Jane Jeffries flies First Class from NZ to Italy
An A380. My all-time favourite. It's an imposing beast and I always wonder as I get a glimpse of it while boarding how this mighty bird can possibly stay in the sky.
Class: First Class.
Check in: The slick experience started at home. Emirates provided a chauffeur transfer service using Corporate Cabs to get me to the airport.
The lounge: After a seamless check-in with no queues I headed to the lounge. Emirates has an excellent lounge in Auckland's International Airport for First and Business Class passengers, however in most European cities they have one exclusively for First Class travellers.
Boarding: The A380 has an upper and lower level with two bridges. The lower level is for Economy, the upper level for Business and First. It was a pleasure taking a sharp left (I don't do it often) to my luxurious haven and where a glass of Dom Perignon was thrust into my hand.
On time: Of course. Auckland to Dubai is 17 hours direct. We had a four-hour layover in the Emirates First Class fine-dining restaurant, as if I hadn't had enough to eat already. They were serving breakfast, lunch and dinner — perfect for getting into the right time-zone for your final destination. It was a further six hours to Milan. Emirates services 39 European cities from its Dubai hub.
Cost: The cost of a return First Class ticket from Auckland to Milan is about $13,700.
The suite: It's roomy and a little like a compact hotel room, without an en suite. The leather chair is wide and comfortable and when it extends to a full flat-bed it's even better, with a mattress, toasty duvet and pillow.
The console in front of my seat had a large range of calming products by Templespa (as if I would need them) and a touch-screen TV with a tablet device to operate the entertainment system. There were also several lamps, a basket of snack food, an orchid and a mini bar of non-alcoholic beverages. Plus a bag full of goodies including PJs, slippers, an eye mask and a pouch of Bulgari toiletries with everything imaginable.
Fellow passengers: It was hard to get a good read on the other passengers as they were all dressed in comfy clothes, but there was some quality carry-on luggage.
There are 14 suites in First Class and only seven were occupied. I did feel just a little bit special. The configuration has two suites in the middle and single suites along the windows. The wall between the middle suites can be lowered so couples can converse, but when the wall is returned and the electronic doors are closed you are truly in the privacy of your own suite.
Behind First Class on the upper level are 76 Business Class seats, with 399 Economy seats on the lower level.
Entertainment: The comprehensive entertainment system had all the latest movies and TV shows. You also have a selection of international newspapers and magazines.
Drinks: With a high ratio of staff to guests it didn't take long to get a drink after take-off. The drinks menu is extensive, from mojitos to espresso martinis. Alternatively you can go to the bar shared with Business Class passengers. The bar has seating for about eight, but most folk just stand around and chat.
The wine list is also exceptional. For the bubbly drinkers, the 2006 Dom Perignon isn't bad, but for me the Pierro Vintage Reserve Chardonnay 2013 from Margaret River and the Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2004 Saint Estephe, from France, were sensational.
Food: In First Class, you eat what you want, when you want with the cabin staff going out of their way to accommodate any request. I was given the menu soon after boarding with a comprehensive list of appetisers, mains, desserts, breakfast fare, light bites, sandwiches, fruit and more. The food is high class, served on beautiful china on a generous-sized, pull-out table with white linen.
Having only snacked in the lounge, I launched into a full-on dinner enjoying a salmon entree followed by some of the best tandoori chicken I've ever eaten, finishing off with an impressive selection of cheeses and port.
Getting ready for bed: This was a lengthy process with all the goodies I'd been given. So I took myself off to the bathroom (note, not the toilet, it's a real bathroom with a shower) clutching my PJs and all my other bits and pieces. Getting changed was a pleasure as the bathroom was as big as the one at home.
Showering 40,000 feet in the air: With two beautifully appointed spa bathrooms for the seven of us, there was never a wait throughout the flight, but just to make sure we didn't all stampede the shower 10 minutes before landing, we were given the option of selecting a showering time. With more goodies in the bathroom, including Emirates' range of Voya showering products, I enjoyed my allocated 25 minutes and came out squeaky clean with blow-dried hair.
The final word: I would love to fly First Class on Emirates again. I arrived in top-notch condition, ready to party.