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Flight Review: Emirates Business Class Milan-JFK

by on September 2, 2014 · 14 comments

in Airlines, Emirates, Trip Reports

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I recently took my first trip to Greece – with the flight over on US Airways’ Envoy Class from Philadelphia to Athens and a stay at the Hotel Belvedere Mykonos – and for my journey home, I bought an Air Italia coach ticket to Milan, then flew Emirates from Milan’s MXP to New York’s JFK. My favorite way to book one-way Emirates flights with low surcharges is through Alaska MileagePlan for 47,500 miles in economy, 75,000 miles in business class or 100,000 miles in first with just $66.80 in fees.

You can also instantly transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Emirates Skywards, though be prepared to pay a boatload of miles and more than $700 in fees roundtrip for a JFK-Dubai and over $1,300 for business/first. American Express has run transfer bonuses in the past to Emirates which slightly sweetens the value proposition, but I’d really only think about using Skywards miles to upgrade paid tickets. There are plenty of other ways to book Emirates awards as we’ve outlined in this post. 
Emirates Milan JFK Alaska

Last fall, I had an amazing experience flying Emirates First Class from Dubai to JFK on an A380, but in order to get a more well-rounded experience of the carrier, I was still interested in checking out its Business Class on the 777-300ER.

At Milan's MXP, Emirates' premium-class boarding happens directly from the Emirates lounge

At Milan’s MXP, Emirates’ premium-class boarding happens directly from the Emirates lounge

Emirates Lounge at MXP

As someone tweeted me during my trip, the Emirates Lounge at Milan’s MXP is possibly the best airport lounge in all of Italy. In addition to the LED TVs, leather seating, shower facilities and even a snazzy water feature.

The amazing water feature in the Emirates lounge at MXP

The amazing water feature in the Emirates lounge at Milan’s MXP

The food offerings were decidedly high-end, with several hot dishes and a lot of healthy options. In this regard, it definitely put the US Airways international lounge at PHL to shame.

The Emirates lounge in Milan had a whole array of tasty, healthy food options

The Emirates lounge in Milan had a whole array of tasty, healthy food options

I loved the fact that I was able to board my flight directly via the lounge, even though its elevator was broken and I had to carry my bags down two flights of stairs. This wouldn’t be so chic for sheiks, I’d be willing to bet!

Business Class Seats Onboard the 777-300ER

Emirates has a 2 x 3 x 2 layout in Business Class (which didn’t feel particularly private or luxurious) and a seat that wasn’t 100% lie-flat. However, I still ended up having a comfortable flight with plenty of leg room- in fact, I think this seat must be one of the best for super tall travelers, because you aren’t confined in a shell-like the Delta lie-flat transatlantic product. 

I shot this video of the cabin to give you a better feel for the layout and seats:

On Emirates’ 777-300ER, Business Class is from rows 6-11, and its 42 angle-flat seats have a 60-inch pitch and a width of 20.5 inches.
The Emirates business class seat aboard the 777-300ER

The Emirates Business Class seat aboard the 777-300ER

With the 2 x 3 x 2 layout, there simply isn’t a perfect seat; for instance, my seat in 8B gave me aisle access, but it was a little tight for my neighbor to get out when I was fully reclined, though I never got woken up so I assume he was pretty limber and able to step over me without disturbing me.

Plenty of legroom for me in 8B

Plenty of legroom for me in 8B

The seat had a few other perks, as well. There was in-seat 110V AC power port and a decent-sized workspace, but without available Wi-Fi service, I was given an unintentional break from work for about nine hours. Fortunately, the personal, on-demand entertainment system had a huge 16″ screen and a relatively simple hand-held remote.

Loved the huge screen on my IFE

Loved the huge screen on my IFE

The mattress pad on the seat was pretty thick and comfy, and I was able to get several hours of shuteye on what had already been a pretty long day of travel.

Pretty decent mattress pad for an airline seat, even if it's not entirely lie-flat

Pretty decent mattress pad for an airline seat, even if that seat isn’t entirely lie-flat

Amenity Kit

The Emirates Business Class amenity kit was fantastic. The male version includes shaving cream, a decent disposable razor, deodorant, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a hairbrush and some Kleenex, but the star attraction is it’s a Bulgari cloth-and-leather case with elasticized compartments – an item I’ll definitely be using again on future trips.

Emirates Business Class amenity kit (male version)

Emirates Business Class amenity kit (male version)

Food

This was undoubtedly my favorite part of the flight. Not only is the food service excellent, but the quality of the food was amazing. I especially enjoyed my starter, a warm, ever so slightly sweet bowl of butternut squash soup with a dollop of creme fraîche and a sprinkling of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), which made me feel kind of happy that fall is soon on its way.

The starter included a delicious butternut squash soup with creme fraiche

The starter included a delicious butternut squash soup with creme fraiche and pepitas

My main entree, a beautifully prepared sea bass with a traditional pesto, was delicious, too. I’ve rarely enjoyed fish on an airplane, and this was a really pleasant surprise.

My sea bass entree was really well prepared, a new experience for me on a plane

My sea bass entree was really well prepared, a new experience for me on a plane

Overall Experience

Though I would generally prefer a lie-flat and a bit more privacy than Emirates offers onboard Emirates 777-300ER, its business class seat does have more leg room than either Delta, United or Alitalia. Despite my initial misgivings about the cabin layout and the pitch of the seat, my entire experience ultimately comfortable and positive, with a great lounge, simply awesome service, and delicious food. I’d certainly recommend it as an option for your next transatlantic flight from Milan.

Have you flown Emirates business class, aboard either the A380 or the 777-300ER? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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  • Alex

    I actually just booked my return flight from Athens in 2 weeks. :) from ATH – DXB- DFW all in business class for 75k Alaska points. First time on Emirates too :) It’s on their 777- 200 LR. It says it is lie flat but we will see. Looking forward to the 16 hour flight from DXB-DFW and being able to sleeeeeep lol.

  • Rustom Z Birdie

    Hi TPG –

    You mention you “bought an Air Italia coach ticket to Milan” – do you mean Alitalia? Or is this a regional LCC?

    As for your review of the product on EK MXP-JFK, I think it’s accurate in that it’s good/very solid but knowing what EK offers on it’s A380s in J, the B773ER product seems almost like a different airline altogether. No flat beds, no direct aisle access for all seats, limited personal storage space, limited privacy, limited wifi on these planes, and most importantly, no open bar/lounge area. When you consider that J class on EK’s A380s gives you all of this, the B773ER product seems average.

    I agree that on-board and lounge food, broader lounge facilities (especially direct lounge-to-plane boarding), and ground services (e.g., chauffeur service) make EK J class an amazing experience.
    Regarding the cabin crew service, I’m still unconvinced with EK and have had a breadth of good and bad experiences so not sure I’d describe their service as “simply awesome”. Having flown them several times in Y for personal travel and J (to/from EU and the U.S. to DXB) for business, their service can vary significantly; I think their fast growth leads to junior staff to be promoted quickly so even at senior levels (e.g., pursers, FAs, etc.) the crew is are relevantly inexperienced in service execution and fulfillment.

  • Eugene Tunitsky

    Thanks for the post TPG. I’m actually looking to book almost the same flight for my Honeymoon thinking Houston –> Athens –> Venice Or Florence and then home. Majority of my points are united though and business savers aren’t available for next June yet (partners are but not united). Suggestions/Thoughts? Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

  • Ben

    Unfortunately you won’t find any flights to Athens from Texas. See the attached map.

  • Eugene Tunitsky

    I’m not sure what you’re looking at but I see tons of flights from ATH to IAH on united…

  • Ben

    Direct?

  • Ben

    Also, You are correct that there are many attractive options using UA miles getting to Athens. Including this one (attached picture) in biz for 70k pp one way.

  • Eugene Tunitsky

    Ah none direct, I knew they were only connects.

    I wonder how the Turkish Air business compares to the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner via UA

  • Ben

    We’re taking the opportunity to fly Turkish DCA-ORD-IST-MLE for our honeymoon next June. If I’m traveling abroad, I want a different (and hopefully) nicer service. [for what it's worth, coming back on EY in first]

  • Angel

    Another great way to get into EK is JAL specially for the East coast. You can book MXP-DXB-JFK (or IAD) in J for 65,000 miles (100,000 in F) and have a stop over in DXB with about $80 in fees and taxes. MXP-DXB-IAD is 9,9997 miles so 4 miles shy of jumping into the next award bracket :)

  • HanksTravel

    I sat in that same seat JFK-MXP in March on a MR transfer to EK upgrade as well.

  • Alan

    F/J/Y A world of difference on EK A380

  • Alan

    Sorry – a hickup.

    Flew F HKG/BKK and then Y BKK/HKG a year ago. As advertised, the F experience was incredible. BUT!!!
    Y experience was inexcusable. Packed like sardines in row 2 main deck. 29″ seat pitch at best. One (1) drink after takeoff and a dinner thrown at us. No sign of flight attendant for the rest of the flight (3 hours). Asked for some wine with the meal and it never arrived!

    My first experience with EK was in 1991 when they were flying 727′s (DXB-CMB-MLE). Had 29″ seat pitch but at least the flight attendants were attentive. So the new EK has the same approach to cattle class in Asia – good enough for Amahs and other maids but don’t try it if you are over 5″6″.

    Pitch appears to be better – especially on the A340-500 which we flew from SYD-DXB when it first started – if you are on a North american or Australian route.

    Avoid Y class at all cost.

  • James Pierce

    UA is a joke compared to Turkish Air…

    If you are travelling from Venice in winter??? Be warned that this airport sufers terribly from cancellations and rerouting due to fog.

    I would recommend a trip to Milan from Venice, a fast train direct from city centre to city centre is relatively inexpensive and very comfortable with great views of hidden Italy. From Milan you can also travel to Paris overnight in private cabins. Might be a nice romantic trip… if not joining the mile high club.

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