TRIED & TESTED

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents -

Emi­rates B777-300ER busi­ness class Dubai-Nice; Al Rayyan Ho­tel Doha, Cu­rio Col­lec­tion by Hil­ton; In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal New York Bar­clay; St Regis Dubai

BACK­GROUND Last Novem­ber, Emi­rates be­came the only air­line to op­er­ate an all A380 and B777 fleet, and this es­tab­lished route is served by a three-class Boe­ing wide­body air­craft (it re­ceived 16 new B777300ERs last year).

CHECK-IN As I have come to expect, the Emi­rates limou­sine ar­rived to pick me up a few min­utes be­fore the ap­pointed time. Warmly re­ceived at Emi­rates Ter­mi­nal 3, there was no queue at the busi­ness class check-in, but I de­cided to take full ad­van­tage of my re­cent pro­mo­tion to Plat­inum Sky­wards and checked in at the First Class counter.

THE LOUNGE Emi­rates are renowned for their ex­cel­lent Busi­ness Class Lounge in Dubai but I did en­joy the à la carte break­fast ex­pe­ri­ence in their sump­tu­ous First Class Lounge on level 4, cour­tesy of the afore­men­tioned card (note Sky­wards mem­bers can now up­grade and pay $200 to ac­cess this ul­tra­premium lounge).

BOARD­ING Is spite of a sched­uled 0820 de­par­ture, board­ing for EK077 was an­nounced at 0800 and we had a 15-minute bus ride to a re­mote stand. We pulled back at 0855 and after 10 minute taxi­ing took off – 45 min­utes be­hind sched­ule. No ex­pla­na­tion was given for the de­lay.

THE SEAT This air­craft has a 2-3-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion in busi­ness class and on my out­ward jour­ney I had the win­dow seat and on my re­turn, the aisle seat ad­ja­cent to the win­dow. As I’ve pre­vi­ously noted, although I en­joy the whole A380 ex­pe­ri­ence, I ac­tu­ally pre­fer the com­fort of the more tra­di­tional busi­ness class seats to the con­fines of the A380 pods. Both are good, it’s down to per­sonal pref­er­ence.

Ei­ther way, the award-win­ning ICE en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem usu­ally pro­vides every­thing you can hope for, es­pe­cially with the now-stan­dard ‘bells and whis­tles’ such as wifi, charg­ers, on-board phones and/or the op­tion of roam­ing ser­vices for your own phone on most flights.

That said, on this sec­tor my TV wasn’t work­ing, and I set­tled for some very ex­cel­lent choices of mu­sic, read a lit­tle and slept.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Def­i­nitely a win­dow or aisle – I just can’t get com­fort­able in the mid­dle seat of the cen­tre three. There was ac­tu­ally one cen­tre seat avail­able (with a work­ing TV), but I pre­ferred to stay put. The rear row can be noisy owing to the fact that the front row of Econ­omy is equipped with bassinets. Also, try to avoid the front row, es­pe­cially the aisle seat which is ex­posed to not only lots of trol­ley traf­fic but also fel­low pas­sen­gers to-ing and fro-ing for the loos.

THE FLIGHT Lunch was served at 1330. A more fluid ser­vice than the A380, in more ways than one; I found it was timely in terms of the food ser­vice and the ap­pro­pri­ate wines for the cour­ses, which is gen­er­ally a chal­lenge on the much big­ger, 76seat A380 busi­ness class; although I was less than im­pressed by the pre-drinks ser­vice which was slow and lack­ing in the warmth I’ve come to expect on many Emi­rates flights.

I passed on break­fast, hav­ing en­joyed scram­bled eggs and mush­rooms in the lounge but by this time lunch was wel­come and I opted for the Lentil soup and the spe­cially fea­tured Sayadieh (fish and rice) which was de­scribed in the ‘Words from our Chef’ sec­tion as “pre­pared to a tra­di­tional Le­vant recipe”. I thor­oughly en­joyed it.

Emi­rates fea­tures a sep­a­rate menu of their “care­fully cho­sen bou­tique cheeses” and after a brief respite, that’s what I opted, along with an ex­cel­lent 1986 Gra­ham’s Tawny port. The wine se­lec­tion was a real treat, I tried both the Brewer-Clifton Chardon­nay and the Chateau Das­sault 2008, Saint Emil­lion Grand Cru Classe. As a clas­si­fi­ca­tion, Grand Cru is pretty com­mon­place nowa­days, whereas Grand Cru Classe is much rarer and a class act.

AR­RIVAL We ar­rived in Nice at 1545, a few min­utes ahead of the time pre­dicted by the Cap­tain at take­off, but none­the­less 10 min­utes after our sched­uled ar­rival time. Ar­rival in Nice is gen­er­ally a breeze with just a few min­utes’ walk to passport con­trol and few short steps be­yond for bag­gage re­claim. There were no de­lays with ei­ther and seem­ingly in no time I was be­ing whisked away in the lux­ury of the Emi­rates Mercedes. David Roberts

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