Tried & Tested

Flight review: Emirates B777-300ER business class

1 Apr 2011 by Mark Caswell
Emirates B777-300ERc
First impressions Emirates offers a total of eight daily flights between London and Dubai - five from Heathrow and three from Gatwick, as well as departures from Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow. This flight EK010 departs Gatwick's North Terminal at 2010, using B777-300ER aircraft. Check-in was at zone F, and was very quiet when i arrived. As a business class passenger i was entitled to use the fasttrack security lane (laptops out, shoes remained on), although to be honest it was no quicker than the standard lane next to it. The lounge Emirates' lounge at Gatwick is located to the far left after security, behind the WHSmith and down to level 2 in the lift. The BA Club World and First lounges are also located in this area, as is the Servisair facility (currently used by Qatar Airways although the carrier is set to drop its flights from Gatwick on May 31 (see online news March 1). Lounge facilities include free wifi internet access, a business centre with around a dozen PCs and further desks for those with laptops, showers (two in the gents toilets), several lounge seating areas including a TV lounge, and a dining area with self-service buffet. Decor is the familiar Emirates lounge colours of cream and beige, with yellow and green checked cushions. When i visited the food choices included mexican chicken / asparagus with prawn salads, pumpkin and carrot soup, beef and mushroom daube (tasty although the beef was a little tough), Malaysian style chicken curry, salmon fishcakes, tarte flamiche, chestnut, mushroom and walnut penne, various vegetables (including great crispy roast potatoes), a selection of breads, olives, apple delice, chocolate and orange creme brulee, cheese and fruit, muffins, pastries and dates. Drinks choices included spirits, beer, wine, soft drinks and a coffee machine with a selection of teas. The departure screen showed the flight starting to board around 1940, but the lounge receptionist advised guests to stay in the lounge until she called the flight, which happened at 1955. Boarding The flight was boarding from gate 51, and when i arrived i was able to board straight away. Once on board i was offered a choice of newspapers, a pack with flight socks and an eyeshade, a choice of drinks including champagne and orange juice, and the dining food and drink menus. The seat I was sat in seat 6J, at the front of the second business class cabin, just behind first class - to see the seatplan, click here. Business class on this B777-300ER aircraft is configured for two rows of 2-3-2 in the first cabin, then the galley / toilets, and then another three rows of 2-3-2. The business class seat on this aicraft is angled lie-flat (rather than the fully flat bed on the carrier's A380s), with a bed length of 72 inches and width of 20.5 inches. On this flight the aircraft was installed with Emirates' latest IceDigital Widescreen offering, which features nearly 1,300 channels of movies, TV programmes, music, information and games, a wireless controller, and as the name would suggest, a widescreen format to watch it on (17-inches in business class). The aircraft on the return leg from Dubai was installed with the older version of Ice, the main differences being a normal format screen, fewer entertainment choices (around 600), and a wired controller. Other seat features included an electronically controlled wooden privacy screen, fold out table (which can either be half opened to include a drink holder, or fully opened for meals and work), smaller fold down drinks shelf, cup holder, reading light that can be adjusted for brightness and direction, and a couple of storage spaces for magazines, etc. Amenities include a pillow and blanket, and noise-cancelling headphones. Which seat to choose? There are two business class cabins on this aircraft - the first has two rows of 2-3-2 directly behind first class suites, followed by the toilets and galley, then a further four rows. Personally i would opt for the front cabin as it has a more exclusive feel, and would avoid the middle of the three central seats. The front row of this first cabin feel more spacious as there is no seat in front, and its further away from the noise of the toilets and galley. The flight Shortly after take-off we were offered amenity kits (note these are only given out on the night flights, worth remembering if you are returning on a day flight from Dubai), which included toothbrush and paste, a Sure roll on deodorant, a pack of tissues, shaving cream and razor, a hairbrush, and a box containing Bulgari body lotion, aftershave balm and eau de toilette. Crew members offered to dress up the seat with a matress, and food orders were taken. On this outbound flight a "Light Meal" was being served, with the choice of Arabic mezze or salmon carpaccio for starte, followed by main choices of:
  • grilled fillet of lamb loin, served in a mild curry sauce, with banana fritters, green asparagus spears and sweet mashed potato
  • corn fed chicken, served with a tangy orange risotto, spinach, shallots and red pepper
  • stir-fried prawns, served in a hoisin and plum sauce, accompanied with wok vegetables and noodles, topped with spring onions and shiitake mushrooms
  • grilled tuna steak, served on a mango pepper salsa, accompanied with sauteed zucchini and wild rice mix
I opted for the salmon carpaccio and the corn fed chicken, both of which were tasty and came with metal cutlery. Dessert was a mango and coconut torte, which i did not try, followed by a cheese selection, fresh seasonal fruit, tea, coffee and chocolates. I didn't drink during the flight, but choices in business class were:
  • Champagne: Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Non Vintage
  • White wine: Meursault Meix Chavaux 2008 from Domaine Vincent Latour and Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Marlborough, New Zealand
  • Red wine: Chateau Olivier 2003 from Pessac Leognan and Calera Pinot Noir 2007 from California
  • Port: Quinta do Noval 2005 Late Bottled Vintage
During and after the meal i watched the excellent King's Speech, and despite plenty of other great films begging to be watched including True Grit (which i saw on the return leg) and Inception, i decided to get some sleep on this night flight. With my eyemask on, ear plugs in and blanket covering my head i was able to get a few hours sleep, before the crew started to offer drinks and handed out fasttrack immigration cards prior to landing. Arrival We touched down at 0655, and were quickly disembarked. Queues at immigration were fairly lengthly (it didn't seem to make much of a difference being in the fastrack queue), but the line moved forward relatively quickly and with hand luggage only i was landside by about 0730. Verdict A good choice of food and beverage at the Gatwick lounge, a comfortable business class seat and an excellent IFE system. Contact Mark Caswell
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