TL;DR – The shower experience IS worth the hype!
We flew the Emirates A380 from Dubai to San Francisco while returning from our South Africa trip in summer of 2015. The entire leg CPT-DXB-SFO-SEA cost me 100K Alaska miles. This review is for the DXB-SFO leg. The CPT-DXB leg is coming later.
Also, I’m all about perspective. If this was my first and only First Class experience, then you should read the review with a grain of salt, but now that I’ve tried 7 different First Class products, I feel that’s enough to give this review some credibility. Here are the ones I’ve tried:
- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class LAX-HKG
- Etihad A380 First Apartments SYD-AUH
- Etihad A340 First class AUH-NRT
- Emirates 777-300ER First Class CPT-DXB
- Emirates A380 First Class DXB-SFO (this review)
- Singapore A380 Suites First Class NRT-LAX
- United First NRT-LAX (so old and terrible that I won’t review – think tape deck for movies)
Booking the Flight
I booked this flight during that whole weird time frame where Alaska couldn’t book into Emirates First class. This was around Jan/Feb 2015 and my flight was going to be in July 2015. Plus, EK’s calendar wasn’t fully populated meaning I could only see F availability through something like April but not yet July. I eventually called Alaska and found a nice gentleman who looked into their “old system” since that was the only way to book the flights. You shouldn’t have problems like that these days, but generally, the sooner you book the better.
Like I mentioned earlier, this one-way cost from Cape Town to Dubai to San Francisco to Seattle cost me only 100K miles per person. Since you can’t mix-and-match partners with Alaska (but can fly on 1 partner + any Alaska metal,) it’s actually better to fly into Los Angeles than San Francisco if you want to get back to Seattle since there are more AS flights from LAX-SEA than SFO-SEA. I think I went the SFO route because there wasn’t availability on the DXB-LAX route.
Where to sit
My wife and I sat in 1 E and F. The cabin was half empty when we took the flight. I don’t think there’s any advantage of being in any particular row; as long as you and your companion secure the middle seats, you’re fine.
Image courtesy of Seatguru.com
The seat was fine. Sleeping was also fine. I don’t remember it being unusually wide like the Cathay Pacific seats, but it wasn’t abnormally small either. Just think of it as a Goldilocks ‘just right’ bowl of porridge.
The champagne they served was Dom. After having tasted Krug on the Cathay Pacific LAX-HKG route, I was glad to try out Dom for the first time. I personally enjoyed the Krug more than the Dom, but that’s just a personal preference.
Funny story here – so midway during the flight, we decided to walk back to the business class lounge area since there seemed to be a party going on back there. They were serving Veuve back there, which I sipped for a bit, and being the newly minted champagne snob that i am, I didn’t drink anymore. That’s when my wife and I met a couple that was flying business class. Anyway, while talking to them, we saw one of our first class FA’s and I don’t remember if I asked or if they offered to bring back a bottle of Dom. Of course we said YES!
When they came back, I had them pour 4 glasses of Dom, to our new friends in business too. The FA (who probably was new) poured it without hesitation. The wife of the couple drank the Dom for the first time, and she goes, “Yup! This is definitely better than the Veuve!” Later on, one of the more senior FA’s whispered to me and said that the Dom should only be for my wife and I and not for the serfs in business. Okay, I made up that last part, but you get the point. I think in total, my wife and I took down 4 bottles worth.
Also, I had a chance to try the Hennessy Paradis. I used to bring back cognac to my uncles in Vietnam since they thought the liquor there was fake, but we always just took it as a shot with our meals. We never sniffed or drank it properly, so I had no idea if the Paradis was truly good or not. I mean, you could have poured me JW Blue instead, and I probably wouldn’t have known any better. I did let the father sip it, and he commented how great it was. Emirates has discontinued carrying this in F, so if it happens to still be on your flight, go give it a taste and let me know what you think.
I don’t remember too much, but it wasn’t bad. I don’t remember there being WiFi on the flight.
As I’m writing this, I actually don’t remember anything I ate. This doesn’t mean it was bad, but it also means it wasn’t memorable.
Service was great. Like I said, them bringing us a bottle of Dom to the serfs in business was definitely a highlight. Also there seemed to be 2 restroom attendants always on standby for the 2 first class restrooms. This is great because they clean the restroom after every use, but it really isn’t necessary. I mean, you could get by with 1 attendant, which is 1 more than every other airline. This also means that your companion can’t just sneak into your bathroom either.
Definitely the highlight of the trip. I was more excited for this than the First Apartments to be honest. And while it’s a gimmick, it’s a glorious gimmick that is very high on the YOLO scale. As of this writing, it’s still the best shower in the sky (sorry Etihad.)
Like I said earlier, the flight is definitely a must for everyone in the miles and points game. You’ll have to generate some serious Alaska miles, but availability seems to be pretty wide open. I’m looking at LAX-DXB for November 2016 (9 months out) and there’s availability for 2 people.