Why I Hope Emirates Doesn’t Install Private Bedrooms

In early May, Etihad Airways unveiled their revolutionary A380s, which included the first private bedroom on a commercial plane. The three mega-Gulf carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar) are constantly going head-to-head to outdo one another, so it’s no surprise that the next day Emirates announced they were working on a similar concept.

My money is on them having bluffed at the time. I highly doubt that both carriers were simultaneously working on that concept, especially since Emirates had nothing to “show” for it. My guess is that Emirates was simply caught off guard and claimed they were working on a similar concept, even though they were just starting the exploration process.

Emirates A380 first class

The National had an interesting article yesterday about Emirates’ “bedroom concept.” While it’s clear that Emirates is still in the really early stages, it does have some interesting tidbits:

“It’s all about privacy. That’s very much in our current first class private suites product, and our new bedroom concept will take it to the next level,” said Tim Clark, the president of Emirates.

“We’re talking fully enclosed rooms, with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on. It will be on our A380s, and on our new 777s.”

Emirates said that it is in “advanced stages” of developing its bedroom concept. While it did not disclose the cost of a bedroom, it said that its current first class suite costs US$500,000 apiece, and with the 1,500 seats in its current fleet, that is a total investment of $750 million.

Advanced stages of developing the concept? With nothing to show for it and no timeline for it rolling out, I highly doubt that. But it is interesting to note that they apparently plan on introducing bedrooms on both their A380s and new 777s.

While Etihad only has orders for a total of 10 A380s, Emirates currently has nearly 50 in service, with firm orders for a total of 140. So the amount of growth they’ll be undergoing will just be insane, and they’d be doing private bedrooms on a completely different scale than Etihad.

In general I’m not a huge fan of creating something above first class for a few reasons:

  • Ultimately it reduces first class capacity, since presumably the “space” for the private bedroom comes from the first class cabin
  • With only one bedroom per flight, my guess is that in practice it won’t be attainable on miles, even long term
  • If not taking away from overall capacity, the “space” used for these bedrooms is in most cases taking away from first class amenities

For example, Etihad is placing their private bedroom at the top of the upper deck on the A380. This is the same area where Emirates has two showers — one on each side of the staircase.

Emirates A380 shower locations via SeatGuru

Presumably if Emirates installs a private bedroom it will mean that they’ll reduce the number of showers from two to one… or maybe eliminate them altogether.

Emirates A380 first class shower

If you’re going to offer first class passengers showers and your airline is based in Dubai, it really is important to have two showers. Unless you’re flying to Australia or North America, most flights out of Dubai are in the 5-7 hour range, and getting 14 people showered in a single shower is pushing it. And I realize not everyone showers, but one shower for 14 people just won’t do the trick, in my opinion.

Anyway, I’m very curious to see how Emirates rolls this out. I’m still not convinced it will actually happen, or what the timeline will look like if it does happen, but interesting to keep tabs on nonetheless, in my opinion. I actually hope it won’t happen.

Do you think Emirates will follow through with the bedroom concept, and if so, will it come at the expense of the two showers for first class passengers on the A380?

Filed Under: Emirates
  1. EK will most probably go over the top just to 1-up from EY, and end up with a huge waste of space that cannot be monetized.

    and if they’re re-doing F class … PLEASE be less bling, less faux wood, and more class. EY F on A380 is the epitome of timeless design.

  2. No idea. But what you said brings up something quite interesting. I quote “… based in Dubai, it really is important to have two showers. Unless you’re flying to Australia or North America, most flights out of Dubai are in the 5-7 hour range…”.

    With this in mind, presumably for flights “in the 5-7 hour range”, the very few willing to pay for this luxury (yet not have access to a private jet [ha.]) would become even fewer or 0 on most flights? I see some attraction in a 12+ hour flight, but otherwise…

  3. How many people-especially people who can afford 1st class-really need to shower on a 5-7 hour flight?

    The shower is basically a gimmick on those flights.

  4. @ Ann — Well people don’t “need” to shower, just as they don’t “need” to fly first class. But the reality from my flights on Singapore is that the showers are usually utilized for most of the flights.

  5. they will definitely not take away the showers… that’s too big ofs a selling point.
    but i can see them eliminating that bis useless lounge and instead have it in the small area between the cabins like AA does.

  6. If anything, the business class lounge is used as much as the showers are (as per Lucky’s statement).

  7. Just a minor correction: Etihad did not create “the first private bedroom on a commercial plane.” Boeing’s pre-WWII B-314 featured a “honeymoon suite” in the aft. Enthusiasts are encouraged to read Ken Follett’s fiction novel “Night Over Water.”

  8. @Lucky, I think you meant Emirates, not Singapore. 😉 When I flew EK First, there were 6 others in the cabin and out of the 7 of us, only 3 took a shower. Perhaps it differs from flight to flight? I do know females with long hair tend to not take the onboard shower since they only provide 5 minutes running water.
    As for the bedroom, if EK goes that route, they can still have 2 showers. EY has a bedroom but still has 2 showers on their A380s.

  9. @wwk5d

    i have never seen more than 2 people in the emirates lounge area… but i guess it differes from flight to flight. in any case the lounge could be smaller and could be moved between the cabins… where it should be anyway, it’s awkward for F pasengers to walk all the way there.

  10. What’s really awkward is the EK First class lounge in the front of the upper deck of the A380! Whenever I was there with my friend chatting, we’d get stares from the economy class passengers lining up to use the lavatory on the lower deck! Once a kid asked if there were any chocolates he could have. I wish EK had a curtain there similar to LH.

  11. For complete separation could the A380 cargo deck hold an encapsulated suite – complete with living dining lavatory tub butler kitchen ? LCD projection walls for windows, etc

  12. Wow interesting reading your comments. One of the best things about EK in business is the lounge area. When flying in F, I appreciated that it was at the back it kept the noise down and gave me a chance to stretch my legs. The bar/lounge area is a huge selling point for J. Its great to be able to stand up, stretch your legs, grab a drink and chat with others.

  13. @ Ricardo-

    If I remember correctly, MGM Airlines had private compartments too, for the celebrities who wanted total privacy.

  14. Showering in the airport lounges is much easier and more pleasant imho. About the bedrooms, I’m more worried about people getting up to no good in them. Some people will…

  15. Advanced stage of developing a concept could mean anything. I don’t think they rush to retrofit all the planes — will be awhile before we see anything concrete.

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