I checked in online for the Hong Kong-Dubai flight 24 hours before departure time, but only one seat out of a possible 12 was available. Emirates offers complimentary transfers for first class and business class passengers, but I had a car already arranged from the hotel to take me to the airport.
I arrived at Hong Kong International terminal 1 at 2230 for my 0035 departure. There was no queue at first class check in so I dropped off my bag and went through security.
The Emirates lounge is by Gate 60, which is either a long walk or a shorter one using the shuttle train. It is up one level from the general concourse and is gathered together with several other lounges including the Virgin Clubhouse. It’s a single room with first and business class passengers together, a shower in each washroom, a fairly basic offering of food and drink (including hot food) and free wifi. It’s an adequate place, no different from, say, the Qantas or BA lounges at Chek Lap Kok.
The flight was called and we went down the stairs and walked to the aircraft departure gate 60. Once on board my jacket was taken, and I was offered juice or champagne. We set off on time.
The first class section is two rows of 2-2-2 seating (for a seat plan of this aircraft click here. The middle seats have no overhead lockers, which gives a feeling of real space, but also means there isn’t enough storage space: 12 first class passengers and their bags into a total of six overhead storage containers (three on either side) is never going to work. In addition there is only one washroom at the front of the aircraft for the whole cabin.
The A330-200 seats are the only first class seats on the Emirates network to not be fully flat. These are cradle seats, and when fully reclined, are comfortable to sleep in, but are not in the same league as the first class on the B777 or A380 aircraft. Fully reclined with the footrest up, your feet touch against the seat in front if you are in the second row. If you are in the first, you have restricted leg room and so should avoid this row.
Which seat in row 2? Well, for privacy, the window seats would be the choice, but when the aisle seat beside you is fully reclined with someone in it, you will need to be very agile to gain access to the aisle by climbing over them. And if you are in the aisle seat having someone climbing over you in the night, be prepared to be disturbed. For that reason I would choose 2E or 2F on this configuration, although some might say that these lack a little privacy.
Shortly after take-off we were offered sleep suits, eye masks and socks, ear plugs and an amenity bag with shaving kit, toothbrush and toothpaste as well as Bulgari amenities. This is exactly the same as is given on overnight flights in business, but the bag is leather instead of canvas.
Since we were setting off in the early hours the dining was a la carte breakfast, though with a wide range of options from a continental or cooked breakfast (which I had on waking) to a selection of open sandwiches (including peppered lamb loin on mini Yorkshire pudding) which I had before sleeping. The service was friendly, but took a little time to get going. We had departed on time but drinks only came round at 0130.
The wine choice was excellent: champagne – Dom Perignon 2000, whites: Meursault 2006 Bouchard Pere & Fils and Staete Landt 2007, Sauvignon Blanc; reds: Chateau La Lagune 2000 Haut Medoc, Yabby Lake Vineyard 2005 Pinot Noir and Mungo Park Shiraz 2006, Colonial Estate, Barossa Valley, Australia. The dessert wine was Chateau Guiraud 1999 premier cru sauternes and the port Dow’s Vintage 1985.
The in-flight entertainment is via a personal TV screen with video on demand. I found it quite easy to sleep in the seat and on the eight hour flight from Hong Kong probably slept five hours.
As we came into Dubai airport the screen listed the connecting flights, everywhere from Tehran and Entebbe to Malta and Sao Paulo. We landed at 0405 and had a 10 minute wait and taxi for our stand.
This is Emirates oldest first class product, and one which is not of the same standard as the rest of the fleet or most other international carriers’ first class. From conversations with other passengers, it’s clear they put up with it because they like the airline but wish it was either upgraded, or removed from the fleet. Unfortunately they will have a few more years to wait yet.
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