We had heard so many wonderful things about Emirates, so we were excited to book our flights to Mauritius with Emirates. Their economy class is supposed to be a step up from many airlines, and certainly a step up from most domestic U.S. airlines.
We routed through Dubai, their hub, with a direct flight from Dulles. The flight from Dulles to Dubai was about 12 hours. In case you don’t want to read the saga below, here’s the cliff notes:
The good: food better than average, more leg room, excellent in-seat entertainment including LIVE TV!?!, cute amenities kit in economy, and wonderful new planes.
The not so good: laughably inefficient boarding (over an hour, at least, to board economy–and you are limited to 7kg carry-on, so this was not a result of too much baggage), meal choices extraordinarily limited, not a fan of not being able to choose seats in advance.
The bad: really difficult to get drinks mid-flight as there was no service outside of meal/snack times unless you got up and went to the galley; we were actually skipped in the service not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions and had to yell for the flight attendant to give us water; flight attendants were indifferent at best and easily irritated at worst.
Starting in Dulles…the incoming flight was probably about 45 minutes late. We weren’t overly concerned, given that we had just over 2 hours in Dubai to catch our flight to Mauritius. What we didn’t take into account was that boarding an A380 in the United States is a bloody nightmare.
On Emirates A380 planes from DXB to IAD, economy class is the entire bottom of the plane; first/business is the entire top. It took well over an hour to board economy class. And Emirates is incredibly strict with their carry-on baggage policy: do NOT try to sneak on a overweight bag–it won’t make it! I guess it just takes forever to board something like 450 people into the A380? Also, people were horrible about standing in the aisles throughout the entire boarding process, there was not any cabin crew trying to herd people efficiently, etc. Blargh.
So we finally got boarded, and then had to head for de-icing. By the time we finished de-icing, we were nearly two hours after our scheduled departure time. Sigh. Well, the flight is 12 hours…maybe we could make some of it up in the air? At least they handed out relatively cute amenity kits with toothpaste, a little mask, socks, etc. That was nice for economy.
The flight itself was uneventful. The food was better than average, though we never ever got the meals we wanted as they were always out of food by the time they got to us. We were seated in row 75, and seemingly were always the very last people served. Literally. They would serve all the rows behind us, stop at our row, and tell us that the person coming from the front would serve us. Whatever. This resulted in us not getting food or drinks for every SINGLE meal service until some desperate arm waving and shouting. And then at least one of them acted like it was our fault.
Emirates does not offer drinks between meal services, and does not provide bottles of water. For a 12 hour flight I find this to be pretty annoying and frustrating. Luckily, DH and I were seated next to a very nice fellow who happily let us out to grab kit kats and water when we wanted, though the flight attendants absolutely did not want to be bothered in the galley. It would be really nice if Emirates crew could occasionally walk through the cabin offering at least water on such a long haul.
There is no doubt that these seats do have more legroom and a better recline than most planes, which does make for a much more comfortable long haul flight/sleep. The pitch is reported to be about 33 inches in economy. Plus, ICE, Emirates entertainment system, offers huge in-seat screens, works well, and has a large selection including live TV, which for playoff NFL games, was pretty neat. Yes, the screen takes up the entire seat!
After flying Emirates home in business class, I do think I have a better understanding of why Emirates economy is what it is–business and first is their focus, economy is just a way to file in the cattle to pay the bills. Fair enough, but I really don’t understand why their economy class gets such wave reviews just for the plane/entertainment. Dehydration on 12 hour flights is realpeople.
Bottom Line: While there is no doubt that the equipment is wonderful and top-of-the-line, other international airlines–particularly ANA and Thai–definitely have better economy service without a doubt. Honestly, I have even had better economy service on United from Dulles to Beijing! Would I fly economy again? Yes, if it was the cheapest fare with good connections. But not because it was Emirates.
And yes, we missed our flight in Dubai. More on that soon…