Newer, lighter Emirates A380s coming to SFO, IAH

The business and first class lounge on upper deck of Emirates A380 (Photo: Emirates Airline)

The business and first class lounge on upper deck of Emirates A380 (Photo: Emirates Airline)

Emirates is deploying  its giant double-decker Airbus A380 on nonstop routes from both San Francisco International and Houston Intercontinental to Dubai (DXB) on December 1 and 3 respectively.

The new aircraft comes with showers, wi-fi and, yes, even the option of using your mobile phone during the flight. (Oh my!) The A380 also brings true lie-flat business class seats to these markets– Emirates Boeing 777s currently on the routes offer the less desirable “angled lie flat” version.

The A380 will offer 14 posh and private first class suites and 76 lie-flat business class seats, and 400 economy class seats. Business class seats are configured 1-2-1 and economy class seats are 10-across, configured 3-4-3. See configuration here.

Emirates' depiction of its first class shower suite (Photo: Emirates Airline)

Emirates’ depiction of its first class shower suite (Photo: Emirates Airline)

The 16 hour SFO-Dubai flight (which takes the polar route) will be the third longest route for an Emirates A380. (Flights from DXB  to LAX and IAH are longer.) These newer versions of A380 aircraft are lighter and more efficient than previous versions which were unable to fly that far.

San Francisco and Houston will be Emirates’ fourth and fifth U.S. gateways served by an A380, joining New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas/Fort Worth starting October 1.

The entire upper deck of an Emirates A380 is for business and first class passengers only. Passengers riding in first class have access to two shower suites. There’s also Emirates’s popular onboard lounge for business and first class passengers on the A380 (see photo) serving wine, beer, cocktails and canapes.  Check out the onboard experience via Google’s Street View here.

In coach, all passengers get 12 inch touch-screen entertainment, power outlets, and access to wi-fi. Also, Emirates is one of the few airlines in the world to allow passengers to use their mobile phones during the flight.

“Adding the A380 to these two important US cities illustrates the intensity of the battle being fought for the ultra long haul passenger, especially those in first and business class,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research told TravelSkills. “The A380 has clearly become Emirates’ long-haul workhorse. We’re witnessing a new kind of airline dogfight. But this time, instead of cheap prices, the battle is being fought with in-flight entertainment, lie-flat seats, and extensive connections via Emirates’ Dubai hub,” he said.
With announcements like this, it seems like Emirates is taking over the world…what do you think about the rapid rise of UAE carriers? Would you fly Emirates via Dubai to get to India, Africa or the Middle East? Please leave your comments below.

Chris McGinnis


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  • hypertext

    How do you know the cost of enforcement and revenue figures? How do you know that taxing mileage income, like all other income, would penalize business travelers such that they wouldn’t fly on business as much? Business travel is highly price inelastic so that won’t be decreasing. The lack of taxation only benefits the *employees*, who then use the untaxed miles to get free personal travel. Maybe THAT would get reduced, and rightly so. It would make the most sense to deliver the milage to the employer, not the employew, and not tax them.

    There’s nothing wrong with being envious of the unfair practices that benefit others and not yourself. It motivates people to do something about it…

  • Suzie

    We are flying emirates from CPT to SFO in December. Business class on emirates was about the same price as premium economy for BA and the entire journey only takes an hour extra, so it was pretty much a no-brainer.

  • Polarwanderer

    I flew Emirates from SFO to New Delhi via Dubai in April on their 777. Dubai was a nice stopover in each direction with nice hotels though very much a one and done city. Emirates was very disappointing. The seating in economy class was cramped and the service was nothing special compared to Cathy Pacific, Singapore, and even Lufthansa. The Dubai airport is amazing. I just don’t understand all the accolades for Emirates, must be their business and first class service.

  • Ann

    My husband and I are flying business class next May for the return portion of our trip to Africa on Emirates. Johannesburg to Dubai with a stopover in Dubai for a few days before the direct flight from Dubai to San Francisco. The stopover only added $50 to the price of the ticket! Emirates was far cheaper than other airlines and included in the ticket is transportation to and from the hotel. We can’t wait to visit Dubai after going on safari and look forward to flying on the A380!

  • Pingback: World's 5 most popular cities (and my comments) - Travel Skills()

  • Chris McGinnis

    thanks! We fixed that in the post. — chris

  • Michael James

    Unless they did an edit, it states SFO will be their third longest route.

  • Brad

    That said, I’m not sure the argument that the previous (“heavier”) A380 couldn’t make the trip due to distance holds much water.

  • Ryan

    This is a terrible idea and one that the IRS has previously shot down. The costs of enforcement will vastly outweigh the revenue.

    Although, that clearly is not the point of your plan. Your plan is simply born of envy for those who travel enough to obtain better seats on planes. BTW, I am not one of them, and many business travelers fly in coach, albeit at the last minute, thus having their employers pay more, which brings in needed revenue for airlines that subsidies non-business travelers seats.

    Your plan is simply that those whose jobs require them to travel should be penalized. Yep, that’s smart. Less business travel will equate to higher fares for all. Also, it looks like the Emirates coach-class cabin is pretty sweet.

  • Ramone Fuego

    I didn’t know Rafi from “The League” flew first class!

  • Anon Y Mous

    I often know the three letter code for an airport but I think for civilians it would be more better for example to use something like Dubai (DXB). I could see where these flights were going to, but not till towards the end of the story where these flights were coming from. Gentle suggestion…

  • Chris McGinnis

    Thanks! you are right– Correction made.

  • John R. Grout

    Business travel today involves a series of conflicts of interest between employers and business flyers that spills over to affect every flyer… cattle class is made even more troublesome by airlines catering excessively to business travelers. The first defensible boundary against these inherent conflicts of interest was the one IBM tried to draw… if you fly on business travel that _WE_ pay for, _WE_ get the miles. Since that boundary failed, a second one can (and should) be drawn by government… making frequent flyer miles paid to employees for business travel taxable at a realistic (i.e., painful) valuation… for cash-based mileage plans, at their cash value. That would give business flyers enjoying the huge mileage premiums being paid (or, in United’s case, soon to be paid) to them a kick that every cattle class passenger deplaning with aching knees would appreciate.

    This is not a radical idea… eliminating arbitrary cash flows between businesses and select patrons was the motivation for the breakup of AT&T’s monopoly and the vast improvement in telecoms since then.

  • Leon

    How could sfo-dxb is the longest route since lax-dxb is farther by distance?