Reviews

Review: Emirates' Boeing 777 first class private suites

Step inside the world's only first class cabin with walls and closing doors that stretch from the floor right up to the ceiling.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, October 11 2019
Emirates' Boeing 777 first class private suites
Route

Dubai-Geneva + Frankfurt-Dubai

Aircraft Type

Boeing 777-300ER

Airline

Emirates

Flight

EK83 + EK44

Cabin Class

First

Seat

1A + 1E

Notes
The Good
  • Dine-on-demand with top-shelf food and beverages
  • You'll never miss out on the view, with 'virtual windows' in the centre suites
  • Customise the temperature and lighting colour to make the suite yours
The Bad
  • Nowhere for companions to dine together or mingle
The Unexpected
  • Complete privacy with doors and walls stretching from floor to ceiling
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

When it comes to first class on Emirates' newest Boeing 777s, the experience goes far beyond what you might expect of a traditional suite: instead, this is more like a private room in the sky, with floor-to-ceiling doors and walls for complete privacy.

Available on selected routes including from Dubai to Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, London Stansted, Tokyo Haneda and others, here's what to expect in what Emirates describes as its "game changer" first class experience.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Choice of Emirates Skywards, Qantas Frequent Flyer, or many other partner programs.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x113cm bag plus either a 100cm briefcase or a garment bag up to 20cm thick when folded, with a maximum weight of 7kg per piece.
  • Checked baggage allowance – 32kg limit per bag:
        • 50kg: standard allowance
        • 62kg: Skywards Silver, Qantas Silver
        • 66kg: Skywards Gold, Qantas Gold
        • 70kg: Skywards Platinum, Qantas Platinum & Platinum One
        • 75kg: Qantas Chairman's Lounge
  • Priority airport services: In Dubai, the fastest way through the formalities is by registering for the Smart Gates: otherwise, use the Fast Track lines at passport control. Priority check-in and security screening is available, as expected.
  • Boarding gate fast-track: When departing from Dubai Concourse A, you can board your flight directly from within the Emirates Concourse A first class lounge. Out of Frankfurt, there's a priority lane at the regular gate.
  • Chauffeur-drive: Complimentary airport transfers are offered at each end of the journey for passengers travelling on paid first class tickets, and those who've upgraded from business class. In Dubai, a Mercedes-Benz S 450 helpfully arrived 20 minutes early, with a BMW 7 Series providing the transfer at the other end.

    Just note, first class flights booked using Skywards miles, Qantas Points or other partner points or miles are not eligible for chauffeur-drive. However, as chauffeur-drive is also included with most paid business class tickets, passengers using Skywards miles to upgrade from eligible business class fares to first class retain that eligibility.

Lounge

At Dubai Airport, a first class boarding pass gets you into the Emirates first class lounges in Concourse A, Concourse B and Concourse C.

Those in Concourses A and B have day spas where first class flyers can enjoy a complimentary 15-minute treatment – if that's your aim, make a booking at the spa counter as soon as your arrive to secure your appointment time – while all three offer à la carte dining.

Particularly before afternoon flights to Europe, this is a great opportunity to have a relaxing lunch, as with dine-on-demand in the sky, you don't have to eat straight after take-off: instead, whenever it suits you, such as to have dinner closer to landing.

In other airports, Emirates either operates its own lounge or relies on a partner or contract lounge. Returning from Frankfurt, an Emirates-operated lounge awaits:

Here, food and beverage is self-serve, with showers, functional WiFi, and friendly staff at-hand.

Flight

Between Dubai and Geneva, Emirates currently offers 13 weekly return flights – that's EK83 and EK89 from Dubai, returning as EK84 and EK90 from Geneva – all of which feature these first class private suites on what's typically a 6.5-hour flight.

Between Frankfurt and Dubai, Emirates has three daily return flights, although only one of those pairs is operated by the Boeing 777-300ER, with the other two being Airbus A380 services with Emirates' previous-generation suites.

The flight numbers to look for are EK43 from Dubai (which departs at 3:45am) and EK44 back from Frankfurt (at 11am), as usually offer these upgraded first class suites.

But whether you're flying to Geneva, Frankfurt or elsewhere where these suites are offered, the first thing you'll notice on board are the high ceilings which look more 'cathedral' than 'aircraft': your first clue that this isn't just another flight.

Below them, the doors and walls surrounding each suite, extending from the floor right up to that ceiling, offering a level of privacy in first class that's unmatched by any other airline, anywhere in the world.

The only thing that comes close is the bedroom in The Residence by Etihad, but which is targeted more towards the private jet market – sold as a separate cabin above first class, and priced accordingly.

Photo tour: Flying in The Residence by Etihad on the Airbus A380

Seat

Welcome aboard. Today, you'll be travelling in an enclosed private suite on one of Emirates' brand new Boeing 777 aircraft, which draws its design inspiration from the Mercedes-Benz S Class.

With Dubai's temperature soaring to 44°C outside, the first order of business isn't merely to twist open the air vents as on a traditional plane. Instead, the temperature can also be customised in each suite, and within just two minutes of dialling this right down, the room became noticeably cooler.

There's a closet to hang your jacket – which, unlike Emirates' older first class suites, keeps your garments completely out of the way: not hanging on your feet at bed time – with some extra pouches for storage, too.

There's space at the bottom of this closet for smaller laptop-sized bags, and in front, there's a dedicated cabinet for larger carry-on items, in which a Samsonite 55cm Firelite bag fits comfortably.

Next to your seat, on the same panel as can control the air conditioner, you'll find further customisations – most interestingly, the ability to adjust the colour and intensity of the suite's atmospheric lighting.

Prefer something a little warmer? Try the red, orange or yellow: or for something cooler, cycle through the various blues, or even pure white:

This is also where you'll find the lavatory indicator – as there isn't one mounted to the ceiling above the aisle, and even if there were, you wouldn't be able to see it with your door closed – with the day's flight information also available at a glance:

On the privacy front, your suite can be as open or closed as you'd like, with a sliding door as well as a hatch in front. With both open, there's a great feeling of space, and if you're seated directly across the aisle from a companion (possible in 1A+1E, or 2F+2K), it'd be easy to chat:

For a little more privacy without being fully closed in, raising that hatch blocks what's otherwise a direct view to and from the galley when seated in row 1:

Of course, for complete privacy, close both and you're in your own world. The crew can check up on you as needed via these small viewing holes, but otherwise, can leave you undisturbed to work, rest or relax – particularly if you activate the 'do not disturb' light.

You'll find that setting on the 'privacy' tab of the large tablet at your side – this being separate from the smaller panel for lighting and air conditioning – which is also what you'll use to get comfortable.

Speaking of comfort, the seat has a "zero-gravity" position inspired by NASA technology, which Emirates says provides "a feeling of weightlessness while flying".

You won't literally start floating up in the air – it's designed to remove the stress and weight from being centred around one part of your body, evenly distributing it for a more relaxing ride: and yes, it's glorious.

Tucked away within the arm rest, you'll find a storage pouch deep enough for items like passports, but shallow enough that watches and the like are still within reach after being stowed:

There's a small shelf on the window side handy for housing a drink or to keep your smartphone at easy reach, with a cocktail tray folding out in front that's useful for snacks and small bites, without having to retrieve the 'main' meal table.

Hidden directly below this is a USB-C charging port. It's easy to overlook, even with the helpful sign, but with the flat space directly in front of it, your device can be juiced-up without being in the way.

Additionally, there are two regular-style USB outlets beneath a panel in front, along with an HDMI connector for displaying your laptop on the big screen, and an AC power port.

While large enough to accommodate basic chargers such as for the iPhone, bigger transformers as are common of the Microsoft Surface and Apple MacBook won't fit without an adaptor. Emirates keeps some on board, so just ask – although whipping out a standard 'Australia to Europe' adaptor avoided the need.

Above that, you'll find binoculars to enjoy the view if you're in a window seat, as well as more storage space, and a (room temperature) mini bar.

The same surface also provides a fold-open and lighted make-up mirror, below which sits the writing and refresher kits. Full-sized amenity kits are not provided on Dubai-Europe flights.

The seat's default position is far back from this shelf and mirror, but it can slide forward to suit – the only downside being that the control panel for the lights and air conditioning becomes difficult, but not impossible, to access.

However, unless you feel the need to adjust the temperature right then and there, most of the panel's features are available by using either the larger tablet, or the shortcut keys below it. This easy-to-find 'pause' button also proves incredibly useful, especially at meal times:

When it's time to doze, the crew will prepare your fully-flat bed, measuring just shy of seven feet (210cm) long and 31 inches (79cm) wide. After a busy week of travel, this made for a solid post-lunch nap between Frankfurt and Dubai, with pyjamas offered by request on European flights.

When you wake, there's a handy mirror at both bed-height and standing height to tweak your outfit – or to fix 'headphone hair' just before stepping off the aircraft, which saves a detour via the restroom.

Rounding out the experience, these suites come in a 1-1-1 arrangement. Traditionally, this would mean that passengers in the centre have no windows or views, but here, Emirates has installed 'virtual windows', beaming in live HD footage from outside through what otherwise looks like an aircraft window.

Here's an example taken on the ground at Dubai Airport, where the picture is so clear it looks real: much more so than what's usually seen from external aircraft cameras, as compared via the tablet in front:

For another look, here's a vista enjoyed at 40,000 feet:

While the picture is crystal clear, the screens can't emulate natural light as you'd otherwise get by the 'real' windows, making those still preferable. Having said that, with the same motorised shutters, drawing down the blinds looks no different here than at the true windows:

If you'd rather forget you were flying, you can also close the curtains. With six suites in the cabin, you'll find these virtual windows in 1E and 2F – the other four suites have real windows. All have shutters and curtains, however.

The only downside to these suites? When travelling with a partner, the absence of a companion seat to dine together – or somewhere to mingle – would be noticeable.

For this, Emirates' Airbus A380s, or indeed, its original-generation Boeing 777 first class, may be a more social pick, given the ability to enjoy a centre pair of suites together: plus, the A380's onboard bar and lounge area.

Meal

In Emirates first class, everything is dine-on-demand, which means you're free to eat what you like, when you like.

That's great if you've just enjoyed a meal at the Emirates first class lounge and would rather work or relax first – or, when you're trying to adjust to the destination time zone by tailoring your meals to suit.

Here's a taste of just some of the things you can enjoy on a return trip between Dubai and Europe: again, any time it suits you.

Emirates first class Champagne

There's no shortage of Champagne in Emirates first class, and nothing begins a relaxing journey quite like a glass of Dom Pérignon. Currently being poured is the newly-released 2008 vintage:

On some flights, a second type of Dom Pérignon is also served – most recently, the 2006 Rosé.

Emirates claims to be the only airline in the world to offer the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 on board.

Emirates first class snacks and appetisers

Perched in front of you sits a snack basket offering a variety of bites, available before take-off and returned again once in the sky. If these black truffle chips are stocked on your flight, do yourself a favour and enjoy:

You may also find other snacks in the minibar cabinets, located on either side of your entertainment screen:

From the menu itself, there's usually a trio of canapés developed in partnership with a Dom Pérignon chef to be a perfect pairing. Here, a fresh poached prawn and guacamole tartlet, a parmesan and truffle arancino, and confit duck with curried pineapple:

Many guests continue their meal with Emirates' signature caviar course, served with accompaniments such as finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, along with melba toast and blinis. The latter is best to experience the caviar's full flavour, by using your tongue to press it to the roof of your mouth.

Another favourite is the traditional Arabic mezze, but many lighter options are available too, such as grilled chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, which is tasty and fresh without spoiling your appetite for what's to come.

Duck fois gras is offered on some flights, served with wagyu beef, asparagus, and ginger blackberry jelly: although you'll find a similar dish on the menu in Emirates' first class lounge.

Meals are served with a full bread basket, French butter, vinaigrette and olive oil, and if you want a few things to nibble on or to mix and match, try ordering an appetiser together with the trio of canapés:

Emirates first class main courses

With a great range of appetisers to choose from as well as a line-up of side dishes and salads, it's easy to create a full meal from those alone – and with dine-on-demand, you can, if you please.

But there are more substantial main courses too, covering a range of international cuisine as well as taking inspiration from each flight's origin and destination.

Jetting to Geneva, the seafood machbous is particularly enjoyable. Marinated in a traditional spice blend using ingredients commonly found in Emirati souqs and served on fragrant rice, it's a local dish of the Arabian Gulf and an apt choice on flights from Dubai.

Returning from Frankfurt, the duo of veal is a top choice, pairing a braised veal cheek and a grilled veal fillet, served with jus, roasted vegetables and a potato and green pea mash.

Despite being served on a plane, the veal was deliciously tender and just as you'd expect it to be enjoyed on the ground.

Emirates first class cheese and dessert

Cheese occupies an entire page of the first class menu, so you can order only the cheeses you know you like, or try a little of everything.

On this flight, options included Berthaut Soumaintrain, Gorgonzola Piccante DOP, Cinco Lanzas Iberico, Isle of Man Extra Mature Cheddar and Norfolk Mardler, enjoyed with a glass of 1978 Dow's Colheita Port.

You could follow that with a light option such as seasonal fresh fruit, or a plated dessert like the chocolate fondant with raspberry compote, which was a great way to finish.

Emirates first class wine, cocktails and cognac

There's a wine to pair with every course, but if you'd like to stick to a favourite – particularly a red – you can ask for a carafe. This allows the wine to mix with oxygen which can improve its nose and flavour, and helped open up the spice and dark fruit flavours of the 1998 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle:

Whether as an apéritif or a liquid dessert, there's an extensive list of cocktails and mocktails to choose from, with the Espresso Martini an easy go-to for either:

Finally, in what's often a favourite of frequent Emirates flyers, the Hennessy Paradis cognac: an extremely rare eau-de-vie blend of over 100 brandies.

It's an acquired taste, but pairs well with Belgian chocolates as are offered at the end of each meal. At $1,400/bottle on the ground, it's worth trying even if you're not a regular cognac drinker.

Entertainment & Service

There's a crystal-clear 32-inch HD TV screen in every suite, loaded with literally thousands of movies, TV shows, music tracks and games, with access to the aircraft's external cameras available too: great for take-off and landing.

Improving upon the system loaded on Emirates' older aircraft, the 'moving map' is now more interactive, and can be accessed both on that main screen as well as the iPad sized tablet – so you can keep track of your flight and explore the map without disturbing your movie.

High-quality, noise-cancelling Bowers & Wilkins headphones are provided so there's no need to BYO; and, making movie time feel more like home or an upmarket hotel room rather than a plane, the system comes with a wireless remote control:

You can also detach the tablet from its mount to use as a second independent screen; to control the first; or just for a closer look.

Service on both legs was top-notch and faultless in every respect, as only the most experienced cabin crew work in Emirates first class, particularly on these Boeing 777 flights.

Don't be afraid to chat, either: these are some of the airline's most highly-travelled cabin crew and often have a wealth of experiences to share. One senior crew member had flown to every single city in the entire Emirates global network, bar two: those exceptions existing only because Emirates doesn't offer first class there.

The verdict

With a level of privacy unmatched in first class by any other airline, the new Emirates Boeing 777 first class suite is by far the best first class experience available today for the solo executive traveller.

But of course, the Emirates A380 also has its advantages for first class flyers travelling together: not to mention, the onboard shower spas.

ET review: Emirates Airbus A380 first class 'shower spa'

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Emirates.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 214

This is my absolute favorite first class seat (or any seat for that matter) that I've ever flown, and I agree 100% with your review. Emirates has really pushed the bar for first class, and anyone coming out will have to try and match or beat them somehow - but even their old First Class seats are top tier still - so it'll be tough.

My only issue is so few planes fly with the new suites, and Emirates refuses to cannibalize their A380 FC sales and upgrade them to these, so it might not make it to Australia anytime soon - which is a shame.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2936

The other difficulty with Australian flights is that particular crew rest facilities are required for pilots and cabin crew, and the Boeing 777s currently flying with these suites don't have them, as the planes mainly fly Dubai-Europe. It's also how the airline can do the 'cathedral' ceiling, as there's no crew rest taking up space in the roof above. Although Sir Tim Clark tipped places like Brisbane as a possible future destination for these Boeing 777 suites, I suspect it'll be a while before we see them in Australia, given the crew rest limitation.

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 214

Hence the need for an A380 upgrade - which they're not really invested in. Why cut down the capacity when they already fly full.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 374

Chris I'm amazed that any rating on a 777 deserves 5 stars. I would have given it 4.5 stars -max. The 777 has poor atmospherics and is very loud with no spa or bar area. This renders Qantas ‘first' even less worthy of the prices charged. QF paper EK metal is the way to go.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2936

When you have good noise-cancelling headphones on, you really don't notice a difference in aircraft sound compared to other planes. Without them, it'd a different story of course: but Emirates stocks a solid pair in first class.

skywalker

skywalker

10 May 2017

Total posts 1

Chris, I would not disagree with your ratings and assessment. Having travelled on the older generation first class cabins on the B777, the service and experience has always been impeccable. These new cabins look much improved. I would love the opportunity one day to try these out - but it is a while away (until they fly them out of Brisbane soon). One of my favourite meal items is the Arabic mezze (good enough for a meal on its own) and there are also a couple of really good cognacs and whiskies onboard.

robfol

robfol

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 39

I have to agree with Joe, however nice the seats are, the 777 is a VERY noisy aircraft and one I try to avoid at any cost. The experience on an A380 or 787 is way better. And definitely, the bar on any of the planes that have one, even VA makes a big positive difference. So yes 4 or 4.5 stars for the inclusive experience. Kudos to Emirates though for the upgrade.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 254

What you can do with all the money and all the endless resources in the world! Most tier 1 carriers would be offering this level of product and service if they didn't have to answer to shareholders and be transparent. Granted it's a brilliant product but as I said....easy with all the money money money.

lafleche

lafleche

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2016

Total posts 28

Great review Chris - I'll be on DXB-GVA-DXB in 10 days' time. Have selected a window seat and a virtual window seat to try them both. Am looking forward to that zero gravity seat... As far as first world problems go, I think the only downside to GVA (with Emirates) is the lack of a decent first class lounge. The DNATA lounge there has terrible reviews.

Deco.001

Deco.001

19 Jul 2017

Total posts 4

Chris, there is no crew rest limitation as outlined in your comment, none of the EK 777 have a CRC over the FC cabin. They use the same one as the cabin crew at the rear of the a/c.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2936

On these planes, there's no crew rest at all (forward or aft) - I was chatting with the crew about it. Could well be that they'll move into split configurations like on the A380, where some are designed for long haul (with crew rests) and others for short haul (without them both).

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 128

Great Review, Chris. If you got through all the grog on your flight, as per your photos, even I would be impressed. Yee Gads! Well Done.


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