Emirates‘ customers finally have a premium economy option for their travels. The carrier introduced the new seat after taking delivery of its latest A380 last week. But there’s a catch: Travelers cannot book the seat yet and might not be able to for some time.
The Emirates A380 is already one of the most sought-after travel experiences in the skies, and now we’ve made it even better. While others cut back, Emirates is working hard to restore the products and services that we’ve had to suspend or adjust due to pandemic precautions, and introduce new offerings and enhancements.– Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline
More room, more recline in Emirates’ Premium Economy
The new Emirates premium economy cabin features 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout at the front of the A380 main deck. The leather seats are 19.5 inches wide and come with up to 40 inches of pitch as well as a generous 8 inch recline. Passengers will find support in the seats from a 6-way adjustable headrest, foot rest and calf rest.
Power is available, both via USB (A & C) and a 110V outlet. Passengers also have a 13.3 inch screen for the ice inflight entertainment system.
The seat is based on the Recaro PL3530 platform but includes multiple custom options for Emirates, particularly around the finishes. The cabin also includes additional wood trim on the walls to project an air of refinement and tie in to the tray table finish.
Limited deployment of Emirates premium economy cabin
The new premium economy cabin on Emirates will be a welcome option for passengers. But getting to fly the product will prove a significant challenge in the coming year. By the end of 2022 the carrier is committed to only six aircraft – all new A380 deliveries – with the cabin on board.
Only “some” of the 777X fleet is currently slated to receive the new seats when delivery begins, currently expected in 2023. Retrofit of the existing A380 fleet remains under consideration, but not a commitment. That previously planned work pushed back earlier this year as the carrier pursued cash conservation options. The existing 777 fleet is not even mentioned as up for consideration of a retrofit.
For its part, Recaro states “at least 250 shipsets will ultimately be installed on Emirates’ fleet.” The timing for those deliveries remains unclear, however.
And so the premium economy cabin on Emirates is not for sale. At least not yet. Until the company has enough aircraft on property with the new seating in play it will not market the product, preserving the flexibility it needs to ensure passengers are not disappointed if an operational swap is necessary.
Instead it will offer the seats as “a complimentary upgrade to valued customers.” The plane will not fly a dedicated route, instead broadly covering the carrier’s network “so that our customers can experience our latest offering in all classes.
Where and when the company decides to start selling the seats, and hopefully recouping some of its significant investment in the new product, remains to be seen.
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