Emirates Trans Tasman First Class on the A380 : Auckland to Melbourne EK407
First Class is nothing new on the Melbourne - Auckland route with Emirates having flown it for some time on the Airbus A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER, but in October 2012 the route was upgraded to the superjumbo Airbus A380. With this came the arrival of the First Class suite on trans tasman flights from Melbourne. I had been wanting to sample it for a while and finally after 10 months of operations on the route I had a ticket for EK407 in First Class. I chose the Auckland-Melbourne route instead of the other way round as due to headwinds it is a longer flight time by about 30 mins. That means more time for champagne!
I arrived at the airport in my rental car as there is no chaffeur drive for trans-tasman only itineraries. Upon entering the terminal I made my way to the huge Emirates check-in zone which was still fairly quiet. I imagine it gets rather busy with 2 A380's and 1 B777 leaving within 30 minutes of eachother all bound for Dubai but going via Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane respectively.
|EK435, EK407 and EK413 all checking in at Zone E|
|Head upstairs after check-in for the departure gates|
|My selection - including a glass of Veuve Clicquot|
|The 3 departing flights all within 25 minutes of eachother|
|White Wine Selection|
|Red Wine Selection|
|Extensive selection of spirits|
|EK407 to Melbourne on the left - the Sydney flight on the right|
|Premium boarding lane|
First impression of the cabin.... glitzy!
With the popup minibar, lamp, personal mirror with lighting, large lcd screen showing the seat number along with route and forward camera, fresh flowers and wood panelling it was a lot to take in! In the mirror compartment is a small beauty kit with various creams and lotions you might need inflight. If you don't use it you can take it home, it comes in a lovely little box with Emirates logo.
Within moments of being seated I was offered a glass of champagne. First the glas was placed on the table and shortly afterwards the bottle of Dom Perignon (2003) was presented and poured. I was also offered a tour of the suite and instruction on how to control it including opening and closing the doors (which are locked in open position during takeoff and landing).
My coat was stowed in the personal wardrobe and I was informed that the shower spa suites were available for my use during the flight and I was asked if I would like to book a time for a shower. I decided that 60 minutes before landing would suit me. The purser came and paid me a visit and welcomed me onboard as Qantas platinum frequent flyer. She seemed very interested to know what I thought of Emirates in comparison to Qantas. After a brief chat with her I was left to myself for a while whilst the rest of the passengers boarded.
|Mini bar and lcd touchscreen seat control (not refrigerated though)|
|Dom Perignon please|
|Closer look at minibar|
|Seat controls for easy conversion for takeoff/landing, eating, and sleeping|
|Seat controls by touchscreen including massage functions|
|Moving map display|
|The First Class cabin|
|ICE Entertainment System|
The takeoff was nice and quick and amazingly quiet as anyone who has flown on the A380 knows. We lumbered into the sky and it hardly felt like we were moving at all. It was a smooth night so the seatbelt sign was soon extinguished and service commenced. I decided on a Kir Royale (with Dom Perignon) to start with. This went nicely with my bowl of warmed mixed nuts.
A full dinner service was available on this flight. I was slightly surprised to be told that I could only choose to have the cheese plate OR the dessert and not both. This seems a little odd and I wondered if it was routine for this flight. I was also not offered the soup course after the appetiser so perhaps I was required to order it, or maybe it was to be eaten instead of the appetiser? I'm not too sure but I was full by the end of the meal anyway. Here is the menu:
The 3 prawns were pretty tasty although it's a pretty small plate. For the main I had the beef fillet:
I really enjoyed the beef and the glazed carrots and potato puree were also delicious. It was probably the nicest piece of beef I have ever eaten on an aircraft. During the meal I was drinking the Leeuwin Estate 2008 Art Series chardonnay, one of the most expensive and most sought after Australian chardonnay's on the market. It did not disappoint! It goes for around $100 a bottle in the shops. Frequent topups were on offer throughout my meal.
Dessert soon arrived and to go with it I had a Graham's Tawny Port 1969 of which only a bit over 4000 bottles were ever produced. This goes for over $300 a bottle and was a very tasty port indeed. I felt rather 'first class' while sipping it! I had just finished my glass of port when the flight attendant was beside me with the bottle offering another glass. I politely declined as by this stage the alcohol consumption was affecting me somewhat! Time for a break.
|Godiva chocolates after dinner|
|fully flat bed|
I took a walk down towards business class. There is 76 flat bed seats in total and about 50 occupied tonight which was a decent load. At this point the business class meal service was still only halfway through.
|A380 Business Class|
|The business class seat - looks comfortable albeit slightly narrow|
|Looking forward from the rear of business|
Whilst I visited it was quiet due to the dinner service in business, but apparently it was a happening place for pre dinner drinks before I arrived. I ordered a champagne cocktail and took a seat and had a chat with one of the lovely crew members. She was incredibly enthusiastic and a real credit to Emirates, you could tell she was proud to be working for them. I even got to pose for some photos of me standing behind the bar holding a bottle of Moet!
|The lovely flight attendant serving me in the bar|
|Some of the business class wines|
|Normally a moving map display is showing at the bar- not working today|
|Water Feature at front of first class between the spa suites|
|My amenity kit and bag, plenty of other shampoos etc available too|
|My towel with an orchid on top!|
|In case you want to know where you are whilst in the shower|
Once the shower was over there was a little under 2 hours left and I retreated to my suite and closed the door. I decided to watch The Croods for a while.
|Door Closed - nice and private although the wall does not go to the ceiling|
|The windows can be closed electronically at the touch of a button|
Well, all good things must come to an end and we soon crossed the Australian coast and commenced a descent. Things were a little busy at Melbourne and a 20 minute hold was announced. I didn't mind as I was quite comfortable in the suite.
Eventually we touched down on Melbourne's Runway 16 and made our way to the gate. The crew thanked me for flying with Emirates and I was on my way. I was given an express card to use at immigration but it wasn't needed as the smart gates were empty anyway.
So, what did I think of the experience? Well I have to say it is probably in the top 3 or 4 flights I have ever experienced, which I think is great for what is really a short haul sector. The seat itself is fabulous, although it is significanly smaller than the Singapore Airlines suite. It does have good functionality though and I found it extremely comfortable. It is somewhere I could easily spend 16 hours on a long haul. The entertainment system is incredible, wine list was superb, service was magnificent! However I was surprised that I could not eat both the dessert AND the cheese and also the soup was not offered even though it was on the menu. Perhaps they only want to serve you 3 out of the 5 courses on this flight but I did not see that mentioned on the menu.
The shower and bar area are absolute standouts and no other airline has them, so Emirates has a real advantage there. I would love to fly the EK A380 again just to hang out in the bar and have a shower! Both amazing experiences in the air. It will be interesting to compare the Qantas A380 in First as I will be flying with them later in the year.