As if chauffeured airport transfers, free-flowing Champagne, and Bvlgari amenity kits aren't enough, my flight attendant asks "Miss, may I bring you a mattress?" as I electronically recline my seat to a lie-flat position. Curious what it's like to fly up front in one of the world's most posh airlines, I took off on a 15-hour, nonstop journey from Seattle to Dubai in search of airline enlightenment. Flying over sunsets and across time zones I found it, arriving relaxed and rested (partly thanks to my digital, in-flight masseuse). Welcome to luxury—make that Emirates luxury—at 37,000ft.
We know, testing mattress-covered seat-beds and gourmet fare cruising above cloud nine is a tough job. But in the name of research, here's a look inside what one (us) might call the Benz of globe-trotting, the Maybach of jet-setting, or, perhaps, the Aston Martin of gallivanting.
Getting settled in seat 9D is anything but daunting. Seconds after sitting, a silver tray of Moet & Chandon flutes is before me. As coach passengers walk by, I feel sheepish sipping bubbly in my petite pod, but realize that Emirates 'back of the bus' seats are akin to most North American airlines' domestic upper class. (This justification helped me sleep.)
Once in the air, part one of a six-course meal service began. Before sipping more Champagne—when in Rome—I nibble on fresh greens topped with feta and cucumber, and savor roast tomato and thyme soup before my second course arrives; a hearty chicken korma. It pains me to dodge dessert, but the lure of sleep persuades me to skip the sugar. My attempts are valiant, but when a box of Godiva chocolate arrives on my tray, I stay awake for the indulgence. I find solace in my 17" screen for the next few hours—Tetris anyone?
In a head-bobbing haze, I finally recline my seat all the way—78 inches to be exact—at which point I'm given a spongy mattress to go between my fleecy duvet and my seat. By now, I should have known a mattress would magically appear, but other upper class experiences I've had in the past failed to pave the way for this kind of comfort. Nodding off, I look up and spot the Big Dipper. Huh? Yes, the ultra long-range Boeing 777 ceiling twinkles like a planetarium. Nighty night.
Thirteen hours into the 15-hour flight, I wake-up to the smell of warming croissants. One by one everyone around me attempts to open their eyes with a jolt of coffee (delivered by way of silver carafes, of course). At this moment, the concept of morning and night hovers in Middle Earth-territory, so I trust the luxury airliner employs some sort of timezone expert to program optimal awake-versus-asleep transition time for a smooth arrival.
Wooed by the smell of croissants in the early morning, I forego the mushroom omelet in favor of two flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastries to which I add strawberry jam and an extra dose of butter. Calories fall off in the sky, right?
My hair in an awkward I've-just-been-sleeping bun, and my face not even close to people-ready, I scurry to the lavatory to try and emulate the look of my picture-perfect, Emirates flight attendant. After freshening up, I drop Visine into my eyes, and apply moisturizer, rose blush, and red lipstick, followed by an attempt to coif my hairdo into something presentable. Mission accomplished, kind of.
Traveling nearly 7,500 miles across the world, I concede that part of me would prefer to continue my sejour in the sky, an experience which could only be enhanced by an in-flight infinity pool or eucalyptus steam. Currently, I'm not aware of any airliner with these resort-like features, yet I wouldn't be surprised if Emirates—born in Dubai, a land that turns impossible upside down—is the first to introduce them.
Want to try your hand at sky-high luxury? Emirates nonstop flights to Dubai take off from the following North American gateways: Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, New York, and Washington, DC.
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Trish Friesen