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My Emirates First Experience Aboard an A380

Getting comfortable in Suite 1E with a glass of Dom Perignon

In March I flew in Emirates First Class from Dubai to London, aboard an A380. The experience was highly enjoyable. Emirates has fantastic crew from many different countries, which reflects the international appeal of the airline.

The First Class Suites, which can even be closed if you want additional privacy, come complete with your own private mini-bar featuring 2 kinds of water. I was a little shocked it was not refrigerated, but I wasn’t complaining.

There are is also an Onboard Lounge behind business class where you can socialize and get something to nibble on or a drink, as well as an additional First Class Social Area with a bar, but with no bartender.

I shot some video during this flight and hope you enjoy it.

The seat controls for the Emirates First Suites. There are onboard power outlets too.

Left: Truth: the tea tasted like Arabic coffee. Right: My personal mini-bar

I love the I Dream of Jeannie-inspired hats and scarves worn by female members of the Emirates crew

My only issue with this flight was that I was not offered a sleep suit (perhaps because it was day time flight). I’m pretty sure if I would have asked for one, a sleep suit would have been magically delivered to my seat/suite.  The flight had wifi, and I was a bit surprised that First Class passengers had to pay to use it. Fortunately it was a Saturday so it was a non-issue.

Paulo, my Italian-born Flight Attendant, made sure my Champagne glass stayed full.

Left: The caviar course Right: The Thai chicken curry

Then there is the food. It’s fine dining in the sky. From the Arabic coffee and dates prior to take off, to the extensive menu with selections ranging from miso marinated salmon to beef. The caviar portion was generous and traditional local Arabic mezze platter that were straight up good (not just “good for airplane food.”). The Thai chicken curry which absolutely the best in-flight meal I’ve ever had. It was followed by delicious Arabic sweets, including katayef and cashew nut baklava.

The Emirates Mezze Platter paired nicely with the Dom Perignon

The shower suites are off the hook– you can book a time to take your shower and are allowed 15 minutes in the suite (you get 5 minutes of shower water time, and an additional 10 minutes for using the rest of the facilities.) The water pressure is strong and the shower suites– painted with the architecture of the Dubai skyline- are jammed with amenities including a hairdryer.

The shower suites feature flattering lighting and scenic painting of the Dubai skyline

Left: The First Class Social Area Right: The Onboard Lounge, located behind business class

There is not one bar but two on board, should you not be satisfied with the fabulous service offered by the Emirates flight attendants. I felt the need to try out both the First Class Social Area (located at the front of the cabin, near the shower suites) as well as the more happening Onboard Lounge (located behind Business Class). The Onboard Lounge comes complete with a bartender and benches to sit on. I think the Onboard Lounge is the better in-flight bar option.

The First Class Social Area comes stocked with beverages and snacks

The First Class Suites come complete with Do Not Disturb Signs

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Check Out My Cathay Pacific Video Featured on The Smartflyer Blog

I’m so excited that Smartflyer is featuring my Cathay Pacific video today. While I had the privilege of flying in Singapore Airlines first class last month from SFO to SIN and was impressed with their service (and in-flight choice of Krug or Dom Perignon) and staying power of their flight attendants hairdos, it didn’t come close to the experience on my favorite airline, Cathay Pacific.

I find Cathay Pacific so far and away the best, I’ll take their herringbone layout business class over any US carrier’s international first class product. Cathay’s combination of style and service can’t be beat.

Above: Cathay’s Herringbone layout in International Business Class

If you’re new to the blog, I hope you enjoy my Cathay plane porn video. I am scheduled to fly in Cathay’s first class again in March from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG)– stay tuned to the blog for more in-flight Cathay goodness!

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Swiss Flight Review: Flying from LA to Zurich business class on Swiss

Bubbly before take off

My In-flight entertainment included Champagne and Heather Poole’s book, Cruising Attitude

It’s always a treat to fly to Europe business class on a different carrier than United. So when an award seat on Swiss from Los Angeles (LAX) to Zürich (ZRH) was available for my last trip to to Europe, I very excited to check out the Swiss Business Class Experience.

Swiss wing tip

Swiss wing tip, the view from my seat 8K

Swiss Flight LX41 from LAX- ZRH doesn’t depart until 7:35 pm, which gave me a full work day in Los Angeles. I prefer night overseas flights because I’m more likely to actually get some sleep on them. When I checked in at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, I was told one of my bags was 2 kilos overweight, but not asked to move anything around nor charged any fee.


Swiss plane on the Tarmac

The Aircraft was an A-340-300 and the flight service was excellent. The flight crew were very pleasant. I was seated in 8K, a window seat and found the business class pods particularly comfortable and private. Also, they have fully horizontal flat beds, which really make a difference in my ability to sleep up in the air. The pods also had great reading lights and easy to access power ports. After the dinner meal service I fell asleep for several hours until I woke up from turbulence. A few bumps didn’t ruin my ride.

Lovely aircraft, great staff, and a beautiful touch down in Zurich. I wouldn’t mind flying SWISS business more often!

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Mile High Food Porn: A Mobile Photography Experiment

Food on an airplane, with raisins. Cathay Pacific Business class from Jo'Burg to Hong Kong

Food on an airplane, with raisins. Cathay Pacific Business class from Jo’Burg to Hong Kong

35,000 feet above sea level remains the final frontier for foodie culture. There are good reasons for airplane food being notoriously bad. If you combine the economics of running an airline, the scale of mass catering, and the limitations of food prep in a jet galley you have reason enough for lackluster sky catering.  The fact that your taste buds are dulled at altitude doesn’t help.  Meal service has been cut back as standard on so many flights in this day of no-frills air carrier, that I take no mug of tea-that-tastes-like-coffee for granted.

As a general note, US carriers are sub-par in the in flight meal service sector, and Asian carriers are known to excel, with Singapore and Cathay always ranking high. During my recent travels Cathay Pacific had by far the best dining and beverage options, but with my 11:30 pm departure from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, I was far more interested in getting sleep than finishing my caviar.

In flight meal service is more about passing the time on a flight than gaining sustenance. So I recently decided to turn those meals into photo experiments. While the rubber eggs are inedible, they can be a lovely shade of yellow if you’ve got nice window light. So turn that airplane catering into a photo op, I say.

Mobile Photography Tip:  The three apps I like most for food porn are Hipstamatic Foodie SnapPak (the Loftus lens adds a dreamy quality to landscapes and portaits, too), Camera+ (which has a nice little “food” scene default), and ProCamera (because you can lock focus and exposure separately, which is very useful if you have strong window light).

Here are some pictures of the airplane meals I’ve been served over the past few weeks, curated into a Mile High Food Porn gallery.

Fruit and yogurt. United business class. PS service LAX-JFK

Fruit and yogurt. United business class. PS service LAX-JFK , Business class, Hipstamatic, camera+, Mobile Photography

United PS service LAX-JFK, Business class, Hipstamatic, camera+, Mobile Photography

Eggs, potato, and sausage patty. United PS service LAX-JFK, Business class, Hipstamatic, camera+, Mobile Photography

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Cathay, Take Me Away! Third Time’s Still a Charm in Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay CX 880 departs at 11.40 pm, so I was already exhausted

Cathay CX 880 departs at 11.40 pm, so I was already exhausted

On my most recent trip to Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to get an award ticket back home to Los Angeles on Cathay Pacific Airlines in First Class. If you’re saving your frequent flyer miles in your Award Wallet* account for an aspirational ticket for your international holidays, this is one worth aiming for!  My husband and I took separate flights from Hong Kong to Los Angeles (he left a day earlier) since we could not get two first class award tickets on the same flight, and we both wanted the Cathay First experience.

Rumor has it there might be a better International First Class product out there, but I have yet to experience it. First class flying is always fun, but Cathay’s sublime service makes every international flight a pleasure, and takes the pain out of the long haul from HKG to LAX.  Cathay Pacific Airlines remains my first true airline love. Some of my favorite touches: the Shanghai Tang sleep suit (which I really wanted to keep but didn’t. I have, however, noticed a few for sale on eBay). The lovely Aesop amenities kit, including an adorable tube of my all-time favorite, Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm, which exploded a tiny bit when opened under pressure. The champagne is still Krug, also my bubbly of choice.

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