I’ve been lucky enough to fly most of the “aspirational” First Class cabins in the commercial aviation world (some more than once):

There’s just nothing like it, and I enjoy the heck out of it every time, but there was always a hole in my roster of First Class cabins.

Emirates…on the A380…with the shower.  I don’t know why I have never done it, just never really been a big priority for me.

But that all changed last weekend.

a passport with a red and white label

How I booked it

I can hear you asking: did I use miles?  Which credit card did I transfer the points from?  Did you get any intense shower pics?

First of all, that last question is personal.

Secondly, I paid for my flight with cash (gasp) for a big reason: it was only $1000 USD.

Here was the caveat: it was only for a 3-hour flight from Christchurch to Sydney.

My logic was that it was not cheap but it was much cheaper than using miles (since Emirates wanted 82k miles for the same flight, a terrible redemption value), I was going to be driving from Queenstown to Christchurch anyway, and the timing really worked nicely for my schedule.  Plus I wanted that shower finally.

Most of all: I care about you, my loyal millions billions tens of readers.  So I’m not saying it was a great decision, I’ll be clear about that, but the marginal cost was relatively minimal and I’d get to cross a big item off my list of superlatives, so I pulled the trigger.

Why does Emirates fly to Christchurch, New Zealand?  Seems random.

You’re right.  Christchurch doesn’t seem like an obvious destination for Emirates nor an A380.  In fact, Christchurch is the smallest location regularly served by an A380.

It all boils down to one thing: parking fees at SYD.  Emirates lands their A380 early in the morning at SYD and departs back for Dubai late at night.  Rather than sit on the ground at SYD all day (which is very expensive, since SYD is rather space-constrained), it makes more sense for Emirates to do a quick roundtrip over to CHC.  It’s crazy but at scale it can make a difference, just another crazy element that airlines have to consider.

Ok let’s get to it, starting with the lounge experience at CHC

I didn’t take a single picture of it because it’s not a particularly impressive lounge.  It’s not an Emirates Lounge or anything like that, they use the same lounge everyone else uses.  The staff were very nice, the chairs were decently comfortable, and I spent a few hours sifting through some epic pictures from a quick trip “across the ditch” to New Zealand.

I eventually left the lounge to be first in line to board (which wasn’t a problem at all, there were only 3 First Class passengers on the CHC-SYD leg.  I noticed an old blue hangar on the airport property and was reminded of something really cool: the US Air Force operates the United States Antarctic Program from CHC!  Christchurch is home to the fleet of C-17 Globemaster aircraft which are specially designed to land on the ice runway in Antarctica near McMurdo Station, delivering cargo, scientists, and all of the supplies necessary to keep the station running year-round.

a large building with a blue roof

It was finally time to board!

Boarding the A380 from two different gates

Emirates uses two completely different gates to board the A380, one for Economy/Premium Economy and the other for Business/First.

The A380 proudly stood at the gate, ready for me to shower in it.

a large airplane parked in an airport

Most people were sitting at the gate for the economy/premium economy gate.  I am fairly certain it was the last international flight of the day, so the terminal felt very empty.

a red sign in a building

I took a seat near the Business/First gate and got my camera gear sorted.  For this trip I used a combination of my Sony a7rV and two lenses: the 14mm f1.8 G Master and the 24-70mm f2.8 G Master II.  Had plenty of spare batteries, the lenses were clean, I was ready to go!

people standing at a counter in a building

Boarding was called and I walked up the ramp to board my First Class flight on the Emirates A380!

The Emirates A380 First Class Cabin

I was greeted by a phalanx of flight attendants and escorted to my suite.

It. was. GORGEOUS.

an airplane with a desk and windows

When this product first debuted, it was a little too shiny and a little too bling-y for most people, but the refreshed cabin felt perfect.  Luxurious finishings, lots of storage, and an absolutely amazing seat, just absurdly comfortable.

an airplane with a desk and a computer

I got right to “work” taking pictures of the rest of the cabin.  The cabin crew saw I was taking pictures and couldn’t have been nicer, asking what they could do to make my pictures better, they were just wonderful.

a seat in a plane

The details on the seat were just as great, from the decor to the famed in-seat drink selection.

a flower in a pot on a wall

a pen and a glass of wine on a table

a beverage in a container

And it wouldn’t be Emirates if there wasn’t a little gold around the cabin.

a seat belt on a seat

The rest of the cabin was just as luxurious.  I’ve been in the forward upper deck on a few airlines now and really feel like Emirates maximized the space the best.  There are lots of suites but it didn’t feel crowded.

the inside of an airplane

I also appreciated the stagger between the seats.  The only critique I had of Singapore Suites class is some of the sightlines when the door to the suite was open, I ended up making awkward eye contact with the person in the suite across from me as a result.  Not a problem with Emirates.

a desk in a room with a computer

I had a quick glass of Ground Champagne (they do not open the Dom Perignon 2013 until they are in the air) and relaxed for a few moments.  Multiple cabin attendants came by to greet me as the captain welcomed us to a quick 3-hour flight across the Tasman Sea.

We started a short taxi while I enjoyed the tail camera on the massive 32-inch TV.

a tv on a table in an airplane

There’s nothing quite like the A380 takeoff roll.  It doesn’t seem like the jet is going fast enough to be airborne but, sure enough, it gracefully made its way skyward.  It was time for the real festivities to begin.

The Emirates A380 First Class Dinner

As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off the cabin crew sprang into action.  First priority?  The Dom Perignon 2013.

a person holding a bottle of champagne

a person pouring a glass of champagne

It was the perfect beverage with which to enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful Southern Alps.

a view of snow covered mountains from an airplane

My champagne was refilled as my table was set with precision by one of my three cabin attendants.  The first course was, of course, caviar.

a table with food on it

With all the trimmings.

a plate of food on a table

And the proper spoon.

a plate of food on a table

I’m still not the best at actually eating caviar but I’m working on it and was thankful (lol) for the additional practice.

Once the caviar was summarily enjoyed, the Arabic mezze arrived with a variety of dips and breads.

a table with food on it

a plate of food on a table

I enjoyed the vibrant flavors and textures while my champagne glass was thankfully kept full.  For the main I chose the steak, because steak.

a plate of food on a table

Everything was wonderful, the steak was tender and flavorful and the whipped sweet potatoes at the top of the picture were a real star of the dinner.  I finished up with a quick dessert and some Arabic coffee.

a piece of chocolate cake on a white plate

The Famous Emirates A380 Shower

After dinner, it was time.  I asked my cabin attendant when I could shower, and he let a colleague know I was ready.  In 3 minutes the shower suite was ready for me!  I grabbed some shower things and made my way to the beautiful shower suite, my cabin attendant giving me a tour and explaining how the shower worked.

a bathroom with a shower and sink

a bathroom with a toilet and shower

The shower suite is designed for a 30-minute visit, but I needed to move faster than that because the flight was so short (I still had one more place to visit during the flight, after all).  It is also a lavatory replete with all manner of amenities for your visit.

a wooden box with small bottles of cosmetics

The shower itself operated similarly to the Etihad shower I had used before.  You have 20 minutes in the shower but 5 minutes of water.  The trick is you turn the water on to rinse, turn it off to apply shampoo/conditioner/etc., then turn it back on to rinse again.  5 minutes of water was more than enough, using this method (which makes me think of how much water I probably waste at home, honestly).

a shower with a shower head

a close up of a round metal object

There’s also a seat in the shower in case of turbulence.

a toilet in a bathroom

I hopped in the shower and…well…showered.  I guess the only difference between a shower at home and that shower was that I kept smiling the whole time in the Emirates shower!  After I was done, I used the vanity area to put my face back on and get ready for the next place on the jet!

a bathroom with a mirror and sink

The Emirates A380 Onboard Lounge

Business Class and First Class customers on the Emirates A380 have access to the Onboard Lounge (more commonly known as the bar or the Horseshoe Bar).  It is an absolutely beautiful space where people can gather and chit-chat during the flight.  My cabin attendant walked me back to the lounge to make sure the bartender knew I was a First Class passenger and could have (more) Dom Perignon 2013.

a table in a plane

a interior of an airplane with a table and chairs

I had seen pictures of the lounge before but was really surprised at the space in the lounge, it seemed like it could fit quite a few people and had plenty of comfortable seating for everyone.  They had a TV showing some version of sportsball (I think Premier League football).

a tv on a counter in a room

(I tried to be respectful of guests in the lounge so I could not get the full picture of the space that I wanted, hopefully you understand)

The bartender opened a new bottle of Dom for me and I had a glass.

a bottle of champagne on a table

a person pouring a glass of champagne into a glass

And then it was finally time for my turn behind the bar for the famous Emirates A380 picture.

a man standing behind a bar holding a glass of champagne

And the, sadly, it was time to begin our descent into Sydney.

But not before checking out the famous Emirates starry sky in the First Class cabin.

the inside of an airplane

So how was it?

Well, I did probably the most compressed version of Emirates A380 First Class that you could possibly do, but I felt like I had juuuuuust enough time to hit all the highlights and get a relatively full A380 experience!

The cabin crew was wonderful, the food was flavorful, and the suite decor was far more tasteful than I ever imagined.  It was a wonderful flight and I’m so happy to say that the experience lived up to the hype.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely, even on such a short flight, even if I were paying cash again.

But I have other plans first.  Involving Emirates First Class.  But not on the A380.



Have you flown Emirates First Class?  What did you think?  Tell me in the comments below!

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