Emirates launched its new First Class product at the Dubai Airshow this weekend. The airline is clearly unhappy with Etihad leading the way in First Class uber-comfort and has decided to come out fighting.
The product looks fantastic, let’s not beat around the bush. Whilst you can quibble around the edges, it is on a par with what Etihad is offering on its A380 fleet and what Singapore Airlines is about to introduce on the A380.
These premium products are often there for ‘positional’ value. Emirates has always had an excellent reputation, driven by its existing First Class and Business Class products, but in Economy it went 10-abreast on a Boeing 777 years ago. British Airways is only just beginning to drop to this level, but it is Emirates which has the glowing reputation. The Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, which I reviewed here, serves a similar purpose.
This new Emirates product will only be introduced to NINE Boeing 777-300ER aircraft being delivered over the next year.
There are no plans yet to retrofit the A380 or existing Boeing 777 fleet.
With London, and most of the other Emirates UK routes, being exclusively A380, it is unlikely that we will be seeing this new seat here. Brussels and Geneva will be the first two routes to get the new cabin from 1st December. Don’t bother checking for any First Class award availability.
What you get in Emirates new First Class Suites
The entire product is billed as co-operation with Mercedes, with the suites ‘influenced’ by the design and materials used on the S-Class. The chauffeur fleet for First Class passengers in the UAE will be switched to Mercedes S-Class cars.
The key stats are impressive:
1-1-1 layout, with just six suites in total (there are currently eight seats in First Class on a 777, so whilst this is a step up, the new suites are not Etihad-style huge as the pictures show)
‘floor to ceiling’ closing doors, allowing passengers to dress and undress in their suite in privacy
video phone communication with cabin crew
food and drink can be passed through a hatch into the suite if required (!)
a more contemporary, less blingy, colour palette than we have historically had from Emirates – I’d go so far as to say it looks very classy
the middle cabin will have the exterior view projected onto one wall to give the impression of having a window!
32 inch IFE screen with B&W noise cancelling headphones
Bulgari amenity kits
What you can’t do with the new layout is form a double bed with your partner. If you travel with someone else, you will each be in your individual suites separated by your ‘floor to ceiling’ walls and door ….
The Boeing 777 fleet does not have an on-board bar or a shower – you will need to pick an A380 route if you want those. (For comparison, my review of the Emirates A380 First Class seat and shower from earlier this year is here. Do check out the in-shower action in the video …..)
This is a great product, you can’t deny that. Putting it on just nine aircraft, on secondary routes (no New York, Paris, London etc) is a little odd, but I’m sure the respective mayors of Brussels and Geneva are delighted to finally have a good reason to encourage British bankers to move 🙂
If award seats open up, I will book myself in to give it a try. Whilst the Emirates credit card may be dead, it remains an American Express Membership Rewards partner at 1:1. A one-way First Class seat from Brussels to Dubai is 85,000 miles – although all availability has been wiped out for now.
You can find out more about the Emirates First Class product on the new 777 fleet on their website here. There is also a video on that page.
Emirates is also rolling out a new Business Class seat on these new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which I will look at later this week.
How to earn Emirates Skywards miles from UK credit cards (November 2020)
Emirates Skywards does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Emirates Skywards miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.