Emirates Cost Cuts Showers, Champagne, And Special Meals

Filed Under: Emirates

The Gulf carriers are certainly cost cutting. For example, Emirates is delaying delivery of some A380s, and also recently started charging for seat assignments on select economy fares.


They’re making some other service cuts shortly across cabins which I think are interesting to point out. None of them are especially significant, though they reflect an overall trend that I think is pretty telling.

Here’s the details of the changes, most of which kick in as of January 1, 2017:

  • Emirates will no longer be offering showers in first class between Dubai and Kuwait City, making it the second A380 route not to offer showers (the other one is Dubai to Doha, but that’s simply because the flight is too short). This means they can save the cost of the water they’d have to carry, plus the cost of staffing a shower attendant on the flight.
  • Emirates presently charges $15 per bottle of champagne in economy, though the price will be increasing to $25. That’s pretty pricey for a 250ml bottle of Moet champagne, and really surprises me, since I suspect it will lead to quite a cut in demand.
  • Emirates will be cutting seafood special meals in economy on all flights.
  • Emirates will be cutting refresher towels with the welcome service in economy on all routes.


As I said, these are all minor things. I suspect most first class passengers can go without showering on a 530 mile flight, and that most economy passengers can go without a towel at the beginning of the flight. However, it certainly does reflect the current focus on cost cutting, which will no doubt continue.

  1. Ugh, I loved the seafood meals in economy. They were much better than the other selections.

    Also, how is $15 expensive for a piccolo of Moet & Chandon Champagne? Compare it to the cost of a glass of bubbly in any restaurant?

    Overall these are very reasonable cutbacks, albeit disappointing.

  2. @ keitherson — $15 isn’t expensive, but $25 is getting to be a bit pricey. Not saying it’s totally unreasonable in a restaurant or something, but you’d think they’d offer a more budget-friendly champagne for purchase in economy.

  3. @lucky Totally agreed. I think I misread what you initially wrote in saying that the $15 was expensive. I do agree that $25 is steep for a glass.

  4. Wow. On the one hand I definitely see where this is coming from, on the other i’m not that sure if thats a good place to cut costs, seing as the small details that improve the overall flight experience are what makes many people choose the gulf carriers over others. Im quite curious how this will develop.

  5. They can cut all those but cutting out “Refreshing Towels” on economy? Seriously Emirates WTF? They used to provide ‘Hot Towels’ before…this has been downgraded to ‘packet’ refreshing towels since half a year or so.. and now even they are eliminating this? Nice way to feel ‘refreshed’ before a flight really..

  6. @keitherson I think Ben means that $25 is very pricey for a 200ml Moet bottle, that you can buy on Internet for just over $10.

  7. Agree that cutting refreshing towels is a bit too much. Probably a decision from an intern that worked for Delta before.

  8. First time I got a hotel towelette on a flight was THAI from PEK-BKK. I was pretty impressed that airlines did that at all in economy.

  9. Emirates has to change its pricing policy for outbound flights. I’m based in Dubai and 80% of my flights aren’t with EK. For instance now I’m in USA and flew with KLM and Delta at almost one third the price. Emirate lost a good portion of residents as clients. Still fail to understand that increasing capacity it’s not an automatic goal. Last flight I did with them Milan to Dubai in a new 777-300 I don’t think there where more than 70 passengers. What a shame. I love flying with them but not at any price.

  10. Yeah. I am not sure if tpg and Gary leff can do without the champagne and the showers considering most of their personal photos are a champagne glass squished in their mouth (tpg) or a selfie in the shower mirror (Gary)

  11. As long as they’re still flying from the US to India for $800 roundtrip or from the UK to BKK for like $600 or less roundtrip, people will still fly them, refresher towel or not. It’s all about price to the average consumer.

  12. Gene, Nothing is as bad as Delta internationally. Besides as a businessman when your faced with changes in the market you have to adjust, and frankly they chose some of these over price increases. I would be interested to see how many of the posters have actually flown EK coach on a long haul route? I can see the showers. Three weeks ago we flew CDG to DXB and no one took the shower and that was a six hour flight. 15 hours yes I do like it when going over coming back I never do as I was going home.

    One commenter said they could buy that bottle for $10.00 on the internet, ok, whats the relevance ? Certainly Amazon can’t or at least as of yet deliver in flight.

    Not to insult anyone here but I see many comments being made on various bloggers sites that it is clear that person has not really “been there”. When these blogs began they really served a purpose and were well done, now there are so many bloggers trying to capture an audience they are writing about anything to get hits.

    Lucky, I consider you as one of the better bloggers

    Happy New Year to all.

  13. I agree that pricing the champagne from $15 to $25 is a bit much in economy.
    As for the refresher towels, they were great for ultra longhaul flights (pretty much any flight from DXB to North America) so I’m surprised they stopped that in all routes. I never thought refresher towels to be that costly though.

  14. I’m not sure any of these are going to negatively impact their brand. Were I in charge, I’d have probably discontinued champagne in economy altogether, given I can’t imagine the demand is that great.

    The trick they have to get right is making cuts to decrease costs without ruining the brand’s reputation.

  15. Makes sense to make cuts on economy. The majority of economy pax just want a cheap flight so you don’t lose much with the cost cutting.

    They’re making their money with j and f pax who are willing to pay for a premium service so keep it up in the premium cabins and cut back in economy. Easy.

  16. “Lucky missed that EK is also eliminating one olive from each and every salad.

    H/T: Bob Crandall”

    Funny, that thought crossed my mind also. Around 1987, I had the chance to hear Bob Crandall speak at a business luncheon in Tulsa. Prior to that, I never understood why or how a CEO could make 7 figures. After hearing him speak, I left feeling sorry for rival airlines and CEOs. Crandall articulated his points like a trial attorney, and one could see how he earned his “Darth Vader” label.

  17. I’m surprised they even offer Moet in Y. Maybe they could offer a sparkling wine dressed up in a champagne style bottle you see everywhere, at a more reasonable price for the budget conscious.

  18. Refreshing towels? AF LH LE AZ TK and id can’t find any other airlines but they all give it on economy and short haul… It must cost 0.10€.
    Wow good choice

  19. Makes Lufthansa economy look pretty good! They’re still giving out hot towels in economy. And flying the fantastic 747-8…

  20. John, you might be right but have not flown UA or any US metal international for 7 years now. But if I go back will not try UA!!

  21. @Roberto M.

    $25 for a split of wine that costs $10 isn’t that crazy. That’s like standard restaurant markup, and you don’t have to add in the cost of fuel in a restaurant. $15 a bottle was crazy cheap IMHO.

    Honestly, I think its kind of nice that they aren’t selling garbage champagne/sparkling in economy. A lot of people that could afford business class still fly coach because they don’t perceive it to be worth it (I know, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?!?!) and I feel like most of the people that are buying champagne on board aren’t going to suddenly stop because its $10 more, especially when its still not really overpriced…

  22. Just a comment regarding the savings from the weight of water being carried – the showers are serviced from a tank that is not drained and refilled each flight. Hence residual water (almost always well above 50% – usually around 70%) is still in tanks and is carried back and forth. There will be minimal savings from the additional crewmember eliminated and associated costs, but the fuel savings is not significant for that little weight on that short a sector.

  23. @ghostrider5408

    Business cost cutting claims will be true if EK follows industry trends, when every other airline include US3 slightly improving their product, EK going in reverse.

  24. Even the surcharges when booking flights with Skywards points are now higher than the cost of flights with other airlines! For example, I was looking to use my 70k points to fly RT from Madrid to Dubai and they wanted 45k points and 300 Euros. Meanwhile, I could book the trip with Pegasus for 220 Euros! I realize EK is a nicer airline and I always enjoyed flying with them, but they cost / benefit is no longer there. No to mention Skywards is the worst FF program out there!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *