route: Melbourne to Dubai via Singapore [MEL – SIN – DXB] flight EK405
seat: window, business class seat (23K) on the upper deck of my favourite airplane – Airbus A380
price: 96 000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points + $400
The experience started the very moment we closed our apartment door behind us – the business class ticket comes with a complimentary chauffeur-drive service. There are some distance limitations, depending on the location. In Melbourne, it’s within 60km of the airport.
We opted for an early pick up as we wanted to spend more time relaxing in the lounge. One day before the trip, someone called to confirm all the details and on the day, the driver showed up in a Hyundai Genesis sedan exactly at 2.30pm. The drive was quick, comfortable and glamorous. Especially when compared to our usual tram + bus with a fair bit of walking routine.
We were at the check-in area quite early, around 3pm and to our surprise, not a single counter was open. Even the first class passenger had to wait until the Emirates team finished their briefing.
From there, we went straight to the lounge (it takes a while to walk around the duty-free maze, even with the express pass).
The new Emirates Business & First Lounge at Melbourne International Airport has opened recently. It’s spacious, features floor to ceiling windows with great views of the tarmac and offers heaps of seating options (with USB & power points).
Naturally, we started our lounge visit from a glass of the Veuve Clicquot. Then, we checked out the gourmet buffet and as we had over 2 hours until our flight, we decided to try a bit of everything (which proved to be impossible, too many options!). The highlight of the hot buffet for me were arancini balls – try them if they’re on offer.
Flight duration: 7h 50m Melbourne to Singapore plus 7h 10m Singapore to Dubai
The seat: 1-2-1 staggered configuration flat-bed seats, each with direct aisle access. My seat, 23K, was in the smaller of two business cabins, at the back of the upper deck, which felt more private than the big cabin. As it was a night flight, not many people walked past me to the lounge area at the back of the plane. Each seat comes with USB port, power point and a mini bar stocked with water, juices and soft drinks. Lots of storage compartments around, although I had some troubles opening the big bins under the window.
Comfort: Amenity kits were distributed before take off. EK405 doesn’t go directly to Dubai and since it consists of two flights I received an amenity kit on each. Watch the video below this article if you’re interested what’s inside. The one for men is much better in my opinion than the one for women. Not only content-wise but also the fabric, shape and extra pockets inside. I think Emirates should work on it. Eyeshades and socks are packed in a separate plastic bag, which, again, needs some work, as it doesn’t look too elegant. Pillow, padded mattress and blanket were also provided.
Entertainment: The big touchscreen in front, wireless tablet and a remote on the side – that seemed a bit too much at first. After a while, when I wrapped my head around it, I started to appreciate it. I was able to watch a movie on the big screen and have the flight map on the tablet at the same time.
Food & drinks: SO.MUCH.BOOZE. – Champagne? – Yes, please. – Some more for you? – Yes, please. I started this at 3pm in the airport lounge, then pre-flight glass (or two) of sparkling happened, the cocktail in the onboard lounge and wine (very good Stella Bella Shiraz 2010, which was being refilled as soon as I had a sip) with my dinner. Ah, and Tiger beer in the lounge in Singapore, because one can’t be in Singapore and not have a cheeky Tiger. On the Singapore – Dubai leg I couldn’t even finish my pre-flight bubbles I was so over it. And then I was offered a bloody merry with my breakfast… I said no.
The food was very good. The appetiser on the Melbourne – Singapore leg was the highlight for me.
I skipped the main meal after take off from Singapore, but still had a decent amount of food during both flights. My menu:
Cha soba salad with prawns
poached prawns on green tea buckwheat noodles
with chilli jam, black sesame and wasabi-yuzu dressing
Roasted chicken with Arabic spices
served with freekeh and sautéed green beans
with onion and mint
served with vanilla creme anglaise
Breakfast (which I put my order for before take off from Singapore)
Roti jala with sayur lodeh
Lacy Malaysian-style pancakes and vegetables in coconut sauce
served with braised chicken masala
The Onboard Lounge: I was very much looking forward to this. In the beginning of the first flight, it was a bit crowded but later on and on the second flight it was completely empty. We went there for cocktails – cosmopolitans with a very generous serving of vodka. If all cocktails were this strong, I understand why everyone went so quickly back to their seats and to sleep. We did too.
Service: I liked how the crew introduced themselves personally to everyone before and at the beginning of each flight. The service was very good overall but I felt more pampered when I flew Brisbane – Singapore with Qantas. I expected more from Emirates.
We landed in Dubai at 4:50am. Then walked for hours (I’m exaggerating) in the airport to the train and then walked some more. And even though we walked for so long we still had to wait for our bags.
We received express passes for Dubai airport as well but there was nowhere to use them. (or did we miss something?)
Chauffeur-drive service area is located near the exit – the complimentary chauffeur drive is offered on both ends of the journey so we took advantage of that too.
Good food, comfortable seats/beds and my favourite airplane – can’t go wrong with that. Plus we had a really decent sleep and arrived at the destination well rested. Missing: pyjamas!