I travelled to Portugal to visit AirNav Radarbox, to gain an insight on how flight tracking works. On my way back, I flew on an Emirates B777-300/ER from Lisbon to Dubai in First Class.
Emirates First Class Redemption Limitation
This was an award ticket which was redeemed from my Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, the cost was 65,000 miles. This was probably going to be my last Emirates First Class award ticket from JAL, as Emirates is tightening the First Class redemption requirements from partners. From September, only Emirates Skywards and Qantas frequent flyers can continue to redeem on Emirates First Class.
For JAL Mileage bank members: Effective from September 1st 2021, new bookings for First Award Tickets with Emirates (EK) will not be accepted. First Class Award tickets that have been already booked, and with miles that have already been deducted, and ticketed by August 31st 2021 can still be used for travel on Emirates on/after September 1st 2021.
TAP Premium Lounge Lisbon
My journey started at Lisbon Airport. Emirates First and Business customers can use the TAP Premium Lounge. This modern lounge was quite good in my opinion, there were decent food and beverage options with a good set up for social distancing. The TAP lounge also offers a good view of the apron.
Emirates B777-300/ER First Class
Out of the 8 First Class Suites available on this flight, 6 were occupied. During COVID, these First Class suites have been in high demand; this is due to their extensive privacy and the ability to close the suite door.
The registration of my flight was A6-EGY, a B777-300/ER delivered in 2012. Flight time to Dubai was 7 hours, which makes Lisbon one of the longest European flights to Dubai; being that Portugal is located in the most western part of the European continent.
I was surprised by this "Successfully Tracked" gift card by AirNav Radarbox. This cool card now resides in my home in Dubai, along with my other aviation collections.
On the ground the flight attendants offered only Business Class champagne. However after take-off Dom Perignon 2008 champagne was served, along with warm nuts and canapes.
We took off and flew over Southern Spain; we then flew across the Med towards Algeria, avoiding Libya airspace of course. Our journey then took us over Tunisia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to our destination in Dubai.
Given this was a daylight flight, no pyjamas or amenity kits were offered. There were however individually packaged eyeshades and socks available.
The menu out of Lisbon is really great. I firmly believe that Emirates flights out of Europe have the best catering. The Lisbon flight catering reflects local Portuguese cuisine.
I am a huge caviar fan. It is good to see Emirates offering caviar on most medium and long-haul First Class flights.
The food was excellent in both taste and presentation.
On my flight, new headsets from Bowers & Wilkins were provided. Theses headsets are considerably lighter than the previous Bose offerings.
You can only gain access to the free internet if you are an Emirates Skywards member, your mileage number also has to be recorded in your booking. Other than that, there is other free internet available on board (messaging cost $3.99 now).
As my ticket was issued by JAL, I could not enter my Skywards frequent flyer number to take advantage of the free internet.
After a big lunch I was served chamomile tea to relax with, it certainly helped me sleep for a few hours in the privacy of the First Class Suite.
I dont know why, but I was HUNGRY again before landing! The flight attendant recommended trying out the Portuguese Mezze "Petiscos". It was actually a really large variety of snacks include dips, pickles, codfish, octopus, salad and fried prawns.
Our flight landed just after midnight in Dubai, which is the typical arrival time for hub operations in Dubai. Once at the gate in Dubai, all the First Class passengers were expedited and escorted to the arrival formality area. This is a new service which has started during COVID.
Travel Requirements for Dubai
All passengers traveling to Dubai, from any point of origin (GCC countries included), must hold a negative COVID 19 PCR test certificate, for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure; except for travel from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, these locations have their own set of specific requirements.
Passengers arriving in Dubai, from the below countries, will be required to take another COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International airport:
Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
Transiting in Dubai
Passengers transiting through Dubai, from the below countries, are required to present a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate, for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.
Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.
Overall Emirates has maintained a high level of service in First Class. The catering was particularly excellent out of Lisbon. With the removal of First Class redemption ability from many mileage partners, flying on Emirates First Class using miles will become more difficult. The next best option may be using Skyward Miles for an upgrade to First Class.
Also, look out for last-minute upgrade offers during online-check in or at the airport counters. I was offered First Class upgrade on my Business Class flight from Dubai to Frankfurt for about $750 (AED2,760)