Review of Emirates flight Los Angeles Dubai in Business

Airline Emirates
Flight EK216
Class Business
Seat 14A
Aircraft Airbus A380-800
Flight time 15:20
Take-off 19 May 15, 17:15
Arrival at 19 May 15, 19:35
EK   #10 out of 115 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 553 reviews
jollygiant
By 13388
Published on 10th May 2015
There are a few firsts taking place with this journey: 1. This is my first visit to Dubai (or any Arabic country for that matter), 2. This is my first time flying with Emirates - and in Business Class too! - and 3. This is my first time flying aboard an A380!

Of course, the excitement leading up to my trip was palpable and I didn't get much sleep in the days prior to departure.

I took advantage of Emirates' chauffeur drive service and it didn't disappoint. The driver arrived at my house on-time (in a beautiful Cadillac XTS sedan no less). Within 30 minutes, I arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX and I then proceeded to the Emirates counter. It would have been nice for TBIT to have a drive-up valet area for premium passengers. Having to corral baggage while searching for a credit card to spend $5 for one of those SmarteCartes gets old quick, and it certainly takes away from the premium experience.

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Once I arrived at Emirates' Business Class line to check my bags and receive my boarding pass, I was a little surprised that I had a 15 minute wait before being beckoned over to the counter by a representative - even though no one was ahead of me. I arrived at 1pm and I was shocked that Emirates didn't have the check-in counters staffed with more representatives - especially for an A380 flight that was over 90% full! I eventually concluded that they are used to having passengers arrive during the check-in rush (90 minutes before the flight). Anyway, once I reached the counter, the representative was friendly and expedited the process.

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I only travel with high-end Travelpro luggage. Anything less puts my belongings at high risk for damage….

After I received my boarding pass, I proceeded to TBIT's new TSA security zone - which is massive (this is in the upper level area which originally housed a pre-security food court). Navigating the Premium security lanes was a breeze - although, based on what I noticed, if you are traveling in Economy, be aware that the line queues are VERY deep and VERY wide and can appear imposing (and discouraging) when they are full. My advice to those who are flying Economy is that you arrive at LAX no less than 2-1/2 hours prior to your flight just to avoid any anxiety.

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Look above. There's the new TSA security zone at TBIT.

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Post-security serenity…..

Emirates recently opened a dedicated lounge at TBIT and it is VERY impressive. Even though it's not as expansive as the Star Alliance Lounge at TBIT, Emirates' lounge doesn't need to be that big - especially when there's only a maximum of 76 Business Class seats and 14 First Class seats on their A380s. In fact, the lounge effectively holds more than 150 guests at any given time. The lounge evokes a contemporary club-like atmosphere with warm colors and sumptuous surroundings. the furnishings were of the highest quality and the entire lounge was spotless. Now to be perfectly honest, before entering, I was expecting the lounge to have a traditional, yet ornate feel about it. Thankfully, this was not the case. The restroom and private shower lounges were equally inviting and there was also an Ablution area (in keeping with the Muslim traditions). Regarding the food: Emirates' LAX lounge has one of the most impressive lounge catering services that I have ever experienced at LAX thus far. The variety of available cuisines span the globe - whether it's Thai Noodles, to Chicken Masala Tikka as well as Arabic Mezze, you can feast like royalty before stepping aboard Emirates' A380. And the desserts…… my gosh. Each were plentiful and very decadent. My favorite was the Opera cake which tasted like a very rich Snickers candy bar. Additionally, the fruit juices were fresh (nothing from the carton folks!) and the still bottled water of choice for the lounge (and aboard Emirates flights for that matter) is VOSS - which the staff generously and graciously replenished at my seat without me asking.


This delicious Opera cake….

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A birds-eye view of TBIT from Emirates' lounge. You can see Star Alliance's lounge in the distance.

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A birds-eye view of TBIT from Emirates' lounge - overlooking a departing BA flight.

After enjoying the meal, I decided to get comfortable for my flight by changing into my long haul flight wear (sweatpants, t-shirt, Thor-lo socks and hooded fleece jacket). About 30 minutes prior to boarding I made my way to Gate 156.

Walking through TBIT is a wonderful experience. I recall visiting here about 2 years ago before the new terminal was open to the public - but to see how it has progressed to this bustling & well-managed facility speaks volumes about the L.A.'s dedication to give travelers the right impression & experience as they depart the city. However, I only have one gripe about this terminal……the number of seats allocated at the gates for A380 aircraft appears to be spartan. Maybe this is all a part of Westfield's shopping center experience for the terminal (to keep people spending money) - and if that's the case, I'll just say this: Well played LAX & Westfield!

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Once it was time to board, the process seemed slightly chaotic: Passengers were lined up from the gate doors to well into the terminal concourse area (this flight was over 93% full, so standing room at the gate came at a premium. Fortunately, gate reps were available to corral passengers to their appropriate line (Business/First, Disabled and Economy).

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At Gate 156…..Heaven help us.

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My ride to Dubai.

Once I presented my boarding pass, I headed to the upper level Jetway for Business/First passengers (unfortunately, the escalators weren't working, so I had to schlep up a flight of stairs - some might call this punishment for over-indulging in the lounge :-/ ).

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Once aboard, I made a right turn to the cavernous Business Class section and I then headed to my seat for the next 16 hours - seat 14A. Even though I changed into my long haul flight wear, it would have been nice if the flight attendant assigned to my area would've asked to take my coat (I'm guessing an assumption was made by the flight attendants that I would wear my fleece jacket throughout the flight - but that's an assumption they really shouldn't make). About 45 minutes after I boarded, the doors were closed and we were on our way. I was provided wine & meal menus for the flight, my Bvlgari amenity kit, as well as a Fast Track card to fly through immigration upon my arrival in Dubai.

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Surprisingly, our flight took an unusual taxi path and we used an odd runway choice to depart LAX. Check out the following video to see what I mean:



About 15 minutes after takeoff Emirates' inflight service began. As you will notice in the images below, there was a slight issue with the entree's overall presentation. Nevertheless, even though it took about 3-1/2 hours for the dinner service to be completed, everything was delicious and well worth the wait.

Here's the full Food & Beverage menu in PDF format: http://1drv.ms/1FhD4ls

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Traditional Arabic Mezze

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Potato & Leek Soup

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Shahi Murgh Korma

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Chocolate & Salted Caramel Torte

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…and after all, Godiva

After enjoying dinner, I decided log onto the the flights' Wi-Fi system ($1 for 500MB!)….. In fact, most of the images in this post were uploaded during the flight (FYI: The service speed varies on the number of people using the service during the flight, as well as the satellite positioning & transmission speed).

Since I planned on getting sleep starting at 2/3rd's of the flight, I headed towards the back of the aircraft to experience the bar area which is for the exclusive use of passengers seated in Emirates' premium classes. This is truly the centerpiece of this aircraft and it was QUITE the lively place to be during the the flight. Just a word of caution: Avoid selecting seats in the rows near the lounge - unless you are a very sound sleeper. I noticed boisterous talking and such emanating from the bar area which bled beyond the curtains separating the cabin from the bar (at least 4 rows before you reach the curtain) - understandably so since the drinks served back there are strong. So be sure to avoid rows 23-26 if you plan to get rest.

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The inflight entertainment system, aptly named: ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) is pretty impressive - and not just because it has a vast array of offerings. You have 3 ways to control the system as well as view the airshow and on-board cameras: The main 18 screen (which is a touchscreen), the wireless iPad-like tablet and the PSP-like wired handheld device. I would've liked to have seen (and utilize) a mid-flight snack & beverage ordering feature included with ICE (as per the norm with Virgin America and other airlines), so that flight attendants don't have to make double trips to your seat in order to address your nosh request (thus, keeping the cabin movement noise to a minimum). Additionally, if you find yourself needing to hydrate, you can conveniently enjoy waters, juices and sodas directly from your personal in-seat bar.

Unlike some people, I totally get Emirates' approach to the wood accents in the premium cabins (which a lot of reviewers have panned as gaudy in the past): I've concluded that Emirates' wants passengers to experience surroundings which are common on a private jet. However, I would've liked that the wood paneled doors for the side compartments (which house blankets and personal items) be easier to open: The latches would hook too aggressively and I easily spent up to a minute or so - each time - fussing with the compartment doors to open.

The seating is comfortable - however, if you have broad shoulders like me, the fully-flat recline might be a bit tight on the (due to the closed spaces created by the seating unit). Surprisingly enough, I had to create my on turndown service for this flight as one wasn't offered from this particular flight crew (?!). Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep once I got myself situated and then put on Emirates' noise-canceling headphones and selected the sleep-inducing, natural sounds offering available on Emirates' ICE system.

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If you want sound sleep during the flight, this audio program on ICE will do it for you…..

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I think I did a fairly decent turndown service for myself…. What do you think?

After waking up from my restful slumber, I ordered a snack……which quickly put me back to sleep for another 90 minutes - LOL!

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Smoked Salmon Focaccia

About 2 hours before landing, breakfast was served (yes, breakfast….even though my flight was landing around 7:30pm)

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Scrambled Eggs with Chives

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Somewhere over Iran……approaching Dubai

Once we landed, I proceeded through Dubai's ginormous and glistening airport to arrive at customs. During the flight, I was told that using the airport's new Smart Gates would be the fastest option to clear immigration (supposedly faster than the Emirates' Fast Track immigration service for Premium customers). However, the Smart Gates started to malfunction around the time I got in the queue, so the whole lot of travelers using the Smart Gates had to go through manual processing - with only 2 agents to assist. Truly, this day, the traditional way of clearing immigration everyone else was using was much faster. Once I cleared immigration, I grabbed my bags (which were just making their way down the carousel as I arrived) and then I breezed through customs and then I made a quick right turn to enter Emirates' Chauffeur Drive lounge. Once I arrived here, I was immediately assisted by a representative who provided me with the documentation I needed in order to secure my car. From there, I exited the lounge (and was nearly overwhelmed by the high heat outdoors), presented another Emirates' representative with my information and within moments, I was in the car (and back in an air conditioned environment), and on my way to the 5-Star resort, Fairmont, The Palm for my multiple night stay in Dubai.

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View from my room at the luxurious Fairmont, The Palm resort

To experience my journey throughout Dubai, please review my video here:


Special thanks to Dirk Grothe for his permission for me to use his photo for my cover page - as this is the actual aircraft which I flew and featured in this report (on that note, this aircraft was a very new addition to Emirates' A380 fleet when I flew it: A6-EOG was delivered to Emirates March 2, 2015!). Please view Dirk's Planespotter page here: http://www.planespotters.net/Member/webdelfin/photo.search
See more

Verdict

Emirates

7.9/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew6.0
Entertainment/wifi9.5
Meal/catering8.0

Emirates Lounge

9.6/10
Comfort10.0
Meal/catering10.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Services10.0

Los Angeles - LAX

8.6/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.5

Dubai - DXB

8.5/10
Efficiency4.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

Emirates is impressive and certainly tops ALL U.S. carriers flying internationally. Beyond the slight delay at the check-in counter, the airline is on-point for L.A. departures, and their lounge is certainly the most desirable place to be at TBIT. On-board, the seats were comfortable (no massage feature though) and the in-seat amenities were nice and well thought out. Although, for the price paid, I would have expected that the flight attendants would be friendlier and more personable - a few of them seemed a rather blase' and complacent during the flight (however, the flight attendant who greeted passengers upon boarding - and who ended up having bartending duties during the flight - was great!) .

For my first time on the A380, I was very impressed with how the aircraft performed! The taxi (especially) and takeoff were EXTREMELY quiet, even though I could feel the sheer power coming from the A380's Rolls Royce engines once the Captain throttled-up. Plus, sitting on the top level of this aircraft (which is dedicated to premium class passengers) gave the illusion that there was no one below us and that this aircraft was truly a single-level, premium class flight (very similar to SQ's old EWR / LAX - SIN nonstop flights, which were ALL Business Class.

Looking forward to sharing my return flight experience soon! :-)

Related

21 Comments

  • Comment 138653 by
    SKYTEAMCHC GOLD 8248 Comments

    Thanks you for sharing this ultra long flight with us ! A lot of firsts for you 😄
    The A 380 is an amazing plane and has allowed many airlines to offer a while new lever of service and comfort such as this bar
    Emirates is clearly above any US airlines in terms of quality but as you pointed out some crew members lack the kind of interpersonnal skills that make the difference and are too robotic in their behaviour.

    • Comment 318151 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      Thank you very much! I'm glad that you enjoyed my flight report! Indeed, the airline beats any U.S. air carrier - hands down - but, the ainctions of some of their flight attendants does give the airline a bit of of tarnish. As with anything, there's always room for improvement and I hope Emirates becomes proactive in this area of flight attendant hiring and ongoing training.

  • Comment 138656 by
    hamiltus 30 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this ultra long flight with us ! I don't think I could stomach a 16 hour flight nonstop. It would feel like on a space mission and feel nearly endless. Let alone Qantas' 17h flight from SYD to DFW.

    • Comment 318152 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      LOL! I have flown several Ultra Long-Haul flights in the past, but this is my first heading to the Middle East. I have flown 17+ hours nonstop to Thailand on TG when they had they LAX-BKK flight (I did that a couple of times). The time flies by pretty quick if you are sleeping or watching the IFE system. But I hear what you're saying re: Space Mission ;-)

  • Comment 138683 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    Emirates' lounge doesn't need to be that big - especially when there's only a maximum of 76 Business Class seats and 14 First Class seats on their A380s - don't forget access to the lounge is also granted to status members of both EK and QF's frequent flyer programmes.

  • Comment 138692 by
    pokcay 68 Comments

    Great report!

  • Comment 138740 by
    indianocean GOLD 6907 Comments

    Very nice lounge in LAX indeed.
    Too bad you didn't take more pictures.

    I concur that being seated in the rows near the lounge is highly not recommended.

    The duration of the flight is really appreciated when one travels in such comfort, especially in First Class.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Comment 318288 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      Thank you very much! I'm glad that you enjoyed my FR! :-)

      When it comes to the lounges, I tend to be particularly careful photographing in there. As it it, other passengers tend to view detailed photography in a space like that as an invasion of privacy - so discretion is key. I have witnessed shutterbug travelers photographing ever detail throughout lounges in the past and the looks they get from guests haven't been favorable. Additionally, there have been occasions where rather bold guests approach the person taking the pictures to ask them to stop. That said, I choose not to be one of those annoying individuals (hence the reason there aren't more pictures highlighting the lounge).

  • Comment 138788 by
    socalnow GOLD 980 Comments

    Thanks for this fantastic and detailed report Jollygiant. I really enjoyed your enthusiasm and writing style.I am booked on this flight in November on the way to SIN (in First, hooray!) and this report has me excited already.

    Surprisingly, our flight took an unusual taxi path and we used an odd runway choice to depart LAX
    -A 25L departure is new to me too. Usually only landings on 25L and takeoffs from 25R. I have to imagine this has something to do with A380 ops at LAX and the limitations of the taxi ways, etc.

    I headed towards the back of the aircraft to experience the bar area which is for the exclusive use of passengers seated in Emirates' premium classes.
    -This is a novelty that I am interested to experience. Any recommendations as to what to order?

    Thanks again for the report, happy flying.

    • Comment 318289 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      Thank you very much SoCalNow! I greatly appreciate everything that you stated! :-D

      I wish I could join you on that F/C trip to SIN! I'm assuming you're flying Singapore Airlines? If so, please enjoy it to the hilt! They are a great airline and the food will be quite rich and and abundant (you'll ESPECIALLY love their garlic bread!) . Looking forward to reviewing your FR from that trip later this year / early next year.

      Yeah, the 25L takeoff at LAX was very perplexing as it normally used for landings. I imagine that they don't use that runway often for A380 departures since it is a pretty tight space to taxi near the private jet and cargo areas (given the A380's wingspan).

      Regarding the bar in the back of the aircraft, it is quite a space - but it can get pretty crowded back there at times. I recommend that you enjoy a Mojito and Kir Royale (The Emirates crew has a tendency to make these drinks pretty strong - so pace yourself.... LOL!).

      Likewise, happy flying!

  • Comment 138789 by
    LAXrunner 1 Comments

    A great report, as always. Job well done on the turn down service too... did you place the chocolates on your pillow just to surprise yourself? Everything seems great, but with a few service gaps you wouldn't expect at such a high level. I'm glad you enjoyed a great flight, and thanks for another fine report.

    • Comment 318290 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      Why thank you very much dear LAXrunner! :-)

      LOL! Well, the chocolates magically appeared after I took that picture - and that was quite disturbing actually (....sounds a lot like a Paranormal Activity plot element.....) ;-)

      Yes the service gaps were most unfortunate and unexpected. It might be in the interest of Emirates to only place qualified flight attendants in the premium classes once they have passed Jumeirah Resorts (i.e.: Burj Al Arab) guest services training. At least this way, there's parity with the guest experience in the air and at their Jumeirah resort in Dubai.

  • Comment 138865 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this well narrated report with us!

    The decor of the EK Lounge is definitely not what I was expecting, very refined with the stone accents. No fake wood and gold in sight!

    I find most airports are not well equipped for international departures, gates rarely have appropriate seating areas for the number of passengers (especially when flights are departing at adjacent gates at the same time).

    EK catering again shows it's fairly inconsistent. Overall it looks good, but then you get an exploded main that looks like it is a Y-meal and they also serve yogurt in a prepackaged Oikos container (EY serves it in a bowl). The fruit bowl for breakfast looked very good. These are aspects that they really need to improve to maintain their reputation.

    As you point out, the bar demonstrates that EK cares more about leisure travelers than business travelers since the noise mid-flight can reach several rows into the cabin. They should have found a better way to place it in the cabin for noise reduction. The seats look fairly private, which is always nice for restful sleep and relaxation.

    • Comment 318291 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      Thank you very much for your kind words!

      Interestingly enough, the new EK lounge at LAX is a prototype for what's to come to ALL EK lounges systemwide. Apparently EK took particular care with this lounge since LAX is one of their most profitable ultra long-haul markets (hence the reason why the lounge took forever to complete).

      You're right. Most airports aren't properly equipped for international departures - and I hoped LAX would have taken this into consideration with the new terminal. However, IF their logic is to keep people spending money in the terminal, I get it (seating space wasn't an issue when they designed the place, that's for sure).

      Regarding the food presentation, you're right. When they placed the entree in front of me, I was thinking: Well, the Flight Report audience isn't going to like this one bit. Additionally, I was just telling a friend of mine last night that I have yet to experience breakfast done right on a flight (Air Canada comes pretty close though in International Business Class...). I've heard wonderful things about EY and I'm looking forward to flying them at some point in the future.

      The bar ideal is great, but I think it would've been best to place it closer to the rear stairs - this way the noise is isolated. Right now, the galley is closest to the stairs.

      The seats are private and conversational noise is non-exisent in J class on Emirates.

  • Comment 141829 by
    kayfaisal 2 Comments

    Thank you for this report. Very Interesting!
    Did you arrive in Dubai on 19 or 20? I had an EK flight at 9:50 PM from Dubai on 19.

  • Comment 144402 by
    EK201 7 Comments

    Great report I really enjoyed reading every part of it.

    The new emirates lounge in LAX looks really good and luxurious even better than the one in DXB concourse B.
    The new Emirates Business Class seats are really comfortable and I really like the controller that looks like Ipad.

    I noticed emirates breakfast is really good but the dinner and lunch are average.
    Thank you.

  • Comment 152254 by
    MrMax 144 Comments

    This is interesting..... DEFINITLY Not the first time that I've heard of slow meal service in EK Buisness on the a380. It might be because the J cabin is SOOO big, and you can't go around with a meal cart like in Y in J (at least not on EK). If you want to see what I mean see thesse FRs (not mine, all credit given to BenChDC, the auther of these FRs)

    http://flight-report.com/en/report-9769.html

    http://flight-report.com/en/report-9780.html

    note: EK226 has a very similar schedule to your flight, but is from SFO

    • Comment 389837 by
      jollygiant AUTHOR 51 Comments

      H Mr. Max -
      Apologies for the delay. I'm just seeing your message.
      I was told that it had to do with the crew returning to Dubai from LAX not being the most "refreshed" - hence the delays with meal service. Plus, the flight was 100% full upstairs (both F & J classes were packed), so that also had a lot to do with the issue I noticed.

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