Emirates 777 first class is often talked about as a consolation prize if you can’t snag the prized A380 first class. But did you know that the 777 first class is actually better than the A380 first class in a couple of ways?
If you have the incredible fortune to be flying Emirates first class, it’s important to note the differences between the two! And especially in an era of social distancing, it makes more sense than ever to consider booking Emirates’ 777 first class.
Even though this Emirates first class flight is one of the longest in the world, I just didn’t want the experience to end. Read on to learn about my experience flying on Emirates 777 first class during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dubai (DXB) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Wednesday, November 11
Depart: 8:30 AM
Duration: 16 hr 15 min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Miles Used: 160,000 Emirates Skywards miles transferred from Amex Membership Rewards (CAI-DXB-LAX)
Average First Class Ticket Price: ~$8,973
Average Economy Ticket Price: ~$833
Taxes and Fees Paid: ~$299.55
Booking Emirates First Class
I was winding down my trip to Egypt after having spent nearly 3 weeks in the country dubbed the Gift of the Nile.
I booked Emirates first class 4 days before departure, and it ended up working out wonderfully well.
Our originally scheduled flight on British Airways first class from Cairo to London-Heathrow was canceled, so our returning itinerary was invalid.
Emirates first class was available in the Flex Plus fare bucket, bookable from Cairo to Los Angeles via Dubai for 160,000 Emirates Skywards miles. If you just booked a flight between the U.S. West Coast and Dubai in Emirates first class, you would pay 155,000 Emirates Skywards miles.
So by tacking on an additional 5,000 Emirates miles, we were able to book another 3 hours in pure Emirates first class luxury from Cairo to Dubai. Sadly, we weren’t able to visit the Emirates Lounge in Cairo, which is one of the best airport lounges in Africa.
You can also book a free stopover and spend a few days in Dubai, one of our favorite family-friendly destinations you can fly to, but we were actually in a rush to get home, so we didn’t take advantage of the free stopover.
This itinerary is actually one of the few ways to fly first class the whole way between the U.S. and North Africa!
In fact, Emirates is one of the few airlines that consistently offers itineraries entirely in first class, even to exotic places!
In contrast, Emirates’ main rival airline, Etihad Airways, usually offers first class only on its longest routes, so you’ll probably fly at least a portion of your journey in Etihad business class if you are headed to an exotic place like the Maldives… unless you were as lucky as we were and snagged an Etihad first class ticket on a 4-hour flight from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi.
In any case, I booked this ticket by first confirming availability online. Then, I transferred points from Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards to Emirates Skywards.
It’s prudent to earn a variety of points because every credit card has different bonus categories. This is one of the best tips to fly first class using points from your business.
In total, I paid 160,000 Emirates Skywards miles + $299.55 in taxes and fees for this ~$9,000 plane ticket, netting me a value of 5.4 cents per point!
And because I earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets with the American Express® Gold Card and 5 points per dollar at restaurants with the Citi Prestige® Card, I was able to get up to 27% back on my spend toward this flight.
I also earned 2 points per dollar on non-bonused purchases with the Citi® Double Cash Card, and 2 points per dollar (up to $50,000 per year) on non-bonused business purchases with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express.
On our inbound flight to Cairo, I got a value of 10.7 cents per point by flying Lufthansa first class, which was also phenomenal! If I earned 5 points per dollar, that’s equal to a 53.5% return on spend!
This ticket is actually significantly cheaper due to the origin city of Cairo — if you booked each ticket separately, it would cost around $2,000 from Cairo to Dubai and then $10,000 from Dubai to Los Angeles.
One of the biggest myths about luxury travel is that booking first class has to be incredibly expensive. Thanks to travel hacking, we’re able to consistently transform the way we travel and fly first class and stay in $4,000 hotel suites for free!
As mentioned earlier, our departure city was Cairo, and we flew on the short, 3-hour flight to Dubai with little issue. As soon as we disembarked, we were escorted by Emirates staff away from the main transit passenger footpath.
We were whisked away on a buggy to a separate Emirates first class transit line.
Since Dubai International Airport is one of the most sprawled out in the world, the buggy service was hugely appreciated.
The only way it could’ve been even better was if we were driven off the plane, like we were aboard Etihad first class.
After clearing through the transit area, we were escorted to the Emirates business class lounge because the first class lounge was closed.
However, there was a separate first class area in the oversized lounge complete with QR menu ordering and excellent service. At the time, the Emirates first class lounge was closed, which is, not surprisingly, one of the best airport lounges in the Middle East and also one of the best airport lounges in the world.
We were extremely exhausted but kept in mind the importance of staying hydrated, so we ordered an Evian still water and a glass of orange juice.
Interested in learning about what a top-tier lounge experience looks like? Check out our complete guide of the best airport lounges in the U.S.!
One of the unique characteristics of the Emirates lounges is that it’s directly connected to many departure gates. As a result, you wouldn’t need to rendezvous at the same area as the non-premium passengers.
Unfortunately, this ended up being an exercise in futility because of how disorganized the boarding process was. And as a repeat customer of Emirates, I can attest that this is the status quo.
The boarding process is so chaotic — there never seems to be a dedicated first class or business class boarding priority.
On top of that, every passenger is heavily screened prior to boarding. Expect additional delays magnified by every single passenger in front of you.
This was in stark contrast to our experience flying on Japan Airlines first class, where we could literally leave the lounge 5 minutes before boarding started and just walk onto the plane with ease.
And wow. The first step you take onto the plane is just pure ecstasy. Seeing such an ornate and ritzy first class seat is an experience that just never gets old.
It’s just breathtaking.
Emirates first class has gold finishes and polished faux walnut throughout the cabin, a truly enamoring seat.
One of the biggest differences on Emirates 777 first class compared to the A380 first class is that the cabin is much smaller, more intimate, and more private.
Emirates’ A380 first class has 14 first class suites, while the Emirates 777 first class has just 8 suites across 2 rows.
Also, the A380 first class is located on the upper deck, which is actually narrower than the 777. Even more, there are no overhead bins in the 777, which makes the cabin feel more open than on the A380!
As a result, the first class suites on the Emirates 777 are actually larger and more spacious than the A380!
We reserved the first-row middle seats, 1E and 1F. The middle seats are definitively the best choice for couples travel together. If you’re planning travel with a companion, check out our 5 best vacation spots for couples using points.
And if you’re traveling alone, you’ll definitely want to reserve your own window suite, which has 3 windows all to yourself!
You’ll also notice that the walls and doors on the Emirates 777 first class suite are higher than those on the A380, which actually goes a long way in maximizing your privacy.
The first class suites are so ostentatious and obnoxious that it’s fabulous. It just works so well and totally on-brand for Emirates that you just have to shrug your shoulders and say, “That’s Emirates!”
Each of the suites has its own exterior plaque.
There’s a storage closet under the suite plaque, as well.
The first thing you’ll notice is the gigantic in-flight monitor, which measures a whopping 27 inches in size.
You’ll also notice that seat lamp on the right-hand side, the reading light on the left-hand side, and the fresh orchid in the wall-mounted vase on the left side.
On the console just in front of the in-flight monitor is a push-to-open lighted make-up mirror stocked with luxurious Byredo amenities.
Every seat has its own motorized personal minibar, stocked with bottles of Evian water, disinfected glasses individually wrapped, and 4 PepsiCo beverages.
The motorized bar can be opened or closed just by tapping the button once!
You’ll get your own personal tray table, which is massive. It’s 27 inches wide and 19 inches deep, and it folds out from the compartment just located next to the minibar.
Next to your seat is an in-flight tablet, as well as a remote.
The in-flight tablet can control virtually everything at the touch of a button. Whether you’re requesting service from the flight attendant, reclining the bed, dimming the lights, or changing your movies, the in-flight tablet is your control center!
You can also use the controls located just below the tablet nook to request service or un-latch the tablet.
You can also control the center privacy divider with the push of a button. Oh, and the divider is motorized, too.
There is 1 last set of seat controls on the seat armrest that allows you to close the suite doors and recline to pre-set configurations, including meal service, bed mode, and take-off/landing mode.
There is an adjustable reading light, as well as 2 personal air vents!
The first personal air vent is located just next to your adjustable reading light.
The second personal air vent is located just beside your seat under the in-flight tablet nook.
Lastly, there’s a universal power outlet just under the desk
There are also 2 additional dedicated USB outlets (not pictured) nearby the universal power outlet at the front of the side console.
Emirates first class suites are simply unrivaled in design and function. The posh leather composition of the first class suites plus the novelties like a personal make-up vanity and a motorized personal minibar are useful and a beauty to behold. And that’s just beginning!
If you’re impressed by the first class suite, wait until you see how much they shower you in amenities.
First, you’re given a travel hygiene kit, which contains disposable masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes.
You’ll notice a snack basket that’s loaded to the brim with various snacks, wellness tablets, and mints and chocolates. The basket is removed before take-off and replaced after the seatbelt sign is turned off.
Emirates offers his-and-hers amenity kits, and they are stocked to the point where the cases are bursting at the seams.
The gentleman’s amenity kit consists mostly of amenities from Italian luxury brand Bvlgari (pronounced Bulgari):
- Bvlgari body lotion (40 ml)
- Bvlgari aftershave balm (40 ml)
- Bvlgari lip balm (7 ml)
- Lynx deodorant and antiperspirant spray (35 ml)
- Gentlemen’s Tonic shaving cream (50 ml)
- Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert (5 ml)
- Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert refreshing towel
- Colgate Dental kit
- Pocket tissues
- Disposable shaver
Super-soft eyemasks are distributed separately from the amenity kit.
In addition, a refreshing towel and customs forms were distributed.
First class passengers also receive a leather-bound notebook and pen, which can be found in a push-to-open drawer just under the personal snack basket.
The pampering doesn’t end there because Emirates offers a Byredo set in the make-up vanity mirror, complete with signature Swedish amenities:
- Facial toner (10 ml)
- Eye cream (5 ml)
- Pillow mist (10 ml)
- Sleep oil (3 ml)
- 2 allergen-free towelettes
Emirates distributes soft and extremely comfortable first class pajamas.
They are handed to each passenger in a wool pouch.
As you unpack the pajamas, you’ll find this description in the interior stitching.
These exclusive first class pajamas are among the most comfortable out there, and they come with fuzzy slippers.
Emirates exclusively uses Bowers & Wilkins noise cancellation headphones in first class, and these are some of the top headphones you’ll ever find on a first class flight.
Emirates first class comes with the most amenities you’ll ever see on a flight. From the 2 different sets of amenities to the moisturizing pajamas and the audiophilic Bowers & Wilkins noise cancellation headsets, the amenities are almost endless!
Food and Beverage
When Emirates issued its first guidance on how service would change in first class due to the pandemic, the airline maintained its commitment to dine on demand, which is essentially the ability to order what you want to eat, when you want to eat it.
However, almost all of the service changes were reversed by the time I flew — the only aspect that changed was the fact that the dates were individually wrapped instead of presented in the beautiful Bateel box.
We kicked off our Emirates first class experience with a traditional Arabic coffee and date service. The Arabic coffee is freshly brewed from Coffee arabica beans, but often has hints of cardamom and saffron.
The gold-plated container it’s served in is called a dallah, and the coffee is typically served in small handleless cups called finjan,which is a ceramic coffee cup design originally from Palestine.
The Bateel dates were individually wrapped this time around, but still so sweet, chewy, gooey, and spectacular.
The dine on demand program is split up into 2 menus:
- Food and beverage menu (including cocktails, liquor, and spirits)
- Wine menu
Our particular pour this time around was the 2008 vintage of Dom Pérignon from a marathon harvest lasting around 4 weeks from start to finish!
I didn’t have a problem enjoying several glasses of this fabulous pour.
My table was quickly set with a white tablecloth, silverware, fine china, and real utensils.
I started off with the caviar service, which is served with crushed egg whites, crushed egg yolks, crème fraîche, chopped onions, and toasted blinis. It also comes with a lemon wedge to dress your bites of pure savory glory.
I decided to order breakfast, consisting of a classic omelette, chicken sausage, roasted potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms and spinach.
I decided to enjoy a glass of Hennessy Paradis cognac, which was wonderfully sweet and potent. This cognac retails for around $1,000 per bottle.
After savoring this glass of cognac, I requested the antipasto, consisting of wagyu bresaola and roasted chicken with herbs, parmesan cheese, and marinated vegetables.
Then, I ordered the pan-fried beef tenderloin, which was served with a fantastic porcini mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, and sautéed green beans and carrots.
The pan-fried beef tenderloin was cooked to medium-rare perfection.
Then, I requested a second caviar course, which was happily obliged.
I closed out this wonderful meal by having a chocolate brownie with walnuts and cranberries, served with whipped cream. The richness of the brownie was perfectly complemented by the tartness of the cranberry and the fluffiness of the whipped cream.
On this flight, the signature Dilmah tea offering was enhanced with a limited-edition Emirates Signature tea, a delightful blend celebrating a 25-year partnership.
The Emirates Signature tea service came with a pair of Walkers Shortbread cookies.
This tea uses Dombagastalawa Single Estate FBOP tea, which stands for Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe. “Orange pekoe” is the terminology used to describe the highest-quality tea leaves out there.
The tea was sprinkled with safflower and marigold with aromas of rose, almond, and ginger.
The next meal was equally sumptuous.
First, a cappuccino was served, accompanied by a vitality boost drink, which is a blend of apple, ginger, and hibiscus.
Then, I ordered the French toast, which was served with a mixed berry compote.
For the starter, I enjoyed a warm tomato consommé, which was dressed with julienned vegetables.
I also enjoyed a classic Champagne cocktail, which was superb. The Champagne cocktail is a mix of Champagne with sugar, Hennessy X.O., Angostura bitters, a slice of orange, and a dessert cherry.
I paired the Champagne cocktail with my 3rd (yes, 3rd) caviar course.
I then cleaned out a plate of wonderful murgh makhanwala, which is an Indian butter chicken in a spiced tomato and cream sauce. The dish was served beside a bed of warm basmati rice.
The main course here was the chicken biryani, a warm medley of chicken marinated in spices and slow-cooked with rice, served with refreshing yogurt sauce called raita.
The meal ended with an unforgettable passionfruit tart, which was garnished with fresh berries. This is probably the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane — incredible!
And for good measure, I had a delicious cocktail called an apple spritzer, consisting of apple juice with club soda and fresh mint.
To prepare myself for landing, I enjoyed a freshly brewed coffee with milk and classic biscotti.
The food and beverage experience aboard Emirates first class is second-to-none. I can’t think of another airline that offers such a diverse offering of food, small bites, cocktails, soft drinks, and caffeinated beverages and executes on all of them nearly perfectly. It’s easy to be a complete glutton when you’re flying Emirates first class.
Entertainment & Service
Emirates has a unique in-flight entertainment system for all cabins (not just first class) known as ice.
ice is the world’s best in-flight entertainment offering in the world. With thousands of movies and TV shows including Hollywood classics, Arabian icons, Asian dramas, and more.
Also, ice has live news channels, podcasts, a fantastic music selection, and so much high-quality entertainment that you definitely won’t run out of ways to stay entertained.
I already had lofty expectations for Emirates first class, being a repeat customer. However, the Dubai-based airline always seems to find ways to outdo themselves.
On my particular flight, the flight crew was extraordinary (shoutout to Blake!). The first class flight crew is fun, diverse, incredibly competent, endlessly professional, and overall phenomenal.
It’s as if Emirates poaches the world’s best flight attendants from different airlines around the world and puts the cream of the crop in charge of first class.
We were taken care of from beginning to end, and the crew truly seemed like they loved their profession.
At the same time, the flight crew had 100% adherence to coronavirus precautions and protocols, so I felt safer than ever in my own private suite.
Emirates uses OnAir Wi-Fi on most planes, and usage is complimentary in first class.
And although the limited bandwidth is appreciated and satisfactory for basic browsing, it’s not fast enough for streaming or any type of real work online.
Also, the Wi-Fi is disconnected near the Arctic Circle, so just be aware of that.
Nonetheless, I was able to stay connected most of the time, although the focus was definitely on enjoying this world-class flight.
Due to the pandemic, Emirates changed its first class service to clarify that crews are not required to provide turndown service.
Still, the crew proactively offered to make every passenger’s bed, including ours.
Because we were so exhausted from our connecting red-eye flight from Cairo in the middle of the night, our first class flight attendants graciously obliged to make our beds immediately after the seatbelt sign was turned off.
The bedding consists of a thick mattress pad, a fluffy pillow, and a thick duvet.
I had no problem falling into a deep slumber right after the bed was made. I was able to get a solid 7 hours of sleep, mostly because of the amazing bedding but also because of the individual air nozzles that kept me cool throughout the flight.
The bed measures around 26-27 inches wide when fully lie-flat because the armrests retract completely and become part of the bed.
The lavish bed is 76 inches long, equal to 6 feet 4 inches. The first class bed was like floating on Cloud 9.
Flying on Emirates first class is such an incredible treat, every single time.
There’s pretty much no better way to fly in first class.
The feeling you get from just witnessing the opulence with your own eyes is something that simply can’t be replicated anywhere else.
Sure, Emirates offers a bunch of novelties like the motorized minibar, but it makes for an unforgettable experience.
And although we couldn’t experience the showers on the A380 this time around, we were able to sit in a more exclusive 8-suite first class cabin, sprawl out a little more in these suites that are larger than the A380’s, and enjoy unparalleled service on our ultra-long-haul flight.
The sumptuous amenities from Bvlgari and Byredo, the moisturizing pajamas, the seemingly infinite meals thanks to Dine on Demand, the diverse (and exorbitant!) alcohol selection, and the marvelous bedding all came together for a quintessential Emirates first class experience.
It’s almost unimaginable that I was able to book this $9,000 first class ticket for less than $300 out of pocket!