Jumping at the chance to test ride my first Emirates flight, I climbed aboard their shiny new 777-300 ER aircraft for a leisurely short flight from Sydney to Christchurch. With high expectations (word of mouth travels far), I was hoping my flight would live up to the hype.
Route: Sydney to Christchurch daily (7 times a week).
Aircraft: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER
Flight Time: Three hours and five minutes.
Check-in: Check-in was seamless, I was greeted promptly and warmly on arrival and directed to the next available check-in desk. A pretty stock standard counter, nothing flashy to report aside from friendly service that was well organised and had me on my way to the lounge in a flash.
The Lounge: Emirates Lounge Sydney
The lounge in Sydney is fantastic and just what I needed after an early morning start. It’s a peaceful oasis in the middle of Sydney Airport with comfortable leather couches, free WIFI access for people like me who just can’t leave their work behind, and panoramic glass windows overlooking the airport gates.
A fully stocked bar was available with a selection of complimentary Spirits, Australian Wines and Veuve Cliquot champagne.
The food selection and presentation was excellent. A quality selection of both hot and cold breakfast options were on offer including cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit and pastries through to eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, toast, tea, coffee and juice. A comprehensive selection of newspapers kept me entertained in between work emails and a few cold beers.
I freshened up in the full bathroom facilities, indulging in the fancy toiletries available for use.
Overall the lounge was quiet, professional and unassuming.
Punctuality: The flight was on time departing and arrived on schedule, flying over the New Zealand Alps on a sunny spring day.
Seat and cabin breakdown: Business class, 2-3-2 configuration.
The business class cabin was beautifully finished with comfortable ergonomic leather trimmed cloth seats and wood grain panelling, giving it a real prestigious feel. Each cabin features a unique, advanced mood lighting system, complete with a starlit sky which adjusts throughout a flight to reflect the time at the destination, and to help combat effects of jet lag.
The 42 new generation lie-flat business class seats feature a 10 zone in-seat massage function, large privacy dividers, hand held controls and a 1 inch personal entertainment screen.
Business class seats also include Emirate’s state of the art touchscreen ICE entertainment system (providing on-demand access to a full range of movies, games and information services). The massive screen made it a pleasure to use.
Legroom was spacious, with seats up to 79 inches long, and seat rows pitched at 1.17m / 47” apart respectively. Each seat also comes with an adjustable headrest, as well as an electronically operated footrest and lumbar support. Great for a short haul or long haul nap.
There were plenty of pockets and overhead locker space to stow away items, as well as a personal swivel table which provided me with plenty of room (I was even able to set up my laptop, a wireless keyboard and mouse, with room to spare). I was also able to recline my seat back in my very own pod without having to worry about cramping the person behind me.
Front row seats have more leg room, but you’ll end up having to trade off for a fold out digital touchscreen – mine jumped around a lot during the turbulence. My pick of the two options would be a seat behind with the fixed screen.
Business class passengers were also given exclusive access to two toilets.
Baggage allowance: Checked baggage allows 1 piece up to 40 kilograms, and 2 carry-on bags with a maximum total combined weight of 12 kilograms.
On board entertainment:
No shortage of things to do here and definitely no excuses for boredom. Emirate’s ICE entertainment system utilizes a large digital touch screen. Guests can choose from the latest movies, Disney classics for the kids, up-to-date TV shows, a large number of different music channels, games and multiple language options. The entertainment program booklet alone would take you a couple of hours to read through. The front and rear flight cameras are also a really nice touch – check out the take-off and landing live in action.
Service: Efficient, friendly and attentive. I struggled to find any faults here. The crew were very perceptive and they took the time to chat with me at the beginning of my flight to check if I had any specific needs.
Food and beverages: Complimentary champagne on arrival and a first class wine list, including French champagne, white wine and red wine labels with a couple of New Zealand options included in the mix when we got up in the air. All wines were selected to compliment set meals.
The menu was extensive, offering a choice of healthy lifestyle options, a full range of courses and bar service. I chose the Lemon and Parsley Chicken for lunch, featuring succulent marinated and pan fried chicken, with Moroccan spices, topped with a coriander jus, presented with sautéed courgettes, aubergine, tomato and golden roasted potato. All washed down with a glass of Chateau Cantenac Brown 2005, Margaux Bordeaux – one happy business camper.
Snacks were available during the flight and included mixed nuts, as well as tea, coffee and a full beverage service. The deserts were mouthwatering, I dowsed my taste buds in dark chocolate sweet cannelloni, and topped this off with cheese platters and a selection of fruits.
Flight Frequency: Emirates operates daily from Sydney to Christchurch, with return Business Class fares starting at $1616 including tax.
The Verdict: Understated elegance, exceptional attention to detail and sophisticated service. For once, my much anticipated experience did indeed live up to the hype. Perfection.
The writer was a guest of Emirates