On a cold February day, I boarded an Emirates flight from Oslo to Dubai, to swap snow for sand for a few days. The 6.5-hour flight is served by a Boeing 777-300ER, on a route that has only been in operation for a few months. I was here as a guest of the airline to test the service.
Seated in Business Class, I was in my own comfy cocoon. There are partition walls between the seats, head height, for privacy when seated next to a stranger – or to lower when with a friend or family member (or perhaps a particularly interesting stranger).
Massage seat. Just sayin’
The business class section has 7 seats across in a 2 – 3 – 2 configuration. I was in 6F, an aisle seat in the mid-section of the first row. The seat is 20.5 inches wide; enough room to stow the fluffy pillow and blanket and then some. When I’m sitting in Economy, the pillow and blanket usually end up on the floor, which makes everything a bit messy.
The seat and armrests have plenty of storage room for hand bags, books, phones and other little odds and ends. There’s also USB-ports for charging all the necessary devices (business, remember). There was no wifi, which was fine with me; I was going to be watching Liam Neeson anyway. But for the business traveller this might be a drawback. There was wifi on the return flight.
The seat has a footrest and everything in between, but isn’t quite fully flat, so you sleep (or in my case, laze and watch films all day) at a slight angle. That didn’t bother me one little bit, but it might have if it had been a night flight.
Emirates employs crew from more than 130 countries. On my flight, the captain was Norwegian and my main flight attendant English. Before take-off, she served me a glass of lovely Veuve Cliquot. Hello Mrs Redisch, she said. Oh no, was my first thought. Is she going to do that the entire flight? I know the gesture is meant well, perhaps even complimentary, based on some psychology that says people like to hear their name or something. I find it more annoying than anything else, and when it’s said in every second sentence, it can be downright invasive. Fortunately, that was not the case here. The flight attendant only called me by name the one time. Irritation avoided.
She then explained all the buttons in and around the seat; quite a few to play with, including a cool touch screen control in the armrest and a massage function!
Soon, drinks were served again, along with a bowl of warm nuts. Took me about a minute to scoff it all. Luxurious hot towels were handed out several times during the flight.
There was a toiletry kit, I’m sure. I meant to check for one, but didn’t immediately find it. And as Emirates’ Oslo – Dubai route is a daytime flight, I didn’t really need one, so I simply forgot about it. Sorry, all.
Emirates Business Class menu from Oslo to Dubai
Shortly after take-off, lunch was on. Well, lunch… a 5-course dinner, more like it. The courses were served separately and on a starched, white linen table cloth, as one expects in Business Class. Here goes:
For starters, a choice of
- Roast Cajun Chicken served with an oriental-style salad and mango salsa, or
- Gravad lax with a potato salad flavoured with sweet mustard, horseradish, crème fraiche and lime
Soup and salad
- Cream of asparagus soup with deep-fried parsley, sour cream and roasted sliced almonds
- Seasonal salad: crisp, fresh garden salad leaves and vegetables, with balsamic and olive oil dressing
For mains, a choice of
- Roast chicken served with white pesto sauce, spinach and polenta crepes and sauteed beans wrapped with carrot slices, or
- Pan-fried cod fillet served with grapefruit butter, roasted red and yellow cherry tomatoes and mashed potatoes with rocket, or
- Roast Lamb Rack served with creamy mashed potatoes with chives, steamed carrots, green beans, sauteed spinach, roasted shallots and a rich lamb jus lié
- Selection of freshly baked rolls and breads
Cheese and dessert courses, a choice of
- Apple tart with a hint of cinnamon, served with a toffee sauce, or
- Passion fruit mousse with a mirror glaze on a soft coconut base, served with a raspberry confit, or
- A carefully chosen assortment of the finest boutique cheeses from around the world, served with grapes, crackers and dried fruit, or
- A selection of fruit
- Coffee brewed to order (decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino)
- Fine luxury chocolates
Naturally, there was a well-stocked bar – aperitifs, wines, cocktails, cognacs, whiskys, etc – to go along with everything. I mostly stuck to champers.
I started with the gravlax, skipped the soup, but had the salad. For mains, I had the roast chicken, followed by apple tart, coffee and Godiva chocolates. Everything was utterly delectable, and just right.
Also, everything was handled at my speed, as opposed to having things whisked away too soon, or which is too often the case, left-overs left on the table and in the way long after I’ve finished.
Movie time! I never seem to find time to go to the cinema at home any more, so catching up on recent films is one of my favourite activities on long(ish)-haul flights. Also, I like to follow along on the moving map and see the world as it’s seen from the flight deck.
Emirates’ award-winning in-flight entertainment system, ICE, took care of that. I had a 20-inch digital wide screen on the wall in front of me, which I could operate either by the touch screen or by a wired remote control. ICE has a whopping 2000 channels on offer – 2000! – including live TV, all the usual suspects in series, and best of all, heaps of recent and classic films. I saw Third Person and The November Man.
A great perk is the noise-cancelling headset. Normally, I’m not too bothered by engine noise, but when I took the headset off, I discovered just how incredibly loud plane engines actually are. But after about five minutes, all was back to normal. Such a flexible thing, the mind.
The desert stars
As lights were dimmed (apparently some people wanted to sleep, gah!), stars appeared in the sky above me. No, it wasn’t an out-of-body experience, but special Emirates ceiling lights. The effect was very cool, reminiscent of the desert at night.
Of course all this comes with a price tag – on Emirates as on all other airlines. That said, Emirates’ Business Class prices can be surprisingly affordable. In Norway, at least, Emirates has a reputation for being a luxury airline. Many hop straight to budget airline Norwegian who has flown the Oslo – Dubai route for many years,; they don’t even bother to check prices elsewhere.
This is a mistake. Emirates often has better prices, even before you factor in all the extra costs (bags, check-in, food, etc). As a further example, I flew Oslo – Singapore shortly before Christmas and Emirates had the absolute the best price. (As an aside, I discovered 2 x 7 hours (Oslo – Dubai; Dubai – Singapore) was much more comfortable than 2 + 13 hours, as is often the alternative when flying from Europe to South East Asia.)
Emirates Business class review summary
Business Class on Emirates is just what it says on the box: a service for people needing to arrive fresh for a day’s work – and for those who enjoy extra perks and services when going on holiday.
My fave perks
Well, everything, really:
- the complimentary chauffeur-driven service when you live within 60 km of the departure airport. Seriously, how cool is that! Also, in Oslo, that’s some hefty savings in itself.
- the 40 kg baggage allowance (Economy Class has 30 kg): useful when going to the annual Dubai shopping festival, I imagine.
- the priority check-in, fast track at security, early boarding and access to a quiet lounge on the ground.
- the wide, comfortable seats with lots of room to store pillows, blankets, bags, books and all your odds and ends and you know, keep things tidy.
- the excellent selection of fresh, delicious food served properly on starched, white table clothes, one course at a time.
- the friendly, international crew.
- those starry skies.
- As of February 2015, no wifi in the 777-300ER on the OSL – DXB route. I understand Emirates is rolling out wifi services across the fleet, so this might have been remedied by now.
- Behind the bulkhead, where the TV screens are on the wall, the other passengers’ screens can be a bit distracting.
- Angle-flat rather than fully flat seats.
- A Swede across the aisle from me kept complaining about his champagne being flat (it wasn’t). I had to resist an increasingly strong urge to jump across and slap him, but the crew handled him with every courtesy. Lesson 1: annoying passengers can be found anywhere, and lesson 2: a renewed appreciation for flight attendants and working in a confined space.
Psst… a tip
Have a ticket in Emirates Economy Class? Before departure, check at the airport ticket office whether there are Business Class seats available on your flight. You may be able to score an upgrade at a low price. You’ll miss the chauffeur-driven service, but still…
Finally, here’s an inflight selfie to show I was actually there, you know…
Update: Emirates siding with wildlife
As you might know, we’re passionate about animals here at Sophie’s World, domestic and wild. Emirates recently placed an embargo on transport of elephant, rhino, lion and tiger hunting trophies, the second airline (after South African Airways) to do so. Major kudos!
Disclosure: On this flight, I was invited by Emirates to test the Business Class service on the new route. On the Oslo – Singapore flight 2 months earlier, I was a guest of my own wallet. Whoever pays my way, I retain full freedom to write whatever I want.