Flight check: Emirates 777-300


BACKGROUND: Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of A380s and the largest fleet of Boeing 777s. It flies four times a day from Johannesburg to Dubai.

PRE-FLIGHT & CHECK-IN: Seamless. Emirates operates a chauffeur-drive service for first and business class passengers, and I was picked up at my hotel – albeit 10 minutes late – and whisked off to Terminal 3, where I was dropped at the dedicated premium class entrance. There were multiple available check-in desks and after selecting one I was quickly on my way to security. There I had to take both my shoes and belt off, but there was no queue and the officials were friendly. From there it was a short walk to the train taking me to the A gates, a couple of minutes on the train, two escalators, and then I was in the duty free section. I then took the lift up two floors to the lounge.

LOUNGE & BOARDING: It’s a large lounge with plenty of seating, reading material and food options, along with speedy wi-fi and its own direct access to gate A13, where we boarded. I opted for just coffee, water and cereal, but there were also warm food options, an extensive pastry selection, some cold meats and fruit. The lounge doesn’t announce flights, but the airport announcement was audible enough. We boarded about 10 minutes late for our 10h05 flight.

THE SEAT: Business class on this 777-300 was configured 2-3-2 with 42 seats across two sections, with two rows in the first section and four in the second. I was seated in 11J, the back right-hand corner aisle seat, if you’re facing the front of the plane. I prefer aisle seats for access purposes, and what I enjoyed about this one was that I didn’t have a bathroom behind me, so the traffic was minimal, with a short walk to my bathroom in front of me. If you’re sensitive about being in close proximity to the bathrooms, avoid 8J, 8F, 8B and 8D. The seat itself was impressive, with lie-flat capability, in-seat power, big and sturdy tray table on which to work on eat, bottled water and comprehensive IFE, thanks to Emirates’ ICE system, which can be operated via touch screen, tablet and handset. Extras included a shoe storage compartment in front of the seat and pouches either side for storing reading matter. Internet connectivity is apparently available on Emirates’ A380, but only on selected 777s, although not this flight.

THE FLIGHT: On boarding I was offered fruit juice and champagne, and a drinks order was taken before being delivered shortly after take-off, which was a few minutes late around 10h15. A lunch order was taken shortly after that and served a little early for my liking at 11h30, but I didn’t mind due to my small breakfast. It was also delicious. The chilli and coriander king prawns served with soba noodle salad and black sesame seeds was tasty, but it was outclassed by the chicken piccata, which was served with gnocchi, a cherry tomato sauce and asparagus. I opted for water and tea after lunch, and the latter could have been a little warmer. Dessert arrived in the form of the milk chocolate and mango cake with cherry compote, which was tasty, but a little rich for my liking. It goes without saying that there’s also an extensive bar service, whilst there’s also a ‘light bites’ food option, in the form of a small menu offering a Waldorf salad, a butter chicken dish, lamb shank pie, ricotta puffs, and a vanilla mascarpone tart for dessert. I had plenty of work to get through, so I skipped the IFE and only grabbed a couple of hours sleep, which is always a challenge on a day flight. Mid-afternoon saw me offered one of the snacks I’ve mentioned, but I opted for just coffee.

ARRIVAL: We landed 10 minutes early at 16h10, I was third in the queue at immigration, and waited about five minutes for my luggage. In fact, I was in the Emirates complimentary chauffeur service car by 16h35. If that’s not efficient business travel, I’m not sure what is.

VERDICT: A quality premium class service, with the chauffeur-drive a great convenience, along with the direct lounge access and attentive service onboard.

Dylan Rogers