Emirates launched arguably the hottest first class product last year. It’s a cutting edge suite with fully enclosed floor to ceiling walls and some pretty stunning interior to go along with many other great features like a zero-gravity chair. According to Emirates, the response to the new product has been “spectacular.” However, many people have been curious about when this product will be available on more routes. Well, we finally have an update from Emirates and it looks like it’s going to be a while.
Current routes with the new Emirates first class
Right now, Emirates is flying the new product on “two to three” new 777-300ERs but only on routes to Brussels and Geneva. Up next, are routes to London to Munich (expected this summer) but Emirates is expected to have at most nine 777-300ERs by the end of next year.
That’s a very slow pace for implementing the new configuration.
In 2020, Emirates will begin receiving new A380s from its latest order. But Emirates is stating that these new A380s won’t be configured with the new first class product until 2021. Emirates is also set to receive new 777 and 787s around 2020 and the new suites are expected to be installed on those newer aircraft though it’s possible that not all of those new aircraft will see the new configuration.
Retrofitting for the new first class suite
And what about reconfiguring their current aircraft?
It’s unclear if Emirates plans to retrofit its current fleet due to exorbitant costs and extensive certifications needed. They estimate that retrofitting their existing fleet would cost upwards of $30,000,000 or more per plane. That’s insanely high and might be the reason we don’t ultimately see these new suites in older aircraft.
A lot of passengers aren’t let down by this news since they love the current first class product on the A380, which comes with the best shower experience in the sky and a solid bar/lounge experience. I also think it’s a solid product so I don’t think there’s a very high need to retrofit those cabins.
Still, it is slightly disappointing that this new product is getting such a slow rollout over the next couple of years.
There are several ways that you can use miles and points to book Emirates first class tickets and you can read more about those here.
As of yet, it’s still impossible to book the new Emirates first class with award miles and it’s not clear when that option will become available. Assuming that does happen sometime later this year, there will likely only be four routes to choose from so I’d expect competition for booking those to be fierce. It looks like it’s going to be another couple of years until we start seeing the new suites used more widespread so it’s be a good idea to manage your expectations for flying this new first class product accordingly.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.