There’s just something special about the Emirates First Class experience. Beyond the ostentatious burled wood grain is a touch of refinement. It starts with personalised service and continues with top-shelf Champagne and a varied restaurant-style menu ranging from caviar to beef sliders.
During the COVID lockdown days of October 2021, I spotted plenty of Emirates First Class availability to Europe in September 2022. With over 600,000 Qantas Points stockpiled and doing nothing, my partner and I took a gamble and booked two First Class seats from Perth to Dubai to Vienna.
What a great decision it turned out to be. Borders reopened the following year, and Emirates began massively increasing carrier charges and restricting reward seat availability. But our tickets were firmly locked in for 170,800 Qantas Points + AU$452 per person, albeit on the Boeing 777.
At the time of writing, all Emirates flights to Australia are now back on the Airbus A380, including Perth-Dubai. So you’ll still get the same in-flight experience as we did, but with the added bonus of the inflight shower spa and onboard bar!
Check-in, lounge and boarding
After a busy day of work, we finally begin to relax once we arrive at Perth Airport in the evening. First Class and Qantas/Emirates Platinum guests can check in at the dedicated lane on the right. We’re served straight away and are merrily on our way to the Emirates Perth lounge within minutes of arriving.
The Emirates lounge is one of the best airport lounges in Perth. With two Champagnes and over 20 cold and hot dishes, we’re spoiled for choice with our pre-flight dinner. It’s hard not to try a bit of everything, especially because we know even more treats await in First Class!
Before we know it, the special moment has arrived. Our flight is ready for boarding, and First Class passengers are invited to board first. This is my very first flight in Emirates First Class, and I’m eager to see what the cabin is like. It’s time to fly.
Emirates 777 First Class seating and pre-flight
I’ve been tracking the inbound flight, and I know that we’ll be travelling on one of Emirates’ oldest Boeing 777s today. Still, the First Class cabin looks quite fresh, given its age.
Most Emirates Boeing 777s have eight First Class seats, arranged 1-2-1. (There are also a few jets with the airline’s newest ‘Gamechanger’ First Class in a 1-1-1 layout, but that’s for another time). These ‘classic’ First Class seats are a wider version of what’s found on the airline’s Airbus A380s.
Inside the suite
One of the biggest downsides is the non-widescreen grainy inflight entertainment screen and control tablet. But apart from that, the rest of the suite looks identical to the Emirates Airbus A380 First Class seat.
I’m personally not too much of a fan of the dull grey leather and the loud flashy wood panelling. But First Class does still have a distinctively premium vibe to it. Cool touches include a desk lamp, a lighted make-up mirror, sliding doors and a motorised mini-bar.
Functionally, the suite is much bigger than I expected. Sitting down, I don’t feel restricted or enclosed at all. It helps that the privacy divider in the middle is down, so I can chat with my partner. Our combined suites feel like one airy room – certainly very luxurious for an aeroplane.
The control tablet controls most aspects of the seat, including the sliding doors, seat positioning and the divider or windows. There’s a sizeable storage unit in the console which fits most of my various gadgets.
Finally, there are no overhead lockers at all in First Class. Instead, you can stash your carry-on bags in a nifty nook in the footwell. Each seat also has a built-in wardrobe that cleverly fits in behind the entertainment screen.
A lot happens before take-off, starting with Arabic dates and coffee. The dates come in original, almond or orange flavours. Across two flights, I try them all, and I particularly love the zestiness of the orange.
Next up is a pre-departure Champagne – a delightful Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013, as Emirates doesn’t seem to serve the Dom Pérignon on the ground. Finally, the cabin crew hand us bulging Bulgari amenity kits and a set of Emirates’ signature moisturising pyjamas. Phew, what a haul!
Emirates First Class food and beverage
A pick-your-own degustation after take-off
The beauty of Emirates First Class dining is that it’s fully on demand. We can order whatever we like from the menu, in any order, and at any time (up to 90 minutes before landing). As this is an 11-hour overnight flight, I decide to have a few light dishes before bed and another snack before arrival.
Our tastebuds are tantalised with a surprise amuse-bouche pairing, which paves the way for the classic Emirates First Class starter of caviar. Served with a mother-of-pearl spoon, blinis and other accompaniments, each bite is a salty hit.
Next, I go for the porcini mushroom soup, which is elegantly plated up and poured at the seat. Its creamy and earthy tones are exquisite. But the tea-smoked duck, served with pickled vegetables, is an even greater explosion of flavour. It’s my highlight dish of the flight.
A movie class menu on steroids
Those four courses are more than enough to keep me comfortably full as I sleep through the next six hours or so. When I awake from my sky-high slumber, I peruse the ‘movie snacks’ menu, which is a relatively new addition to Emirates First Class. I’ve never had a classic prawn cocktail at my local Hoyts, but we all know Emirates likes to take things to the next level.
Nevertheless, the wagyu beef sliders are calling out to me, so I ask for a cheeky serving in lieu of a traditional aeroplane breakfast (if you’ve read my past reviews, you’ll know I try to avoid breakfast dishes on flights). They’re a tad overdone, but I still enjoy the sliders immensely. They’re served with fancy relish and mustard, along with some potato crisps.
The entire inflight menu (including drinks) is below. Each First Class suite also has a handy snack basket which is always within reach, except for take-off and landing. And if the cabin crew notices you have a particular favourite, you might just find it gets topped up when you’re not looking.
The food’s impressive, but wow. Emirates’ beverage selections in First Class are simply unparalleled. Champagne drinkers will be on cloud nine here. After take-off, the Dom Pérignon 2003 Plénitude 2 is cracked open. Beautifully aged, it’s definitely the most intriguing Champagne I’ve had the pleasure of trying. It’s also a cool AU$800 per bottle, so a few glasses actually cover my flight taxes!
Just to set expectations straight, the 2003 Plénitude 2 vintage is a limited-time feature on selected Emirates flights. The airline doesn’t offer P2 on Dubai-Europe flights, for example. But you can always expect some form of Dom Pérignon onboard in First Class – currently, it’s the 2012 vintage on all other flights. You can see the wine list for upcoming flights on the Emirates website.
With my decidedly low-brow beef sliders, I also enjoy a glass of the rich 2005 Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande Bordeaux red. It pairs very well with the beef.
Before we land, I spot a precious bottle of Hennessey Paradis cognac, which retails for AU$1,500. Its velvety-smooth bite is the perfect way to close off this enjoyable flight.
We don’t try any other alcoholic cocktails or beverages from Emirates’ extensive menu on this flight, but we do on our next flight from Dubai to Vienna. Be sure to also check out that review.
Emirates 777 First Class service, amenities and entertainment
The Emirates cabin crew are sensational on this flight, led by Amir. It’s the small touches that show how much work they put in. For example, the two lavatories are spotless and refreshed with a fresh toilet seat liner whenever I visit. Our beds are efficiently set up when we change into our pyjamas, and empty glasses or plates are refilled or taken away before long.
Marion is the main crew member looking after both of us, and she is simply faultless. Every interaction is friendly and sincere, and she seems to know what we’d like to do next before we even do.
Moisturising pyjamas and a comprehensive Bulgari amenity kit are handed out before take-off. The pyjamas are soft and come in a pouch. The awesome Bulgari amenity kits come in male and female versions, which have slightly different contents.
For example, mine has a 30 mL sample bottle of Bulgari Le Gemme Tygar cologne, while my partner enjoys a vial of Le Gemme Reali Rubinia perfume. Both are valued roughly at AU$120 (a 100 mL retail bottle of either costs around $400). But more practical inclusions with both kits include moisturising creams, antiperspirant, shaving foam and a razor.
Meanwhile, the lavatories are spacious, though not particularly huge compared to the Airbus A380 shower rooms. But the inclusion of fresh flowers and Bulgari scents does make a point of difference.
Each suite converts into a fully-flat bed. The thick mattress topper and blanket are already behind the seat when we board. After supper, the crew spring into action and set the bed while we’re changing into pyjamas. With the doors shut and the starry lights turned on, it’s a slice of heaven in the sky.
As mentioned, the absolutely ancient inflight entertainment system is the biggest letdown of the flight. The 4:3 screen is fuzzy and requires a 2000’s-era remote to control. It still has Emirates’ award-winning ICE entertainment system, but viewing the content just isn’t that much of a pleasure.
To be clear, not all Emirates Boeing 777 First Class seats are like this. Most of them have been upgraded to (or are delivered with) newer screens, such as on my next Dubai-Vienna flight. And since the Airbus A380 is flying all the Australian routes at present, poor screen quality isn’t a problem you’ll face anymore.
Luckily, Perth-Dubai is an overnight flight. Between dining and sleeping and generally enjoying the First Class experience, I don’t need to use the system much.
Free, unlimited Wi-Fi is offered to First Class passengers who have their Emirates Skywards membership attached to the ticket. My partner uses this to send some messages, but the speeds seem a bit slow to accomplish much else. Still, it’s a nice perk to have!
Finally, a charging outlet is located under the screen console which keeps my devices at 100%.
Booking this flight with points
It was very easy to book a First Class reward while we were in lockdown, but that’s not the case anymore. Unfortunately, Emirates has heavily restricted reward seat availability on Australian routes across all classes. In addition, the carrier charges have increased significantly. We paid 170,800 Qantas Points + $452 per person to fly all the way from Perth to Vienna in First Class.
Nowadays, the points are still the same (if you can find a seat) but expect to pay more than $1,700 in carrier charges, one-way. Having said that, you can still get decent value out of using Qantas Points for Emirates First Class. It’s one of the only remaining ways to book Emirates First Class reward seats.
The best availability appears to be in the month leading up to travel. If you can work out a last-minute trip, then you could be soaring in Emirates First Class very soon.
Our first-ever jaunt in Emirates First Class was an excellent experience. We knew we weren’t getting the latest, flashiest First Class seat. But the onboard service, dining and amenities made this 11-hour journey pass by so smoothly.
This is my third First Class experience on points – my previous two being Qantas Airbus A380 First and Singapore Airlines’ old Airbus A380 Suites.
All of them are good in their own way, but Emirates First really does stand out with the onboard product, such as by serving top-shelf Dom Pérignon and doling out fancy Bulgari amenities. If only all the Boeing 777s had been updated with the ‘Gamechanger’ new First Class suites – well then, it would be perfect.
As it is, I feel this is still a solid 4.5 star experience for this route. I slept well, ate well and drank very well. And with the Airbus A380 now flying Perth-Dubai again, it should hopefully be a 5-star knockout for the lucky travellers in First Class.
Photography by Brandon Loo, who booked the flight with his own points. Point Hacks reimbursed some of the fare.