After the launch of Singapore Airlines new Airbus A380 with mind-blowing First Suites, improved Business Class and updated Premium and Economy cabins, I was eager to find out what the big reveal of Emirates’ new B777 would bring. After all the media hoopla, I was a left disappointed – the First Suites are much smaller than on SQ, the business class “features” a 2-3-2 layout with dreaded middle seats and no aisle access and the Economy cabin is cramped with 10 seats across!
After the launch of Etihad’s spacious “Apartment” Emirates had also promised an improved First Class. It is delivering it with fully enclosed First Class Suites in a 1-1-1 layout. They were developed in cooperation with Mercedes Benz, which mainly seemed to have added the luxury brand name, and offer simulated video-windows in the center suites, a video-call system to order anything you need from the flight attendants, as well as huge 32in video screens and B&W headphones. You’ll also get a private mini-bar and a tablet to control your seat and entertainment. The wide seats are clad in leather (not my favorite on long-haul flights, because it doesn’t breathe as well as cloth and you end up sweating more) that recline to full-flat beds, while leaving enough space in the suite to stand and change.
The Business Class has also been updated with new, full-flat seats (also leather), but retains its 2-3-2 layout, resulting in middle seats and all passengers either having to climb over others or being climbed over – that’s not really a competitive business class offering any longer when most airlines offer direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 layout!
The Economy cabin gets new seats and fabrics, but also retains its 3-4-4 layout, With a pitch of only 31inch and 10 seats across, this is a very tight economy cabin, not much better than most low-cost carriers!
(all photos courtesy of Emirates)
Bottomline: Overall, this reveal is a disappointment. While Emirates turns up the bling with more eye-catching (and I’m sure Facebook-worthy) features, the First Suites are smaller than at Etihad or Singapore Airlines, there is no chance for a “double bed” and the many luxury brand names thrown around might add bragging rights, but not much to the experience. The Business Class is not competitive in this layout any longer and the Economy cabin is tight. Add to that that only 8-9 planes will be configured with this update by the end of next year, and there isn’t really as much to celebrate as initial reports suggested. I don’t see any new reasons to spend my money or miles here!