Danielle Gregory flies first class from New Zealand to Australia on EK435.
The plane: The Airbus A380-800 operated by Emirates travels daily from Auckland to Brisbane and on to Dubai. The double-decker aeroplane has 14 First Class suites and 76 staggered Business Class seats on the upper deck and 427 economy seats below.
Class: First Class which consisted of a closed-screen suite with all the amenities one could dream of on a plane — a large TV and remote control tablet, a fully stocked mini bar and snack basket, a writing station, vanity pack and a seat that reclined to a flat-bed with plenty of leg room and storage space.
Price: Thanks to the Qantas and Emirates alliance, I was able to use my Qantas Frequent Flyer points to purchase this ticket at a cost of 54,000 QFF points and around $77 for the taxes. A usual First Class transtasman flight would cost around $1300 one-way.
Flight time: A three-hour flight, departing at 5.10pm.
My seat: I was in 3K which was on the right hand side of the plane. The suites are staggered with one suite on each side of the plane and two in the middle.
Fellow passengers: In first class, the other passengers are not seen or heard. The ones I did glimpse were mainly business travellers and couples.
How full: Eight out of the 14 suites were occupied.
Entertainment: The "ice" entertainment system on Emirates provides a great selection of movies, TV shows and games to keep all passengers (in all classes) entertained throughout the flight. The plane has wi-fi — the first 10MB is free, after that it's US$1 for 500MB.
The service: Couldn't fault it. Before take-off, I was shown to my seat and given a rundown of the suite. Moments later, the menus arrived with a warm towel and not long after that, I was sipping on Bollinger.
Food and drink: The dinner menu included three entrees, four mains and three dessert options. Unfortunately my first choice of main was not available — which I thought strange with only eight passengers in First Class. The champagne, wine and cocktail selection was extensive and I didn't go thirsty. I didn't get to check out the bar because the seatbelt sign was often on due to turbulence.
The toilets: I booked in for the shower experience exclusively available to First Class passengers. After dinner, I was guided to one of two Shower Spa rooms at the front of the plane. The room was around three metres long and one and a half metres wide. I had 30 minutes in the cubicle — the shower can only be used for five minutes before it switches off. There were a large selection of shower amenities to use as well as a hair dryer, should I need to wash my hair. A great feature for long-haul flights though not a key drawcard for a four-hour flight — but worth the experience!
Luggage: A whopping 50kg of luggage in the hold and the usual 7kg carry on. The carry-on luggage stayed with me in my suite — no overhead lockers in First Class.
The airport experience: Check-in was speedy with a dedicated First Class line. Once through security I went straight to the Emirates lounge. The plane departed from Gate 10, a seven-minute walk from the lounge. Boarding for an A380 flight is always interesting with more than 400 people keen to board. There were high winds so the bridge leading straight to the upper deck was closed, meaning all passengers had to board via one bridge.
Would I fly this again? Absolutely. I enjoy flying on the A380 — and who wouldn't like to fly First Class? I didn't experience much of a difference between Business Class and First Class service and I'm happy with a flat-bed with less privacy, so I'd be more inclined to stick with the Business Class cabin for future flights.