- Part 1: How I Got My $40,000 for $3,000
- Part 2: Flight Review: Emirates First Class
- Part 3: Touring Oman
- Part 4: Flight Review: Etihad Business Class
- Part 5: Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Saigon
- Part 6: Touring Vietnam
- Part 7: Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Siem Reap
- Part 8: Touring Cambodia
- Part 9: Touring Singapore
- Part 10: Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Maldives
- Part 11: Touring Abu Dhabi
As soon as I heard there was a commercial airline offering on board showers, that instantly went to the top of my bucket list. How cool would it be to say you showered at an altitude of 30,000 feet while traveling 700 MPH? Then, I heard they served first class passengers free Dom Pérignon champagne which goes for $200 a bottle and Hennessy Paradis which goes for $800 a bottle which, made me determined to check this out. I would never spend that much on alcohol but I’ll surely drink it for free! Also, I had never flown on an Airbus A380 before, which is the largest commercial airplane with two floors running the entire length of the plan. So, as I always do, I looked into seeing how I could fly Emirates First class using flyer miles.
After some research I found that is was possible to book first class awards using miles from either Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, or Emirates Airlines. Since I did not have miles with Japan or Emirates airlines, I looked into using my Alaska Airlines Miles. At the time of booking, I was able to book an itinerary starting in Frankfurt with a 2 week stop over in Dubai and then onto New York all in first class for 100,000 miles plus taxes. Alaskan Airlines award routing rules with Emirates allows long stopovers, which is great since it was like I got two separate first class flights for 50,000 points each.
Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines without notice, upped this same itinerary to 180,000 miles. This increase made the greatest deal in award bookings go to something not really worth the miles. It is still possible to book a long stopover which makes it seems like two separate flights at 90,000 miles each. At that rate, I would rather recommend using your Alaska Airlines Miles on other first class awards such as Cathay Pacific. Although, Cathay Pacific does not have on board showers.
Frankfurt Emirates Lounge
As a first class passenger, I had access to the Emirates Lounge at the Frankfurt Airport. The lounge was huge which I found surprising since Emirates only has 3 daily flights leaving Frankfurt. I’ve been to the Etihad Airlines Lounge in Frankfurt also, which was smaller and had less food than this one. As you can see, it was a bit empty when I was there with more people working there than actual customers.
I was a fan of the palm trees in the lounge. Before I moved to Germany I lived in Hawaii, so anything tropical makes me happy because it is pretty much cloudy in Germany 340 days a year.
When I arrived they were serving breakfast and then 30 minutes later they starting serving lunch. I was already full after I ate breakfast, but then I saw the veal steak decided I could make room for that. I ate so much in the lounge that I had a hard time breathing, but it was worth it.
This plane is HUGE. This ceilings were high so everything felt open and airy. It is hard to feel claustrophobic on a plan this large.
The first class cabin was full of bling with gold trimmings. I prefer earth tones and simplistic zen environments, so I wasn’t exactly a fan of the decor. Regardless, everything else about this plane was amazing. My seat had a large entertainment screen and a smaller iPad like device that was the control center for my pod like area. The seat, door, and minibar were motorized and controlled by this touch screen.
The seat had plenty of room to relax and feel comfortable. Even during the long 14 hour flight from Dubai to JFK, I was perfectly content to hang around and watch tv in the seat for another 14 hours if need be.
Toward the back of first class there was a bar area for first and business class passengers. I never been on a plane that had an area for passengers to hang out, drink, and socialize. Forgetting you are on an airplane is easy to do while spending time in this bar area.
In front of the first class cabin is the small first class bar area where they keep all the good stuff. At any point during the flight you can get up and pour yourself a glass of ridiculously priced alcohol. I would have liked to try them all out but I didn’t want to land completely intoxicated.
After all the eating and drinking, I had no problem passing out after the flight attendants turned my seat into a bed. Etihad First class seemed to have wider beds as I recall, but I was still just as comfortable on this flight.
There was an impressive array of alcohol on board to the point where I had a tough time choosing. Below is just a small sample of the drinks menu. I’m a big fan of white wine and I though it was cool that I live within a few hours of most of the vineyards in the white wine selection. Side note: If you like touring vineyards and wine tasting, I highly recommend visiting the Alsace Region in France. Alsace is incredibly beautiful with castles with the best white wine that only costs 5 to 7 Euros per bottle!
For my pre-departure drink I tried the Dom Pérignon to see what all the fuss was about since I’ve never tried it before. It was good, but not worth the $200 a bottle price tag. Although, later on in the trip I had some regular champagne and thought it was gross. I guess trying Dom Pérignon made me a champagne diva.
The seat came with its own mini bar, while that seems neat at first, it is not refrigerated. So, if you like warm soda, then have at it. Having more space by excluding a minibar would have made more sense.
I tried the Hennessy Paradis which had a beautiful aroma but was very strong. Since I’m a lightweight, one glass was enough for me.
For airplane food, I give the food aboard this flight 5 stars since it was better than half the restaurants I eat at in Germany. The presentation was also impressive considering the space the staff is working with to prepare the food.
These dates were amazing and much better than you can image. If you travel to the UAE try the dates!
Appetizers to start things off.
I tried the caviar next because why not? I’m not familiar with the whole caviar thing since I only eat it when its sprinkled on sushi. I still don’t know what the yellow or other things were that surrounding the caviar.
Tuna Tataki, served with ginger prawn and gazpacho salad
I’ve mostly flown economy class where they hand you a piping hot TV dinner in an aluminum dish where half the food overflows onto the tray table and then the floor. Table cloth, dishes, silverware, and salt/pepper shakers was much appreciated.
Plenty of dishes to choose from.
Grilled Black Cod with herbed potato cake.
Spinach and pine nut ravioli.
Now for the cool part, the “Shower Spa”. After takeoff, flight attendants schedule a 30 minute block for you to utilize the spa toward the end of the flight. The plane has two shower spas located at the front of the plane.
When its time for first class passengers to start using the showers, the crew converts the first class bar into this pretty waterfall with flowers, zen rocks, and fake candles.
The shower room was bigger than the bathroom I had when I lived in Manhattan and even had heated floors!
The bathroom includes all kinds of toiletries including toothbrushes, tooth paste, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, and conditioner.
Passengers have five minutes of shower time, which doesn’t seem like much, but you are able to pause the shower whenever you want while you scrub or whatever. There is a countdown indicator that lets you know when time is up, that way you don’t run out of water when you’re covered in soap. The flowers in the shower were real, which was a nice touch.
When I returned to my seat newly refreshed, the flight attendants left me some fruit with honey dipping sauce.
In conclusion, the Emirates First class product is about as good as it can get flying, short of having your own private plane. The service from the crew, the cabin, food, and beverages are all top notch. Although, if you are looking to book a great first class product, the mileage cost is a bit steep at 150,000 miles one-way to Dubai or 180,000 miles from US to Europe with stopover in Dubai. In comparison, Etihad also has showers on its A380 from JFK to Dubai and you can book it using American Airlines miles for 115,000 miles. On the other hand, if you have an extraordinary amount of Alaska Airlines Miles and really want to try out the Emirates First class product, than I say go for it and enjoy the experience. Dream and travel big, there’s always a way to make it happen! Stay tuned for part three of this trip where I review the Grand Hyatt Muscat.