- Emirates is upgrading 52 of its Airbus A380 with new cabin enhancements and the addition of a premium economy class cabin.
- Long-haul routes between Dubai and destinations like London, Paris, and New York will receive the aircraft.
- Emirates is the first Middle Eastern mega carrier to introduce a premium economy class cabin.
Emirates is giving 52 of its Airbus A380s a brand-new look including upgrades in every cabin and premium economy seating.
Emirates is giving the world’s largest passenger jet a new lease on life.
Airlines have been torn on what to do with the Airbus A380 as the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift towards sustainability in the sky has forever changed how people travel. Some airlines have opted to retire the A380 while others have opted to embrace it.
Emirates, as the world’s largest operator of the A380, has embraced the aircraft and plans to fly its fleet of 123 A380s for years to come. And the airline is giving its customers even more to look forward to when booking a seat on the A380 with 52 aircraft receiving cabin upgrades.
The addition of a new premium economy class cabin and upgrades to each cabin of the aircraft will force even seasoned Emirates travelers to reacquaint themselves with the aircraft.
“The Emirates A380 is already one of the most sought-after travel experiences in the skies, and now we’ve made it even better,” Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said in a statement.
Emirates showed off one of its newly restyled Airbus A380s at the Dubai Airshow in November. Here’s what it’s like inside.
The first thing that passengers boarding on the lower deck of the A380 will encounter is the Emirates’ first-ever premium economy cabin.
Emirates is also the first of the Middle Eastern mega carriers to include a premium economy cabin on any aircraft.
A total of 56 premium economy seats replace the 88 economy seats that formerly occupied the space.
The 2-4-2 configuration of the cabin is typical for wide-body aircraft such as the A380.
Noticeably larger than economy class seats, premium economy seats offer up to 40 inches of legroom and 19.5 inches of width.
The cream-colored seats feature anti-stain leather with stitching and wood panel finishing comparable to those found upstairs in business class. Premium economy class, after all, is a compromise between economy class and business class.
Paired seats along the cabin wall are ideal for couples traveling together and those that prefer the window seat.
Seats in the center-aisle, alternatively, are better suited for larger groups of travelers.
Each seat offers standard amenities including a 110v AC power outlet, USB charging port, coat hook, and drink counter.
In-flight entertainment in the cabin is provided through seat-back entertainment screens measuring 13.3 inches. Emirates’ ICE system offers movies, music, television shows, games, moving maps, and even the ability to view the aircraft’s external cameras.
Premium economy seats offer a deeper recline than economy class seats, with footrests and calf rests available for additional comfort.
Each seat also comes standard with a six-way adjustable headrest and an oversize pillow, and flight attendants distribute blanket kits on long-haul flights.
Additional storage compartments can also be found at each seat to hold items including small devices, water bottles, and amenity kits.
“Our Premium Economy product was carefully developed in keeping with Emirates’ brand positioning as a full-service airline of the highest quality,” Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said in a statement.
And looking over the cabin if the ghaf tree, or the national tree of the UAE.
Emirates is saving the premium economy class-equipped aircraft for long-haul destinations including London, Paris, New York, and Frankfurt, Germany
Moving back in the aircraft, economy class takes up the rest of the lower deck with 338 seats in total.
Seats are configured in the standard 10-abreast layout in a 3-4-3 configuration. But the A380 is so massive that there are still gaps between the window seats and the sidewalls.
New “ergonomically designed” seats have been installed that include adjustable leather headrests.
While nearly identical at first glance, the new seats are noticeably less cluttered than their predecessors.
Tray tables are solid pieces and are not built with attached cupholders, as is the case with previous generation seats.
In-flight entertainment screens, however, remain the same size at 13.3 inches.
Emirates’ A380 economy seats typically feature between 32 and 24 inches of legroom and between 17.5 and inches of pitch.
Wood finishing can still be found surrounding the windows but the cabin design has generally remained the same.
The one exception is that ghaf trees now similarly watch over the economy class cabin.
A half spiral staircase at the back of the plane leads to the upper deck of the aircraft, which is off-limits to those seated in the premium economy class and economy class cabins on the lower deck. It too features a ghaf tree design.
Business class still takes up the majority of the upper deck with 76 seats in total.
A 1-2-1 seat configuration offers each passengers direct aisle access, unlike on Emirates’ Boeing 777 aircraft.
All seats have been reupholstered in champagne-colored leather covers accompanied by wood finishing on the hard surfaces.
Wood paneling covers the countertops at each seat as well as portions of the sidewall.
Some seats are more private than others, namely the true window seats away from the aisle.
Center-aisle seats are ideal for couples or travel companions looking to stay close to each other. Known as honeymoon seats, only a few inches separate the two.
But a partition can be raised if the person in the adjacent seat is a stranger.
Other center-aisle seats, however, are located closer to the aisle for additional separation if traveling alone.
Standard seat amenities in business class include a 110v AC power outlet, USB charging port, adjustable headrest, personal reading lamp, personal mini bar, and an entertainment tablet in addition to a 23-inch in-flight entertainment screen.
The personal mini bar is a rare amenity for business class and Emirates stocks still and sparkling water, as well as a plastic cup.
A blanket and oversized pillow are also placed at each seat for when it’s time to rest as seats have fully flat capabilities.
Just ahead of business class is the most cabin on the aircraft, first class.
A total of 14 first class suites offer one of the most luxurious and expensive experiences in the sky, made even better by the new enhancements.
The upgraded first class suites are wider with taller doors that offer additional privacy. Flyers can retreat into the cabin and feel like they are the only passengers onboard the aircraft thanks to closeable doors.
Awaiting passengers inside the suite is an oversized recliner chair opposite a massive 32-inch entertainment screen.
An assortment of snacks and cold drinks, including Evian water and Perrier sparkling water, can also be found in the suite as well as fresh flowers.
Buttons throughout the suite control its functionality, including opening and closing the doors as well as seat recline.
Hidden compartments hide luxurious amenities including Byredo toiletries. Travelers also receive an amenity kit containing Bulgari products.
Caviar and fine champagne continue to be served in Emirates’ first class cabin with high ticket prices to match the luxurious experience.
One flight attendant told Insider that a first class ticket from New York to Dubai is “the price of a small car.”
When it’s time to sleep, travelers can close their doors and redline their seats into a fully flat bed.
And when it’s time to refresh, the A380’s famous “shower spas” are also receiving touch-ups of their own.
The same color palette has been extended into the private spas with ghaf trees replacing the mural of Dubai that previously lined the wall.
First class travelers can reserve appointment slots to use the shower while in flight and typically has 15-20 minutes of hot water time.
Voya products including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body moisturizer are available for passengers to use in the shower. And once their finished, Bulgari cologne and perfume provide the finishing touch.
Premium cabin passengers also have access to the redesigned bar at the back of the A380’s upper deck. Another staple of the A380, the in-flight bar serves beer, wine, and cocktails as well as light fare.
Travelers can retreat to the social area and enjoy their drinks in the newly installed seating areas, just as if in an upscale bar.
Emirates isn’t alone in offering the bar on its A380s but the setup is becoming a rarity as more airlines retire their double-decker aircraft.
Emirates has received its final A380 from Airbus, which ended production of the aircraft with the delivery.
The future of Emirates now lies with twin-engine aircraft including the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 XWB. But even Clark admits that the A380’s size allowed it to offer products that can’t be directly matched on a smaller aircraft.
“How could it be as good as the A380 on the upper deck, or as good as it is in economy [class] with 10-abreast seating on the main deck,” Clark said of the Boeing 777X in an interview with Insider.
But travelers will still be able to book for decades to come, and some may even be lucky enough to find one of the 52 aircraft in the new configuration.
Published on Jan 2, 2022, in Insider by Thomas Pallini