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Following the historic Qantas-Emirates hookup we took a tour of Emirates business class to bring Qantas regulars and loyalists a look at the business class they'll experience when flying on the red Roos' new chum.
Today we're upgrading to Emirates first class.
The Dubai-based carrier has a stellar first class offering, although the aesthetic isn't to everyone's taste and the seating can vary across the fleet.
Emirates First Class Suite
All Emirates flights to and from Australian feature the airline's swanky First Class Suite, with its personal minibar, coat rack, fold-up mirror, heaps of storage, and all the faux-effect wood, brass and lighting that you could desire.
The "wow" factor is there -- but so's the "bling" factor.
There's a 23-inch (58cm) screen with Emirates' world-beating ICE entertainment system (featuring a number of particularly interesting introductions to various periods of classical music) -- and noise-cancelling headphones to boot.
Your wide seat reclines back into a 6'7" (2m) bed, which the crew dress with a mattress for maximum comfort.
Centre seats have a divider that raises and lowers so that passengers travelling together can easily chat over dinner or sort out the final parts of a presentation, while window seats are completely blocked off from every other seat.
Compared with Qantas, it's more private, with more nifty gizmos and more flash -- but aesthetics are a deeply personal thing, and first class passengers will naturally gravitate towards either the simpler Qantas style or the glitzier Emirates design.
Extra first class perks on the Airbus A380
A380 first class passengers (that's one daily Sydney flight and, soon, a daily Melbourne flight) also get a first class social area at the front of the A380's upper deck, to match the business class bar all the way at the back -- to which they also have access.
(Our advice: the business class bar is much more lively than the first class social area. Head back there with a glass of first class something in your hand if you fancy a chat.)
And -- something of a pièce de resistance -- there's a full shower and changing room for first class passengers on the A380, so you can spruce up limp hair and get yourself looking first-class fabulous before you arrive.
The water runs on a timer system (showing you how much you have left) and there are upmarket toiletries awaiting you.
Pick your plane carefully to get the best seats
When choosing your connecting flights from Dubai, note that Emirates offers three types of first class to its passengers: the glitzy suite with doors, a relatively similar seat without doors called Skycruiser, and a sleeper seat.
These sometimes vary even on the same route, so you'll need to pick on a plane-by-plane basis (or instruct your travel booker to do so).
The Skycruiser "doorless suite" is fitted to the soon-to-be-replaced Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300 and a subset of the Boeing 777-300ER fleet, while the less glamorous sleeper seat is on A330 and A340-300 planes.
As a general rule, you're most likely to find Suites on long-haul routes with a higher proportion of first class passengers, while the other options are on shorter flights where the lack of a full suite experience isn't as much of a drawback.
First class food and first class wine
On all first class services, Emirates' food is designed to tempt even the most refined palate, with Arabic and international cuisine.
And there's a fantastic wine list, currently headed up by vintage 2000 Dom Pérignon Champagne, with top-notch local drops and big name international labels on Australian flights.
On Emirates' sample wine lists you'd see the Yabby Lake Pinot from the Mornington Peninsula, or the Staate Landt Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in NZ. You might also enjoy a Domaine Bouchard Père Meursault, or a Château La Lagune Haut-Médoc, on routes where French wine is served.
Dow's vintage port -- most recently the 1985 -- is also on offer, and with Emirates' fantastic cheese selection that's a bottle not to miss.
First Class passengers: would you rather fly Qantas or Emirates first class? Share your thoughts on the relative merits of each first class option with fellow travellers in a comment at the bottom of this article.
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