Emirates Unveils New Business Class Seats

Emirates offers flat seats and direct aisle access in business class on their Airbus A380s. It’s still a dense configuration, the seats are narrow and not especially spacious, but it’s an acceptable business class product.

However Emirates has more Boeing 777s than A380s. And most 777s have angled seats, not even flat seats. Their ‘new’ business class that’s been going on freshly delivered planes (not being retrofit onto the existing fleet) is seven across, 2-3-2. There’s no direct aisle access. The middle section even has a middle seat with passengers on each side.

The airline gets a lot of buzz out of its flashy first class products, a halo effect that convinces people they’re a premium airline. But the truth is somewhat more complicated. Their business class lags most of the world on the majority of their fleet.

Emirates has unveiled a new new business class. It’s still behind world standard, it doesn’t offer direct aisle access to it’s inferior to all of American Airlines business class besides the international Boeing 757, it’s inferior to United Polaris (on the few planes that have the new seat), it’s behind Air France’s Boeing 777 seat — not to mention Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and Etihad.

In November Emirates announced a plan for their 10 Boeing 777-200LRs to eliminate first class from these planes, and move to a six-across (2-2-2) business class in place of the current seven-across, eliminating the middle-of-middle seat in business.

The Business Class seat has a pitch of 72 inches and moves into a fully flat sleeping position. It also has touchscreen controls for the seat and inflight entertainment system, several personal lighting options, privacy panels between seats, a shoe stowage area, footrest and a personal mini-bar.

Luxury and comfort are at the heart of Emirates’ product refresh as overhead bins in centre of the cabin have been removed for an airier and more spacious feel on board. The cabin boasts electronic windows and the largest personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens in Business Class at 23 inches wide.

Here’s the new six-across business class:

Credit: Emirates

Credit: Emirates

Business class gets ‘a new social area’ as well. A self service snack bar is not uncommon on long haul aircraft. It’s not exactly the bar Emirates offers on the A380. I would stay away from business class seats in this area as passengers congregating will be disturbing.

Credit: Emirates

Emirates also shares that economy class seats get new colors. So there’s that.

Credit: Emirates

Emirates says they’ve invested more than $150 million to refurbish their 10 Boeing 777-200LRs. Seats are expensive, and the plane now has more seats with the elimination of first class. The first retrofit plane flies tomorrow (Tuesday, March 6) to Fort Lauderdale. Santiago, Chile will see the aircraft as well along with Karachi, Mumbai, and some secondary cities in China.

Ultimately there’s more seat width and more pitch as well for this product’s business class. As a solo traveler I would choose a middle seat to avoid having to climb over anyone, and not have anyone climb over me. That’s worth giving up the window for in my opinion, but I’d still choose an airline in business class that offers four-across seating if possible.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I flew on a 2-3-2 configuration in Business Class a few years ago from DFW to BLR with Emirates . Overall i felt there was a lot less privacy although i had much more legroom than usual . being a large guy the legroom was great to have but just have a small separation from your companion was not worth it . Service and food was usual and nothing exemplary . there was no special area for passengers to congregate and instead ended up squeezing in the galley whenever i had to stretch my legs and move about . Was hoping that A380’s would be an improvement when i get to travel on them one day

  2. Breaking news: EK updates a small percentage of their long-haul fleet from 25 year-old business class seats to 10 year-old business class seats. Other than their first class product, EK is a solidly middle-of-the-pack airline that has managed to convince the world that they are the peak of luxury. I need their marketing team.

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