Our Emirates First Class extravaganza began with an indulgent six-hour stay in the First Class Lounge in Concourse B, followed by two back-to-back seven-hour flights onboard the spanking-new Emirates 777 New First Class from Dubai to Geneva, and then from Geneva back to Dubai.
Like I mentioned previously, I had decided to dedicate the Dubai–Geneva outbound flight to capturing the Emirates New First Class experience in video form, so you can watch my YouTube video to catch up on that part of the journey…
…before spending the Geneva–Dubai return flight taking photos and writing the full text review.
We therefore begin this installment having landed in Geneva, quickly entering and then immediately exiting EU immigration (one unforeseen side-effect of this trip was that it ended up costing me several pages of valuable passport space!), and then paying a short visit to the contract lounge that Emirates uses in Geneva.
Soon, the clock struck 8:40pm, signalling that the boarding process for our return flight to Dubai was about to begin.
Just like the first flight, Jessy and I would be the only two passengers onboard the six-seater First Class cabin for this flight, so the gate agents processed our documents very quickly once First Class boarding was announced, and we were on our way down to ground level to catch the airport tarmac bus over to our plane.
It turns out, however, that Emirates First Class passengers must share the same airport bus with business class passengers here at Geneva Airport, so we had to wait for about a dozen business class passengers to join us on the bus before we drove off. That was mildly disappointing 😉
A few minutes later, we found ourselves back at the foot of the Emirates 777 where we had just disembarked a few hours earlier.
Up the stairs and to the left, and after a short walk through the forward business class mini-cabin, we found ourselves within the ostentatious surroundings of Emirates 777 New First Class.
Emirates | EK84
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Cabin: First Class
Route: (GVA) to Dubai (DXB)
Date: Saturday, June 1, 2019
Time: Departing 9:40pm and arriving 6:10am the next day
Duration: 6 hours 30 minutes
Emirates has installed only six First Class suites onboard their new 777s, which are arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration across two rows.
Frankly, though, speaking of “configurations” and “rows” in a manner that compares this product to other airlines would be doing it a great injustice: Emirates 777 New First Class is more akin to a palace onboard an airplane, with six lavishly decorated individual rooms to house those fortunate enough to find themselves within its halls.
Since the business class mini-cabin is positioned immediately behind First Class, passengers can make their way between the two aisles via the forward galley, where a beautiful illuminated design of the ghaf tree (the national tree of the UAE) served as a prominent reminder of exactly where you find yourself.
Seats 1A, 2A, 1K, and 2K are the four window seats, each with a doorway opposite the windows facing out into the aisle.
Meanwhile, Seats 1E and 2F are the middle seats, and despite the distinct letter designations, these seats are in fact positioned one in front of the other, with Seat 1E’s doorway opening up to the left-side aisle, and Seat 2F’s doorway opening up to the right-side aisle.
As a consequence of these arrangements, the doorways of Seats 1A and 1E, as well as Seats 2F and 2K, face each other head-on, making them the ideal seat choices for couples travelling together (and also allowing you to swap seats throughout the flight and gain an appreciation of the subtle differences between the middle seats and the window seats, as we’ll talk about later).
Meanwhile, solo travellers would probably enjoy the greatest privacy in either Seat 1K or Seat 2A, whose doorways aren’t facing the doorways of any other suite.
I had taken the middle seat, 2F, on the previous Dubai–Geneva flight, while Jessy took 2K. We had originally planned to swap seats for the return journey, but were both feeling pretty happy with the our respective little homes, so we ended up taking the exact same seats on this flight as well.
We were welcomed by the crew for this flight, who were a different bunch from the previous crew who had flown us here to Geneva.
Normally, the crew members would take the time to introduce you to your suite and walk you through all of the features, but that wouldn’t be necessary this time, since, well, we had already sat onboard these very same seats just a few hours ago.
Instead, after welcoming us onboard, the crew went back to the galley to prepare us our drinks, and I set about to snap photographs of every single nook and cranny within the stunning Emirates 777 First Class suite.
(Incidentally, our flight was taking off at the very same time that the UEFA Champions League final was being played, and the crew members were able to switch on the television stream as soon as we arrived so that we didn’t miss any of the action.)
The crew returned with the welcome beverages and snacks: Arabic coffee (poured straight from the distinctively shaped coffee kettle), a few dates, and champagne – Veuve Cliquot for now, with the Dom Perignon only to be broken out when we were in the air.
Without further ado, then, let’s plop ourselves down into the oversized leather chair and take a look around, shall we?
Let’s begin at the front of the suite, which is dominated by the 32’’ personal television – by far the largest in-flight entertainment monitor I’ve ever come across along my travels. Not only was the television impressive in size, but the picture quality was incredibly clear and crisp as well, making for a highly satisfying viewing experience.
In front of the television is a large surface spanning the entire width of the suite, and the centre of this surface is where you’ll find the embedded vanity mirror – the first of many outrageously over-the-top features that you’d find here on Emirates New First Class.
In addition to the mirror, the vanity also contains premium skincare amenities by Byredo, a Swedish luxury house, as well as an Emirates-branded pen and notebook for your personal use.
The tray table pulls out from underneath this surface space, reaching an impressive distance across the suite to meet you at your seat.
The power, USB, and HDMI ports are also located at the edge of the surface at the front of the suite. I didn’t make use of it on this flight, but you can indeed hook up your own entertainment to the 32’’ monitor using the USB or HDMI ports!
Down by your feet, you’ll fine a large storage unit on the right side of the suite, where you could store your carry-on bag or any other personal item. Jessy and I were travelling extremely light, so I just stored my backpack there for the duration of the flight.
The storage unit is the only thing that gets in the way of the unbelievable amount of legroom you have down here. Seriously, look at all that space!
Let’s glance back up to the front wall. In Seats 1E or 2F, the television is flanked by not one by two minibar cabinets, which contain a few boxes of snacks and a few cans of pop. There’s also a small snack basket positioned on the table surface.
Of course, this is First Class, so in terms of the food and drink, you can always order whatever you want, whenever you want – but it was still nice to have the minibar snacks on hand (and you can bet that Jessy and I were allowed, and even encouraged, to bring all of them with us when we disembarked!)
Then, above the entertainment screen was another cool design in the image of the ghaf tree, itself flanked by two separate literature racks for the in-flight magazines.
Note that if you’re seated in a window seat rather than a middle seat, then you’ll only have one minibar cabinet and one literature rack on the side of the suite by the doorway, since the other side is occupied by the curvature of the aircraft.
And speaking of features that are unique to the middle seats, let’s turn ourselves 90˚ to the left, where we’ll find the LED virtual windows, which reflect the views on the other side of the aircraft. How insanely awesome is that?!
Here in Seat 2F, the virtual windows reflect the view of the cameras on the aircraft’s left side, whereas over in Seat 1E ahead of us, the windows transmit the feed from the aircraft’s right side. I could scarcely believe my eyes at how crystal clear the images were, and how consistently they moved in real-time. It almost felt like some kind of black magic, I’ll tell you!
Located adjacent to these windows was the in-seat tablet, a powerful tool that could serve as both the universal control panel for the suite, as well as a secondary entertainment monitor for you to watch two things at once. We’ll talk more about the tablet later on during the flight.
In front of the tablet was a small surface area for putting your drinks within easy reach, as well as an individual air nozzle taking care of all your ventilation needs.
There’s also another tiny surface can slide outwards into position. You’ll most likely have two or three different beverages going at once here on Emirates First Class, so you’ll need all the surface space that you can get!
Embroidered into the fabric above the virtual windows and along the ceiling was yet another ghaf tree design, this one composed out of many little triangles just like the large lit-up panels at the front of the cabin.
Then, let’s turn another 90˚ to the left to face the seat itself. Up above the seat is a storage cabinet, which is mainly used to store the bedding and pillows when they aren’t in use.
The walls surrounding the First Class seat are finished a decadent layer of suede, interspersed with small accent lights whose colour can be customized to your heart’s content, as we’ll see later.
The seat itself plays host to a handful of features as well. The left-side armrest contains the basic entertainment controller, in case you found the tablet too much of a hassle to use.
Then, the right-side armrest opens up to a tiny storage unit – perhaps large enough for your phone or a pair of glasses – and also has a set of simple seat controls perched at the very end.
It’s worth noting that the seat doesn’t fill up the entire width of the suite; instead, in upright mode, it’s positioned closer to the right side, and when it transforms into a lie-flat bed, it “moves” horizontally towards the left as part of the extension into a full bed.
That’s why you’ll see a few panels on the ground next to your seat, marked with “No Step”, which serve as the guide rails of the seat as it morphs between the various different modes.
Finally, as if the three control panels we’ve encountered thus far were not already overwhelming enough, there’s yet another electronic panel embedded into the right-side wall also within easy reach, which allows you to fine-tune the suite’s lighting and ambient temperature, the seat position, and the Do Not Disturb status.
And with one final 90˚ turn, that brings us to the fourth and final wall of the suite, where the doorway is found. Here, you’ll find a large closet space, where you can hang up your garments and also store things like headphones and magazines.
Then we arrive at the key features that truly make Emirates 777 New First Class what it is: the floor-to-ceiling door that slides all the way shut, giving you a level of privacy that no other commercial First Class product can offer.
It’s a pretty heavy-set door and requires a fair bit of elbow grease to open and shut. It also has downward-facing slits, allowing you to look at what’s going on in the aisle outside, but preventing anyone outside from looking in.
Next to the door, at the front of the suite, was yet another entirely unique feature: the service hatch, which could also be slid open and closed, and would allow the crew to serve you food and drinks while keeping the main door closed.
With both the front door and the service hatch closed, you have complete privacy in the comfort of your First Class suite.
Well, almost complete privacy – for safety reasons, the crew obviously has to be able to check up on you at a moment’s notice, so there are these tiny little peepholes incorporated into the design on the service hatch. Sneaky sneaky!
On any other First Class cabin, looking around on all four sides would surely bring an end to the seat features. Not here on Emirates, though: we must look up and down as well.
If we look above, we’ll see the main lighting source in the suite, which takes the form of a few dozen fluorescent lights whose brightness you could control to your exact liking. That’s one of the best perks of having a fully enclosed First Class suite to yourself: you can keep things as bright or as dark as you like, without a single iota of regard for the fact that other passengers might be sleeping.
Then, if we look down at our feet, we see that there are tiny accent lights poking out of the carpet! Emirates has clearly put a crazy amount of thought into every design element, and I have to say that they’ve gotten things spot-on when it comes to these tiny details.
Whew! After finally studying all of the seat features, I took my champagne, leaned back in my seat, and drank in the stunning First Class surroundings all around me, barely able to believe my eyes that this place would be my home for another seven hours on the way back to Dubai.
In addition to topping up my champagne several times, the crew also came by to distribute the in-flight amenities prior to takeoff. The two crew members taking care of us were magnificent throughout, by the way, their jobs probably having been made significantly easier by the fact that were were the only two First Class passengers for the night.
As with everything else on this flight, the amenity kits were overwhelming to say the least.
First, we had the pyjamas, which were hand-delivered in a custom-made felt bag. The pajamas came in a standard grey colour and were extremely high-quality.
Then, Jessy and I were each given our female and male Bulgari amenity kits, respectively.
In addition to the standard items like a dental kit, face lotion, and hand cream, mine came with items such as a razor, shaving cream, Axe body spray (or Lynx as they call it in the Middle East)…
…while Jessy’s featured a comb, a bottle of perfume and a pocket mirror.
I continued to play around with the seat features as we waited for take-off. You’d imagine that the LED virtual windows could simply be turned off to show a black screen, but nope: there are two different sets of blinds that can be electronically opened and shut, to “block out” the “view” outside!
(And that’s in addition to the curtains on either side. Why would you possibly need both curtains and blinds? The only reason, I imagine, is to make the suite feel more cozy when it’s time to sleep.)
Soon after, we began our taxi to the runway, and the safety video soon began to play, interrupting the Champions League final transmission that Jessy and I both had open on our screens.
I also took this moment to play around with the in-suite lighting. You could flood your suite with light, make it pitch-black, or change the ambient lighting to various different colours.
You could also adjust the in-suite temperature as well, although I found the default setting to be a nice balance.
At this point, we were cleared for takeoff, and the Boeing 777’s engines began revving up. As you can imagine, my eyes were glued to the virtual windows as we took off into the dusk.
I was treated to some captivating high-resolution images of the Swiss countryside after takeoff, as well as the Swiss Alps shortly afterwards, as the last traces of daylight began to slip away outside.
Once we reached cruising altitude, the crew began their in-flight service by passing out some mixed nuts and snacks.
Then, cometh the hour, cometh the Dom Perignon.
In addition to the classic 2008 Dom Perignon, Emirates was also serving a special variety of 2006 Dom Perignon Vintage Rosé onboard their New First Class, so I naturally prioritized my champagne consumption in favour of the latter.
It’s my understanding that Emirates likes to rotate among several different specialty Dom Perignons, since more recently the Dom Rosé 2006 seems to have been swapped out for some 2002 Dom Perignon Plénitudes 2, which is of course very special in its own right.
The crew also passed out the dining menu and wine list.
Now, I usually grab all the copies of the menus when I’m reviewing a flight, but I didn’t do so this time because I was able to download the menus from Emirates’s website beforehand. Little did I know, however, that the wine list wouldn’t be included in that, so I do apologize for not being able to showcase the wine list here.
Perhaps it’s fitting, though, because I had pretty much decided to restrict my alcohol intake to Dom Perignon only across the three Emirates First Class flights I’d be taking, so I barely glanced at the rest of the wine list anyway.
The dining menu (which included a beverage list separate from the wine list as well) read as follows:
At this point, I briefly went over to Suite 2K to sit next to Jessy for a bit. The seat is a tight squeeze for two, but we managed to make it work.
Sipping our champagnes and munching on the snacks while watching the Champions League final from 37,000 feet in the air, we were absolutely loving life at that moment.
Soon, however, we encountered a little bit of turbulence, and the live television feed ended up cutting out.
And then that was followed by the single most terrifying instance of turbulence either of us had ever witnessed.
Our plane must have encountered an air pocket and dropped 1,000 feet in the air or something, or at least that’s what it felt like. Half of my glass of Dom spilled onto my hand, and we heard the captain shout emphatically over the PA, “Cabin crew, sit down! SIT DOWN!”
I immediately hurried back over to Suite 2F and fastened my seat belt as the turbulence continued. Things smoothed out about 30 seconds later, although we continued to encounter minor bumps throughout the flight.
The live TV still didn’t return, though, so with my source of entertainment cut out for the next little while, I decided to browse through everything that Emirates’s famous ICE entertainment system had to offer.
There were several dozen movie titles to choose from, including many new releases.
The television selection was equally impressive, including entire seasons of shows across many different genres.
Then there were a variety of games, including ones that I had never seen adapted for an in-flight entertainment system before, like the ever-addicting 2048.
Beyond the entertainment, though, I was thoroughly impressed with just how cutting-edge the tablet controller was, since it was hooked up electronically to basically all of the suite’s features. You could control the seat position with a single touch…
…as well as fine-tune every single piece of the seat to your exact liking.
Since Emirates is a Gulf carrier, the tablet also provides information on prayer times and directions, giving passengers everything they need to fulfill their religious observances while onboard.
Perhaps the most unbelievable feature on the tablet system was one that I never actually used seriously: the video-chat link with the crew in the galley!
Indeed, I had tried out this feature when shooting my video on the previous flight, but to be honest I felt a little bad calling up the crew using the video screen when I could just push the call button instead.
Emirates has more than its fair share of totally unnecessary yet ridiculously over-the-top features here on its New First Class, but this one takes the cake, in my opinion.
In the end, I decided to simply put on the airshow for now, to keep track of our progress during the flight.
About half an hour and a few Dom Perignon top-ups later, it was time for the meal service to begin. My table was set with a breadbasket, butter, a glass of water to accompany my bubbly, and cutlery.
Emirates offers a wide range of appetizers onboard First Class, but naturally, the only choice I had in mind was the caviar.
I was delighted to see that Emirates serves caviar with basically all the trimmings one could want: sour cream, chopped onion, grated egg whites and yolks, lemon juice, and a handful of delightfully soft blinis.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of caviar and champagne on First Class – any First Class product in general – and as you can imagine, that feeling is particularly gratifying when you’re sipping on $300-a-bottle vintage Dom Perignon Rosé in the comforts of a fully enclosed Emirates New First Class suite with the doors closed all the way.
As always, I worked my way slowly through the caviar dish, savouring the flavour of every bite.
Dinner continued with the main course, for which I had selected the pan-fried beef fillet with vegetables and potatoes on the side. A perfectly-executed steak can be difficult enough to pull off on the ground, so serving it in the air is a unique challenge.
Emirates’s interpretation of the dish was solid but not quite outstanding in my view, with certain parts of the meat turning out just slightly on the tough side, although that was mostly masked by the exquisite jus.
At this point, Jessy decided she was done with her meal after the main course (she doesn’t eat a lot to begin with, and she doesn’t have quite as discerning taste in airplane food as I do, so she was never going to eat two three-course meals back-to-back).
With about four hours of the flight still to go, she went ahead and shut the doors to her suite to get some rest for the night.
Determined to remain awake for as much of the flight as possible, I decided to put on Captain Marvel on the television as I polished off my steak…
…before moving on to the dessert and cheese courses to wrap up the meal.
I also ordered a pot of sencha (Japanese green tea) to wash it all down.
Overall, I thought the food on Emirates First Class was of an impeccably high quality, but I wouldn’t say it blew me away the way that the meals on Japan Airlines First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, or Singapore Suites did.
On those flights, the onboard meals were truly dazzling, and were easily the highlight of the entire flight; however, here on Emirates First Class, it was virtually everything else about the flight that blew me away, with the food registering as a delicious, restaurant-quality meal, but nothing more than that.
Anyway, I took a moment after the meal concluded to visit the restroom and get changed into my pajamas. As with the rest of the 777 First Class cabin, Emirates’s signature ghaf tree served as the dominant design motif.
Besides the premium Bulgari-branded amenities, there’s very little that’s special about the bathrooms on Emirates’s 777s – I’d have to wait for the Airbus A380 for that!
The cabin lighting had already been dimmed by this point, with the “starry night” mood lighting providing the only wisps of light in the walkways of the aisle.
One of the crew members had very kindly asked me if I wanted her to make my bed for me while I retreated to the bathroom, and I agreed to that, even though I didn’t plan on sleeping just yet.
Indeed, the pillow, mattress pad, and blankets had been set up perfectly by the time I returned.
I decided to play around with the different colours of the in-suite lighting. Using the wall-mounted control panel by your seat, you can adjust the lights to turn bright red…
…a rich, deep blue…
…a bright turquoise…
…a particularly striking lime green…
…a muted orange…
…a passionate yellow…
…a plain white…
…and a mysterious purple.
Throughout my flights onboard Emirates New First Class, I was continuously blown away at the sheer attention to detail in designing the suite, and the extent to which every single part of the First Class experience could be customized to your exact preferences. I must’ve spent at least 10 minutes toggling through the various colour settings to decide upon which one I liked best!
After a while, seeing my enthusiasm for the product, the crew member stopped by my suite and asked if there was anything else I needed. I had had more than enough Dom Perignon by this point, but I said that a top-up for my sencha would be nice.
When she came back, she had a Polaroid camera in her hand, and asked if I wanted her to take some pictures of me.
My jaw dropped to the floor. Not only was I in the middle of experiencing the best flight of my life, but the crew were offering to take Polaroid pictures for me to keep. Given the late hour at this point, I almost had to question whether I was dreaming!
I posed for a handful of pictures, and the crew member chose the best one and framed it in a nice little card for me to keep. What an incredible memento to take away from this flight! It’s too bad that Jessy had long fallen asleep by this point – she really missed out!
With about three and a half hours of the flight left to go, I was determined to stay awake and fully savour my surroundings for as long as possible, so I spent an hour or so getting some work done on my laptop.
Emirates offers complimentary wifi to First Class passengers, but only if you associate your Emirates Skwyards rewards number with your booking beforehand.
Knowing this, I had deliberately signed both of us up for Skywards accounts and added them to the booking before our flights, so we were able to enjoy free wifi throughout the journey. (I had no trouble attaching my Emirates Skywards number despite originally redeeming my Alaska miles for these flights.)
Finally, with about two hours of the flight left to go, I succumbed to my circadian rhythms (and probably, to a large extent, the Dom Perignon in my bloodstream as well), dimmed the lights of my suite, and fell asleep under the covers.
Since the Emirates First Class bed is still contained within the width of the individual leather seat, it’s not quite as wide as the bed you’d find on, say, Cathay Pacific First Class, but I still had no trouble falling into a deep slumber for the short two hours of the flight that remained.
Sunrise on the outskirts of Dubai greeted me as I woke up with about half an hour left, realizing with a heavy heart that my Dubai–Geneva–Dubai adventure onboard Emirates 777 New First Class was about to come to an end.
Taking a look around me, though, those feelings were quickly replaced with gratitude that I got to experience the flight of my dreams, and also that it wasn’t quite over yet: there was still the Airbus A380 – with the shower in the sky – still to come.
I decided to put on the outside view from the forward-facing camera, and watched us all the way as we landed in Dubai International Airport.
Then it was time to gather all the snacks and drinks in the minibar, as well as the pajamas, Bulgari amenity kits, Byredo skincare amenities, and the pen and notebook, and place them all in the same bag as the other set of the very same goodies that we had gathered from the previous flight, and then finally bid farewell to the swanky Emirates New First Class cabin that had been our home for most of the past 16 hours.
At least we had our very own dedicated First Class transport bus this time, whisking the two of us – and no one else – over to the UAE immigration checkpoints.
With two-thirds of the journey complete, it was now time to retreat to the Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport and sleep until our 2pm late checkout, after which we’d prepare to embark on the 14-hour journey home to Toronto onboard the Emirates Airbus A380.
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!
Emirates 777 New First Class has often billed as the world’s best First Class product since it was introduced in 2017, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to put my full weight behind that assessment.
The hard product easily outclasses any First Class suite you’d find on any other airline, boasting a gorgeous Mercedes Benz-inspired seat design, a fully-enclosed private suite with endless customizable features, and a handful of extravagant accoutrements like the LED virtual windows and the video-chat room service thrown in for good measure.
The onboard service was also flawless, and both of the crews on these two flights went above and beyond to make sure that we had the time of our lives. The only drawback to the Emirates First Class experience (and this was true on the A380 as well) was the onboard meal, which was high-quality but not quite as memorable as other First Class meals I’ve had; however, if I’m being honest, the fact that you even need to eat anything at all is a mere afterthought when you’re sitting in such a tremendous First Class suite.
Emirates has really outdone themselves with their cutting-edge New First Class, and they deserve all the props in the world. What’s disappointing is that this New First Class product is only available on nine of Emirates’s new 777s, so I’d love to see them begin retrofitting their fleet to make this product available on more of their aircraft.
I had parted ways with a painful sum of Alaska miles to book these flights, so I’m not sure when’s the next time I’ll be able to treat myself to Emirates 777 New First Class, although I certainly do pray that I’ll be lucky enough to experience it again sometime in the future.