Emirates is known for having one of the world’s best first class products. As of now, the airline offers three different first class experiences — there’s the Airbus A380 first class, the old Boeing 777 first class, and the new Boeing 777 first class. In this post I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast these products, and talk about which offers the best experience.
Emirates’ three first class experiences
While Emirates has a fairly consistent fleet of just Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, the airline has some different premium products. In this post I wanted to address whether I think Emirates’ A380 or 777 first class is better (and on the 777, discuss both the old and new product).
On the surface you may say “well of course the new first class is better than the old first class,” but the A380 has some unique amenities that give it an edge in some ways. In the future Emirates will be taking delivery of Airbus A350s, Boeing 787s, and Boeing 777Xs, and those have some implications for Emirates’ premium products.
Emirates “old” A380 first class pros & cons
Emirates is probably most well known for its Airbus A380s, as the carrier has by far the largest A380 fleet in the world. Ironically in terms of the cabin itself, Emirates’ A380 first class isn’t that cutting edge.
The cabin has 14 seats, so doesn’t feel especially private (though often the cabin isn’t full). Furthermore, in terms of the footprint dedicated to each seat, there’s not actually that much space. As a point of comparison, Singapore Airlines puts just six first class seats in the same space on the A380. So bling factor aside, the seats aren’t that impressive.
But the A380 has two features that make it oh-so-fun, which for many of us never get old:
I should note that there are mild differences between the cabins on various A380s, depending on when they were delivered or when they were reconfigured. Some have slightly different finishes, some have different bars, and the seats have slightly different technology. However, the “bones” of the cabins are consistent.
The way you can tell if you’re on one of the newer versions of the A380s is if there’s also a premium economy cabin on the lower deck. Furthermore, the newer A380 cabins use the ghaf tree motif on the bulkheads and in the shower suites, and they also feel a bit less blingy.
Emirates “old” 777 first class pros & cons
Emirates has more Boeing 777s than Airbus A380s, and a vast majority of 777s have the carrier’s “old” first class product. The seats are identical to those you’ll find on the Airbus A380, though there are some key differences:
- There are just eight seats, as there are two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration
- The cabin feels a bit more spacious, since the 777 fuselage is wider and taller than the A380 upper deck fuselage; so purely in terms of spaciousness, the cabin feels more comfortable
- Service is often a bit more attentive in 777 first class, since there are only at most eight first class seats
The catch, of course, is that there’s no onboard bar or shower. But if you don’t care about those two amenities, you might prefer the 777 to the A380.
Emirates “new” 777 first class pros & cons
I rank Emirates’ “new” Boeing 777 first class as being the best first class product in the world. Each 777 has just six first class suites, and they’re better than what you’ll find on the A380 in just about every way. They’re incredibly spacious, they’re fully enclosed (floor to ceiling), and there are endless gadgets, from temperature controls, to lighting controls, to the ability to order room service by video, to virtual windows.
There’s simply not a first class product in the world that offers this much privacy or opulence.
What’s the downside to this Emirates 777 first class?
- There’s no onboard shower
- There’s no onboard bar
- It’s not ideal if you’re traveling with someone; you have so much privacy that you won’t even really be able to spend time with your travel companion, as there’s no option to dine together, to combine two suites into one, etc.
The other major consideration is that Emirates’ new 777 first class is only available on very select routes, as only nine 777s feature these cabins. So a vast majority of 777s don’t have this first class, but rather have the product shown above.
Which Emirates first class product is best?
If you haven’t flown Emirates’ new first class and have the opportunity to, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a spectacularly good product, and then there’s the novelty of it (like being in a seat with virtual windows). But beyond the novelty, how would I rank these products?
Here’s my philosophy on which product I prefer:
- If traveling alone, I’d choose Emirates’ new 777 first class for the huge amount of personal space and unrivaled privacy
- If traveling with someone, I may choose the A380, for the ability to sit together, shower (not necessarily together), and go to the bar; I consider Emirates first class to be the most fun first class product in the sky, and it’s a lot more fun with company, and that’s something you’re giving up with the new first class
- However, if I were traveling with someone in Emirates first class on an overnight flight where I mostly intended to sleep, I might prefer Emirates’ old 777 first class, as it’s a private product, it’s great for sleeping, and you can still enjoy the flight with your travel companion
Bigger picture, with so few planes having Emirates’ new first class, there are limited situations where you’ll be choosing between the two products. Emirates has 250+ jets, yet only nine feature the first class, so the cabin sure is tough to come by. More often than not, you’re choosing between A380 first class and the previous generation 777 first class.
Emirates is known for its first class product, and personally I love all of the carrier’s first class experiences. The “new” 777 first class is in my opinion the best in the world, and offers an unbelievable amount of privacy and some amazing gadgets. The A380 first class offers showers and a bar, which are some of the coolest amenities you’ll find on planes. The “old” 777 first class is pretty great as well — while it doesn’t have a shower or bar, it’s otherwise a more exclusive cabin than on the A380.
I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers think — which Emirates first class product do you prefer?