Paul Collins (Fine Travel's Founder and Chairman) was recently invited by Emirates to experience flying on the A380 between Auckland and Dubai and what a longer stopover in Dubai could include enroute to a final destination like the UK and Europe.
I recently experienced a three night visit to Dubai hosted by Emirates and Dubai Tourism. As I sell Emirates Business Class more than I sell any other airline, the purpose of this trip was to gain first hand experience flying Emirates from Auckland and obtaining a deeper understanding of the range of hotels and attractions available. This was my first overseas trip since 2019 and I experienced emotions of excitement plus trepidation. The trepidation was around a 17-hour flight up, 3 sleeps, then 15 hours back.
Economy Class to Dubai
I flew Economy Class from Auckland to Dubai in the A380 and would rate the staff, service, meals and inflight entertainment as 10/10. Even small requests felt like they were no trouble - I forgot my toothbrush, asked if there was an amenity kit, yes and provided promptly. My preferred chicken option had run out but was quickly procured from another crew member.
There is a generous amount of space available in the seating so you feel as if you have room and the cabin is wide which adds to the feeling of space.
Business Class from Dubai to Auckland
I was eagerly anticipating flying Business Class from Dubai to Auckland and the experience was consistent with the positive feedback I've received from my clients. I won’t go into a blow-by-blow commentary of the well known specifics (i.e. the beds are lie flat, Business Class is a separate upstairs cabin in the A380 and the complimentary chauffeur service) and will just touch on some aspects that stood out to me.
One "extra for experts" tip for solo travellers is how your comfort can be enhanced by pre-seating according to whether you are left or right handed. Each Emirates Business Class seat has a service area stocked with water and soft-drinks and is located on the right or left depending on your seat. Reaching across yourself to pick-up / put-down can be avoided. This may not seem like much, but when you're all settled in and comfortable for a 17 hour flight you'll know what I mean.
For couples there are specific two seats together with a retractable privacy shield.
The biggest benefit for accessing the pleasant bar area was an enjoyable change of scenery away from looking at a screen.
Overall the quality of the Emirates service and the fit out of the Business Class cabin makes it clear why they continue to be Fine Travel's top selling Business Class option to the UK and Europe.
Emirates First Class
Historically the step up in price from Business Class to First Class has been significant. However, with premium cabins in high demand post Covid, I am seeing a number of instances where the only Business Class option left on a flight is only marginally cheaper than First Class. Where this is the case we are quoting both options for our clients as the Emirates First Class Suite experience on the A380 is very special.
Dubai as more than a Stopover Destination
We mostly book Dubai as a short stopover to connect with an onward flight to the UK / Europe, so I wanted to get a feel of Dubai as a longer stopover destination, its different hotel locations, the quality of hotels, which attractions to recommend and how to get around.
The quality of the Emirates onboard experience is reflected in the city of Dubai. It is a vibrant cosmopolitan destination, its population are hospitable, courteous, and have much pride in their country. Their history, the amazing progress to today and an even better future. You feel safe and it is very clean and modern.
With hotel ratings I often advise that one countries 4 star hotel would be equivalent to a 5 star hotel in another, and so it is with Dubai. I stayed in a 5 star hotel that was true to its rating and visited 4 star that would be rated 5 star in many other countries.
For a stopover you have the choice of staying downtown, near the beach in Jumeirah, or on the spectacular man-made Palm. Where you stay is not dictated by access to certain attractions as taxis are reliable and inexpensive plus there is the Metro with covers most of the city.
The city has multiple attractions to choose from. Take a trip up Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world, wander through the massive air-conditioned Dubai Mall (35C outside) then have dinner overlooking the famous fountain show. The Museum of The Future fills you with wonder and a Tour of The View at The Palm shows off one of the few man-made structures that is visible from space. Just incredible.
My favourite experience was the Premium Heritage Desert Safari and dinner. We were in British 1950’s open jeeps with conservation focused guides who don’t do dune bashing but rather educate on the flora, fauna, wildlife of desert and the Bedouin who to this day make this special place their home. Camel rides, peregrine hawk demonstration, local entertainment, a stunning sunset and dinner under the stars. Truly memorable.
After visiting Dubai myself I highly recommend it as a longer stopover destination to break up the journey to the UK / Europe. It is a safe, clean and modern environment where you can choose to sightsee, just flop and drop in luxury, or a bit of both. My favourite 5 star property, Royal Atlantis Dubai. Opened in 2023 it is modern, elegant, spacious and in many counties would be classed as 6 star. Book a Palm View suite of course.