Has Emirates dropped the ball with its new premium cabins?

Five years ago, Emirates was the benchmark in premium airline travel. The world had not seen such glitz and glamour or luxury like this in the air. For the USA (and sorry to be frank) this was not only ground breaking but shook the core of frequent flyers there used to a world where travel meant lacklustre service and tired aircraft interiors since the demise of Pam Am.

Fast forward to today and Emirates now seems to have suffered a minor hiccup. As an Emirates fan I probably expected more and unfortunately when Emirates launched their new Boeing 777 business class last year I was disappointed. The new seat which is set to take to the skies very soon seems to have overlooked the requirements of today’s business traveller.

On face value, the seat with its lux soft cream cross-stitched leather seats looking the goods but I have reservations about the excessive use of the burled walnut veneer, not to mention the dreaded middle seat in the 2-3-2 layout.  Why would Emirates persist with the extremely unpopular option of a business class seat where access for the middle seat passenger would need to step past, over or trip over their seatmates in the middle of the dark to get to the aisle? I for one would hate to have forked out 10K for the privilege of what would seem a roomier lie flat economy seat.

Emirates could have turned to Etihad or Qatar for style cues. I have flown the new business class Etihad product on the A380 and the seat is exceptional. Roomy, private and every seat has direct aisle access. Qatar on the other hand whilst I have not have had the privilege to fly the new QSuite yet, the business suite design is revolutionary with its world first for business class double bed, as well as a face-to-face party of four configuration.

In a world where business class is the new first, Emirates really needs to pick up its game otherwise it will be left behind in what has become a competitive business class market.

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