Why to not get too excited about Emirates’ new First Class product

GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Easy
TIME TO READ: 2 minutes
POSTED: December 6, 2017
UPDATED: December 10, 2017
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Qantas Frequent Flyer, Emirates Skywards

It’s not so easy to redeem frequent flyer points for travel on Emirates, so we’re really lucky in Australia to be able to use our Qantas Points for good-value redemptions in Emirates First and Business Class.

Last week, Emirates debuted their new First Class seat on two European routes and it is certainly a great product, but very few will be lucky enough to experience it.

The new First Class product

The new First Class Suites on the Boeing 777-300ER and are set up in a 1-1-1 configuration (like Cathay Pacific’s 777 First Class).

The new suite

In this upgrade, Emirates offer the following changes:

  • Floor-to-ceiling walls
  • More space for each individual suite, achieved by reducing the number of Suites from eight to six
  • A hatch for food and drinks to be delivered when the suite door is closed
  • Video calls with cabin crew in the galley to request food, drinks and assistance
  • Virtual windows for centre seats which simulate being next to a window by transmitting real-time images from external cameras
  • Mood lighting
  • Curtains

Here is a two-minute promotional video from the inaugural flight:

Unlike the airline’s A380 aircraft, this product does not feature an onboard shower nor a bar.

Onboard bar on the A380

The new Business Class product

Emirates has really missed the mark in not upgrading its terrible 2-3-2 configuration in its 777 Business Class to providing direct-aisle access to all passengers like on its A380s.

Squeezed in on the new 777-300ER…

…with much more space on the A380

Whilst there have been cosmetic changes to make the seat more modern, there are other airlines like Qatar Airways, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Delta, who are leading the pack in modernising their Business Class products.

Rollout and award availability

Emirates started flying the new products on 1 December to Geneva and Brussels using newly-delivered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Leading up to the flights, there was no First Class award availability to be found and still none has been released, which is disappointing for frequent flyer enthusiasts.

The airline does not plan on installing this product on any of its existing A380s or 777s nor any of those aircraft that are on order, which make up the vast majority of its fleet.

Rather, it will be on at most nine new Boeing 777-300ER planes to be delivered by 2019.

Summing up

Emirates’ new product really is beautiful and a great upgrade to its already competitive A380 and 777 First Class Suites, however, the reality of the situation is that there aren’t and won’t be many planes featuring the new product. Furthermore, even on those flights, award availability, at least far as we can tell now, is severely restricted.

In the meantime, you may be best focussing on trying to redeem your Qantas Points for travel on one of the A380 or older 777 planes, and here’s to hoping they upgrade their Business Class product in the coming months or years, especially on the 777 with its dated layout.

What is your take on Emirates’ new First and Business Class products? If you are interested, when do you plan to try them out?

Supplementary images courtesy Emirates.

Why to not get too excited about Emirates’ new First Class product was last modified: December 10th, 2017 by Matt Moffitt