Review: Emirates A380 And 777-300ER Economy Class Zurich To Dubai To Delhi

Filed Under: Emirates

Introduction: Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Economy Class Showdown
Review: Zurich Airport Observation Deck
Review: Emirates A380 And 777-300ER Economy Class Zurich To Dubai To Delhi
The Delhi Airport Ground Experience
Review: Air India 747-400 First Class Delhi To Chennai
Review: Jet Airways 737-800 Economy Class Chennai To Mumbai
Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Economy Class Mumbai To Doha To Beirut
Transiting Beirut Airport On Separate Tickets
Review: Etihad Airways 787-9 And A320 Economy Class Beirut To Abu Dhabi To Muscat
Review: Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport
Emirates Vs. Etihad Vs. Qatar – Who Has The Best Economy Class?

Zurich to Dubai
Emirates EK88
Zurich (ZRH) – Dubai (DXB)
Depart: 3:25PM
Arrive: 11:45PM
Duration: 6hr20mins
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 45K (Economy Class)

I took two Emirates flights to start off my comparison between the big three Middle Eastern carriers. The journey started at 9:00am in Zurich after flying SAS from Gothenburg via Copenhagen. Since my flight left at 3:25pm, I spent most of my connecting time on the observation deck, which I wrote about earlier. I eventually made my way through security, took the train to the E Gates and settled down at gate 59, where first and business class board.

Economy boarding was downstairs at gate 67, but the views and tranquility on the second floor were far superior. I tried to soak in every ounce of luxury I could before my trip. 😉

Once I got downstairs, the scene was quite chaotic. People were queuing already two hours before departure. Boarding an A380 is always crazy, so brace yourself if you’re flying on the lower deck.

Before check-in I’d spoken to the Emirates employee at their ticketing desk about printing my Indian visa. She rather rudely told me she would bring it to the gate. Surprise, surprise — she (and my visa) wasn’t there.

Now that Emirates charges for seat assignments, it’s quite exciting to see where you’ll get auto-assigned to sit. I was thrilled to discover they had seated me in a window seat next to the stairs in the forward cabin. This is not only the quietest part of the aircraft, but also the most private.

As I got onboard, I settled into seat 45K. The cabin looks stylish and modern. I especially like the faux wood around the windows, which adds a unique Emirates touch.

The A380 achieves a level of spaciousness that is simply unparalleled, and sitting crammed in an economy seat isn’t nearly as bad when the cabin has such an airy feel.

Waiting at my seat was a pair of over-ear headphones, a thick blanket, and a pillow. They were all decent enough but didn’t stand out from what some other airlines offer.

However, I do love the little notification stickers that guide the cabin crew on your sleeping preferences for the flight.

Every time I fly Emirates I’m impressed by the size of the video monitors. The responsiveness is great too, and I like the control that doubles as a second screen. Unfortunately, the window seats only have one USB port, while other seats have two and a power port. Luckily, the lady next to me was kind and let me charge my laptop during the flight.

The seat had a great, adjustable headrest.

The legroom and the seat width were slightly above average. Sadly, the legroom was a little obstructed by part of the seat in front.

What really impressed me was the recline, which could compete with some premium economy products. It was unobtrusive when fully reclined as well so you could still work on a laptop.

Shortly before pushback, the flight attendant came by handing out menus and welcoming us onboard.

The menu for my flight

Finding great service in economy is rare, and I could tell this wouldn’t be fantastic. The enthusiasm seemed lacking from many crew members.

Pushback and taxi were quick, and before I knew it we were in the air for an on-time departure.

Views on the climb out were stunning.

The seatbelt sign was turned off quickly, and the in-flight service started. As you’d expect from a Middle Eastern airline, Emirates has a relatively extensive selection of juices. They also offer free alcohol to economy passengers, which is cool.

Emirates post-departure economy snack.

I went for a glass of mango juice and a glass of water. They were served with pretzels and came in high-quality cups.

Emirates recently changed their Wi-Fi pricing. Previously, they offered 500MB for just $1, so the internet was agonizingly slow. I was wondering if that would change. Sadly, the Wi-Fi was still pretty slow and barely worked for long periods at a time. However, I managed to do what I needed. The new fees for this flight ($9.99 for 150MB and $15.99 for 500MB) are still justifiable, in my opinion.

Next up was the meal service. In my experience, the sign of great airline catering is when they invest in their special meals. Finnair is the best I’ve tried so far, but I must say Emirates impressed me. On all my flights I’ve ordered vegetarian meals, excited to see what they would come up with given the potentially large variance in quality. There’s a big cost difference between serving tofu with rice or grilled vegetables with rice.

Emirates landed somewhere in the middle, with beans, grilled vegetables, and biryani. I enjoyed the meal and its strong flavors and thought the size was reasonable for a 5 hour 30 minute flight.

Metal cutlery in economy!

The trays were cleared about two and a half hours into the flight. I went up to check out the lavatories, which also featured Emirates’ signature faux wood. I was impressed that they’d folded the toilet paper and kept the lavatory so clean!

For the remainder of the flight, I worked on my computer, which was charging in the seat next to me. The mood lighting kept things interesting.

Hot towel service before landing.

Transit in Dubai from 12am to 4am

After a quick taxi to the gate, I disembarked from door 1L and made my way to flight connections. I had to go through security, take an elevator down to a transit train, change concourses and do some significant walking before I made it to the A-gates. Terminal 3 is HUGE!

Coming into Dubai at rush hour you realize the scale of Emirates’ operations. There was an A380 in front of us and two behind us. Somehow it made me feel like being part of an assembly line, and I’m worried about what would happen in the event of irregular operations. I’d rather be dealing with such an issue at Finnair or Oman Air than at Emirates with 20 A380s leaving at once. In a sense, the airline is a lot like IKEA. They have stylish, high-quality products, but they’re too mass-produced and generic, making them impersonal.

Once there, I realized there were no good places to sleep. There are some for-hire sleeping pods, but they had a four-hour minimum time and my layover was just over three hours. Instead, I figured I might as well stay up. I was surprised by their new concourse. It didn’t have the normal airport sterility but rather felt more like a village. I sat down at a Middle Eastern restaurant close to my gate and ended up spending my layover using the free Wi-Fi whilst eating hummus and tabbouleh.

I tried to charge my devices at the restaurant, but no outlets worked and it was hard to find any in the terminal. Overall, Dubai Airport disappointed me from an economy passenger perspective. It felt especially poorly built given how many of their passengers have midnight layovers.

Soon enough boarding was called and I made my way to the gate (which was actually just a holding area where they make passengers wait for 30 minutes without the ability to go out again).

Dubai to Delhi
Emirates EK510
Dubai (DXB) – Delhi (DEL)
Depart: 04:00AM
Arrive: 09:05AM
Duration: 3hr35mins
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 33A (Economy Class)

I was welcomed aboard by the crew, who seemed to be mostly Indian. Making my way to my seat, I saw how much more cramped the cabin looks on the 777. Emirates has a tight 3-4-3 configuration with (allegedly) 32 inches of itch. However, it felt incredibly cramped, and I would avoid spending more than three hours in this seat at all costs, especially on an overnight.

I was happy to see that window seats have their own power ports on the 777-300ER, at least. Other than that, the seat was pretty much identical to the one on the A380.

As you can see, the legroom wasn’t great.

There were a blanket, pillow, and headphones waiting at each seat.

Boarding was relatively quick and we were on our way before I knew it. Again, we had an on-time departure.

Once in the air, everyone went to sleep since it was 4:30am. Strangely, the crew brought the hot meals out 30-minutes later, waking most people up. On a flight like this, wouldn’t it be more logical to serve the breakfast right before landing?

The food was better than it looks though. Here was the menu:

When I woke up from an uncomfortable airplane sleep, the stars were on, which is a beautiful feature on Emirates’ fleet.

Soon enough we started our descent into Delhi. On both my Emirates flights the cabin attendants started preparing for arrival 45 minutes to 1 hour before arrival by collecting headphones, pillows, and blankets, and requiring seats and tray tables to be upright and locked. This really hurts on a 3 hour overnight flight when you want to sleep…

Soon enough we were on the ground and made our way to the gate.

Bottom Line

The biggest point I learned from this experience is that Emirates has extremely different products on their 777s and A380s. This makes a world’s difference, especially on long flights. While the A380 was one of the more comfortable aircraft I’ve flown in economy, I would avoid their 777. I’d also hesitate to connect through Dubai Airport again if flying in the back of the bus. The airport is simply too large for my taste. However, the food and service were good, and I wouldn’t mind flying Emirates economy again on their A380 someday.

Want to see more? Here is my video review of the flight:

What is your opinion of Emirates economy class? 

  1. I still prefer SQ economy class. Although Emirates entertainment is the best,
    I like the kindness of the SQ crew

  2. I was confused when you said that you were near the front set of stairs, given this trip is all about economy. But then I realized the lower deck is entirely economy seats. The only A380s I’ve ever flown are Korean Air, with a different configuration (ie upper deck is entirely business, first class is lower-front). I would feel dizzy seeing all those economy seats on the Emirates A380

  3. Your review was spot on and confirmed my experiences with them (significant). First of all, you were very lucky to get in the A380 fore cabin automatically! I used to assign myself in that front cabin before they started charging and when I still had Qantas FF Platinum. It’s MUCH quieter and spacious there. Also, you’re spot on regarding the 777. It’s much more cramped. A marked difference in comfort compared with the A380.
    I noticed you didn’t say much about the crew and it’s not a surprise as the service usually stinks (ground and air). Emirates in a nutshell – great hard product, so-so service. DXB also is overcrowded now. It was OK some years ago, but it has become too crowded, even in the numerous and large lounges.
    People – get on an A380 if you can, avoid the 777 when with Emirates!

  4. Nice review. An idea for a future post, which airline offers the best vegetarian meal? In my experience it’s Turkish flying out of Istanbul. It’s unbelievable how many times I get (overly) steamed asparagus. In one Asian airline I got steamed asparagus for my appetizer. Then the flight attendant clears the plate and brings me another plate of steamed asparagus. I told her, “Oh, I already had this” and she indicated this was also my main meal. It was kinda funny and tragic.

  5. Really nice review Daniel – enjoyed the descriptions & photos immensely. Unfortunately Emirates & Qatar both fly their 777s out of Chicago for the time-being, but this series will help me decide which to go with on an upcoming trip to South Asia.

  6. Daniel,

    I’ve been critical of your early efforts on this blog and deservedly so, but this post is a good start towards developing an important niche for OMAAT. Economy international air experiences, since not everyone wants to pay the price in cash or miles for premium cabin. You could supplement with checking out the non-hotel accommodation options globally as well (AirBnb, vacation rentals, last minute or timeshare auctions, etc).

    Tiffany seems to do experiences and loyalty program details really well, Travis does family travel and US domestic, we all know Ben is premium travel (heading toward true luxury…), you could do cost effective but not backpacker level alternatives.

  7. Your two points about
    1) Dubai airport having nowhere comfortable to sit (for free)
    2) Airline cabin crew starting the prep for landing far too early
    Ring very true!!!

  8. Just have to correct your facts on the economy class power plug and USB locations. It’s not window seats vs other seats: it’s the right-most seat of every set has no power plug and is missing a USB port. Air Canada had the same issue at one point. It’s a very weird plane design thing.

    That’s why the seats are the exact same between 777 and A380 (other than the fact that space is handled differently) but you were in A there vs K in the A380.

  9. @Jig

    Wow, so who said the bloggers needed ratings, rankings, profiling and critics?

    It’s a comments section, so sure you can use it to write whatever you wish, but its not simply a rank the article section which you seem to be treating it as.

    In case you don’t realise this is a blog, and you vote with your readership, just as you would with a newspaper or magazine. Sure, you can write in to a magazine to say its good or bad, but to start ranking and profiling each individual editor and writer would be a bit over the top. Similarly if as you say, you have been critical in the past but have now found the editors niche, well I’d say to you you’re analysing too much.

    If I’m going to comment on the review, I would say more details about the F&B are required, as well as the attitude of the staff and the cushioning/padding of the seat, also it would be worth mentioning that the IFE has the same vast selection as J and F in EK.

    Heck if I’m going to be a critic, I can go on and on;

    – You said the headphones are ‘quite nice quality’ headphones in the video review, but you say nothing about how they actually sounded or their wearing comfort.

    – You had vegetarian special meals, not really a good benchmark.

    – You’ve shown the food menu but not the drinks selection.

    – You really don’t mention much about the comfort of the seat.

    Basically, I’d say all I can take from this review is that Y is not quite the standard you’re used to (nor is it mine, but that’s not the point.) and that A380 Y on EK is not that bad. I know very little about how good or bad the food and wine is, I know nothing about how comfortable the seat is other than the legroom which doesn’t really effect me at 5’9″. I also don’t know much about the courtesy of the in flight staff other than that you mention they helped with coats and bags, you were surprised by this in Y, I am not really, but maybe that’s a bit due to European&Asian culture compared to US culture. If you’re in the service sector in Asia or Europe, you’re expected to serve guests (not customers). You see in England we call restaurant diners ‘patrons’, we call hotel residents ‘guests’ and we call airline passengers ‘guests’. In the US you are more likely to call them diners, residents and passengers than patrons or guests.

    So yes, if I want to be a critic, I could go on and on, but that’s not really the point of the comments section, and I think it should be more about information points than whether you think the review is good or not, and that too attribute it to a specific writer!

    Oh and the Ikea comment, I get where you are coming from, having personally never flown EK Y, but used to be a regular of EK F and J, I left EK for EY because flying EK even in F had a distinct bus like feeling to it. Mass transit if you will, I can’t pinpoint what exactly other than the size of their operation from the DXB hub, but EY just feels more personal and refined. However, I do take objection to the IKEA comparison; whilst Y may be different, I can’t call Emirates a comparison to IKEA. IKEA is minimalist, cheap, and often low quality. EK, whilst ‘mass produced’, is definitely the other end of the spectrum to minimalist, rarely the cheap airline in comparison to others, and far from low quality. IKEA also makes you do a lot of the work yourself, i.e. build your own furniture, be their warehouse picker and delivery man. EK is full service. I think you can compare EK to Toyota, with Y being a Camry, J being a Lexus GS and F being a Century Royal, highly luxurious yet a Toyota.

  10. I went on Emirates last year to BOM out of ORD. Never again. The 777 out of ORD was really painful in terms of seat comfort. Really felt very cramped so I agree with you. The A380 was a lot more comfortable on the short haul back. Always wondered why they don’t use the A380 on the longer haul.

  11. By the way, the showers (free for everyone) are located in between the gates and central shopping area.

  12. “I’d also hesitate to connect through Dubai Airport again if flying in the back of the bus. The airport is simply too large for my taste. However, the food and service were good, and I wouldn’t mind flying Emirates economy again on their A380 someday.”

    So you’d only fly them on their handful of fifth-freedom routes? Otherwise you’d probably have to transfer via Dubai Airport at some point if you plan on flying EK again…

  13. I’m here, as usual, to call out the 50-something bottom Lucky fangirls ready to bitch at Daniel (how dare he be a blond Scandinavian). It seems it worked last time, but I have more if you need any over to your wing-view.

  14. @K4

    Looks like you felt my comment was a ranking/criticism, but it was meant in the spirit of a compliment/suggestion.

    “well I’d say to you you’re analysing too much”
    said as part of the longest comment on the post by a multiple of 5x?

  15. I’ve flown 9 hours in the Emirates 777 from Cape Town to Dubai and it was awfully cramped at 10 across. It was a day time flight so it didn’t impact my sleep but it was one of the more uncomfortable long haul coach flights I’ve had.

    I also had a similar experience with meal service immediately after a 3 am take off on a flight from Dubai to Male. It made no sense on a 4 hour flight that departs at that time to feed you. I wish they had the stickers so they didn’t wake me up to try and give me food. All I wanted to do was sleep that entire flight.

  16. As a relatively frequent EK flyer it is interesting to read an article that is so much impressed by Emirates.

    Their 777’s actually appear to be configured for different markets. Flying in Y from India you get very little legroom whereas on some European or North American flights the seat pitch is better.

    However on EK the seat pitch is never acceptable. We flew 16 painful hours from DXB-DFW in Y on a 380. NEVER EVER AGAIN. Even in the 380 it is intolerable. In addition the food was crap. We had started the flight in Mumbai with a 777 to DXB. Also intolerable seating. but the Indian food was very tasty. Most of their mainline aircraft are designed to transport ex-pat workers to and from the UAE so they assume everyone is 5’6″ tall and 130 lbs.

    You mention how wonderful the recline is in Y. Obviously you have never sat behind a fully-reclined seat. It hits you in the face on the recline and prevents you from seeing your IFE or using your tray as the recline blocks it. Had this happen on the 380 and 777 so it is generic.

    In J it is a different story. I have had some wonderful flights on EK. MSN-JFK was terrific when you include the lounges in JFK and MSN (of course the JFK lounge is closing so huge negative there). Also was impressed in J on the SFO-DXB-CPT trip recently even though DXB-CPT was on a 777 with only angled seating (which I found to be very comfortable).

    All in all my experience with EK since the 90’s is that it is one of the worst hard products in the sky if you are taller than 5’6″ and over 160 lbs.

    Flew Qatar as a side trip on our SFO-CPT trip and was very impressed in comparison to EK. Can’t wait for your Qatar review.

  17. @ Jig

    I don’t mean my comment to be a personal affront to you, so I’m sorry it came across as that, meanwhile I do stand by my comment that if you were critical of him before and not critical now, I think you’re better off choosing which articles you read rather than trying to rank one blogger as better than the other. A blog is a hybrid of a diary and a magazine, you don’t get to critique the quality of writing of someone’s diary. That’s why I went on to show how long I could be critical of the review for if I went down that route.
    As for quoting me stating that being critical would be analysing too much, well I would argue that length of post and analysis are not the same thing. I could analyse in one line whilst I could write 306 lines of prose and not analyse even once.
    Anyway, seeing as we are giving views id say it’s a pretty bad review with very little true detail of service, but hey it’s in economy so there’s a bit of variety there.

  18. Awesome review Daniel! Thanks for the reviews for the rest of us! Really looking forward to the comparison and final thoughts. Keep up the good work.

  19. Great Review. Thank you for taking the time to compare economy class on several airlines. I am flying economy on Emirates this month and it was very useful to know that headphones and blankets will be taken away early.

    Can you use your personal headphones?

    Also I may have missed — how tall are you?

  20. Daniel, you can choose your seat while online check-in 48 hours before departure. True Im always somehow lucky and get window seat, which is my preferred.

    Vegetarian dishes are really good for economy class, but quite repetive – you always know what you will get 🙂 Better vegetarian food than emirates Ive had only on Turkish and believe it or not on Aeroflot (which is otherwise quite horrible airline in my opinion).

    Thanks for a great review!

  21. @ K4

    “You see in England we call restaurant diners ‘patrons’, we call hotel residents ‘guests’ and we call airline passengers ‘guests’.”

    You might do that, but I’m also in England and I have never, ever called an airline passenger a “guest”. That would be a ridiculous abuse of English – a marketing affectation, and probably American to boot. They are “passengers”.

    Although it’s true that about twenty years ago the railways decided that passengers had to be called “customers” instead. But that still feels utterly fake to me.

    Meanwhile, back on topic…

    Nice review. I’m wondering if the whole hideous nature of Y flying is simply a result of sheer volumes. Airports are swirling hell-holes of mostly drunken or exhausted people milling about, while “exclusive” lounges barely offer the standard of comfort that I would have expected in the main terminal a few decades ago (see BA’s main Galleries “lounge” at LHR; their “First” lounge (in reality it’s a business class lounge for frequent flyers) is also pretty miserable; it’s only the B satellite lounge which is half-way decent, and that’s because no-one knows it’s there so it’s always half-empty, quiet and calm…).

    And that’s generally what we’re paying extra for: tranquility and personal space.

    And that’s exactly the opposite of Y.

    Yep, I’m still not envying you this challenge you’ve set yourself.

  22. Emirates has a tight 3-4-3 configuration with (allegedly) 32 inches of itch.

    Man, I wouldn’t want to be scratching 32 inches of my body in such a tight space! 😉

  23. Daniel,

    For your information, for any flight in the world which has only one meal service on board, within short to medium haul flight, the crew will serve the meal right after take off regardless the timing.

    It may be too early for you. But not for others.
    If you are working as a cabin crew, you wouldn’t believe how many passengers will tell you that they are hungry despite the departure is at 04:30am.

    Not all people have the same thought or needs like you when they travel.

  24. Excellent review! It’s always refreshing to get an economy review on a blog heavily focused on J and F. Thank you!

  25. Overall must say this was long overdue, and look forward to seeing the report on AI F DEL – MAA. Was this on the 747 or a 777?
    Just a bit of retentiveness on my part. Flying is all about being on an assembly line. I find it hard to understand how only DXB could give you that feeling.

  26. Finally a review of my most recently used long haul airline from my end of the bus.

    Agree on the difference between 777 and 380,space wise but I can now do my BHX-DXB leg on the 380 as well and DXB-AKL is now one shot. Seems the two-screen IFE is now common, there used to be two types. The typical meals rather than special vegetarian would be a more interesting review for us in the common herd, why not check what the neighbors had?

    Disagree on recline – Emirates seats get as much in your face as anyone’s when you are on the large side behind, so you have to recline yours as well.

    DXB is now too large and too busy, luckily my layovers there are only about 2-1/2 hours. Always find security fast and efficient and the terminal transfer a schelp. What I do hate is secondary gate security and the removal from you of the expensive airside bottle of water you just bought.

    Good review. A little more steerage class on here won’t hurt the 1% like Lucky and, in these days of business cost cutting, is relevant to more than you’d think.

  27. Hi Daniel,

    Nice review in economy class for Emirates. Is it that CRAMPED in Emirates 777? Then for my travel to Cairo from Kuala Lumpur , i will consider Oman Air instead.

    Thanks for the info Daniel.

  28. Aaw now I wished I never seen this article. We are leaving Newcastle to Dubai then onto Brisbane and both journeys are on Emirates 777s. We have two seats on the end of four over the wings for the first journey which I have had before and found them cramped. For the long part of the trip to Brisbane we have twin seats near the back of the aircraft. I wonder if anyone has experienced these twin seats before?

    Great blog by the way even though it seems like we are in for a mare of a flight.

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