My second Boeing experience was on June 10, 2017. A couple of days before my flight, Emirates offered me a business class seat from Manila to Dubai for about 19,000 points – which is more than a steal. Usually, a business class seat upgrade will cost you almost 40,000 points. A round trip business class trip will cost you about 70,000 points. I had enough points so I took it.
As a Silver Skywards member, I have access to a dedicated check-in counter and have priority boarding privileges. Yet, the experience of turning right, instead of left to the Economy section, upon entering the plane still made me giddy. I was on a newer Boeing, so my screen and portable control console worked perfectly and had an updated interface. I was offered welcome drinks and I again opted for champagne over juices and sparkling water.
I chose a window seat, although I prefer aisle seats, just to experience it. The criticism of Emirates’s business class configuration on their Boeing aircraft is that they have a 2x3x2 layout. People in window seats and in the middle seats have to step over the legs of other passengers to get to the aisle. But, window seats do have more privacy.
A young flight attendant asked me what I’d like for pre-dinner drinks. “Rob Roy” I said. “Excuse me?”. “Rob Roy”. “I beg your pardon? I’m not familiar with the drinks menu”. I pulled out the menu from the seat pocket in front of me and showed it to her. “Oh, I’m so sorry” she looked embarrassed. “It’s alright” I said while waving my hand dismissively. She must have been pulled out from the economy section to temporarily assist in handling business class passengers. I’ve noticed that most of the business class crew were considerably senior than the ones in economy. While I was in the midst of of watching the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast”, I was served my cocktail with warm macadamia nuts.
An hour later, dinner service began. By then I already knew from where to pull out my tray table so there was no longer a few seconds of awkward waiting. I ordered Salmon Roulade served with mango salad, for appetizer, and paired it with a glass of Chateau de Santenay, Saint Aubin “En Vesvau” 2014. Emirates has a separate menu for wines, which usually feature two white wines and two red wines. While dinner service was going on, the sommelier went around with a basket of bottles of wine. The sommelier was quite quick to spot who needed refilling.
For my main course, I asked for pan-fried parrot fish with lemon velouté, served with buttered potatoes and grilled vegetables. I was going for a fish-themed dinner so that everything would go well with the white wine. The fish was very delicate and lightly seasoned but I found the potatoes to have had too much butter on them. For dessert, I asked for a cheese platter, which I was barely able to finish. After dinner, I asked for fresh orange juice. The thing about business class orange juice is that it’s freshly squeezed while the ones in economy are poured out of a box. And it’s served in a nice glass, too. I was later given a box of Belgian chocolates.
The large coffee that I had before the flight kept me awake despite having drunk a considerable amount of white wine. I set the seat to fully-flat setting and it was only then I noticed the stars on the cabin roof. People around me began to softly snore and I closed my eyes. The caffeine in my body and the warmth of my part of the plane kept me awake. I tossed and turned for a while before falling into a short nap.
When I woke up and sat up, a flight attendant asked me if I wanted breakfast. I was still full so I declined. Apparently most of the passengers preferred to sleep and only a few availed of the breakfast service. An hour later, we started our descent.
On July 3, 2017, I was once again upgraded to Business Class for my Dubai to Manila flight. I had purposely spent eight hours in Dubai airport after my flight from Budapest to relish the amenities, food, and beverages of the business class lounge. I was quite tipsy from all the Moet champagne that I drank that I was quite jolted when I was handed a business class boarding pass at the gate.
I was on an older Boeing. The screen hardly responded to my touch so I had to use the portable console to navigate the menu. At least the seat functioned properly, and for the first time, I used the massage feature. The seat basically vibrated at different points – leg area, lower back, and head. I got to relax a little. Despite having drunk all that champagne in the business class lounge, I still asked for champagne for my welcome drink.
I put on “Jackie” and watched Natalie Portman do her take of Jackie Kennedy. The flight attendant in charge of me was a middle-aged Indian woman. She was very motherly and occasionally patted my shoulder to see if I’m alright. As I noted before, the crew in business class were considerably senior than those in economy. Their experience definitely showed in their flawless and efficient service. They also had this no-nonsense air, which meant a snooty business class or even first class passenger cannot easily intimidate them. Throughout the flight, the bursar was engaged in a conversation with a passenger a couple of seats in front of me. I later discovered that said passenger was a Platinum Skywards member – very rare.
I asked for a Rusty Nail for my pre-lunch drink. As usual, my drink came with warm macadamia nuts. For appetizer, I again asked for grilled chicken with sun-dried tomato tapenade on mushroom salad with peppers and fennel. I paired this with Australian white wine that had a hint of mineral taste in it.
Main course was wok-fried chili prawns served with steamed jasmine rice and glazed vegetables. I opted for a light main course so I could still stuff in some dessert. The jasmine rice and vegetables were well-cooked, but the prawns, fresh and juicy, were swimming in a sauce that hardly had any flavor in it. It was not even spicy. For dessert, I had a very delightful chocolate truffle cake with cherry compote which I paired with tea.
I was drowsy after my meal so I set my seat to fully-flat position. My motherly flight attendant asked if I wanted a duvet. “Sure!”, I said and stood up so that she could lay it out on top of my seat. I never availed of a duvet before and I wanted to see if it made a difference. And it did. My seat became more comfortable and I dozed off in no time.
Four hours later, I woke up to answer nature’s call. I never went into the business class toilets before so I figured it was the perfect time to explore them. The toilet was slightly roomier than in economy but had the same layout. Although, it had a wood-themed finish, some fresh cotton towels, disposable toothbrushes, and most importantly, two large bottles of Bulgari eau de toilette. I helped myself to some Bulgari.
Snack service began a little while later. I had a Selection of Savouries: Hoisin Chicken Drummettes, prawn dumplings, and lemon grass chicken parcels. In an attempt to be sober, I asked for orange juice. All the while, Colin Firth was stammering in “The King’s Speech”. To finish everything, I had coffee.
Service on that flight was excellent, which compensated for the fact that the facilities were dated. I finally understood what reviewers meant when they said that the Emirates experience can be inconsistent by reason of the aircraft being used. Well, I can’t really complain because I flew in business class for free.