Why Emirates’ New First Class Suite Is A Game Changer

Filed Under: Emirates, Travel

Yesterday I had the chance to fly from Dubai to Brussels in Emirates’ brand new first class, which debuted in early December. As of now the new first class is only available on flights to Brussels and Geneva, and it’s scheduled to be available to London Stansted when that route launches this summer.

I’ve flown nearly all the first class products in service nowadays, and Emirates’ old first class was already one of my favorite experiences in the sky.

So, how does Emirates’ new 777 first class compare? I had high expectations coming in, but they were exceeded. This product is a game changer, in my opinion.

Emirates’ new first class is the first fully enclosed first class suite in the sky, since other suites with doors don’t have walls that go all the way up to the ceiling. The suite is spacious and doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all — when the door is closed you can put your seat in bed mode and still stand next to it, so you can change into pajamas, etc., without leaving your suite. The suite is much more spacious than the old one was — not only have they gone from eight suites to six in the same area, but I also feel like they’re using the space more efficiently.

In terms of the finishes, I thought they were beautiful. Emirates’ newer design features more understated finishes, which I appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, the finishes are still a bit over the top, but not nearly as much as the tacky 90s cigar bar vibe you get in Emirates’ old first class (which I oddly enjoy, in moderation)

Aside from the sheer amount of space and privacy, I also felt like so much thought was put into the design of the seat. Everything was conveniently placed, and the amount of customizability was unreal. You can control all the lighting in the suite (the color, the intensity, etc.), the temperature (in reality you can only turn it up, and not down), etc. This can all be controlled from a panel to the side of the seat. Just to give a further example of the attention to detail, this monitor even has an indicator that shows whether the lavatory is occupied.

In addition to a massive personal television, there’s a second monitor next to your seat where you can browse the entertainment selection, control all the lighting and seat features, order room service, etc.

The seat has two large closets — one underneath the TV and to the side, which is big enough to store a full size carry-on, and then one to the side of the seat, which is a wardrobe.

I tried the bed for a bit, and found it to be exceptionally comfortable. It was wide, spacious, and well padded. As far as I’m concerned it’s one of the best beds in the sky.

Emirates has also eliminated the disadvantage of being in a middle seat.

There are two suites in the middle, and they’re actually marginally more spacious than the window seats (since the fuselage doesn’t curve there), and they also have virtual windows, which is a novel concept that almost makes it worth selecting one of these seats over the usually superior window seats.

So, is Emirates’ new first class a game changer (as the airline advertises), or is it a bunch of gimmicks? I definitely think it’s a game changer, with a bunch of really cool gimmicks thrown in. While I haven’t tried Singapore’s new Suites yet (I will in a few weeks), this is by far the best first class hard product I’ve ever flown.

There’s a very simple reason this product is a game changer. You have true privacy and customizability in a way that no other airline has ever offered in first class. That’s largely thanks to the fact that you have a fully enclosed compartment. Why does that matter? You can make your compartment completely dark right after takeoff, even if others are awake and want to eat. Conversely, you can leave your window shades open without disturbing anyone else.

In first class your experience usually varies based on how full the cabin is, whether someone chooses to leave their window shade open when you sleep, etc. Even in first class, cabin lights are usually turned on a couple of hours before landing for the pre-landing meal, even if you want to keep sleeping. Even though first class on my flight was full, this was my first time ever not even realizing there were other passengers. The way I view it, this is a hybrid between a traditional first class product and Etihad’s Residence, which is their private three room suite with butler service.

Very, very, very well done Emirates. You really put thought into every aspect of this seat.

I can’t wait to try Singapore’s new Suites in a few weeks and see how it compares, as I’m guessing these are now the two best first class hard products out there. My initial impression is that it probably won’t impress me as much as Emirates’ new product, because it’s not fully enclosed, and because I question how functional the design is (the separate bed and seat look cool, but are they actually practical?).

What are your impressions of Emirates’ new first class suite? Is it a game changer? Do you think Emirates’ or Singapore’s new first class product is better?

  1. I suppose there are those who also like Vegas and Macau ( Atlantic City?!). There is after all no accounting for taste. Ce la vie

  2. I like a premium class experience as much as the next person, however I generally like to travel with my wife or a family member. It seems that the Emirates First Class experience is a lonely one.

  3. It all looks sooooo tacky. Some like it obviously. But I much rather a much more modern and understated look.

  4. How the space compares to Ethihad Apartment? Also, If you travel with your significant other, the suites connect in some way? Thanks!

  5. I prefer more understated luxury. This is too tacky IMO. I obviously wouldn’t turn it down, but the product itself is not really an attraction to me.

  6. @Lucky Briefly, in your opinion, what makes this superior to Etihad’s First Class (not the Residence, but First Class)? Thanks

  7. I think this is GREAT for those who travel alone or those who want privacy. However, for couples or for people who prefer the company of others while travelling, this may not be the best.
    I really hope they put this in the A380 (or have something similar) so there will still be a shower and bar option.

  8. Sooo cheap and tacky. Such a visual and sensory overload. This is the type of Bling that only a Sheikh could love

  9. I would love to try it Lucky. Alas, I can probably never justify the expense. Thanks very much for the review – I’m glad you enjoyed it so much and can’t wait to read your SQ review!

  10. From the pictures the Emirates first class looked spacious and high tech but the interior is too tacky for my personal liking.

  11. Maybe its just me, but hear me out for a second.
    Every since I started flying, part of the joy of the flight is seeing other people on the plane. Be it your travelling partner, fellow passengers, crying babies.
    I don’t fly premium class often, but I don’t think I’d like this completely closed off cocoon. – someone mention something about a prison. People can’t see you, You cant see anyone. The space is too small/poorly designed to dine with someone. You may as well be flying on the plane by yourself. Walking through the aisles feels like walking through a hallway in a hotel.
    And Emirates, please, please, please, get rid of the gold trims and bling – you need a new color scheme ( See Singapore or SAS business).
    Still think Etihad Apartments and AF La Premiere are the examples to follow. – again just my $0.02.

  12. That cabin looks great, and I look forward to trying it out sometime.

    In the meantime someone needs to tell Emirates to put this product on their long-haul fleet, not medium, as it’s wasted on Europe. Washington DC would be a great route for such a product.

  13. @Lucky are you getting paid/sponsored/kickbacks for Emirates in any way? Just curious as you usually put a disclaimer and usually dont do multiple posts on the same product in such a rapid fire manner (4 gushing posts in the last 2 days, basically restating the same things, and you haven’t even gotten to the full review).

  14. @ Transparency — Absolutely not, in any way. I paid cash for my ticket, and have no financial relationship with Emirates.

  15. This does remind me of aspects of the Wynn properties in Las Vegas and Macau. Some will consider that a strike against this F product, but not me. The ME3 continue to lead the innovation of the forward cabin. (Looking forward to your first impressions of the Qsuites.)

  16. Okay, hypothetical time: you can only choose one Emirates plane for the rest of your life, the new 777 or the current A380. Is the 777 suite good enough that you wouldn’t eventually miss the bar and shower?

  17. Not a game changer.
    It’s still a seat converting to a bed.
    I prefer SQ: The suite comes with a seat and a bed.
    The wall design/surface in one of your pics looks like something exploded in the wall.

  18. @William Y – Now that’s depressing. I mean, I get that this is a business. I don’t complain about the credit card referrals. And I like to think of Lucky as impartial. But using their marketing slogan as a headline? B. A. D. I wonder how much other stuff here is sneakily bought and paid for.

  19. It looks garish. Some features like the climate control and larger bed are very nice though. That middle seat suite looks claustrophobic to me. I’d opt for AF La Premiere over this dollar for dollar.

  20. I saw the SQ mockup at the airport last December. I prefer that layout and decor over what I see here. Looking forward to trying the SQ suite in just over a month.

  21. Many people think the new cabin is too blingy but I have to say that I like the more neutral wood tones with chrome finishes compared to the gold of the old F, which is definitely gaudy. I find new SQ F too sterile looking. The main complaint I have read of the new SQ F and EY apartment is that the seat itself has limited recline and the separate beds themselves are not all that comfortable which seems like a wasted opportunity. That being said, I still think overall, EY apartments and studios are still the most stylish/tasteful cabins but I do appreciate EK trying to move away from the overly gaudy style.

  22. Maybe I have missed it, but I have not seen anyone that has reviewed this mention whether you can video chat between seats. Is it only to the galley? Or can you chat with other passengers? I normally reserve first class for flights withy wife so the level of privacy is kind of a negative in that regard.

  23. Game changer? I think not. Still over-the-top with bling & glitz? Definitely. I will take the subtlety and refinement and space of the new SQ suites any day. Judging by the decor and the evident privacy style, it is rather obvious who the prime market is for this new design – that is definitely not me.

  24. I’m not sure this really is a game changer…to me, a game changer is something that will actually lead to long term changes, and I don’t see other airlines offering this type of seat as well. Weren’t the Residence’s on Etihad supposed to be game changers as well?

    I actually like the finishes, it seems like a toned down version of their previous suites, which is a good thing.

    “In the meantime someone needs to tell Emirates to put this product on their long-haul fleet, not medium, as it’s wasted on Europe. Washington DC would be a great route for such a product.”

    Is it possible this isn’t a product Emirates is very invested in? It seems more like something that was done to get people talking about Emirates again, which I guess worked for them.

  25. @ Sony Chubb

    “Every since I started flying, part of the joy of the flight is seeing other people on the plane. Be it your travelling partner, fellow passengers, crying babies.
    I don’t fly premium class often, but I don’t think I’d like this completely closed off cocoon. – someone mention something about a prison. People can’t see you, You cant see anyone. ”

    You’ve neatly summarised the difference between on the one hand avgeeks and enthusiasts, most of whom will share your enthusiasms, and people like me who are paying and on business.

    Your argument reminds me of those Victorians who resisted en suite bathrooms in luxury hotels – they enjoyed bumping into their neighbours in the corridors, as if they were staying in a friend’s country house.

    But who now would want a hotel room without a private ensuite?

    Premium passengers (mostly) want privacy. This product looks like it delivers.

  26. @Juno

    Lucky thinks that it’s a game changer because of the enormous amount of privacy (Lucky can corrrect me if I’m wrong). So now private cabin-like rooms, such as in a train, may become the new normal for first class. What Emirates is saying with this new seat is “fully private suits are now what F is. You’re move competition.” And you can bet that government officials who fly to Brussels,(no coincidence they chose BRU) paying with their unlimited expense accounts, will be choosing Emirates now.

    What bothers me the most is what if you’re traveling with somebody? Is it possible for two, or three people to all hang out together in one of the cabins? I’m also a little surprised by the level of privacy Emirates is showing off here. Privacy is good, but too much privacy I think is obnoxious. It also can bring with it unnecessary consequences like easy stealing when someone goes to the bathroom. Anyone remember when that FA was selling sex onboard? Well that just became a helluva lot easier.

    Unless I’m traveling alone, I don’t like it, and frankly would go out of my way to book something else if I was with others. So for certain routes where most of your F pax will be alone, I suppose it’s smart. But I actually wonder if EK is setting a trend here, or just customizing certain routes where 90% of paying F pax are alone, and giving them the best experience?

  27. @Abe

    Maybe. Granted, showers and double beds were supposed to be game changers on the A380, but that kind of fizzled out, more or less.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this becomes a trend for FC on other airlines.

  28. @Juno it didn’t fizzle out, both of those things are still running their course.

    In any event, you asked, and I gave you a summation of why Lucky thought it was a game changer- and perhaps I was incorrect in my summation.

    I personally do not think these cabins are going to be mainstream, or a “game changer.” If they were a “game changer” why hasn’t Emirates announced they want to install these seats on every one of their planes? Rather these seats will be on select routes where, it would appear anyway, they have the most paid F. Which if I had to guess would be to BRU and Geneva. London, even if it is Stansted, is also probably one of their most paid for routes too. So I guess they just want to really wow their paid passengers.

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