Airline review: Business class on Emirates’ upgraded superjumbo

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The flight

Emirates flight EK414; A380 business class; Dubai to Sydney; departs 2.15am; flight time 13 hours, 50 minutes.


Twice daily, aboard A380s, with an additional daily flight aboard a Boeing 777-300ER.

Emirates’ business class seats each feature a mini-bar stocked with water and soft drinks.

The loyalty scheme

Emirates Skywards. Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also earn points on Emirates flights.

Carbon emissions

About four tonnes for business class.

Checking in

I’m en route home from Nairobi, where check-in at the newly refurbished airport is swift and efficient. There’s a dedicated business class gate in Dubai with lift access to the upper-deck air bridge.

The seat

A fortuitous upgrade sees me assigned seat 9A, on the upper deck. Rows are staggered in a 1-2-1 forward-facing configuration with 48 inches (123) centimetres of pitch and 18.5 inches (47 centimetres) wide. My champagne-leather window seat is enclosed from the aisle by a console containing various controllers and a mini-bar stocked with water and soft drinks. The booth-like seclusion is somewhat lacking in the alternative window seats, which are located directly beside the aisle with consoles adjacent to the window (middle seats are alternatively separated by consoles or a movable divider). Seats convert into a fully flat bed; I enjoy my best-ever airborne slumber.


40 kilograms of checked luggage for business class passengers, plus two cabin bags up to 7 kilograms.


Heard of Shanklish? It’s a Levantine blue cheese showcased on a menu flavoured with regional cuisine. The prawn machbous is marinated in a traditional Emirati spice blend, the Shanklish complements the piquancy of the Arabic mezze. The breakfast selection of omelettes, French toast and bircher muesli could do with a dash of that Levantine flair. It’s pleasing to see plant-based options on the menu (vegetarian Chinese-style spicy tofu with jasmine rice, vegan dark chocolate custard cake). The simplified wine list – two whites, two reds – hits the mark, and the Moet et Chandon flows freely. The new onboard lounge is a retro space offering drinks and light eats for passengers who’d like a change of scenery.


We could fly to the moon and back and I’d still not exhaust the wealth of entertainment available on the widescreen TV. Kudos to the airline for airing The Last Tourist, a documentary on the potential harm caused by relentless travel.

This A380 is one of the beneficiaries of the airline’s ongoing $3.11 billion retrofit program.Credit: Supplied


The staff is a veritable global village; collectively they speak 15 languages. My Egyptian attendant, Bibo, is warm and unobtrusively attentive. As the recipient of an upgrade, I readily acknowledge the privilege of travelling in such comfort, especially when you’re not paying for it. While this flight is a triumph of service and comfort, I must declare that my back-row economy flight from Sydney to Dubai was every bit as considerate and professional. Customer care, after all, shouldn’t come with a price tag.

One more thing

This A380 is one of the beneficiaries of the airline’s ongoing $US2 billion ($3.11 billion) retrofit program. Carpets, stairs and panels have been upgraded, and an airy colour palette applied. The plane now contains 56 new premium economy seats along with 338 economy class seats, 76 in business class and 14 first-class suites.

The verdict

Elegant and unpretentious, this was a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Emirates’ business-class product.

Our rating out of five


The writer travelled as a guest of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority.

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