View profile

I Went To A Bar 35,000 Feet In The Air

As an avid airline miles and points collector, it was absolute blasphemy that I had not used my miles
Living My Legend
I Went To A Bar 35,000 Feet In The Air
By Nico Atienza • Issue #15 • View online
As an avid airline miles and points collector, it was absolute blasphemy that I had not used my miles to experience Emirates’ world famous premium cabins. Thankfully, that ended on my most recent trip to New York where I cashed in some miles for a Business Class seat on the mighty A380 from Dubai to New York.

It is difficult to describe how much frequent flyer miles and points have rocked my world. Despite the numerous wonderful experiences I’ve had in my short life so far, cashing in miles for a seat at the front of an airplane will hold a permanent spot in my heart. Every time I use my miles, I only pay a tiny fraction for a plane ticket compared to what everyone else paid for the same privilege. It was legal larceny and I couldn’t get enough of it. Ahhh, the champagne couldn’t taste any sweeter.
Emirates Flight 201 to New York on the A380
Emirates Flight 201 to New York on the A380
Even after redeeming (or ‘burning’) over a million miles on “free flights” up to this point, one experience keeps slipping my fingers, and that is a seat on the renowned Emirates superjumbo A380 jet that features a superfluous bar and shower for Business and First Class passengers.
A bar and shower on frickin’ airplane. You read that right.
After waiting patiently for several years for the right occasion to nab a seat on this opulent flight, an opportunity finally presented itself when I had to get to New York from Colombo. There are many ways to get there but there was only one option in my mind. That option started with an 'E’, ended with an ’S’ and had 'MIRATE’ in the middle.
My Business Class ticket ended up costing 82,500 Alaska Airlines miles and $150 in taxes and fees for a one way flight. As an added bonus, I was able to tack on a short Colombo (CMB) to Dubai (DXB) hop in Business Class for no extra miles. It was a lot of miles to cash in but a one way Business Class ticket from Dubai to New York alone would cost around $5,000 (!) so I thought I was getting really good value.
Good morning Dubai! 8am take off to New York
Good morning Dubai! 8am take off to New York
Smaller business class cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration
Smaller business class cabin in a 1-2-1 configuration
My throne for the 14 hour flight
My throne for the 14 hour flight
Boarding was a little chaotic with all of the extra security since this was a flight bound to the US. Once we stepped onboard, my girlfriend and I couldn’t help but feel really cramped in the cabin. This was a gigantic plane that could hold about 800 passengers but ironically, space felt like a real premium.
The stewards and stewardesses donned in their trademark livery did their best to welcome everyone onboard but even they seemed overwhelmed at times with all the passengers streaming into the aircraft.
Looking into the larger Business Class cabin from the smaller rear Business Class cabin
Looking into the larger Business Class cabin from the smaller rear Business Class cabin
As the flight progressed, the cramped feeling I had after boarding the aircraft never went away. While I was extremely grateful for a lie flat seat, it wasn’t the most comfortable one I’ve ever laid on. The age of the plane was also starting to show with nicks and scratches everywhere and an In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system that was past its prime.
For food, the flight was offering breakfast and lunch service with a variety of options to choose from. I picked scrambled eggs with chives for breakfast and a roasted chicken fillet for lunch. Both were just okay. Feeling very underwhelmed, I even ordered a lamp pie from the ‘Light Bites’ menu and that too was just okay.
Traditional Arabic mezze lunch appetizer
Traditional Arabic mezze lunch appetizer
I purposely saved the best for last because it was probably the only redeeming factor of this whole experience. Let’s talk about the bar.
The bar on the A380 is located towards the rear of the upper deck, just behind the smaller Business Class cabin I was sitting in. I popped in shortly after the breakfast service was over and found several people socializing and having a drink (even though it was 11am Dubai time). It’s never to early to have a drink, right?
I ended spending a lot more time at the bar chatting with fellow passengers and the flight crew. The crew congregated in the back of the bar in between services to not disturb passengers who are trying to sleep so it was a great place to get to know them and chat.
I couldn’t be at a bar and not have a drink so I was very unoriginal with my beverage choice and asked for a Manhattan (🙄) that was whipped up quite well at cruising altitude.
A Manhattan before heading to Manhattan. Lame, Nico, lame..
A Manhattan before heading to Manhattan. Lame, Nico, lame..
As the wheels touched down at New York JFK, I couldn’t help but have mixed feelings of the whole experience. While the bar was exceptional, everything from the seat, food and service, seemed very underwhelming or just okay.
I’m happy that I can cross Emirates Business Class on the A380 off my miles & points bucket list but I won’t be dying to do it again. Although, taking a shower in Emirates First Class and their new First Class Suite on the 777 are next on the list.

What was your favorite airplane experience?

My best,
Nico
Before You Go..
  • 😇I recently discovered 11-year old activist Mari Copeny from one of my favorite YouTubers. She has spent the last few years raising money and awareness for the impoverished people of Flint, Michigan. In her latest fundraising campaign, she is working with another nonprofit to provide stuffed backpacks for the kids of Flint. They estimate that $4 is enough for a single backpack, the cost of a single latte or lunch. You can donate by going here. I was really happy I did.

  • 🎓It has been one hell of a week for my favorite athlete, LeBron James. After signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, he has opened a school for underprivileged kids in his hometown of Akron, OH, and has even drawn the Twitter ire of President Trump. This video was his first sit down interview after opening the school and I can’t help but admire him even more than I already do.

  • 📈I loved this article by tech blog Signal v. Noise about the need to rethink the way we hustle. “Say no to more dumb shit. Engage with fewer things but at a higher intensity. Stick with it. Stop chasing so much.” Read it here.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Nico Atienza

A third culture kid discussing expat life in Sri Lanka, technology, travel, and food.

If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue