The flight to Europe’s sixth-largest city was business travel as it ought to be – on time, comfortable and efficient, with plenty of room to work and relax.
Emirates has a very reliable chauffeur service in Dubai to get you to the airport without any fuss. It takes you straight to the dedicated first- and business-class terminal in Terminal 3. Here you will find a spacious check-in area to start your trip, without any queues.
You can then head immediately to the business-class lounge, a large facility stretched across the top floor of the terminal, with several buffet restaurants, a business centre and useful extras such as a series of lockers where you can leave your mobile phone to charge for free – but don’t forget it – and a shoe shine at additional cost.
People who want to sleep or work on the plane can have their breakfast here before take-off. You don’t have to re-enter the terminal building, as you have direct access from the lounge to your aircraft – or in this case, the bus to take us to it.
It was a luxury bus just for first-class passengers, with large individual seats.
On board, it was pleasant to note the upgrade of the aircraft from an Airbus A330 to a Boeing 777-300, operational since last year. Budapest was then a new route and has now benefited from the cascading of older aircraft in the fleet as the A380s take over their destinations.
A standard Boeing 777 business-class seat offered a large screen to complement the huge stock of movies available in Emirates’s Ice entertainment system, and a power point for my laptop.
I watched the hit Hollywood movie Race, but the lack of a touchscreen meant grappling with a bulky hand control, whose notation I found hard to see in dim lighting.
My seat in the middle of three, in the centre of the plane, was also less than ideal, with the armrests at slightly different levels.
To eat, there was a continental breakfast and a full lunch with a tasty Arabic meze and a rather bland beef fillet roulade and mashed potatoes. It was a bit early for a dessert or cheese board.
q&a comfort at a price
Peter Cooper expands on flying Emirates to Budapest.
How much was the ticket?
The comforts of business class do not come cheap at Dh15,165 return, almost four times the economy class fare.
How was the experience after landing?
Arriving in Budapest is a real breeze, with an airport so small that you don’t have far to walk. My priority baggage was out within minutes of rushing through the passport control, which I reached ahead of the crowd as I got to disembark first. I quickly located my chauffeur and 30 minutes later I was checking into my accommodation. The flight was five hours and 18 minutes, and door to door from Dubai it took about eight hours.
So why go there?
Budapest is increasingly a gateway city for central Europe, although Prague can also make that claim and has just beaten the Hungarian capital to an A380 Emirates service. The grand architecture from a golden age at the end of the 19th century is being rapidly restored, and the city’s rich cultural life comes at affordable prices. Hotels and restaurants are something of a bargain.
Really, is there any business?
The newly opened Ritz-Carlton is owned by the Dubai hotelier Khalaf Al Habtoor, as well as the InterContinental with the best views over the Danube. Rooms in the Ritz start from Dh985. Budapest is popular with European tech start-ups these days and property opportunities abound in the central district.
* Peter Cooper was upgraded by the airline.
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