TRIED & TESTED
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