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Emirates first class is easily a bucket list travel experience for even the most seasoned travelers thanks to what is one of the most luxurious experiences you can have not just in the air, but anywhere within the atmosphere.
Depending on the route and plane, the best perks of flying Emirates first class include an onboard shower, two bars, and a Bulgari amenity kit. Of course, you also get bragging rights for life. Before hopping on the most extravagant flying experience you might ever have, here are six things you should know about flying Emirates first class.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Important things to know before flying first class on Emirates
1. You can book Emirates first class with points and miles
Emirates first class flights are known to be expensive — a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates can set you back more than $20,000.
Thankfully, you don’t have to break your bank account to fly Emirates first class, as you can book an Emirate first class flight using points and miles. Plus, by taking advantage of Emirates transfer partners, you can book Emirates first class from the U.S. for as little as 85,000 points.
Emirates transfer partners include American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and Citi ThankYou rewards, where points can typically be transferred on a 1:1 basis, making for one of the best redemptions if you can snag it.
» Learn more: How much are Emirates Skywards miles worth?
2. Different Emirates planes offer different first class experiences
Before purchasing your first class flight, pay attention to the plane you’re flying on and the seat setup. Each type of aircraft offers slightly different Emirates first class seats, bringing a set of benefits and tradeoffs that are different from the other.
Benefits and tradeoffs of Emirates first class within the Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 probably stands out for most people thanks to its inflight shower spa. That means that, yes, you can shower in the air. Other Emirates first class perks on the Airbus A380 entail:
An 82” long suite with a seat that reclines from an upright position to a full-flat bed.
An electrically operated door, reading lights and work desk.
A configuration of adjoining center suites (which have an electrically operated privacy divider that can be raised and lowered) if you'd like to share space with the person next to you.
The ability to shower during the flight.
Two shower spas are located in the first class cabin, for the exclusive use of first class customers. The shower cubicle has water temperature control, a vanity unit, a wash basin, changing area and toilet, a hairdryer, a full-length mirror and perhaps most impressively, heated flooring. Cosmetics include perfumes by Bulgari and sustainable shower products such as Irish brand Voya shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
The tradeoff, though, is that you won't get the fully-enclosed private suites that folks on the Boeing 777 planes get.
Benefits and tradeoffs of first class within the Boeing 777
Alternatively, passengers on the Boeing 777-300ER have the same seat and meal options as the A380 — but there's neither a shower nor an onboard bars.
That's because — on its Boeing 777 planes‚ Emirates offers arguably the most luxurious seat in commercial travel, called the Emirates "private suite." In fact, these exclusive spaces are the world’s first private inflight suites. On top of mood lighting and temperature controls, these 40-square-foot private cabins include:
An 84” long suite spanning up to 40 square feet with floor to ceiling doors.
Binoculars to see out the window better.
“Windows” with HD projections of the view from outside, for middle suites.
» Learn more: Best first class award flights you can actually book
3. Emirates offers chauffeur service
Your Emirates first class experience begins when you leave for the airport, as the airline offers its premium passengers complimentary chauffeur services to and from the airport, which even include gratuities.
In the U.S. you can be picked up or dropped off in a 50-mile radius from the airport, although you can also pay extra if you live farther away. In Dubai, you’ll be greeted when you disembark by a guide who will walk you through passport control and to your chauffeur.
To take advantage of the complimentary chauffeur service, be sure you've signed up for it either on the Emirates website or by calling Emirates after you’ve booked your flight.
» Learn more: How to make the most of Emirates Airlines first class
4. Dining on your flight is on demand
Often when you fly first class, there's a meal service offered where all passengers order and eat simultaneously — but not on Emirates. Instead, the airline allows its first class passengers to eat whenever they want and to create their own menu. To order "room service" from your suite, you use a video call feature.
Food and drink are included with the airfare, so you don't need to pay extra for them. Items you can order include caviar, pan-fried beef tenderloin and Dom Pérignon (Emirates is the only airline in the world to offer Dom Perignon champagne to first class passengers). If you're not drinking alcohol, you might sip on complimentary Lavazza coffee and Dilmah tea. Other menu items include a kids menu, and there are also options to support most diets, including a vegan menu that launched in 2022. There's even a "Movie Snacks Menu" featuring Wagyu sliders, lobster rolls, popcorn, and edamame.
If you don't want someone to serve you, you can serve yourself. Both suites on most aircraft feature an electronically controlled personal mini bar featuring snacks and drinks as well as a basket with premium sweet and savory snacks.
5. You get complimentary spa treatments in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai
Emirates first class ticket holders would be wise to include a few hours for a layover in Dubai to take advantage of the Emirates First Class Lounge. This lounge includes Emirates’ Timeless Spa, which provides first class passengers with complimentary spa treatments, such as face and body scrubs, massages and nail therapy.
And the spa isn't the only posh service in the Emirates First Class Lounge. There's also a shoeshine service, private cigar lounge, children’s area with arcade games, buffet dining, private Duty-Free shopping area and a dedicated Le Clos wine cellar.
For travel outside of Dubai, the lounges typically aren't quite as fancy, but they're still pleasant. Emirates runs a network of 39 dedicated airport lounges located in major airports around the globe to relax and dine before your flight.
» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to Emirates Skywards
6. There's no overhead space to store luggage
Perhaps the only downside of flying Emirates first class is that there's no overhead space to store your luggage. And while there is space under your seat, it can be a tight fit if you have both a carry-on and small bag.
If there are empty suites on your flight, a flight attendant will usually allow you to put your carry-on bags there. That said, you may be better off checking your bags to ensure you have as much space as possible in your suite.
» Learn more: Top sweet spots for Emirates miles
Enjoying Emirates first class
Knowing the amenities Emirates offers its first class passengers is a great way to ensure that you enjoy all the benefits of your flight. Before booking, be sure to check the plane, seats and amenities offered on the flight to get the experience that you’re looking for.
Then again, if you never fly Emirates first class (but you do get to fly one of the other Emirates fare classes), take solace in the fact that you're still getting a pretty luxurious experience as far as air travel goes. If you can't afford first class, know that the second-highest fare class, Emirates business class offers many similar benefits (though there's no shower for the business travelers). And even Emirates economy (or Emirates premium economy if you can afford a slightly bigger splurge) rank among the best economy classes you'll find in the world.
Featured image courtesy of Emirates.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card