Overseas travel makes me wish I could apparate like Harry Potter. Being in a foreign land is a huge, wonderful, enticing idea. Getting to that foreign land however, is a huge pain in the neck. And back. And legs. If only I could win the lottery. Then I would travel onboard an Emirates Airlines A380. In first class.

Taking a shower at 40,000 feet: The luxury travel shower spa onboard the Emirates A380.

Taking a shower at 40,000 feet: The luxury travel shower spa onboard the Emirates A380. Photo from Emirates Airlines

Uber Luxury Travel

Thanks to a super-frequently-flying friend with miles to share, I once traveled to Australia from Chicago in first class. We had space, great food, comfortable seats and actual sleep. Since that one, glorious flight, I have traveled overseas many times, always in economy.

To paraphrase an old saying, I have been in first class and I have been in economy. First class is better. Much, much better.

My one international first class flight was definitely luxury travel. But now there’s something even better–uber luxury travel. It’s the kind of travel actress Jennifer Aniston dreams about on those commercials for Emirates Airlines:

While I haven’t actually flown on Emirates Airlines, or on an Airbus A380, I did get a glimpse of how the 1 Percent travels. Emirates brought an A380 to O’Hare International Airport to show off the plane and laud O’Hare for re-configuring a gate in the international terminal to accommodate these huge, luxurious jets. (Emirates did not, however, announce plans to begin regular A380 flights out of O’Hare.)

How the 1 Percent Travels

My tour of this oversized plane was a little rushed, but I got a quick peek at some of its luxurious touches.

Stairway to heaven in the air, the top deck business and first class cabins of the Emirates A380.

Stairway to heaven in the air, the top deck business and first class cabins of the Emirates A380. Photo by Cindy Richards / Empty Nest TravelingMom

First Class Onboard the Emirates A380

This is the stuff of Jennifer Aniston’s dreams. (And mine.) Here you’ll enjoy gourmet meals, seats that fold down into full size beds in a private suite, first class amenities from Bulgari, a lounge, and that shower spa.

Oh that shower spa. How does it work? There are just 14 first class seats. When you get on board, the attentive flight attendants will ask if you will want to take an in-flight shower. Say yes and you will be assigned a 30-minute window for using the nicely appointed shower spa (it’s bigger than my first floor bathroom). The shower itself offers 8 minutes of water.

Rob Gurney, Emirates senior vice president for North America, says he usually books his time in the shower spa at the beginning of the flight. “Especially when I’m connecting from somewhere and haven’t had time for a shower. I’ll shower, change and relax for the flight.”

All of this uber awesomeness might make me wish the New York-Dubai flight took longer than 12 hours.

The price for a New-Dubai first class flight ranges from around $13,000 to $30,000.

Business Class Onboard the Emirates A380

For about half the price of first class, you can travel in business class onboard an Emirates A380, but you’ll give up the shower. You still get the gourmet meals, the roomy seats that turn into lie-flat beds, and access to the lounge. In other words, it’s not too shabby.

From top left: Real flowers welcome first class flyers to the shower spa; even the economy seats offer first-class entertainment, kids get their own amenity packs, and lie-flat seats in business and first class make it easy to sleep on long international flights.

From top left: Real flowers welcome first class flyers to the shower spa; even the economy seats offer first-class entertainment, kids get their own amenity packs, and lie-flat seats in business and first class make it easy to sleep on long international flights. Photos by Cindy Richards and Emirates Airlines

Economy Class Onboard the Emirates A380

This is where most of us will end up–and everyone, including the airline knows it. There are 14 first class, 76 business class and about 400 economy seats on each A380.

It’s not that bad. Really. No lie-flat seats, but there seemed to be a little more leg room and the seats seemed to be a little wider. This plane definitely offers more room than I had on my flight to Norway. Still, it wouldn’t be all that comfortable for my 6-foot, 3-inch husband.

Kids, however, should find flying in economy just fine. Emirates has some kid- and family-friendly features. The kids get special amenity packs and meals. There’s plenty of in-flight entertainment to distract them from the fact that they will be strapped into a seat for many hours. And the price is a fraction of what the 1 percenters pay–just about $1000 per ticket on a late August-early September flight.

If you go to Dubai, there is even more family friendliness. Here’s what the Emirates website promises:

“We give special consideration to the things you need to make your family trip comfortable and convenient. That’s why we have special family check-in desks at Dubai International airport, and we make sure families board first. Check in online in advance, drop off your bags up to 24 hours before your flight, then pick up one of our complimentary strollers at Dubai International airport and shop for kids’ treats at Duty Free.

“In our airport lounges, you can use our mother and baby room to change and feed your little adventurer, and children can enjoy video games in our play areas.”

See luxury travel the way the 1 Percent does it with a glimpse inside an Emirates A380, complete with shower spa. Photo by Pixabay

See luxury travel the way the 1 Percent does it with a glimpse inside an Emirates A380, complete with shower spa. Photo by Pixabay

What feature of the A380 do you most want to experience? Share with us in the comment section below.