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Review: Emirates 777 Business Class (HKG-DXB)

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Review Overview

Emirates' 2-3-2 angled-flat seating on their 777 is in borderline "are you kidding me" territory in 2019, though it was more comfortable than I was expecting. Furthermore, Emirates' soft product impressed me on this flight.


A few days ago I had the chance to fly Emirates’ 777 business class, as it worked best for my schedule amidst escalating protests in Hong Kong. I’d once listed Emirates’ 777 business class product as one of the most underwhelming products I’d been dying to try, so I was glad to have the opportunity to do so.

Booking Emirates 777 Business Class

While there are many opportunities to redeem miles for Emirates’ 777 business class, in this case I had to pay a full-fare one-way cash ticket due to a lack of award space for the dates we needed. I paid HK$23,000 for a one-way ticket from Hong Kong to London Gatwick via Dubai (including change fees), which would allow me to sample Emirates’ 777 and A380 business class.

I don’t recommend you pay one-way for an Asia-Europe ticket at this price, though Emirates does some cheap point-to-point roundtrip business class fares (which my dad originally purchased before we had to change our flight last-minute). Additionally, there are many opportunities to earn Skywards miles, which you can redeem Emirates business class tickets with.

Emirates 777 Business Class Boarding

From the Emirates Lounge at Hong Kong Airport (we’d have had access to the Qantas lounge, but it was closed), I arrived at gate 32 around 6:45 AM in anticipation of boarding at 7 AM. It was a beautiful day outside, which served as a nice backdrop for the 777 that would be taking us to Dubai.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

The crew were standing around the gate at this time, and they boarded the plane at around 6:55 AM. Unfortunately boarding was delayed a bit beyond that, and it finally started at 7:15 AM, fifteen minutes behind schedule.

Emirates Flight EK387
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 32 Dep: 07:50 (07:50)
Destination: Dubai (DXB) Gate: C17 Arr: 11:50 (11:45)
Duration: 8 h (7 h 55 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Reg: A6-ECZ
Seat: 2K (Business Class)

I boarded through door 1L. Once onboard, I was pointed towards my seat 2K, which was on the right side of the business class cabin.

Emirates 777 Business Class Cabin and Seat

Emirates’ business class cabin on the 777 consists of angled lie-flat seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Now, to clarify, this product is far behind the times as far as business class seats go. One of Emirates’ biggest competitors, Qatar Airways, offers an enclosed-suite product on their 777, which they also fly to Hong Kong. However, their mastery at brilliant marketing has allowed them to sustain a “halo effect” of sorts, which is effective when it comes to filling planes.

the inside of an airplane with people standing in the backthe inside of an airplane with a television screen
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin

We were flying a two-class 777 (without first class), featuring six rows of business class seats for a total of 42 seats. However, the last row is separated from the rest of the cabin by door L2. There isn’t a bulkhead in the middle or anything, but rather it’s just separated from the rest of the cabin by a large entryway.

While you’ll get minimal foot traffic in these seats, I highly recommend giving these seats a miss if you’re looking forward to catching any sleep. The reason is because the lights by door L2 stay on even when the cabin lights are dimmed (since the crew set up a little snack area there mid-flight), which means you’ll be prone to light disturbance throughout the flight. For the same reason, I’d avoid row 5 (though the problem is less apparent).

In addition to that, row 6 is also missing a window.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin Row 6

I selected seats 2J and 2K for my dad and I. This wasn’t for any particular reason other than that they were the only window pair left for selection, though I enjoyed these seats. Rows 3 and 4 are the primo position on this aircraft as they’re subject to neither galley light nor the aforementioned snack area light, though row 2 wasn’t far behind.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin Seats 2J and 2K

Obviously a 2-3-2 configuration on a 777 means the seat isn’t particularly wide, though I was happy with the padding. The seat was soft yet supportive and the lumbar support was adjustable. I was glad that was the case, since actual seat/sleeping surface comfort is one of the most important features to me in any cabin class, especially when I’m hoping to catch up on sleep.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin Seat 2K

I explored the seat for a bit. To my right were some basic seat control presets, though you can access more specific seat controls on the TV screen, which included lumbar support controls.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Seat Controls

To my left was a handheld remote “mode controller” set for the TV, though it was locked in place. Whenever I tried to take it out, I got an error message saying that the mode control was locked, and I shouldn’t attempt to remove it. I’m not sure if this was an issue with our particular flight, or if stolen mode controllers became so much of an issue that they decided to lock the mode controllers in place on all flights. Either way, this wasn’t a big deal to me, since the main seatback screen was touchscreen-enabled, and neither screen was that responsive.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Mode Controller

There was another “traditional” remote at the seat, presumably for use if the handheld interactive remote control wasn’t working.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Traditional Remote

In addition, to the left was a privacy partition. Now, if there’s one thing that definitely isn’t an issue with these seats, it’s privacy, at least at the window and center seats. The privacy screen went up a long way, to the point where you couldn’t see your seatmate even when sitting upright unless you desperately tried to. Even when the privacy screen was down, I still had to lean forward when talking to my dad.

As someone who was travelling with a dad who preferred to be left alone to his own sleep and movies, I quite liked this setup, since we were still within each other’s easy access whenever we needed it; though this certainly isn’t an ideal setup for couples on their honeymoon.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Privacy Partition

While privacy isn’t an issue in the window and center seats, it is more of an issue in the aisle seats…

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Exposed Emirates 777 Business Class Aisle Seats

Below the privacy partition controls was an armrest, and below that was a tiny storage compartment. These business class seats have virtually no storage, which is quite disappointing. In this storage compartment there was a 110V power port, as well as two USB power ports.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Storage Compartment

Meanwhile, in front of each seat was a shoe storage compartment. In theory a compartment was dedicated to each seat, though in reality each compartment could only fit one shoe. Qatar Airways’ old business class product wins out on storage by quite a large margin.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Shoe Compartment

In front of the seat was a decently sized TV screen, which was touchscreen enabled, though the touchscreen function was weak.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Screen

The tray table was very sturdy, as it latched onto the right armrest.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Tray Table

I appreciated that each seat featured an air nozzle, which is all too rare onboard airlines nowadays. That being said, the cabin was kept at a cool temperature throughout the flight, so I didn’t need the air nozzle at any point.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Air Nozzles

In addition, I loved that the windows featured electronic blinds, as it added yet another element to the over-the-top decor. It’s worth noting that most of Emirates’ 777s have this feature in their business class cabins (and all A380s), though not all 777s do.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Electronic Blinds

Speaking of over-the-top, I thought the “acquired taste” of the cabin’s decor was definitely noticeable, though not bothersome. In many ways I prefer Emirates’ over-the-top upholstery and cabin design to more boring designs with hideous colour choices (take Korean Air, for example, or EVA’s almost two-decades-old A330 cabins). That being said, am I the only person that finds the bulkhead and flower design very, very very extra?

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Gaudy Decor in Emirates 777 Business Class

Emirates 777 Economy Class

I had a sneak peek at economy class, which didn’t look pretty. It was laid out in a 3-4-3 configuration, and the seats didn’t look particularly modern either (this was one of Emirates’ older 777s).

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Emirates Boeing 777 Economy Class

Emirates 777 Business Class Amenities

My bedding was featured at the seat. This consisted of a soft pillow, which was a good size (though I would’ve appreciated if it was slightly firmer/more supportive). It also consisted of a blanket that was quilted on one side, which I quite liked.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Pillow and Blanket

Emirates also provides decent noise-cancelling headphones for all passengers.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Headphones

Takeoff from Hong Kong Airport

It was 7 AM and I was dazed not only by the lack of sleep, but also by the prospect of flying away from family and friends, and no longer calling Hong Kong home. Below is the biggest smile I managed to muster under my woozy mindset at the time.

a man sitting in a chair with a drink and windows
Ready for a nap in Emirates 777 Business Class

I was never able to see myself permanently living in Hong Kong, though I’ll miss being in the city (I’ll be back often, though don’t plan to settle down there). Hong Kong sure did make it harder for me to leave by giving us a clear blue sky upon our departure.

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Views of Tarmac Hong Kong Airport

A flight attendant came by my seat upon departure, and welcomed me to take pictures of my own seat, but asked me to avoid photographing crew or other passengers. I was familiar with this policy (and of course obliged), and it sure paled in comparison to the senseless confrontation I got on my connecting flight. I was also offered a pre-departure beverage, and chose champagne.

This was Moët and Chandon champagne, though I found it slightly too acidic for my tastes (probably to do with the specific bottle, as I found my dad’s glass of Moët in the lounge to be much fresher and crisper).

a glass of champagne on a tray
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Pre-Departure Champagne

The cabin eventually filled up. It was a full flight in both cabins, with all 42 business class seats filled, and 385 economy class passengers packed snugly into a tight 3-4-3 configuration. Boarding was finished at around 7:40 AM, 10 minutes before departure, which was really impressive considering the flight was full.

After boarding was complete, the crew came around with menus. I was handed a menu and asked if I would like a wine list, to which I obliged. It’s worth noting that Emirates lists their cocktails in their menu, and their wine list only lists the origins of their champagnes and wines (contrary to Qatar Airways).

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Menus

Upon takeoff, I was able to spot various A330s and A320s from all four airlines that call Hong Kong home base – Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express.

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Tarmac traffic Hong Kong Airport

As we passed HAECO, I was able to spot a Cathay Pacific 777 as well as a Cathay Dragon A330 in their Spirit of Hong Kong livery.

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Taxiing past HAECO at Hong Kong Airport

The most exciting aircraft I spotted was probably a brand new El Al 787 (delivered June 2019) that had been parked in Hong Kong for a couple of days before heading home to Tel Aviv.

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El Al Boeing 787 Hong Kong Airport

Emirates’ 777 entertainment system features a wheel camera and a nose camera, though no tail camera. I was able to use the nose camera to watch our takeoff out of Hong Kong, though I was more interested in the view out of the window.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Wheel Camera during Takeoff

Despite taking off from runway 25L (which, for those unfamiliar with Hong Kong Airport, is where the views are best), we took a sharp right to head south then west towards Dubai. So we ended up having nice views of Tung Chung and the airport, though not the rest of the city, unfortunately.

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Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

Emirates 777 Business Class Recline and Bed

After we took off, I took the chance to check out my seat’s recline functions. The seat featured a nice lazy-Z position, which I actually found to be almost perfectly preset for relaxing or watching a movie.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Lazy-Z Mode

Now, as aforementioned, Emirates’ 777 business class seat is not fully flat. It’s also at a steeper angle than B/E Minipod seats (found on Qatar Airways and Korean Air), which have an intentional downward sloping angle in order to compensate for the plane’s angle of attack. Emirates’ seat, on the other hand, is angled flat in order to accommodate more passengers.

Speaking of B/E Minipod seats, believe it or not, this is in fact a heavily modified version of that seat. Emirates implemented so many modifications that the seat is almost unrecognisable, though it became apparent from the hose-like reading light to the fixtures by the seat shell that this was in fact a B/E Minipod seat.

That being said, this wasn’t an uncomfortable angle, and I could sleep quite comfortably in it. I certainly felt the difference between this seat and a fully flat seat, though comfort-wise it is closer to a fully flat bed than a “standard” Thai Airways-style angled flat seat.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Fully-Flat Position

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Bed

At this point I went ahead and purchased WiFi. Emirates offers WiFi for free to all Skywards members in first and business class, and it initially clocked in at 3.57 Mbps down and 0.20 Mbps up. However, unfortunately, the WiFi only worked for around two hours or so before being unavailable for the rest of the flight. Had I not had WiFi for free, this would’ve been very annoying.

Before takeoff I asked a flight attendant if mattress pads were provided on this flight. She nodded, and sure enough she came back after boarding to proactively offer a mattress pad, which I thought was nice of her. Emirates’ business class mattress pads are comfortable and plush, and I quite like that there’s a degree of rigidity to it (it’s not totally soft and floppy, and differently textured from a blanket), though do wish that it was longer.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Mattress Pad

Emirates 777 Business Class Breakfast Service

Right after takeoff there was a small breakfast service, with a more extensive lunch service near the end of the flight. The drinks menu read as follows:

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Beverage Menu

The breakfast menu was quite short, and read as follows:

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Breakfast Menu

In addition, these were the wines that were available on our flight:

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Wine List

There was no choice of breakfast, and honestly it was completely rudimentary. The breakfast plate featured a warm (though slightly stale) roll, packaged yoghurt, and fresh fruit, with tea and extra bread on offer. The fruit was nice, though that was all I touched on this tray.

a tray with food and drinks on it
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Breakfast

The crew also went around pouring orange juice, as well as grapefruit juice. I selected orange juice, which actually tasted freshly squeezed.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Orange Juice

Emirates 777 Business Class Lavatory

I then got ready for a nap, which meant I had to drop by the lavatory located in the front of the cabin. It’s very distinctly “Emirates” decor with wooden finishes and nice towels, though it was quite small. There was no amenity kit on this flight, though dental kits were available in the lavatory.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Lavatory

It was around midnight in London, so I figured it was best to catch as much sleep as I could on this flight, and less on my connecting A380 flight. I managed to clock in around 3 hours of sleep, though couldn’t fall asleep after that.

Inflight in Emirates 777 Business Class

I decided to order a virgin mojito, which was promptly given to me after, and was refreshing.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Virgin Mojito

Emirates 777 Business Class Entertainment System

I decided to check out the entertainment system. Emirates’ ICE entertainment system is known for being extensive, and it sure was, featuring a ton of different movies and TV shows available for selection. I have two gripes – the first was that it was hard to navigate, given the mode controller was stuck in place and the touchscreen-enabled large screen was unresponsive, and the second was that there were about 5 minutes’ worth of ads before all of the movies that I clicked on. It’s possible to fast forward through those ads, though they’re there.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Entertainment System

I ended up watching Aladdin, though felt tired, so gave up after a while and slept a bit more.

Emirates 777 Business Class Inflight Minibar

Shortly before the second meal service I had the chance to check out the small snack selection set up by doors L2. Emirates’ 777s don’t feature a bar, so this is their attempt at a “makeshift” setup. It featured some fruit, snacks, and Emirates-branded water. The lights by door L2 were kept on to illuminate the area, which is a key reason you should avoid rows 5 and 6 in this configuration, as you’ll get a lot of light pollution.

a table with bottles and a bowl on it
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Self-Service Setup

Emirates 777 Business Class Meal Service

Around 3 hours before landing, the crew came around to take lunch orders. The lunch menu read as follows:

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Lunch Menu

Before the pre-meal service beverage, we were given hot towels, which smelled really nice.

I was in the mood for a coffee-based beverage, though didn’t want to be too awake. So I ordered an espresso martini, since it obviously made the most sense in this case. 😉 It was on the sweet side, though I liked it.

a glass of coffee and nuts on a table
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Espresso Martini and Warm Nuts

I asked if I could have both the cream of pumpkin soup and the arabic mezze for my appetiser. The flight attendant said that I couldn’t since it was a full cabin, though she’d give me both if she had any left. She asked me for my first choice (which was the arabic mezze), and sure enough she came with both a soup and a mezze, which came with a loaded (though not especially flavourful) salad. The mezze was great – I particularly enjoyed the baba ghanouj, which delivered a smoky punch – though the soup was just okay.

a plate of food on a table
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Appetisers – Cream of Pumpkin Soup and Arabic Mezze

My dad had the roasted duck for his appetiser, which was flavourful, though not especially tender.

a plate of food on a table
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Appetiser – Roasted Duck

For my main course I had the bzar chicken, which was moist enough, though packed a punch of flavour. I was also quite a fan of the flavourful rice.

a plate of rice and chicken
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Main Course – Bzar Chicken

My dad had the lamb curry, which was even more flavourful than the chicken, though it was also quite spicy.

a plate of food on a table
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Main Course – Lamb Curry

After a string of amazing appetisers and main courses I decided to finish off with the truffle cake, which was dry and clearly the low point of the meal.

a plate of dessert on a table
Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Dessert – Truffle Cake

Since I hadn’t heard too much about Emirates’ catering in business class, I was surprised by how well-executed and flavourful the dishes were. Although the service structure wasn’t half as elaborate, I preferred these dishes to all of the dishes I tried on Qatar Airways, including the mezze.

It’s worth noting that Emirates trialled dine-on-demand for a while before deciding not to implement it on a systemwide basis, so they lag behind Qatar Airways and Etihad in that regard. The crew were proactive, friendly and efficient (plates were cleared within five minutes of finishing in all cases, and glasses were kept full during meal services – though clearing glasses took quite a while between meal services), though they were reserved.

Landing into Dubai Airport

The sky was still clear enroute to Dubai, though it was borderline dark, which might have had to do with our 36,000 feet altitude.

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Blue Sky upon Cruising to Dubai

I also managed to get a cabin shot from the makeshift bar area.

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Cabin

Around an hour before landing we were notified of our arrival gate, and a display also started showing the departure gates of the transfer flights of all those onboard, including our onward flight to London Gatwick. I was disappointed to see that we’d be departing from the B concourse, which meant we wouldn’t be able to board directly from the lounge (or so I thought, since there ended up being a separate premium boarding area for our A380 gate too).

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Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Arrival Gate

It was my first time landing in Dubai, and the visibility wasn’t too bad. There were no clouds, though it was slightly smoggy. We were treated to views over the Persian Gulf Coast and Fujairah in the distance, and were also able to see some hilly terrain before finally descending into Dubai Airport.

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Landing into Dubai Airport

We arrived gate C17 at 11:45 AM, and headed over to transit security, which was quick and lasted less than a minute (we had access to a priority lane, though even the economy lane had no queue).

Once we went through transit security, my dad and I temporarily parted ways. I wanted to check out all of the Emirates lounges at Dubai as I’d only get one transit opportunity here, whereas my dad wanted to relax. So he took a head start on the long 20-minute trek to Emirates’ Concourse B lounge, whereas I headed over to the Concourse C lounge to check it out briefly.

Bottom Line: Emirates 777 Business Class

There’s no denying that Emirates’ 777 business class is far behind the curve, and I’d avoid it in favour of the A380 if I could. Emirates is known as one of the world’s best airlines, so for them to have a 2-3-2 product on their 777 (even on their newest aircraft) is quite disappointing. In addition, the seat is angled lie-flat, which virtually no other airline still features in longhaul business class as of 2019.

That being said, I found the product comfortable and wouldn’t necessarily avoid it over certain fully flat products. For example, Qatar Airways’ older 777s feature a 2-2-2 fully flat business class product that’s technically wider and more spacious, though I far prefer the privacy and sleeping surface comfort on this aircraft – I actually prefer Emirates’ 777 seat to Qatar Airways’ lumpy old 777 seat as a whole. That being said, Qatar Airways is fixing their problems big-time with their industry-leading QSuite, whereas Emirates continues to roll out similarly configured 777 aircraft.

I was impressed by the soft product on this flight. While the flight attendants were just fine, I was impressed by the food. I know that Emirates lags behind their competitors when it comes to dine-on-demand, especially since they operate on a hub-and-spoke model (so everyone’s on a different body clock). That being said, the meal services were conducted at the beginning and near the end of the flight, I didn’t find that to be too much of an issue.

In conclusion, I’d avoid Emirates’ 777 for their A380, though wouldn’t necessarily avoid them over other business class hard products without direct aisle access.

Read more from this trip:

Have you flown Emirates’ 777 in business class before? What was your experience?

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