No wonder tickets between Dubai and the U.S. in Emirates first class regularly price at over $10,000 … each way!
Back in September, though, I was able to book a one-way ticket from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) via Dubai International Airport(DXB) for the (relatively) inexpensive grand total of $3,168.
The first leg would be aboard an Airbus A380 with the airline’s older but still fabulous first-class suites. For the second segment, I would finally have a chance to review Emirates’ game-changing newer first-class suites aboard a Boeing 777, which I’d been wanting to fly for years.
Learning about my over-the-top trip, some of my colleagues at The Points Guy challenged me to “try to make my money back” on one of the flights. I figured that would be about $1,584 since both legs were around the same duration of just under seven hours.
I was intrigued. Could I possibly quaff enough Dom Perignon or down enough caviar to make up for the airfare? How could you put a price tag on showering at 39,000 feet? What else was mine for the taking that I could add to my bottom line?
Since I was working up a full review of my second flight, I decided to play a round of “make your money back” on my A380 flight from Bangkok to Dubai. I researched the cost of each and every item and amenity I could enjoy on board and set about making a plan.
The day of my flight, everything went like clockwork. I tallied the cost of every sip of Champagne, every bite of filet mignon and every soap bubble of the Voya spa products in the lavatory.
Was it a bit crass? Without a doubt. But was it some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a flight? Absolutely.
Even the flight attendants got in on the game and were always on hand to pour another glass of Dom … to help with my running tally, of course.
Here, without further ado, is the result. And don’t worry, I didn’t make my money back simply by drinking my weight in Hennessy Paradis cognac ($1,500 a bottle).
Making my money back in Emirates first class
Drinking and dining, nickel and diming
If you’re curious how I did it, here are a few of the highlights and how much I tabulated each to be worth.
Breakfast in the lounge: $20
I popped by Emirates’ lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport before my flight and devoured an omelet, a fruit plate, pineapple juice, sparkling water and a cappuccino.
Bulgari amenity kit: $130
Emirates first-class passengers are treated to fancy amenity kits chock-full of high-end Bulgari products including the Le Gemme line’s Tygar cologne, plus aftershave and moisturizer. Looking up similarly priced items online from department stores, I tabulated my kit to be worth well over $100.
Dom Perignon 2003 P2: $300 ($100 per glass)
Dom Perignon P2 (the P stands for Plenitude) is a limited-edition Champagne. The house holds back a small number of bottles from very special vintages and ages them a further 15 years for more complexity and character. Each bottle retails for around $600 … and I sipped (but didn’t finish) about three glasses of it over the flight. All for the challenge, naturally.
Unlimited caviar (and fixings): $350
Emirates serves Gourmet House caviar on Royal Doulton fine bone china in first class and passengers can request as much as they’d like. I estimated I got about 3 ounces at $80-$100 each, plus all the fixings, so I rounded up to $350 for the beautiful presentation.
Hennessy Paradis cognac: $150
Available only for first-class passengers (who can also request that the bottle be brought back to the A380’s cocktail bar for them to imbibe there), Hennessy Paradis is one of the world’s most famous cognacs. It’s actually a blend of many eaux de vie ranging in age from 30-130 years old and retails for around $1,500 a bottle. I got a hefty pour back at the bar and estimated it to be $150 worth of spirits. Worth every drop!
Mezze and filet mignon: $130
For my main meal, I started with a sizable mezze platter worth around $30 (based on a restaurant where I’d just had a similar spread) followed by a juicy cut of filet mignon with mushroom sauce, potatoes and asparagus worth around another $100 if you were to order it all in a steakhouse.
Chardonnay, shiraz and Bordeaux, oh my: $120
With my meal, I tried tastes of Howard Park Allingham chardonnay from Western Australia, Clarendon Hills Astralis shiraz from South Australia and Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, raking me in another $120 or so in value.
Dessert, port and Sauternes: $110
What, you thought I was done? I’m a professional!
I ordered a crunchy, custardy peach crostata and a cheese plate with several slabs of dairy delight on it. And for a pairing? A glass of one of the world’s most famous dessert wines, Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes from Bordeaux, along with a taste of Sandeman 40-year-old tawny port. What a way to finish.
Moisturizing pajamas: $110
Back in 2016, Emirates introduced so-called hydra-active moisturizing pajamas in first class, then actually sold them through its store in 2018. When I looked them up in the Emirates online store, I could not find them anymore, though they were advertised at 200 United Arab Emirates dirhams (about $55) per piece, so I tallied them up at $110 for the set. Interestingly, the Emirates store’s U.S. site has different sets of hydra-active pajamas for sale for $55, but these are different from the cowl-necked ones I got, so I’m sticking with my higher price.
Voya spa set: $80
Next, it was time for a quick rinse in one of the plane’s two onboard showers. The experience of bathing at high altitude is priceless, if you ask me. But one thing I was able to monetize was the set of Ireland-based Voya spa products arranged for passengers to use. I priced out a similar travel kit I found online at a cool $80.
Moleskine notebook and pen: $20
It might not seem like much, but I also swiped a Moleskine notebook and Emirates pen from my suite’s console — you know, for documenting the experience — and added another $20 to my tab. What I forgot to grab? The Byredo skincare products in the console’s vanity. I also skipped the chips and candy, including the gourmet Lakrids by Bulow Danish licorice I love that were stocked in the suite’s minibar. Next time!
Airport escort and chauffeur service: $130
Though this is not a guaranteed amenity, along with other first-class passengers on my flight, I was met by an airport escort upon deplaning. He whisked me past other arrivals on a golf cart and through an expedited line at immigration and customs so that I was at the airline’s chauffeur desk within minutes. There, I secured a ride in a BMW 7 Series to my beach resort about an hour away. Based on pricing for VIP services at the Dubai Airport as well as the cost of my taxi back to the airport from the resort, I’d bundle these two services together at $130.
Grand total: $1,650
Mission accomplished! I beat my goal to get my money’s worth from the flight by nearly $70. And it wasn’t easy, despite how delightful it was. I think it’ll be a while before I have another scoop of caviar … though I wouldn’t mind another glass of Dom Perignon P2 sometime soon.
Aside from the pure (and purely fun) monetary value I got from my flight, the other elements — the incredible suite with its buttery leather recliner and enormous inflight entertainment system, the friendliness of the crew (and their willingness to indulge all my kooky requests), and the sheer gratification of being able to relish a truly luxurious experience — are things I’ll be telling folks about for the rest of my life.
Or they could just watch the video and try to see the point at which I realized I might have had too much caviar.
Want to experience some more luxury in the sky? Check out these recent flight reviews:
- Emirates first class still wows: Fully enclosed suites and unlimited caviar
- Feels like first class: Flying ANA The Room business class from LA-Tokyo
- The holy grail of award tickets: Flying Lufthansa first class on the Boeing 747-8
- 8 reasons I’m excited about Singapore Airlines’ A380 Suites flying to the US
- We fly the Emirates A380 in all 4 cabins, including the new premium economy