Two Emirates Suite Features I Could Live Without

Dec 10, 2017

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There’s a new top contender for the title of “world’s best first class,” and it just started flying on December 1. Emirates’ much-improved 777-300ER suite is simply outstanding — I even prefer it to the larger Etihad Apartment, arguably the former first-class champ.

The suite is loaded with gizmos and gadgets — some serve to elevate the experience, such as the virtual windows in center seats, but two have left me a bit puzzled, and underwhelmed. Both go hand-in-hand, and are intended to enhance the level of privacy, almost completely eliminating any need for in-person human interaction.

The first is a video chat tool that’s built into the 13-inch tablet that’s used to control the suite’s entertainment features. Rather than press the flight attendant call button and wait for someone to appear, you can chat with the crew through a video camera. It’s weird, but I ordered several dishes through the system, for the purposes of this video:

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When I wasn’t filming, I pressed the call button and waited the five or so seconds for a flight attendant to appear before making my request. Of course this required opening the suite door, so if you want to keep that shut for the entire flight then perhaps video chat is the way to go.

But how can you get your food if you’re not willing to slide open the door? Well, Emirates has a solution for that, too, that I’ve affectionately labeled “the hatch.” A flight attendant will slide up a panel to the side of the door, pass your items through the hole and then slide it closed. Similarly bizarre.

Now before you jump all over Emirates for perhaps taking things a bit too far, keep in mind that there’s no requirement to use any of these features — with the hatch closed and the tablet used for more traditional purposes, you wouldn’t have any idea they even exist. And if I ever get to fly this suite again, I’ll be making my requests in person like a normal human being.

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