Flight Review: Emirates (A380) – Dubai to Tokyo in Business

Despite being on the market for over 10 years, the Airbus A380 of the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier Emirates still today might be the most impressive way to travel the globe. The following flight review will take you onboard our flight from Dubai to Tokyo in Emirates’ famous business class.

Emirates Business Class Airbus A380 – Arrival, Check-in and Boarding

Arrived at the airport, Emirates awaits you with a tidy separate check-in for business passengers, but also to allow Gold / Platinum customers to check in with Eco-Ticket. Quite a lot and friendly staff make you feel welcome and hard to wait. 40 kilograms are allowed as luggage. With status, the amount of luggage increases by 12 kilograms (silver) / 16 kilograms (gold) / 20 kilograms (platinum).

As usual, the business class ticket entitles to a quick track in security and above all to lounge access, with Emirates having its own lounges almost everywhere. If you only know German airlines so far, this is a worthwhile visit and extra time, because the food and beverage offer is far above average for the crane competition. Culinary, the Emirates Lounge in Paris is a highlight, both in terms of food and fine wines.

Boarding is well organized at Emirates: Business and First have their own boarding and you get via a dedicated passenger bridge directly to the upper floor of the A380, which consists only of First and Business Class.

Emirates Business Class Airbus A380 – Cabin & Seat

The cabin makes a fresh, new impression – and that does not change when you catch one of the older A380s. The light design is well thought out and blends well with the curved wood design of the cabin. The Emirates music at the entrance makes additional joy on the flight.

The seat is very well equipped and has two USB plugs, a power outlet, very good noise-canceling headphones, a reading lamp and a large fold-out table. Especially is the small private bar with drinks (uncooled) and the very large TV screen. In addition, there is a tablet, over which various functions can be controlled. Under the footrest there is storage space for shoes. All window seats also have extra storage space under the windows. I have always easily accommodated my documents, camera bag and small tripod.

Emirates Business Class Airbus A380 – Food & Drinks

Overall, Emirates Business Class is clearly in the upper league when it comes to catering, although it is also likely to rank just below airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways. For example, there is no on-demand dining, but “fixed mealtimes”. But a recent morning flight was also made an exception – after I asked very much only to breakfast at the end of the flight, because I rest for a performance that same evening had to.

At the beginning of the service the table is nicely set, with tablecloth, salt / pepper and pretty cutlery. Emirates refrains from appetizers, but there are already many nuts before departure. So the order is appetizer, main course, dessert. My last appetizers were excellent smoked duck breast and once again excellent variations of salmon with beetroot and peas.

Emirates Business Class Airbus A380 – Entertainment

A highlight in all classes is the entertainment program, with the Emirates Business Class featuring a large monitor and Bose noise-canceling headphones.

Here you can experience “ICE”, this time not the delayed train of the DB, but the great entertainment program of Emirates. With over 3500 options, it has a seemingly endless selection of films and TV series from all over the world, nature documentaries, live TV and games. I’ve watched 5-hour films like Cleopatra as well as all Harry Potter and Star Wars movies, through the headphones almost like in mini-home theater. The series are not frustrating two or three episodes, but always whole seasons. I got to know some shows mainly through Emirates, like “The Middle” or “Modern Family”. From Dubai to Dusseldorf, for example, you can easily do twelve 25-minute episodes, and then the rest on the return flight.

But if you like me want to see something completely different out of interest: There is also a sheer endless selection of films from the Arab-Indian-Pakistani area. And then of course there is the airshow and the camera transmission from outside, with an overview of the rear wing over the whole plane. Plus, you have free Wi-Fi in the business for the entire flight, but frankly, it did not work a few times. Boredom is definitely not possible in Emirates Business Class!

Emirates Business Class Airbus A380 – Conclusion

If you choose the Airbus A380, a business class flight with Emirates is guaranteed to be an all-round experience, as the flight itself is only one part. You get a private limousine transfer or a first class train ride, you will expect mostly excellent lounges, a beautiful cabin, a spacious seat and of course the famous bar at 12,000 meters!

The food and beverage selection plays in comparison to the competition absolutely in the upper league and leaves little to be desired. The service is excellent and friendly, but sometimes a bit mechanical. The highlight of the Emirates Business Class in the Airbus A380 with its lasting memory value is the bar with its relaxed atmosphere. Even with the longest flight you can not be bored thanks to the world’s best entertainment system.

Flight Review: SWISS (A340-300) From Shanghai to Zurich in Economy – Horrible!

My first flight ever with the Swiss national carrier was scheduled to depart at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 9:30 am. It was a sunny yet foggy Friday morning in the Chinese mega-city. Prior to boarding, my expectations were up high as the Lufthansa’s daughter SWISS is said to deliver one of Europe’s finest inflight experiences.

SWISS Airlines Economy Class Airbus A340-300 – The Plane

Swiss operated the flight with a 20-year-old Airbus A340, which formerly was integrated into Lufthansa’s long-haul. The airline is planning to remove the old four-engines planes from its fleet during the next years and with newer Airbus models as replacements. 

SWISS Airlines Economy Class Airbus A340-300 – The Seat & Comfort

The seating configuration was in a classic 2-4-2 layout. Unfortunately, it was obvious that the seat has seen its best years passed by already.

I was lucky enough to get a window seat with the seat next to me staying empty – a good night sleep was about to happen. While getting comfortable in my new spot for the upcoming 11 hours flight time, I realized that I was actually sitting in a flying trash bin.

Both the floor, the armrest, and the seat was covered in food remittances from previous guests. It not only seemed to me that the previous cleaning crew had just not done their job, it simply looked like that the plane has not seen a proper cleaning in years – words cannot describe the disgust I was feeling prior taking off.

SWISS Airlines Economy Class Airbus A340-300 – The Catering

From the beginning of this flight, it was challenging to analyze the catering from a neutral point of view. Nevertheless, the food that was served was alright after all. Vegetarian lasagne for lunch after taking off and fried noodles before landing.

SWISS Airlines Economy Class Airbus A340-300 – The Entertainment 

While I was getting used to modern and large screens in new aircrafts such as Airbus’ A350 or Boeing’s Dreamliner, tiny and pixeled screens are not the up-to-date standard in aviation anymore. Unfortunately, the screen did not work during the entire flight. After consulting the cabin crews, a reset was also not possible – no entertainment for me then.

SWISS Airlines Economy Class Airbus A340-300 – The Conclusion

Prior to boarding this flight, my expectations of flying with SWISS were exceptionally high. The flight experience that was offered on the way from Shanghai to Zurich was simply unacceptable. Nevertheless, I look forward to trying out its business class to give them a second chance.

Flight Review: Lufthansa (A350) From Munich to Boston in Business

Today we were travelling north from Gorno Draglishte to Sofia (via Rila Monastery).

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we headed down to our homestay family’s small dining room for breakfast, where we enjoyed scrambled eggs, toast, mekitsi (fried dough), local jam and peppermint tea. We were making our way to the Rila Mountains, where we were visiting the Rila Monastery.

We wandered the site with busloads of other tourists, yet strangely the place did not seem crowded. I’m not sure if it was the sheer size of the place, or whether the masses congregated in one area and didn’t venture far from the main church, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by tourists in the monastery.

We headed over Lions Bridge and made our way to the Sofia Synagogue, then sheltered in the Central Market Hall until the recurrent (but short-lived) mid-afternoon rain passed. Feeling refreshed after an espresso, we walked a short distance to the small but welcoming Banya Bashi Mosque, then descended into the ancient Serdica complex.

We visited the impressive Sveta Nedelya Cathedral, then walked to the calm and diminutive Sveti Georgi Rotunda, which is surrounded on all sides by solid, square and pragmatic communist-built structures. I marvelled at the decision to leave this tiny church in the midst of these gargantuan buildings, but I loved the fact that it remains intact.

We were exhausted after a long day of travel, so we headed back to the hotel and crashed. I had low expectations about Sofia as a city, but after the walking tour I absolutely loved the place. This was an easy city to navigate, and it was a beautiful city – despite its ugly, staunch and stolid communist-built surrounds. Sofia has a very average facade as you enter the city, but once you lose yourself in the old town area, everything changes.