Booking an Emirates A380 First Class ticket with Alaska Airlines points
Ever dream of flying Emirates in First Class? A shower in the sky you say? A bar that serves an $800 bottle of Cognac or a $300 bottle of champagne? Are you kidding me!?!
Having knowledge of the Alaska Air program combined with a little bit of luck paid dividends for a trip to India I took this past March. With Alaska Air redemptions, you can change your ticket once, so long as the origin and destination stay the same. Alaska Airlines also opens up award ticket 331 days out, and Emirates releases their award tickets 340 days out. So on 3/27/16, I booked a one-way first class ticket via Alaska Airlines on Emirates on the A380 to Mumbai, with a layover in Dubai for a flight on February 20, 2017, even though I was looking to travel in early/mid-march 2017.
The cost? 90,000 Alaska Airlines miles, and $48. The retail cost of that ticket? ~$20,000. A whopping 22 cents/mile!
Without notice on 3/31/16 Alaska and Emirates changed the redemption cost of that same ticket to 150,000 miles. I was one lucky duck because I didn’t have the miles in my account to cover that 60,000 point difference. Now I just had to narrow down my travel dates for the March 2017 travel, and cross my fingers that I could find first class availability to switch my flight to over the course of the next 11 months. Alaska confirmed I could change the ticket without having to pay the difference in miles (60,000). This is where an Expertflyer subscription comes in handy! I narrowed down my ideal travel dates and set an alert for a first class award. Lo and behold a month later I was notified of an award ticket opening and I booked my ticket for my desired travel date date of 3/3/17 on Emirates First Class via the A380 from JFK-DXB, and then first class on the 777 from DXB-BOM. (Which was an underwhelming experience to be honest).
So, fast forward to the experience. I traveled with my buddy Dave, who has made a few appearances throughout the blog in travels to South Africa/Zimbabwe, South America, Thailand and London/Iceland. He also was flying with Emirates, but in Economy. I was able to get him into the First Class lounge at JFK on my ticket, although he would have to board the plane from the gate, and not via the lounge. We had a late night flight, so the lounge was pretty crowded. The food and booze selection was mediocre, especially for being a first class lounge. But to be honest I couldn’t contain my excitement to check off the Emirates A380 first class flying experience from my bucket list.
This was the first time I was able to board the plane directly from the lounge, which is by no means a deal breaker, but a nice touch to maximize the relaxation leading up to departure.
Upon boarding the plane and turning left to the first class cabin, I was escorted to my seat and offered a refreshment. Reading plenty of these reviews leading up to my trip, I decided to hold off on the bubbly until take off because I wanted that 2006 Dom Perignon! Emirates pays taxes on alcohol served on the ground in the US, so the selection is limited during the boarding process from what I understand.
Emirates A380 First Class Dining and Drinks
It takes ~15 min or so to prepare the cold food and ~30 minutes to prepare the hot food on the menu. So getting your order(s) in place will certainly go a long way in making sure you don’t gorge yourself like I did.
I started with a glass of the 2006 Vintage Dom Perignon along with an order of the caviar and canapes. his order was placed with the flight attendant shortly after she made her introduction, and I was presented with my first course upon reaching cruising altitude.
I’m by no means a champagne or caviar connoisseur, but damn was that a tasty way to start off the Emirates first class experience!
Moving on to my next meal I decided on an order of the poached lobster and an order of the traditional Arabic mezze.
At some point I changed course from the 2006 Dom Perignon to Hennessey Paradis, which goes for $800 a bottle. ~2-3 hours into the flight and ~2AM local time, I thought it’d be smart to wind down for bed, so I changed into my Emirates issued pajamas, and then meandered over to the bar for a night cap before calling it a night.
Emirates A380 First Class Bar
Unsurprisingly I was the only person hanging out at the bar, except for an Emirates attendant. After all it was ~2AM, and most people were sound asleep. Business and First class passengers in the upper deck of the plane have access to the bar, which is located in the middle of that top portion of the A380. There is a lounge area where passengers can congregate and some seats with seat belts in case things get bumpy.
Emirates A380 First Class Suite
The seat was quite comfortable, and both as a seat, and when turned into a lay flat bed. I had some issues with the massage feature in the chair, but that didn’t detract from my experience. I sat in seat 2K, which is along the window in a 1-2-1 formation. For those traveling with a travelling companion you may want to look into the middle aisle so that you can share that experience together by rolling down a shade in the middle. The seat has a built in mini bar built into it, a la James Bond. I must have pressed the button to have the drinks go up and down at least 20 times. The table is pulled out from the arm of the chair and is quite substantial in size. The entertainment system is managed by a tablet device that locks into place. I felt like the movie choices were decent enough, but that wasn’t my primary concern.
Emirates A380 First Class Shower
After a wonderful slumber 30,000 feet up, I was awoken by my flight attendant to check off my bucket list experience of showering in an airplane. This wake up call was set up ahead of time, an hour or so into my flight. Each first class passenger has 30 minutes in the bathroom. You only get ~5 min of hot water, the rest of the time is for you to enjoy the bathroom and refresh. I made sure I used most of that 30 minute time frame though.
The shower itself was a decent size with good water pressure. There’s an electronic gauge to let you know how much water you have left, with a rose in the shower to fancy things up a bit. It’s certainly a bucket list experience worth adding to your list. The icing on the top? Controlling the temperature of the floors to make them nice and toasty.
Emirates A380 First Class Menu
Emirates A380 First Class In a Nutshell?
You’d be crazy not to take advantage of this experience if you’ve got the Alaska miles to burn. It was easily my favorite flying experience to date, and I look forward to taking advantage of this experience at least one more time!