We’re always looking to introduce new voices on The Milelion, and we’ve got an aspiring guestwriter in Sam. Over the next few days and weeks, we’ll be publishing Sam’s flight reviews and adventures bit by bit. Please let us know what you think in the comments, especially if you’d like to read more!
Circuitous Curry Routings: Introduction
Sri Lankan A320 Business Class CMB-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DOH-NBO-DOH
Sri Lankan A330 Business Class DOH-CMB
Galle Face Hotel Colombo
Emirates 777-300ER First Class CMB-SIN
Showered, curried up and with a nap under the belt, I was ready to get home. Emirates don’t offer Chauffer Drive in Colombo, so I took a normal taxi to the airport and the check in and immigration process was quick and painless.
Emirates has its own lounge at CMB and it’s the nicest lounge I’ve been in there. It is exactly like all the Emirates outstation lounges, so it doesn’t really warrant a full review. Suffice to say it was a pleasant way to while away the two or so hours before my flight.
The inbound flight was late, so boarding was delayed by about 45 minutes. The boarding experience was symptomatic of what I feel a lot of the Emirates experience is like – harried looking staff and rushed processes make it feel like they’re always stretched to maximum capacity. This flight was no different.
I chose 1K because I am basic and insist on sitting in row 1 when in First. I took the FA up on her offer of some Dom Perignon 2009 but am too much of an uncultured heathen to really enjoy it.
The suites have a sliding door and are fully enclosed, but the roof isn’t very high. I still think they offer plenty of privacy though.
With just 2 rows of 1-2-1 suites, the 777 cabin is a lot more intimate than the A380 (which has 14 suites, showers and a bar). There was only one other person in First today and I barely saw them throughout the whole flight.
You can control the IFE and seat from a tablet like device in front of the minibar. Both of these raise the the issue of redundancy; the IFE can be controlled by touch, tablet thing and a separate remote in the seat. Similarly, is there really any need for some warm drinks in the ‘minibar’ when you could order cold ones from an FA?
Buttons to call the FA and raise or lower the window blinds are below the tablet thing. There are some basic seat and door controls in the arm rest, but my photo came out blurry so you’ll have to take my word for it.
The suite is, in my opinion, looking a bit dated. While it was the pinnacle of First a few years ago, it now looks a bit bulky and, if I’m being honest, gaudy. A little like Donald Trump’s interpretation of Baroque.
The tech hasn’t really aged well either, and the tablet for controlling the seat is almost comically heavy and cumbersome, and is extremely prone to hanging. When combined with rushed, tired crews the whole thing feels past its prime.
That said, the headphones have recently had a refresh, and I thought the Bowers and Wilkins ones were extremely comfortable to wear, with decent noise cancelling and sound quality to boot.
The seat gets bonus points from me for having not one but three different air vents (2 above your head, one by the arm rest).
There’s also a writing kit and pen. Then pen has been downgraded to a cheaper version since I last flew EK F, so Air France still holds court in my book.
There are 2 places to charge devices, but interestingly, the 110v socket is not the UK type. I say interestingly because the UK is one of Emirate’s most served destinations, so this seemed like a bit of oversight.
Below the USB ports are some belts to secure your carry on luggage (there are no overhead bins, but plenty of space in the suite).
While boarding was ongoing, the FA came to offer some coffee and dates. Now we’re talking! I might actually prefer this as a pre departure beverage to Dom.
Bateel dates with the little candied orange peel inside are my nemesis.
Next came the (almost comically extensive) wine list and menu. That said, the food offering is pared down for shorter hops like this with no caviar course and fewer choices of mains, but it still felt like a more than adequate offering.
I settled on the Broccoli Soup, Ravioli, Cheese Board and Berry Trifle. As I was at the convergence of several major life events, it seemed like whisky was in order too.
We were scheduled to land at around 9 in Singapore, so I asked to have my dinner as late as possible before landing, to which I was told that they don’t do dine on demand on shorter routes. As it turned out, there was spectacular turbulence for most of the flight, and they couldn’t serve dinner until just out of Singapore anyway which was fortuitous for me.
I whiled away the flight with cabin shots, whisky and TV.
The fake stars are almost obligatory to comment on in an Emirates review. I think they’re a good addition.
The crew had started out in Dubai would serve the all segments. Both the FA and the senior cabin manager person mentioned to me how tired they were. That’s probably the second or 3rd EK flight for me where the staff have told me how tired they are, which isn’t great (for safety, their wellbeing or Emirates’ product).
After a few hours of intermittent chop, there was a gap for dinner and the FA launched into action, starting with a simple salad and some soup.
This is Emirates First lite, but the meal was still very good for a 4 hour flight.
For reasons unknown, I didn’t go for a curry. Missed opportunity. I will do better in future.
I think that I prefer the Business Class port on Emirates, but this was still very pleasant.
Fortunately there was time for one more whisky before landing.
In true Emirates form, the First class experience ended as soon as I left the plane (Air France, for example had a buggy transfer at SIN) but Changi was, as always very quick to get through. The chauffeur drive was in a Mercedes Vito van, which wasn’t very premium feeling, but at the princely sum of $0, cheaper than a cab.
Overall, I was happy with the experience, but it also reminded me of a few things that I don’t like about Emirates. It’s such a big operation it always feels like its creaking at the seams, and the headcount reductions are beginning to show a little. It’s still First, it’s still choc-a-block full of brand name liquor and Champagne, the suite is still quite cool, but it’s not industry leading. This also poses a bigger problem – like it or not, this is going to be their product for a while as their retrofit rate is positively glacial.
With a bit of luck I’ll soon be on the new 777 First quite soon and will be sure to see if it changes anything. Watch this space for a review!
[Cover photo: One Mile at a Time]