Revealed: Emirates Premium Economy, Refreshed A380 Cabins

Revealed: Emirates Premium Economy, Refreshed A380 Cabins

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Recently Emirates finally revealed its new premium economy cabin, as well as refreshed other cabins on its new signature A380. We now also know the first route to get this plane, even if premium economy won’t initially be sold.

A look at Emirates’ new A380 cabins

The Airbus A380 that Emirates recently took delivery of is the first to feature all of these new cabins. Go figure that the airline has just five A380s left to be delivered, which will join the carrier’s fleet in 2021 and 2022.

Emirates’ newest A380 features premium economy

What can we expect from these new A380 cabins? Let’s start with premium economy, since it’s a new cabin altogether, and then we’ll look at the other cabins.

Emirates premium economy A380

Premium economy is an all new cabin for Emirates, as the airline didn’t previously offer this (and for that matter, no major Gulf carrier has offered a premium economy cabin). Emirates A380s will feature a total of 56 premium economy seats, in a 2-4-2 layout. The cabin is at the front of the lower deck, with two dedicated lavatories.

Here are some of the features you can expect in Emirates premium economy:

  • Seats with up to 40″ of pitch, up to 19.5″ of width, and up to 8″ of recline
  • Each seat has a 13.3″ screen with the latest ICE entertainment
  • The seats feature cream-colored anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to business class
  • Each seat features a six-way adjustable headrest, calf rest, and foot rest
  • Each seat has in-seat charging points, a wide dining table, and a side cocktail table

For context, this seat is the RECARO PL3530, which is already available on some other airlines, like China Southern and Vistara (though of course the cabin finishes on Emirates are different).

Here are some pictures of Emirates’ new A380 premium economy:

Emirates premium economy cabin A380


Emirates premium economy cabin A380


Emirates premium economy cabin A380


Emirates premium economy cabin A380


Emirates premium economy cabin A380

Here’s a video of the new cabin:

While it was leaked a few weeks ago that this was the type of seat Emirates would choose, prior to that we were expecting a completely different seat, manufactured by HAECO. Why? Back in 2019, HAECO announced that the launch customer for the “Eclipse Cabin” would be a Middle Eastern airline that will begin flying the cabins in 2020.

To many of us that sounded a whole lot like Emirates. This staggered design would have been an incredibly innovative seat that we haven’t yet seen at any other airline. It’s too bad that this isn’t the seat that Emirates has selected.

HAECO Eclipse premium economy seat

Emirates first class A380

Emirates has made some very minor changes to its A380 first class, and unfortunately the planes don’t feature Emirates’ new 777 first class suites.

Instead the 14 first class suites are slightly wider with taller doors, for even more privacy and comfort.

On top of that, you’ll see changes to the cabin details, which have also been refreshed with new motifs and colors. You can expect to see more design touches featuring the Ghaf tree motif, as well as more of a champagne-colored scheme, with wood panelling and bronze accents.


Emirates first class A380


Emirates first class shower spa A380

Emirates business class A380

While the seats as such haven’t changed, Emirates has updated the finishes on its A380 business class seats. The 76 seats now feature champagne-colored leather covers and wood finishing. That same color scheme has also been applied to the onboard lounge.


Emirates business class A380


Emirates business class A380


Emirates business class bar A380

Emirates economy class A380

All 338 A380 economy seats feature ergonomically designed seats that come with full leather headrests and flexible side panels, which can be adjusted vertically for optimum support.

Emirates claims that these seats are a step up from what’s installed on Emirates’ new 777s. The seats are lighter, and Emirates claims that’s done without compromising comfort or function (which I’d want to test out myself before believing). 😉

The seats also feature 13.3″ TVs, which are huge for economy.


Emirates economy class A380


Emirates economy class A380

Which Emirates planes will have premium economy?

Emirates has been talking about introducing premium economy for years (it’s the only Gulf carrier onboard with the concept), so when will this product actually go on sale?

First of all, we should expect that Emirates only starts selling premium economy around mid-2021 at the earliest. Executives at the airline believe that a critical mass is needed before it makes sense to start selling and marketing the product.

When could that critical mass be reached, based on other planes getting Emirates’ premium economy cabin?

Emirates wont get its first 777-9 before 2023 at the earliest

Emirates sending new A380 to London Heathrow

Emirates has started flying its A380 with premium economy daily between Dubai and London Heathrow. Specifically, the plane operates the following frequency:

EK3 Dubai to London departing 2:30PM arriving 6:20PM
EK4 London to Dubai departing 8:20PM arriving 7:20AM (+1 day)

As mentioned above, Emirates isn’t yet selling premium economy. The airline notes that it’s offering these premium economy seats “as spot upgrades for valued customers on a discretionary basis.”


Seatmap for Emirates’ A380 with premium economy

It’s my understanding that these are only being offered to select elite members at check-in. Emirates isn’t looking to just fill the premium economy cabin all the way unless economy is oversold.

Furthermore, for the time being the premium economy cabin will have the same soft product as economy, given that this cabin isn’t actually being sold.

Still, if flying between Dubai and London it could be cool to try and book this frequency so you can enjoy the new cabins across the board.

My take on Emirates’ new A380 cabins & premium economy

First let’s talk about the cabin updates overall, and then we’ll talk about premium economy specifically.

Personally I love Emirates’ updated cabin finishes. The use of the Ghaf tree motif and the champagne-colored scheme is so much more understated and elegant than Emirates’ initial cabin designs, which looked like a Las Vegas casino in need of a refresh (and I mean that in an endearing way). So I think Emirates did a great job there.

The issue will be inconsistency — we’ll only get these updated finishes on five A380s. Emirates currently has several generations of A380 finishes (with different onboard lounges, different monitor sizes, etc.), so there really won’t be much consistency here. While Emirates is great with fleet inconsistency in terms of the types of planes it has, the same can’t be said for the interiors.

As far as premium economy goes, Emirates went with an average premium economy seat here, which is rather underwhelming for an airline that’s just introducing this product in 2020, especially when there are several innovative products out there. That being said, I do think Emirates did a phenomenal job with the finishing touches of the seat, from the cocktail table, to the leg, calf, and foot rest.

Emirates’ new premium economy is ultimately a nice middle-ground between economy and business class — it’s not so nice that it will cannibalize much business class demand, but it’s a huge step up from economy.

Bottom line

Emirates’ first A380 featuring premium economy has now been delivered. It’s expected that premium economy will go on sale as of mid-2021 at the earliest, as the airline feels a critical mass is needed before selling a new cabin. In the meantime, the new A380 with premium economy is flying between Dubai and London, and select passengers may be assigned premium economy seats.

On top of the new premium economy, Emirates has done a mild refresh to all cabins on the A380, and I sure do like the updates. It’s exciting to see Emirates update its cabins in this way, though the only issue is that at this point only a handful of A380s are left to be delivered, and there are no certain plans to retrofit existing planes.

What do you make of Emirates’ refreshed A380 and premium economy product?

Conversations (36)
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  1. nicola Guest

    @Claus

    Prices are always variable and sometimes make no sense at all. So of course it depends from demand. If a specific carrier has the economy class full, then will increase drastically prices while other classes may remain unchanged or even lowered and of course vice versa. We are talking about an average situation.

  2. Nikolaus Guest

    Not to ditch first class in this horrible period for airline-business, is quite remarkable and a clear statement towards the competition. The A380 shows, once more, a perfect diversification of EK's on board product.

  3. Claus Guest

    @Nicola: It depends, for example I just looked up prices for FRA-ICN in October, which is a route I often fly. Prices for non-stop in Euro are:
    Economy: 650 (Asiana)
    PE: 1300 (LH)
    Business: 2100 (Asiana and LH)

    Looking at that, I don‘t find PE a good offer. I would either go for the 650 and simply endure the 10 hours, or I would pay the 2100 and get a really nice flight with a bed.

  4. Nicola Guest

    @Claus

    Tim Clark has been very clear on this. PE price will be closer to economy. These were his exact words. Honestly if I can get a ticket in PE from Dubai to Europe for 1400/1500$ in PE which means 6 to max 8 hours flight I think it's a good value. For sure better than Economy and better than Business. In terms of value for money of course. And for DXB / US I...

    @Claus

    Tim Clark has been very clear on this. PE price will be closer to economy. These were his exact words. Honestly if I can get a ticket in PE from Dubai to Europe for 1400/1500$ in PE which means 6 to max 8 hours flight I think it's a good value. For sure better than Economy and better than Business. In terms of value for money of course. And for DXB / US I think price should not exceed 1600$ which is the average I have been paying on my last two return trips DXB-DFW via BA and AA.

  5. Claus Guest

    I agree with @Frog, the product looks quite nice, the question will be the pricing. The price needs to be clearly closer to economy than to business. Otherwise I would rather alternate between flying economy and business class, if money is an issue.

  6. UpperDeckJohnny Guest

    @Terence Marcelo

    Hear! Hear! Gorgeous was absolutely the word that sprang to mind.

    And glam too.

    Well done, Emirates. Retrofit the fleet and you'll steal the show, against all those dreary black, blue, and dull grey offerings out there.

    Can't wait to buy a ticket

  7. Matt Guest

    Damn this is all so underwhelming. Are we sure first got updated door height/suit width?

  8. Dr Alhilou Guest

    @Steve-O:

    You mention that Flydubai might get the HAECO seats on the 737MAX’s later in the year?
    I am slightly confused as don’t they already have their 737MAX kitted out with the fully flat business class seats, similar to JETBLUE?

  9. Mike O. Guest

    @Experienced Traveller

    Cathay's Premium Economy is 40" on their A350s as well as on their 773ERs. Maybe you were thinking of Economy?

  10. Experienced Traveller Gold

    This premium economy has a 40 in pitch . I think Cathay is only 32 in ?

  11. Nicola Guest

    @TLS

    in 2019 I flew three times to Dallas from Dubai. One direct and the other two via LHR, half with BA and the other half with AA. With EK in Business Class (plenty of comfort but 16 hours flight is tough though). The other two flight were 8+10 hours approx. Twice I had the chance to get the first raw seat with leg rest which makes a huge difference to me. Then I...

    @TLS

    in 2019 I flew three times to Dallas from Dubai. One direct and the other two via LHR, half with BA and the other half with AA. With EK in Business Class (plenty of comfort but 16 hours flight is tough though). The other two flight were 8+10 hours approx. Twice I had the chance to get the first raw seat with leg rest which makes a huge difference to me. Then I was also in the back seats without leg rest and it wasn't as comfortable honestly. So to answer your statement I did make 8, 10, 14 and 16 hours flights in all classes, including Economy.

  12. StevenE Member

    Who tests these seats ? No one - the leg rest and calf rest look useless unless you’re 4 feet tall - nice finishes but is that enough ? - let’s hope the 3 abreast seat on the 777 will be gone forever - I’m a bit disappointed

  13. Frog Guest

    It all depends on the pricing, which I think EK will do a good job off. AF, LH and BA all price PE too high and often doesn’t seem like a good middle ground between economy and business.

  14. Tom Lee Guest

    Not as good as Air NZ which is yonkers old now.

  15. ECBB Guest

    I think the cabins would look far nicer if they replaced the burled walnut finishes with the grey laminates they use in the upper deck lounge. Otherwise a subtle but much-needed improvement aesthetically. The new PE seats look generic but okay but I’m not a fan of their business seats at all.

  16. Jan Guest

    While I am not a fan of their interior design choices, I will admit that PE seat looks very comfy and looks like a seat I can doze off with minimal problems. 40" pitch, 19.5" width and 8" recline is above average, IIRC. Of course, this is only half the story - will the soft product be the same as Economy, or would it be like business-class-lite?

  17. Jake Guest

    Nice work, Emirates!

    However, quite sad that their business class has sweaty plastic seats (OK, plastics-impregnated stain-free leather, which is functionally the same thing) instead of nice breathable cloth. A cut below the best.

  18. Mike O. Guest

    I'm sure a lot if not all of you would agree that it's an oversold, underdelivered seat. While it's not the seat itself that's the problem, it's how it was described initially. It was said to be a sleeperette, something revolutionary, yada yada. But on a personal note, while the faux wood finishes might be over the top much especially on the windows, I do like the seat covers. Reminds me of a Mercedes (then...

    I'm sure a lot if not all of you would agree that it's an oversold, underdelivered seat. While it's not the seat itself that's the problem, it's how it was described initially. It was said to be a sleeperette, something revolutionary, yada yada. But on a personal note, while the faux wood finishes might be over the top much especially on the windows, I do like the seat covers. Reminds me of a Mercedes (then again, that's where they got their inspiration from). They could've chose a brown or tan colour for the seats to prevent stains from showing.

  19. Lukas Gold

    @Lucky, "While Emirates is great with fleet inconsistency in terms of the types of planes it has..." You do mean consistency here.

  20. TLS Member

    @Nicola - I guess you don't do a lot of 12-14h+ plus flights? The leg room isn't the issue here, it's the fact that the leg rest is useless the way they've designed it, as it doesn't lift my legs off the floor. But seemingly you think I don't deserve having a functional leg rest so...

  21. Steve-O Guest

    I kept commenting that the HAECO seat wasn't it and that Emirates had chosen the Recaro seat months back. I'm a bit surprised you still sound upbeat about this new product as it is a complete let down from the HAECO seat. But good news, flyDubai will be getting the HAECO seat on their MAXs later in 2020 if their financial improve. Maybe I'll give the new premium economy seat a go on Jan 4...

    I kept commenting that the HAECO seat wasn't it and that Emirates had chosen the Recaro seat months back. I'm a bit surprised you still sound upbeat about this new product as it is a complete let down from the HAECO seat. But good news, flyDubai will be getting the HAECO seat on their MAXs later in 2020 if their financial improve. Maybe I'll give the new premium economy seat a go on Jan 4 from London. I need a vacation after all this Tier 4 mess and I have some miles to burn. Hopefully my Platinum status will get me that seat instead of the usual upgrade to business.

  22. Morgan Diamond

    As much as I am sad it wasn't Haeco this product still looks pretty decent and I assume the soft product will be top notch (when released - do we know when yet?) also Qatar could be Haeco launch product @Sam it does match the Qsuite but surely we would have heard something I wonder if the Haeco thing was just a rumour or didn't end up materialising.

  23. Matt Gold

    Will Turkish bring back its awesome Comfort Class?

  24. Frederik Guest

    Still looking for a premium seat more comfortable than Virgin Atlantic’s old upper deck 21 inch width deep leather in a 2-2 configuration. That was in many ways better than their business, but sadly as business cabins have improved premium seats are getting firmer and narrower. However it means I now book business, probably the airlines intention and why I am not surprised that Emirates did not want too competitive a PE product in relation...

    Still looking for a premium seat more comfortable than Virgin Atlantic’s old upper deck 21 inch width deep leather in a 2-2 configuration. That was in many ways better than their business, but sadly as business cabins have improved premium seats are getting firmer and narrower. However it means I now book business, probably the airlines intention and why I am not surprised that Emirates did not want too competitive a PE product in relation to their ageing business product.

  25. Chandan Bhat Gold

    I wonder who choose the HAECO seats, the only middle Eastern carriers I can think of who would consider it would be Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Etihad.

  26. Nicola Guest

    @TLS

    If lifting your legs will make you comfortable (as a tall person) means that they should increase the distance between rows which means goodbye to value for money as it would cost closer to Business than to Economy. So this is a good compromise in my view. If retracted the leg rest will become same as BA or AA. If extended some of us will enjoy, but couldn't be possible worse than BA and AA without leg rests.

  27. Chris New Member

    At least they toned down the cheap wood motif that they had on their older A380s which look extremely tacky

  28. Nick New Member

    faux wood, too gaudy

  29. TLS Member

    @Nicola - Quite common with airlines in APAC. I have yet to find one that lifts up high enough to be of any help with my comfort in any way. Not using it is indeed an option, but then what's the point? I have a sofa at home that works better than all premium economy seats I've flown with regards to the leg rest.

  30. Adi Siddhartha Guest

    No info on the PY soft product? What will the meal service be like? Amenity kit? Etc.

  31. nicola Guest

    @TLS

    Most carriers don't have leg rest except in the front seat. So this is not a usual practice as far as I have seen. However, how about not lifting the leg rest? Wouldn't that work for taller passengers?

  32. Sam Guest

    The finishings are really beautiful and oh so elegant. No need to repeat that the seat in itself is just average. I wonder if Qatar is the customer for the HAECO seat. That would put it in line with their Qsuite.

    I'm surprised though, that the number of First class seats remained the same. After going with fewer suites on their latest 777s (and other airlines like SQ too reducing the total number of F...

    The finishings are really beautiful and oh so elegant. No need to repeat that the seat in itself is just average. I wonder if Qatar is the customer for the HAECO seat. That would put it in line with their Qsuite.

    I'm surprised though, that the number of First class seats remained the same. After going with fewer suites on their latest 777s (and other airlines like SQ too reducing the total number of F Seats) i expected fewer F Suites.

    Disappointing that the 'new' cabins will feature on only a tiny number of aircraft.

  33. TLS Member

    Urgh, another premium economy seat with a "leg rest" that doesn't work for taller people...

  34. Endre Member

    I actually like their new premium economy seats, and they are definitely an alternative to business class on shorter flights

  35. Terence Marcelo New Member

    I don't care what the "faux wood, too gaudy" crowd is going to say. These interiors are gorgeous!

  36. John K Guest

    Underwhelming in comparison to what was suspected to be their new PE seat. EK seems to think colours and finishes in an ad campaign will lure a customer but this is most certainly style over substance. I cannot imagine this is more comfortable than CX or JAL etc.

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nicola Guest

@Claus Prices are always variable and sometimes make no sense at all. So of course it depends from demand. If a specific carrier has the economy class full, then will increase drastically prices while other classes may remain unchanged or even lowered and of course vice versa. We are talking about an average situation.

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Nikolaus Guest

Not to ditch first class in this horrible period for airline-business, is quite remarkable and a clear statement towards the competition. The A380 shows, once more, a perfect diversification of EK's on board product.

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Claus Guest

@Nicola: It depends, for example I just looked up prices for FRA-ICN in October, which is a route I often fly. Prices for non-stop in Euro are: Economy: 650 (Asiana) PE: 1300 (LH) Business: 2100 (Asiana and LH) Looking at that, I don‘t find PE a good offer. I would either go for the 650 and simply endure the 10 hours, or I would pay the 2100 and get a really nice flight with a bed.

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