Thanks to Emirates, I was able to do a bit of jet-setting, literally, last month. I flew to Dubai and had the chance to experience their business class service which, in case you're wondering, is about 900% nicer than the economy flights I'm usually booked into. When I'm in the US, I sometimes get upgraded to business on Delta, and I've taken a few trips to India in business as well, but the standard of service on these flights doesn't even remotely compare to what I encountered on my way to Dubai.
For starters, they offer dedicated business and first class lounges at many major airports around the world, unlike most other airlines, which bundle their lounge service with a bunch of other airlines in order to cut down on costs. Service within the lounge is equivalent to dining in a member's club – I transited through Frankfurt and wanted to sleep as much as possible on the way so I decided to eat dinner before boarding. The lounge offered a full bar which, sadly, I didn't take advantage of because I don't drink. I found myself missing my Rio Fashion Week buddy and Shaded View contributor, Glenn Belverio, at this moment. The Emirates lounge is like the ultimate foreign fashion week lounge and he would have known how to enjoy its full potential. I satisfied myself with a few trips to the full dinner buffet (since i don't drink, I've evolved a special ability to consume enormous amounts of food). It might not sound very "High Life" but I'm a big fan of buffets, even though oftentimes they're somewhat disgusting in terms of the quality of food offered. Emirates was nothing like this – lamb chops, Moroccan tagine, salads, fresh fruits, elaborate desserts, soups, and on and on. By the time they called our flight for boarding I was all set both for dinner and the following day's breakfast. The lounge also offers complimentary wi-fi service and a relaxation/lounge area.
On-board, the Emirates cabin crew was the most international I've ever encountered. It's not unusual for the flight team to speak over 12 or 13 languages, and staff are hired from around the world, paying much more than lip service to the concept of diversity. The women are often wearing a funny/stylish uniform that makes them resembles a genie in secretarial school. The business class cabin is, compared to my previous business flights on other airlines, much closer to first class. Flat-bed seats, an oversized personal touch-screen entertainment monitor (offering movies, tv, music, games and more) and a retractable privacy screen create a comfortable cocoon, enough to temporarily forget the hassle and headache of flying back and forth. More details later on my experience in Dubai, but I ended up a victim of the ash cloud – by the time I finally escaped I would have been happy to sit in the cargo hold of an airplane, so the fact that I was returning home surrounded by burled wood-grain trim and cosseted with offers of champagne and canapes was pleasantly surreal.
Other impressive extras that Emirates offers business travelers include car service from the arrival airport to your hotel or holiday home, as well as a spa with reasonably-priced treatments in some of its lounges. The on-board amenity kit is more like a satchel, stuffed full of products that you actually might want to use, like Bulgari fragrances and colognes, as opposed to off-brand items that look like they came from a duty-free catalogue from 1982.
Emirates tickets don't come cheap, but you get what you pay for. I'd imagine for harried business travelers paying a slight premium would be worth it considering what you receive in return. And for the rest of us, for whom economy is the more realistic option, take comfort from the fact that Emirates entry-level service is still several notches above other airlines. For my next flight to Dubai, unless I win the lottery, that's what I'll be flying for sure.