Having avoided the Emirates summer ticket sale and bought a standard economy that is upgradeable at Dh3,625, a higher price, it was therefore annoying when my bid to upgrade my flight back to Dubai from Nice failed because it was full.
Instead I got to sample the delights of the economy section.
To be fair this is not an unusual experience for the corporate traveller in these times of lower oil prices. Many executives book economy like I did with the hope of an upgrade through frequent flyer points, or a pleasant smile.
At least if you are attempting an upgrade you can approach the business class check-in, which usually has a shorter queue and they are less fussy about the baggage weight allowance.
Despite the disappointment about the lack of an upgrade, my precaution in booking two economy seats together at the back of the 777-300 series proved a salvation: more space, legroom and a bit of quiet to get some work done. You generally get served quicker here too.
The loss of the business class lounge facility was easily borne as my credit card includes the Lounge Pass package that I have downloaded to my mobile. As there is only one VIP lounge in this part of Nice International Airport, I was soon brushing shoulders with the first and business passengers from Emirates.
This is probably one of the airline’s outlier lounges. There is free Wi-Fi, as indeed there is throughout Nice airport, comfortable seating and that is about it.
There are no desks, no PCs, no printers. No food, only snacks, and you really had to be quick to catch the tuna rolls as they came out of the kitchen. I joke not.
On the other hand, the gate is very close to the lounge so it was only a short walk to the plane. On board there was no Wi-Fi but a useful power supply for charging up devices.
The 13-inch widescreen ICE entertainment system offered the same magnificent library of movies, TV and CDs as in business and first class. I enjoyed watching the new British film Me Before You.
q&a refreshingly delay-free
Peter Cooper expounds on his economy Emirates flight between Nice and Dubai:
Would the entertainment have been enhanced by a bigger screen at the front?
Not very much. That said the seating in economy is not as comfortable, particularly overnight with the lack of the lie-flat beds. But for a day flight the seats are fine.
Is the cabin service any better in premium classes?
Perhaps. These cabin staff tend to be on their second three-year contract so offer greater experience. However, the courtesy and uniforms are the same. The food and beverages are superior in presentation and quality in business but I’d already checked the menu online before failing to check-in, and was not overly impressed with the choice of masala chicken and lamb noisettes. My humble tray at the rear of the plane included the steak I preferred.
Was the flight on time?
The flight arrived early. Sadly the airport does not have enough space for the Emirates fleet these days, so we took an uncomfortable 10-minute bus ride to immigration. However, the baggage took about two minutes to arrive; a swipe of my passport at the Smart Gate and I was safely home. There was not even a queue at the taxi rank – easier than queuing up for the complimentary chauffeur service.
Overall, the Emirates experience is still outstanding. But while I like the comforts of the front of the plane, whether Dh19,940 is worth it for a six-hour day flight is highly debatable.
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