Emirates has unveiled the much-anticipated new Premium Economy seats to be installed on a selection of Airbus A380s and new Boeing 777X aircraft.
The spacious Premium Economy recliner seats are 19.5 inches wide and offer up to 40 inches of legroom – 2 inches more than Qantas’ Premium Economy seats. Other features include a 13.3″ television screen, adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests, charging outlets and a cocktail table.
Located at the front of the A380 lower deck, Emirates has installed 56 of the seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
While the hard product looks nice, it’s still unclear what kind of catering Emirates plans to provide to Premium Economy passengers. Other aspects of the “soft product” are also still unknown. But Emirates has indicated it is more likely to adopt a “business lite” approach, similar to Qantas, than an “economy plus” offering where the larger seat is the main differentiation over Economy.
“Our Premium Economy product was carefully developed in keeping with Emirates’ brand positioning as a full-service airline of the highest quality. Our First, Business and Economy experiences reset industry standards when they were introduced, and we are confident that our Premium Economy will also make its mark as a distinct premium offering,” Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said.
Until now, Emirates had resisted introducing a Premium Economy product, fearing it could cannibalise sales of Business Class seats. But in an acknowledgement that there is now significant demand, Emirates has decided to join many of the world’s other airlines in embracing the trend for a “middle-ground” product between Economy and Business.
In 2019, Emirates launched “Business Special” fares aimed at budget-conscious customers, which come with a Business seat but exclude other perks such as lounge access.
Many frequent flyers welcome the introduction of Premium Economy, although some fear it could make it more difficult to get upgraded from Economy to Business Class.
Other cabins have also been refreshed
Emirates has also taken the opportunity to refresh the other cabins on the new planes being fitted with Premium Economy. The UAE-based airline is installing brand new “ergonomically designed” Ecoomy seats and taller, wider doors on its First Class suites.
The onboard bar at the rear of the A380 upper deck has also been redesigned.
Which Emirates planes will have the new Premium Economy seats?
Before you get too excited, it could take some time before Emirates Premium Economy arrives in Australia. Emirates is currently only installing the seats on its last six new A380s to be delivered from Airbus over the coming year. Currently, there is only one A380 with the new seats (A6-EVN) which is being used exclusively on flights EK3 & EK4 between Dubai and London Heathrow.
Until more of the new planes arrive, Emirates is giving complimentary upgrades to lucky passengers booked in Economy on EK3/4. Premium Economy seats are not currently available for sale.
“Until we have a viable number of seats in our inventory to bring to market, we plan to offer the Emirates Premium Economy experience as a complimentary upgrade to valued customers. We’ll also deploy our newest A380 aircraft on various routes so that our customers can experience our latest offering in all classes,” Clark said.
Premium Economy seats will also eventually be installed on Emirates’ new Boeing 777X aircraft, but these are only due to join the fleet from 2023. Emirates has not yet announced whether it will retrofit existing A380s, however this is likely if the product proves commercially successful.
Once Premium Economy is widely available, it should be possible to book a seat using Qantas points. You could expect to pay 93,500 Qantas points for a one-way Premium Economy seat from Sydney or Melbourne to Dubai, or 124,800 Qantas points from Australia to Europe (excluding taxes & carrier charges).
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: New EK Premium Economy photos released
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