flying when I know I’ll be sleeping/lying in business class the entire way home. Somuchlessgrumpy.
The service in business class is impeccable, as expected, and the food was delicious. There is an open bar and lovely lounge area–we were enjoying our seats too much, but there was one man who stood back there–drinking–the entire flight. Impressive, I suppose. I particularly appreciated that Emirates would bring you food whenever you wanted without question. Why you have to have scheduled meal times in business…I do not understand. Apparently this is not always the case in Emirates business actually–but maybe because our flight wasn’t full, they were willing to accommodate. The champagne is Veuve in business class if you are a champagne snob–I’m not, and Veuve is better than what I drink the rest of the year! They do serve Dom in first.
And, now we fully understand why the economy class service was blah. On the Emirates A380 planes (the flight from the Seychelles was on a 777, which was nice but not as new as the A380), the entire top of the plane is business/first class. The entire top of the plane. No, it wasn’t full, but that is a lot of customers with pretty high expectations. Certainly more than on some other carriers. When we boarded, there appeared to be a pretty typical number of flight attendants–about 4 per 32 business class seats I would estimate. However, after take off, some of the flight attendants that helped to board economy class come up to assist in business/first with meals, etc. And they were always busy. So thatttt’s why we couldn’t get water in economy.
Let’s talk about the seats. First, they have a small refreshment station right in your seat with juice, water, and soda. What a novel idea! This means you can grab a Perrier without bothering the flight attendant when you are in the middle of a movie. Second, the screens. They are lovely and very, very large. So whether you are sitting or lying down, it’s easy to see. Third, they are lie-flat. If I had to be obnoxious, I would say that the duvee and the pillow weren’t quite as fluffy and comfy as I would have liked. ANA definitely has Emirates beat on that count. But all seats have aisle access which is crucial on a long flight like the one from Dubai to Washington.
Lastly, they have separate amenity kits for guys and gals, which is nice. My husband has decided he likes to come his hair, and is still using the comb/brush from Emirates to this day. For the over 10 years we’ve been together, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a comb until he got one for “free” on Emirates. Draw your own conclusions. Otherwise, the amenity kit was useful but not particularly memorable on my end.
I’ve already talked about Dubai Connect (read here), but the Dubai Connect experience in business class is another huge benefit of flying business class through Dubai and a wonderful experience. We were waiting for a large trip like this to cash out my Amex points (I told DH that he should thank my shopping habit…) for a long, long trip like back from the Seychelles (about 6-7 hours to Dubai, and 13-14 hours back to Dulles). And it was worth the wait and worth the points! I still think I would probably give the edge to ANA business, which we flew from Tokyo to Chicago (can read more here), but Emirates business was lovely and we’d definitely fly again. We both maintain that the best use of points for flying is upgrading the very long haul flights from Asia/Africa home.