First class cabins are on their way out at many international airlines, but the few carriers that keep them are constantly upgrading them, in order to differentiate the product from increasingly spacious business class seating. The latest entrant in the first class competition is Emirates’ 777 fleet. And this comes on the heels of Singapore Air’s big launch of its luxury first class suites last week.
At the Dubai Air Show this week, the carrier rolled out new cabin designs for its 777s, turning to Mercedes-Benz and its S-Class cars for inspiration. The renovations will cover all three classes on the planes, and will include upgraded entertainment systems as well. Emirates’ first new-look 777s are due to start flying between Dubai-Geneva and Dubai-Brussels next month, but it will take a long time to refit the existing fleet: The carrier noted that it currently has 165 777s, and 164 more on order from Boeing. (On most US routes, Emirates flies its big Airbus A380, so US-based travelers will likely only see this on beyond-Dubai flights.)
The new first class cabin has six individual suites in a 1-1-1 layout, dropping a suite from the current 1-2-1 configuration. Suites offer 40 square feet of space, with privacy provided by a sliding door. The fully-reclining seat is 78 inches long and up to 30 inches wide. The seat and its components are fully adjustable, and the middle suites come with “virtual windows,” giving occupants real-time views from outside the aircraft. (Nice touch!) Suites also have 32-inch HD video screens, adjustable mood lighting, temperature controls, minibar, a full-length wardrobe and “chandelier-style lights.”
No word yet on fares, but for comparison purposes, SFO-Dubai round trip in first class currently runs about $15,000. In business class, it’s about $8,000. Economy class is about $900.
Emirates’ new 777 business class cabin has fully-flat seats that offer 72 inches of pitch in a 2-3-2 layout- nice but it means that some unlucky passengers may still get stuck in a middle seat. This seems odd for the likes of Emirates since most of the newer business class sections from other global carriers have done away with middle seats in favor of all-aisle access.
My experience flying in a middle seat on Emirates in business class was actually not all that bad. Why? Because it was an overnight flight and I felt quietly isolated there in the middle with no bumps from other passengers or service carts. I enjoyed looking up at the ceiling and seeing stars 🙂
Anyway, business class seat controls and inflight entertainment systems have touchscreen controls, and seats provide individual lighting controls, privacy panels between seats, an area to stow shoes, a footrest and a minibar (yes, seriously).
Emirates new economy class has the despised, shoulder-rubbing 10-across seating in a 3-4-3 configuration— something that United has taken a lot of heat for installing on its new B777-300s that include its new Polaris business class seats, and more recently on its B777-200s. On the bright side, Emirates says that its economy seats will have “up to 33 inches of pitch” which is more generous than average, but not all seats will get that much.
Here are more photos of Emirates new cabin designs:
Also, check out the cool and immersive interactive experience including 360 views here.
Have you flown Emirates lately? What did you think? Please leave your comments below.
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