This summer my family and I had the pleasure of flying on Emirates Airlines. Before I begin to extol this airline’s virtues let me state that I am not affiliated with Emirates Airlines in any way nor are they paying me to write reviews; I am just a very happy passenger.
This was not the first time my husband and I have flown Emirates, but it was a first for my daughter, her year old son, and my 2 other grandsons ages 7 and 13. All of us including the baby have flown internationally before, in fact my 7 year old grandson has been giving reviews on all the many flights he’s taken to Europe, none of them good.
I have flown Business and First Class on Emirates before, but this was my first time flying economy. With so many of us traveling coach was really the only way to go, costs being what they are. I was a bit reluctant flying coach, (Business and First Class passengers are treated like royalty, service is amazing!), but my husband assured me the service even in coach is exceptional.
Long haul international flights have always been trying, specially when you’re traveling with kids. They get hungry, board, restless, and cranky. My daughter, traveling internationally with her son without her husband for the first time, was not looking forward to the 15+ hour flight from Houston to Dubai, but I kept telling her this time it would be better, we were flying with Emirates! After the first flight she was more than convinced and had no problem going on the other 3 Emirate flights we flew this summer.
How is Emirate Airlines different? It’s so much better than other US based airlines that fly overseas for so many reasons, it’s hard to know where to begin. So I’ll start with the booking process, it was painless! For more about my customer service experience when I booked these flights read my post The Best Phone Customer Service Ever.
Our Emirates experience began at the gate where families with children were allowed to board the aircraft first. Other international airlines offer passengers this courtesy and when you’re traveling with 3 children it is a Godsend. Boarding was easy, we found our seats and the flight attendants actually HELPED us place our carry on bags in the overhead bins, unheard of on US carriers!
The kids were happy to find not only blankets and pillows on their seats, they also found a small travel pouch equipped with a folding toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, and sleeping mask. They also got a sealed set of headphones to use on their personal seat back entertainment system.
(Everyone got the little travel pouches. Business and First Class travelers get a more upscale kit with designer toiletries – Bulgari for men and Clarins for women – just a few of the extra perks considering the price you pay to travel in those cabins)
Before take-off the flight attendants came around with hot towels (they pass out cold towels on flights from Dubai, a refreshing treat when the outside temperature is 116 degrees!)
They also hand out toys to the children. On the 15+ hour flights each child received a blanket with a monster buddy along with coloring books and colored pencils. On shorter flights the kids got stuffed monster buddies and coloring books. By the time we got home the boys had many toys, somehow Devon, the 7 year old, charmed the flight attendants into multiple toys and even a Fly Emirates backpack. My daughter traveling with the baby also received a baby kit filled with a changing table cover, wipes, and other baby necessities. Sometime before the end of the flight the boys also got some wings. To be fair other International Airlines have given the boys toys as well, Lufthansa gave them stuffed planes and coloring books one year, and Air France gave them activity books and wings.
The toys and books thrilled the boys and kept them busy the whole flight. That along with the kid friendly movies and games on the entertainment system made their trip fun.
When meal time came around my daughter got an infant meal for the baby, pouches and bottles of baby food, milk, juice, and fruit. Devon got his kid’s meal which had a box full of snacks, chicken nuggets, colorful plastic cutlery, and dessert. For breakfast the kid’s meal had scrambled eggs and chicken sausages as the main course. Infant and kid meals have to be ordered in advance, you can do this online or by phone.
Between meals the crew sets up snack bars at the galleys in the middle and back of the plane. They set out fruit, candy and granola bars, as well as beverages. Passengers can help themselves.
On one flight Devon got hungry and ventured out to the galley. He couldn’t find anything he wanted, the flight attendant asked him what he felt like eating to which he replied “lamb”. The entree for the adult lunches earlier was a lamb dish. The flight attendant checked a bin and pulled out a lamb entree which he placed on a tray with silverware and other goodies and walked Devon back to his seat to enjoy his impromptu meal! Needless to say Devon was more than pleased.
One of his many complaints about United, which we flew one year to Italy, was that they starved him. On that flight he had been asleep when the meals were passed out, when he awoke hungry we requested his meal from the flight attendant who told us the meals had been put away. I remember literally begging him for anything to feed the crying child who was 4 years old at the time. There was nothing to eat, no peanuts or pretzels, and nothing even for purchase! We were told that meals would be served in an hour and we’d have to wait until then. Luckily we still had some of the snacks I’d packed before we left, Devon had to snack on them until the flight attendant came around with the meals.
I have noticed that for what ever reason United does not set up a snack station on International flights, Delta and Hawaiian do. Internationally based airlines, at least the ones I’ve flown, all set up snack bars between meals (Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, Philippine Airlines, Japan Airlines to name a few I’ve flown). But I guess we’re lucky that the US based airlines supply free meals at all! Actually all non-US based airlines supply free meals or snacks even on their short domestic flights; as far as I know the only US based airlines to supply a free meal on their domestic flights is Hawaiian Airlines.
Another important difference between Emirates and all other airlines I’ve been on are clean and well stocked bathrooms throughout the entire flight.
There’s nothing more disgusting that walking into a filthy bathroom in the middle of a trans Pacific or Atlantic flight. Many times towards the end of a 10 hour flight the bathrooms are not only gross, they have no toilet paper, hand towels or even soap.
During our Emirates flights I saw the flight attendants taking turns to make sure the bathrooms are clean and well stocked. Throughout the flights they took turns donning gloves and aprons and policed the bathrooms. I know this for sure because we always had bulk head seats that were directly in front of the bathrooms, I saw them cleaning.
The wood grain decor and the wall mirrors on the Emirate A380 planes we flew were a nice touch.
They made the usually tiny airplane bathrooms look and feel roomier. The clean changing tables in all the bathrooms made changing the baby so much easier, we didn’t have to wait in line for the one bathroom equipped with the changing table.
The flight experience was wonderful. The flight attendants were all very pleasant and helpful. They answered the call light promptly and with a smile. They had no problem bringing juice for the baby or heating up bottles for the passengers who had infants. They also tried their best to accommodate families not seated together although that involved persuading other passengers to change seats, not always an easy task.
At the end of the flights the boys were reluctant to leave the plane when we arrived at our destination. Never before has this happened, they are usually rushing to get off the plane!
Emirates service does not stop when you step off the plane. For those of us who gate checked a stroller we were told to pick up the stroller at luggage claim. There were courtesy strollers set up on the jet way for our use. If you didn’t get one from the jet way there are stroller bins all along the walk to luggage claim. They are free to use until you get yours. You just leave it at luggage claim before you exit thru customs. Very convenient! (If you’re a departing passenger there are strollers around the check-in counters to use until you get to the gate).
For those of us who had a long layover Emirates provided us with hotel rooms to await our connecting flight. They provided transportation to and from the hotel and also a meal. This service is called Dubai Connect and is offered to all passengers regardless of ticket class. There are however conditions, such as your layover must be 8 hours or more, your connection must be the first available flight from Dubai, and it must be added to your booking after you have purchased your ticket and before your flight departs. For more information on Dubai Connect click here.
The hotel they provide depends on the class of service you are in, since we flew coach this time we stayed at the Copthorne Airport Hotel. It was not a 5 star luxury hotel, but really all we did there was eat their buffet dinner, which was ok, sleep for a few hours, and take quick showers. It would not have been my first choice in Dubai hotels, but free is free, so I can’t complain. It was very basic but it was clean, close by, provided decent towels, and was stocked with decent toiletries, that’s all that mattered after a 15 hour flight.
Over all flying with Emirates makes air travel more pleasant, even in coach. Emirates Airlines is VERY family friendly!
My grandson Devon has declared that from now on he only wants to fly Emirates. He made this perfectly clear to the United gate agent when he had to check-in to his United flight from Houston to Georgia when our vacation was over.
We are so happy with Emirates that I just booked tickets on their New York – Milan flight this October. My husband told us all that we will all be returning to Dubai in 2020 for the World Expo, and of course we will be flying on Emirates. My daughter and the boys are all looking forward to it.
I’m almost certain on that trip the rest of the family will be going too!