I rank Emirates’ new first class as the world’s best first class product. Readers often have questions about whether a particular flight is scheduled to feature the new first class, so in this post I wanted to cover that in a bit more detail.
Emirates is continuing to offer its new first class on one route to the United States, and there are opportunities to redeem miles for it.
What makes Emirates’ new first class special?
While Emirates first class has long been a world class product, the airline took it to the next level with its new first class, introduced in late 2017. The new first class is available exclusively on select Boeing 777-300ERs, and features just six seats. It’s simply the most impressive first class hard product in the sky.
While there are lots of first class suites with doors nowadays, this one is actually fully enclosed, floor-to-ceiling. This suite also has an incredible number of gadgets, from temperature controls in your private suite, to lighting controls where you can choose the color and intensity of the lighting.
To get a sense of how awesome this product is, check out my full Emirates new first class trip report from a flight I took between Dubai and Brussels back when the product launched.
Which planes feature Emirates’ new first class?
Even though Emirates has a fleet of over 250 aircraft (exclusively Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s), only nine planes feature the new first class seats. More specifically, the last nine Boeing 777-300ERs that Emirates ever took delivery of have this cabin. Emirates took delivery of these planes between 2017 and 2018, and they have the following registration codes:
The above links go to the Flightradar24 pages for each of the planes, so you can track where they’ve been flying.
Just to be perfectly clear, while Emirates’ A380s offer an incredible first class experience with onboard showers and a bar, no A380s feature the new first class seats.
How can you tell if your plane features Emirates’ new first class?
The best way to tell for sure if you’re scheduled to be on a plane with Emirates’ new first class is to look at the seatmap. If the seatmap shows eight seats in first class (two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration) then you’re scheduled to be on a 777 with the old first class.
Meanwhile if the seatmap shows six seats in first class (two rows in a 1-1-1 configuration) then you’re scheduled to be on a 777 with the new first class.
Let me once again emphasize that aircraft assignments are subject to change, especially if you’re still a long time from departure.
Which routes feature Emirates’ new first class?
Emirates is constantly adjusting its schedule at the moment in light of current travel restrictions, so I’m not going to fully list the exact dates, flight numbers, and routes that 777s with new first class are scheduled for, since that information will already be outdated within a few days.
That being said, most regularly Emirates flies 777s with the new first class between Dubai and the following destinations:
- Brussels (BRU)
- Geneva (GVA)
- Nice (NCE)
- Paris (CDG)
- Riyadh (RUH)
- Tokyo (NRT)
- Washington (IAD)
- Zurich (ZRH)
While these are destinations that pretty consistently have 777s with the new first class scheduled, there are plenty of other routes where we sometimes see 777s with the new cabins substituted at the last minute. For example, it’s not unusual to see a route to the United States swapped to one of these planes close to departure.
The problem is that these assignments often happen within 24 hours, so there’s no way to really bank on it. I have a bad habit of checking Flightradar24 every couple of days to see if any of the new 777s are bound for a route to the US with award availability. I fantasize about booking one back to Dubai if I do see it, but then realize that’s not a priority right now.
Emirates new first class on Washington Dulles route
If you’re looking to fly Emirates’ new first class to the United States, the only route on which the airline consistently operates this plane is Dubai to Washington. Currently the Boeing 777-300ER is scheduled to operate on this route through May 31, 2022 — after that, the flight is scheduled to be operated by an Airbus A380. But who knows, that could be adjusted again.
If you want to redeem miles for this flight, many dates have award availability. Emirates charges 136,250 Skywards miles one-way between Washington and Dubai, though you can of course book this as part of a larger itinerary, if Dubai isn’t your final destination. Unfortunately Emirates has significantly increased carrier imposed surcharges in recent months, in light of higher oil prices.
Let me once again emphasize that aircraft assignments are subject to change, so while the route is supposed to feature the new first class, there are no guarantees that this will always stick.
Will more planes get Emirates’ new first class?
Emirates introduced its new first class four years ago, and still only nine planes have the new first class. When can we expect more planes to get this new first class product?
- There are no concrete plans for Emirates to reconfigure any existing planes with the new first class product; while Emirates plans to reconfigure some existing 777s with premium economy and possibly a new business class, apparently installing the new first class isn’t part of the plan
- Rather the new first class product will be rolled out on Emirates’ upcoming Boeing 777Xs, as the airline has 115 of these planes on order
- The catch is that Emirates was supposed to start taking delivery of the 777X in 2021, but that has now been delayed until 2024 at the earliest, and the airline has even threatened to cancel its order if Boeing can’t become more reliable (then again, there aren’t many alternatives)
- Emirates also has A350-900s and Boeing 787-9s, but those aren’t supposed to feature first class
Unfortunately it sounds like we shouldn’t expect any more planes to feature the new first class for another three years, which sure is disappointing. Hopefully Emirates management has a change of heart, and reconfigures some existing planes with these seats. Unfortunately with the pandemic I suspect that’s unlikely, since airlines are looking to conserve cash wherever possible right now.
How do you redeem miles for Emirates first class?
The best way to redeem miles for Emirates first class is directly through the Skywards program. The good news is that Skywards is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One, so there are lots of ways to earn Skywards miles.
First class award availability can be tough to come by on planes with the new first class, given how small the cabin is. That being said, we often see one seat released in advance, and then more seats released as the departure date approaches.
The real trick to scoring an Emirates first class award seat is to book a business class award, and then upgrade at the airport or on the plane using Skywards miles, as that generally gets you last seat availability.
Emirates’ new first class product is incredible, and I rank it as the best in the world. Unfortunately it’s only available on nine aircraft, so a vast majority of Emirates first class passengers won’t get to experience it.
Hopefully the above is a useful overview of what makes the product special, and what routes you can regularly find it on. The only destination in the United States where Emirates consistently offers the new first class is Washington Dulles, though occasionally it’s also swapped onto other routes at the last minute.
If you’ve flown the new Emirates first class, what was your experience like?