Curious to see how service will evolve in international first class on one of the world’s top airlines? Well, I have the details!
Emirates resuming regular flights tomorrow
As of tomorrow (May 21, 2020), Emirates will be resuming flights to nine destinations, with flights to Australia, Europe, and North America. Furthermore, the airline will begin accepting transit passengers.
In late March 2020, the United Arab Emirates banned flights, causing Emirates to suspend operations for a period of two weeks. While the airline resumed flights in early April, they were really just repatriation flights of sorts. These flights only carried people from the UAE, and no transit passengers were allowed.
Emirates is resuming regularly scheduled flights tomorrow
Emirates’ new first class service standards
Understandably airlines have greatly reduced service inflight in order to minimize person-to-person contact. Not only that, but I’d also expect airlines to do a bit of cost cutting over the coming months, given how dire the situation is. For example, Emirates is eliminating free wifi and live TV for the time being.
Emirates is eliminating live TV for now
A lot of readers have asked what kind of service to expect in international first class, and I’ve now had the chance to review Emirates’ new service guide for first class, and there are some interesting things in there. As of now there’s no end date published for these new policies.
Note that Emirates has set new service standards for both the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777, even though the A380 won’t be flying for the airline anytime soon. Nonetheless I’ll cover the changes to expect on the A380.
First for some context on what service is usually like (pre-COVID-19), see here for an Emirates A380 first class review, see here for an Emirates old 777 first class review, and see here for an Emirates new 777 first class review.
Emirates’ famous A380 shower spa
I’ll share eight of my key takeaways from the new service standards, in no particular order:
- Emirates will be closing down the A380 onboard showers, onboard bar behind business class, and onboard social area in front of first class
- While dine on demand will still be offered, all service will be done on trays; the appetizer and main course will be served on one tray, and the dessert/cheese/fruit on another
- Crews should encourage passengers to use the call button or room service button, in order to minimize interaction and movement throughout the cabin
- The actual selection of food won’t be reduced significantly, though do expect some cutbacks in terms of drinks; for example, passengers will only have their choice of two whites and two reds plus the sommelier’s choice, rather than the usual selection of four whites and four reds plus the sommelier’s choice
- Expect a lot more plastic and packaging, as crackers and bread will all be packaged, and cutlery will come wrapped; on top of that, passengers will be asked if they want all their other dishes served with covers or not
- Crew are not required to provide turndown service; interestingly the guide doesn’t say that they can’t or shouldn’t, but rather says “crew are not required to make customers bed”
- While each seat will continue to have a minibar, the little snack basket at each seat won’t be present, but rather individual items will only be available on demand; similarly, there’s a snack box if you want the snacks that would usually be in the social area
- Don’t expect service to be too personalized, as crews “MUST maintain minimum interaction with customers for social distancing purposes”
Expect food to be presented differently going forward
I’d say Emirates’ new first class service guidelines are roughly in line with what I was expecting. We don’t know how long they’ll last, but across the board we shouldn’t expect flying to be as fun as it used to be anytime in the near future.
While the products being offered will more or less be the same (with the exception of wine), the way they’re presented will change. Expect food to be served on trays, expect less interaction with the crew, don’t expect turndown service, and expect a lot more packaging for everything.
The lack of A380 showers and bars will be disappointing for some, though the reality is that Emirates isn’t even flying A380s in the immediate future, so that’s a moot point for now.
How does this compare to what you were expecting from Emirates’ updated service?