Emirates culling First Class from some aircraft

Emirates have recently announced that they will be removing first class from a number of their flagship A380 aircraft. From early next year, the Dubai-based airline will serve markets with weaker demand for first class with two-class A380 jumbo jets, offering only business class and economy. The removal of first class and a small reduction in business class seats will make way for 120 new economy class seats, bringing the total number of economy seats on board to well over 500.

First to be affected will be flights between Dubai and Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen and London Gatwick. One member speculates that the Dubai-Manila route will soon follow. No flights to Australia appear to be affected at this stage.

The new aircraft configuration means the removal of Emirates’ famous on-board showers from these aircraft, though the popular on-board bar at the back of business class will remain. In the new configuration, business class will actually be located at the back of the upper deck – behind a cabin with economy class seats.

Emirates is not the first airline to remove first class from its aircraft. Closer to home, Qantas has removed first class from almost all of its aircraft. It is now only offered on flights to Los Angeles, London, Dubai and Dallas, with First class having been progressively cut back over the past decade. Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand do not offer first class at all. Other airlines including Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines are following suit, indicating that demand for premium cabin travel is on the decline.

This was announced some time ago and does not surprise me. Other airlines like SQ and LH also reducing F.

But the fate of First class is not an entirely downward trend. Airlines like Etihad Airways are embracing the concept, adding ultra-luxurious suites to their brand-new aircraft. Etihad’s “The Residence” suites come with a price-tag enough to make your eyes water, yet are selling out months in advance. (But that doesn’t mean they are necessarily out of reach for savvy flyers – a number of AFF members have been able to snag a suite using frequent flyer points, thanks to some clever forward planning.)

One member is concerned that moves like this to cram more economy seats onto aircraft will spell the end of luxurious flying. Some airlines – including Emirates – have even considered jamming 11 seats into each row on their aircraft. Though, thankfully, this does not appear to be happening just yet.

Yes remember all those luxurious photos of the A380 – we all knew soon enough it’d become a bus.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]