Earlier this winter, I flew to Dubai to with Emirates, to take a look behind the scenes and tour some of the best places to stay and eat.
In this post (part one of two) I’ll show you what it’s like to fly with Emirates, and take you on a journey inside Emirates Flight Catering facility.
Flying Business class with Emirates
The Business Class experience with Emirates starts before you even reach the airport.
Coming from Nottingham, I would usually catch get a train all the way to Gatwick, but Emirates Airline offers a personal chauffeur to all Business and First Class customers for up to a 70 mile radius around the airport at no extra cost, so I hopped off the train at Lutonand enjoyed a comfortable ride right up the Departures doors.
Once I arrived at Gatwick I headed straight to the Emirates Lounge. Again, access to the lounge is complimentary to those flying First or Business Class.
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax, or a place to get some work done before a flight it’s ideal – spacious, quiet, comfortable seats, and a very good selection of complimentary fresh food and drinks.
After catching up with my travel companions (Fiona from London-Unattached, Jeanne from Cooksister, and May from Eat Cook Explore), it was time to board the flight, which included a shorter route to the cabin doors, and a short journey up some steps to the upper deck. My first thought upon reaching my seat was, “wow, that’s a lot of space”.
While the sign to remain seated was on I played with the in-flight entertainment on an absolutely massive screen. The flight had a large selection of TV shows and movies for adults and kids, including several that weren’t on home release yet. This was a big relief to me, since we had a seven hour flight ahead of us.
Comfort levels were high on this flight, with plenty of space for me to put away my carry on, rest my drink, snack and charge whatever needed charging.
Once we were in flight and the seatbelt sign was off, we explored the standing bar, which served cocktails and various nibbles, such as bar snacks, pastries, cakes and finger sandwiches. Emirates Business Class really is a lovely way to spend your time in the air.
Before long it was time for the in-flight meal. Everything on the menu looked good, but I plumped for the vegetarian options, which included a carrot slaw starter and a curried main. Each course was packed with veggies, which is great.
As we were on an overnight flight, I decided to get some rest. It’s lovely to have some extra space to stretch out while you’re awake, but having enough of it to turn your seat into an adjustable bed is a true luxury. I half expected not to be able to stretch out, but was delighted to find I could comfortably lay completely flat. Bliss. And the curved edges of the seat back lend some privacy too.
To bring us out of our naps, the cabin lighting didn’t click on suddenly, but rather it gradually increased in intensity and moved through a gentle pink, sunrise-like hue to wake us up more naturally. This was actually rather pleasant and helped us to feel less groggy than we might have otherwise.
Before long, we’d landed gently and were on our way through security, ready to explore Dubai.
Before I delve into my tour of the Emirates Flight Catering facility, I’ll just take a moment to compare the Business Class journey with our journey home in Emirates Economy Class.
Now quite clearly, Economy Class doesn’t get you where you’re going any slower than Business Class. You all arrive on the ground at the same time, so the difference in ticket price is all down the facilities and service you get in the air.
Of course, your allotted space is smaller, the seats don’t go all the way back. You get a less luxurious standard of blanket and the tableware is simpler. The menu selection is a little smaller than the one in Business Class, but the food is otherwise exactly the same. The service from cabin staff is just as good, and the entertainment selection is exactly the same too, you just get a smaller screen.
Overall, I’d say Business Class was a bit of a treat for me, but if you can afford it, the perks are great, especially if you’re with family and want to take a lot of stress out of the trip. I loved having the Emirates Lounge to rest up in before the flight, and would particularly want to aim for Business Class for an overnight flight, just for that comfy bed.
Having said that Economy Class was a comfortable experience, and I would happily fly either class on Emirates again.
Now, on to my Dubai adventures…
A tour of the Emirates Flight Catering Facility
No sooner had we emerged from the airport into the warm Dubai air than we were whisked by car to the Emirates Flight Catering Facility, where we grabbed refreshments, donned white coats, hard shoes, and hair nets and dove straight into our tour.
The first thing that strikes you in the sheer size of the place – it’s like walking into the kitchen of the largest restaurant you could imagine, and really, that’s what it is, except the restaurant is several thousand feet in the air, and split across a whole fleet of planes.
As we toured the facility, we met with chefs who handled specific cuisines. The standard of cooking is incredibly high throughout, with the various kitchens all using fresh ingredients, constantly updating their menus, and paying very close attention to detail during cooking and plating up to make sure every single meal is up to standard.
Even with 55 million meals passing through the kitchens this year, practically nothing is automated. This alone would be impressive, but doubly so when you consider how much is made in-house – the breads, the pastries, the hummus, the sushi, all made on-site.
Watching people plating up was fascinating, with one reference plate used to produce hundreds more to the same high standard.
With appetites truly whetted, it was our turn to get cooking.
The Emirates Blogger Culinary Challenge
Making our way into a development kitchen, we were introduced to the Executive Chef Haiko-Michael Schafer (in the pink apron), who set out the Emirates Blogger Culinary Challenge.
We were also introduced to the judges, which – to our surprise – included legendary British cook Gary Rhodes!
My competition for this challenge were my travel companions, plus the wonderful Sally from My Custard Pie, who is resident in Dubai and who joined us for the day.
Haiko-Michael demonstrated how to cook a classic mushroom soup, at which point we were given a recipe list and 45 minutes.
I decided to alter my soup by adding curry spices, and then pan fried some walnuts to go on top for decoration.
The second dish we had to prepare was a stir-fry. This involved quite a lot of seafood, so I decided to do a veggie option, utilising the same sauce ingredients as the others and a new technique the chefs showed us to create a flower effect with the carrots.
Gary suggested I use some asparagus spears as the centrepiece of my dish, which I think worked rather well. It tasted great too!
After that it was time for the judges input, and we all stood hushed, chewing on our lips.
I didn’t win the competition, that honour went to Fiona, but I was still on a high. It was great to work in a professional kitchen with so many ingredients to choose from, and such sharp knives! I loved getting opinions from professional chefs as I worked, and I have already applied some of the tips they shared on how to prepare and plate up.
So that was my first morning in Dubai. I still have lots to tell you, so look out for part two of my trip to Dubai where I got to spend three days sampling some great food and stay at some wonderful hotels.
I flew to Dubai as a guest of Emirates. Prices for flights start from £607 Economy Class or £2,689 Business Class.