The Dubai Air Show is taking place and Emirates have shocked everybody with their $15.1bn order for 40 Boeing 787-10 aircraft and unveiling of their eagerly-anticipated new First Class Suites – set to rival Singapore Airlines’ new product, just days after their release.
Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner order
Yesterday, Emirates reached a deal with Boeing for 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, worth $15.1bn. The aircraft will be delivered from 2022, building on Emirates’ relationship with Boeing, being the largest client of the Boeing 777 family, with 164 additional 777 aircraft on firm order. Since the retirement of Airbus A330/A340 and Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, Emirates have been restricted in their route development opportunities due to the only aircraft being available boasting large seat capacities which are perfect for a high volume route like London Heathrow or New York JFK to Dubai but not so great for new marginal opportunities. They’ve missed out on key new ventures such as Cardiff and Helsinki (the former having secured daily services with Qatar to rival hub – Doha) due to their obvious lack of suitable aircraft. Furthermore, prime destinations to funnel passengers to Europe such as Kathmandu aren’t able to handle the Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A380, whilst Qatar, Etihad, Oman Air and others have been able to survive in the market. The Boeing 787-10 improves this dramatically, but personally I would have liked Emirates to choose the -8 variant, to connect smaller markets for this aircraft order to truly be a ‘game changer’.
new first class suites cabin
Emirates has long been a primary purveyor of luxury in-flight, from onboard showers to a slick-understated brand. After the initial WOW-factor, however, their previous Suites cabin appeared not glamorous, but tacky and rather brash. With this new cabin, I’m happy to see a toned-down colour palette, with welcoming tones of light cream, still with a touch of luxury. To introduce the new product, take a look at the promotional video below, highlighting some revolutionary features such as individual temperature controls and ‘virtual windows’ in the centre suites:
Some of the main features include:
- 40 Squared-feet of personal space
- Floor to ceiling sliding doors for full privacy
- 1-1-1 configuration, replacing the former – more densely packed – 1-2-1 setup
- Mercedes-inspired soft leather seats
- The introduction of a Zero-Gravity position, inspired by NASA
- Centre Suites will sport virtual windows, with real-time views generated by live camera technology
- Window Suites will be fitted with binoculars, for guests wishing to take in the view
- A video-call function to request service from the cabin crew, without leaving your suite. An audio-only call option is also available
- Each suite has an “inspiration kit,” featuring a luxury skincare collection, moisturizing pyjamas, and Bulgari amenity kits
- In a further nod to the Emirates-Mercedes collaboration on this product, chauffer services from Dubai airport will come in the form of S-Class Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
The first routes to receive the new product, will be Dubai-Geneva and Brussels from 1st December 2017. Under current plans, it is only the 777-300ER that will receive the refit – not Airbus A380s.
what about the rest of us?
Despite boasting a sports car style seat, that’s where the luxury ends. 7 abreast configurations in Business Class are not convenient, let alone luxurious and it staggers me that Emirates still advertise this sub-par product. It does, however, feature lie-flat seats and Emirates’ world-renowned hospitality onboard.
Economy Class will feature a new colour scheme, creating a refreshing spacious feel. The ergonomically-designed seats come with full leather headrests that have flexible side panels and can also be adjusted vertically for optimum support.
There’s no denying that this product is a new-height in luxury. I love individual features such as light and temperature adjustments for your personal suite, virtual windows (I wonder if they’ll have a wing view!) and beautiful seats. This product seems painfully well-thought out for Emirates’ customers and I really feel this will show as a First Class passenger enters the aircraft for the first time. The suites are much larger than the previous counterpart – but Singapore’s new suites will sport a much larger footprint. Another possible downfall of this product, is it doesn’t really cater for those travelling together, unlike Singapore’s new Suites which can be converted into a double bed. What disappoints me though, is that Emirates still continues to pursue 7 abreast seating in Business Class on 777 aircraft, and that only 9 Boeing 777 aircraft are planned to be refurbished in the next two years, so the question arises – will this product make headway in Premium Class travel or will it become a gimmick? Only time will tell.
All images and featured image courtesy of Emirates.