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A Complete A380 Emirates Economy Class Upper Deck Flight Review: London to Dubai

The Airbus A380, also known as the king of the skies, is a stunning aircraft with unique features, generous leg room and plenty of deck space to walk around. It is no surprise that Emirates, who aim to be the leaders in the industry, are the biggest operators of the aircraft with 116 in their fleet at the time of writing according to Wikipedia. We travelled on the Emirates A380 from London Gatwick to Dubai Terminal 3 in December 2022. As always, Emirates is a pleasure to travel with and they boast one of the best economy classes in all of aviation.

We were able to travel on the upper deck which added to the comfortable experience which we will shortly expand on. It is to note that Emirates economy class seats on the upper deck are only available on the two-class configuration of the A380. I will explain how to check this beforehand in this review.



Searching for flights

We used a combination of Google Flights and Skyscanner to look for the cheapest flights. There’s a little hack to this. Use Google Flights initially when selecting your dates as you can see which potential return dates would give you the cheapest round-trip. We were flexible with our journey duration, so we were able to select dates which were the best value for money. Once you’ve found the flights you want, check the same dates on Skyscanner. Sometimes, you get booking sites that have those flights even cheaper that doesn’t show up on Google Flights.

For example, you know you want to travel for 7 days. Go onto Google Flights and select any random dates for now that are a 7-day duration and click “done”. Now go back to the departure date in the search bar and flick through the months. It will show you the cheapest day to fly for a 7-day trip. For example below, if you were to start your journey on 1st September, for a 7-day trip the cheapest flight is £290. Pretty cool!

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Now you want to head over to Skyscanner and plug in those same dates to see if you get a good rate from one of the booking sites there.

How do I check if I can get Emirates economy class seats on the upper deck?

If you want to check if you could have the Emirates economy class upper deck experience before you book, you want to use Emirates’ “What’s on your flight” tool on their website. From here you’ll need to make sure the only two options that come up are the Economy and Business Class. If there is a First Class option, you will not have access to the upper deck. You’ll also need to make sure the aircraft is the A380. Most of the time, the flights departing from Gatwick have the two-class configuration, but if you really want to travel from Heathrow, you can flick through all the flights and see if you can find any that have the two-class configuration.

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Now sometimes if you are booking way in advance, the aircraft doesn’t show up, so you’ll just have to hope you will have the A380, which most of the time if you are travelling from Heathrow or Gatwick, you should do. However, if you pick Stansted as your departure or return airport, it’s almost certain that you will have the Boeing 777.

Online check-in

Okay, you’ve done the exciting part which is booking your flights, for an amazing price as well. But you want to try to get the best seats, without paying of course. For this, you need to be well prepared and select seats when checking in online. Emirates online check-in opens 48 hours before your flight, pretty much on the dot. You’ll need your booking reference handy (and your surname, but you should know that, right?). Keep refreshing the page if it hasn’t let you in yet. This is where you scoop up those upper-deck seats if it’s the two-class configuration of the A380.

If you are travelling as a couple, I absolutely recommend you go for the upper deck twin seats. This is because the seats are in a 2-4-2 formation and thus, giving you and your travel companion the absolute joy of not having someone blocking the aisle seat or someone on the window seat who constantly wants to get up and leave their seat.

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This would also be the time to request any special meals you require. You have a variety of options including vegetarian and vegan meals. Don’t forget to do this as once you are on the flight because unless you are extremely lucky, there will not be extra special meals. If you aren’t getting the special meals, Emirates publish their menus beforehand on their website so if you are overly excited leading up to your flight as I am, you can use the tool to search for your flight and see what your meal options are going to be beforehand. I’d also recommend downloading the Emirates App to stay updated with your flight features and details prior to your trip.

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Airport and boarding experience at London Gatwick

We always prefer to travel from Gatwick where possible as opposed to Heathrow. While it doesn’t have the array of dining and cafe options as Heathrow, the smoother experience makes it worth it. Generally, it is less crowded thus making the check-in, security and boarding experience so much more pleasant.

We reached the airport 2 hours before the flight, and despite what I mentioned above, we still were hugely surprised to find the check-in queue almost empty. Gatwick is usually quick, but this was a welcomed speed-run through check-in. The Emirates staff at the counter were very polite and helpful, we had our baggage tagged and handed our boarding passes in under 10 minutes.

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If you have the Emirates App, it pings you a notification with your gate number and when your flight starts to board. So, you can enjoy your cup of coffee without worrying about being late for boarding. If you’ve secured the upper deck seats, you definitely do not have to worry about having to get ahead of everyone else to secure the overhead storage, as you have your dedicated zone where you will board from. If you have travelled with Emirates before, you’ll be familiar with the seating zones being called out. If you’re seated in zones A or B, your boarding area will be away from everyone else. Talk about the business class experience without the price!

Cabin and seat

The A380 generally has a spacious cabin and seats, but upstairs just feels that much extra spacious. I’m not sure if it’s because the middle seats were unoccupied, but it definitely was a special experience.

The first thing you will notice when you arrive at your seat, is that along with the overhead luggage bin, you will also have the absolute luxury of having a side storage bin. This is only available on the upper deck which is incredibly convenient. You probably can’t fit an entire cabin-sized suitcase, however, you can put your other peripherals like coats, purses, duty free bags and more which is handy and frees up the space under your seat to actually stretch your legs a little.

Now I won’t go into the technicalities of the seat length, width, pitch and any other metric, the point is, it was comfortable. I’m 5ft 11″ and I had a comfortable amount of space between my legs and the seat in front of me, so those of you who are 6ft+ should have no issues, unless you have the height of a basketball player type then I give you no guarantees. The seats are well cushioned and you can adjust the headrest up or down as well as lift the sides to give yourself something to lean your head against.

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Around the seat, you have the classic Emirates wood finish around the edge of the windows, a double foldable tray table, a cup holder you can pull out when the table is folded up and the 13inch in-flight entertainment system. You also are presented with some amenities including some headphones, a pillow and a blanket.

In-flight entertainment

The Emirates in-flight entertainment, also known as “ICE” is one of the best in the business. The screen size is the largest of all the economy classes in the industry and it also is incredibly responsive. Navigating is snappy and you have the option of using the touch screen or the mini handheld remote. Going into the actual entertainment on offer, there is a plethora of content to suit everyone’s tastes.

You’ll probably take at least 15 minutes just selecting the movie or TV show you want to watch, but that is a very good problem to have on a long-haul flight. If that was not enough, you also have the option of watching live TV, which I availed as we were travelling during the time of the World Cup in Qatar. Watching live football while 35,000ft in the air, now that is an experience.

Next to the remote, you have the headphone jack, and a USB-A port if you are on the aisle seat but if you have the window seat you have the addition of a 3-pin UK plug which helps if you want to use your fast charging adapter. The headphones are comfortable and decent in quality, but I always recommend you take your own headphones if you can.

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Apart from the movies and TV shows, you have one of the best in-flight maps which you can easily spend a decent amount of time entertaining yourself with. You can easily access the map in the top left while you’re watching a movie too which is convenient if you want to check where exactly in the world you are. You also have the option of 3 camera angles so you can see outside the aircraft while in the air, although there’s not much you can see apart from clouds, but still quite cool when taking off and landing.

You also have access to WiFi if you so wish. If you are a Skywards member, then you have access to WiFi for free, otherwise, the price for the messaging pack where you can use WhatsApp, iMessage and other messaging services is 4.99 USD, which is not bad at all. I do like to avoid it however to get that true experience of disconnecting from the world and having no expectations to reply to messages while in the air.

Food and drink

In-flight meals are another area where Emirates as well as other Middle Eastern carriers excel in. They were one of the only airlines to continue their meal service during the pandemic. We were served lunch as our main meal shortly after reaching altitude. Top tip here: if you like to be served first to ensure you get your choice of meal, the trolley starts from the front of the cabin, so keep this in mind when trying to secure your seats.

I got the regular meal while my partner got the Indian Vegetarian meal, and both meals were delicious. I was given the option of chicken biryani or beef with mashed potatoes. I opted for the biryani, and for the vegetarian meal, we were given rice and saag paneer. The meals were accompanied by a starter salad, bread, cheese and crackers and for dessert, a brownie with caramel sauce which was delectable as well as a chocolate chip cookie which also didn’t disappoint. There also are plenty of drinks for you to choose from, I opted for the Diet Pepsi which I feel just tastes better from the Middle East and I could not wait to sip on it again.

Emirates does not cheap out on the quality of the meals as well as the small details such as the cutlery being metal instead of plastic. The staff are also very friendly and accommodating to any requests you have. It really is a pleasant experience dining in the air with them.

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For the pre-landing snack, there was only one main option which was a warm cheese and onion pasty and lemon cake served with drinks. For the vegetarian option, we were given a vegetable wrap with grapes for dessert. We didn’t expect much here, but the grapes were actually very high quality and sweet.

Approach and arrival at Dubai Terminal 3

We started our descent into Dubai around 7.30 pm local time. We happened to travel on 2nd December which is the National Day in the UAE so the cabin was lit up with the colours of the UAE flag which was a really nice touch. The Emirates pilots are very skilled, so we had a butter-like landing.

The Emirates customer service extends beyond the aircraft as you have Terminal 3 which is dedicated to only Emirates passengers. Our transition from the flight through to immigration was very smooth and once you pass the iconic airport fountains and reach the counters, the immigration staff are very efficient in keeping things moving. Although there can be long queues, somehow Dubai manages to keep it moving very swiftly, so don’t be too disheartened if you see a huge crowd!

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Conclusion

Overall, the experience with Emirates was pretty much faultless. From the moment we were booking flights until we stepped foot in Dubai, every interaction with them was positive. Their website is very easy to navigate, they have all sorts of information you would want before your flight like the in-flight menu, seating plan etc, app notifications, the check-in experience, the cabin, the live map, the in-flight experience and the arrival into Dubai. Every part of their service is carefully thought out and it truly reflects on the customer’s experience.

Emirates are no doubt more expensive than other carriers and there are plenty of options if you are planning to travel from London to Dubai, but if you are looking for a positive and seamless experience, the price is worth it. Currently, there are too many airlines trying to cash grab by screwing over their customers, but Emirates for sure is not one of them.

Ratings

  • Check-in experience: 10/10
  • Seats: 9/10
  • In-flight entertainment: 10/10
  • Food and drink: 9/10
  • Staff: 9/10
  • Contacting customer service: 8/10

FAQ

Does the Emirates A380 have economy class in the upper deck?

Yes, the Emirates A380 has economy class with twin seats in the upper deck, however, economy on the upper deck is only on the two-class configuration of the Emirates A380.

How can I get upper deck seats in Emirates economy class?

You will need to check in online 48 hours prior to departure and pick your seats in the upper deck.

What does Emirates economy class offer?

Emirates economy class offers generous leg room, high quality in-flight meals, excellent in-flight entertainment and an overall smooth service from booking up to arrival in your destination.

What are Emirates economy seats like?

Emirates seats are one of the best you’ll find in economy class especially on the A380. You have generous leg room, comfortable seats and adjustable headrests. You also have space in front of you to stretch your legs or store hand luggage. On the upper deck, you have a twin seat configuration.

What food do you get in Emirates economy class?

Emirates in-flight meals are of a high standard for the aviation industry. You can check the specific menu for your flight with Emirates’ “Whats on Your Flight” tool.

How many bags can you take in Emirates economy class?

In economy you can take 1 checked in bag, 1 hand luggage and 1 personal item. Depending on the fare you have, you can take up to 20kg on a special ticket, 25kg on a saver ticket, 30kg on a flex ticket and 35kg on a flex plus ticket. Check the baggage allowance on your route directly on the Emirates website.

How long is the flight from London to Dubai?

The total flight time is around 6 hours 30 minutes.

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