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05 March 2024

First class competition

By Maha Obeid




The latest in electronic technology and luxury design have made it to the skies, as airlines compete to offer passengers the most opulent first-class travel rivalling a five-star hotel.

As travellers spend more time travelling for work and leisure, they are demanding all the luxuries of home. In October, Singapore Airlines unveiled its new first-class suites on flights from Singapore to Sydney. The suites on the airline’s Airbus 380 feature standalone full-sized beds that fold down, complete with Givenchy linens. The amenities kit is stocked with Salvatore Ferragamo products.

Emirates’ first-class travel has combined the best in design, comfort and dining. The suites have massage-enabled leather seats which convert to flat beds, compared to the sleeper seats on its Boeing 777s and A330s.

Comfort covers, cosy fabric sleeping suits and slippers, down pillows and cotton-lined blankets all support a good night’s sleep. Other touches of luxury include a dining table, built-in vanity table with mirror and an overnight amenity kit.

Sumptuous seven-course meals are individually served on Royal Doul tonbone china, enhanced by Emirates’ professionally selected beverages and a personal video library. This, in addition to the airline’s mainstream entertainment system ensures that even if sleep is elusive, passengers will never be short of something to do.

Multi-course meals, created by top international chefs can be ordered from an extensive menu at any time with a phone call to crew and served in the comfort of the suite. Stylish sundries include hot toast and cappuccino coffee. Instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner served from a trolley at fixed times, customers are now invited to order at will from a range of appetisers, hors d’oeuvres, entrées, desserts, fresh fruits and different kinds of cheese.

The tempting range might include anchovy-stuffed bell peppers and fresh Parmesan, cream of carrot and coriander soup; lobster and arugula salad on noodles with Thai chilli, scallop ragout and tomato salsa and oven-roasted lamb with thyme.

Dessert choices may include fruit tart, crème brûlée and chocolate mousse triple symphony, as well as speciality teas and cafetière coffee. Cabin hosts also offer snacks and drinks throughout the flight, ranging from sandwiches to old favourites such as steak and kidney pie and popular newcomers such as hot wraps.

Emirates airline has spent millions of dirhams installing first-class suites in all of its A340-500s. Each of the 12 suites was fitted at a cost of about Dh450,000 and is outfitted in leather and walnut wood, with gold accents. The airline has also invested about Dh6.5 billion in reinventing long-haul travel with a series of innovations to tempt every traveller.

The first class services will be put to the test on the airline’s new non-stop flight from Dubai to Houston, United States, which began this month.

The new flight is among the world’s longest, with a flight time from Houston to Dubai taking 15 hours and 10 minutes. The return flight from Dubai on Emirates will be 17 hours and five minutes. The service uses the airline’s new Boeing 777-200LR model, which features two toilets for first class, 18 roomy sleeper seats, separated by wide aisles set in three rows of two, and electronically-controlled leg rest and lumbar support.

With fares to Houston starting at about Dh35,000 after the Christmas period, you would be paying Dh38 per minute to enjoy to the first class benefits on the long-haul Dubai-Houston flight.

Half of the 777 fleet has been fitted with Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system, ICE (information communications entertainment), offering a cache of 600 channels of entertainment. Enhancements on ICE now include 50 new movie releases, 25 movie classics, 25 children’s films and large number of Arabic, Hindi and other world cinema films available.

Choices also include video and audio on-demand, more than 40 interactive games, satellite telephone, SMS and e-mail, live BBC news headlines, an airshow moving map and external cameras.

The 777s also feature a laptop computer recharging facility and four dedicated, multi-lingual first class cabin crew. The range of meals caters to everyone, and includes fresh fruit juices, selected soft drinks, Arabic coffee and dates served prior to departure and a wide range of drinks to choose from throughout your flight. There are all the choices you would find in a café – with freshly made cappuccino, espresso coffee and a selection of herbal teas.
As with any Emirates class, special dietary meals of choice may be ordered when making reservations.