With the delivery of a new Airbus A380, Emirates have has finally unveiled its Premium Economy product. Let us dive in and see what there is and what pitfalls there are.
The core part of any premium economy product is the hardware – in this case, the seat. Even with all the embellishments, the seat is a Recaro PL3530. The customized seat design is a result of a collaboration between Recaro and Emirates, which began in April 2019 at a seat show held in parallel to the Aircraft Interiors Expo.
On the Airbus A380, there will be 56 seats in a 2-4-2 cabin layout.
The seats will offerer a pitch up to 40 inches, with a width of 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a cradle position. The seats are covered in cream-coloured anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to Emirates Business Class. The seats feature 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests.
In terms of other features, there are accessible charging points, a wide, foldable dining table (finished in shiny walnut), and a cocktail table.
In-Flight Entertainment will be handled with a 13.3″ monitor, which which will connect to the onboard ice entertainment system.
The premium economy cabin will be located on the main deck, at the front of the aircraft, near the stairway to Business Class. Three lavatories dedicated to customers premium economy passengers.
Which aircraft will get the premium economy product?
Currently, a grand total of six aircraft will get the premium economy product – the newest A380 that has been delivered to Emirates, with the remaining order of 5 A380s, due for delivery in 2021 and 2022. The premium economy seats will also be installed on some of its Boeing 777X aircraft which are due to join the fleet in 2023.
Emirates is considering plans to retrofit its existing A380 fleet
According to Recaro, first deliveries of the seats began in Q4 2020, and at least 250 shipsets will be installed on Emirates’ fleet – so there are plenty of seats to be installed.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:
“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. True to our fly better promise, Emirates continues to invest to offer our customers the best possible experience.”
Commenting on Emirates’ premium economy cabins, he added:
“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. 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.”
Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO and shareholder at Recaro Aircraft Seating sai
“I am very honored that we have been selected to equip the long-range aircraft of Emirates with our premium economy seat,”
“We set out to build a seat with a premium touch and feel, and it has been a great pleasure for the whole Recaro team. We are grateful for the trust Emirates has put into our knowhow and look forward to continue our successful partnership.”
Good luck Booking it for now
Ticketing for these new premium economy class seats is not on the table for now, as Emirates wishes to bolster the number of aircraft offering it. Which leads in nicely to my next point
Commentary: This installation needs to be a lot wider and across existing fleet aircraft/new deliveries
Whilst seeing Emirates finally adopt a middle ground between its business class product and economy class product, it is disappointing to see that it is not being installed fleet-wide (or at least to a substantial section of the fleet).
And that’s a real shame. The comfort gulf on an A380 (PE vs Y) is about 8″ of pitch and 1.5″ of width. Now imagine one of their Boeing 777-300ER’s which are currently the backbone of the Emirates operation, which has a tighter 3-4-3 configuration, with 31″ seat pitch and a 17″ seat width.
If there’s an aircraft family that is crying out for a premium economy product – the Emirates 777 family is crying out for it.
Bear in mind that other airlines around the world have got the premium economy product nailed down – both in hardware and in delivery.
There’s also the point of a consistent passenger experience – something Emirates for all its wonder does struggle with some days, with varying different levels of trim, fit and seating across its entire fleet. By offering more premium economy seats, it can sell entire end-to-end itineraries with this seat, rather than a customer flying in a Premium Economy seat for one leg, then an Economy seat for a second.
And I’m sorry – six aircraft by 2022 isn’t going to deliver that – the airline is going to have to dig a lot deeper and fit more aircraft with the premium economy product.
Whilst airlines Gulf of Arabia have been reticent at best about the premium economy product – and in some cases, flat out denied they should such offer this, there may be pause for thought when travel begins to return to normal, as the passenger will seek out space and comfort – and these very well be the premium traveller who cannot justify a business class seat, or the business traveller who’s travel budget has been pared back.
Premium Economy offers the chance to upsell from a base product, yet with providing there enough differences (such as the seat), it cannot be confused for a full-flat business bed product.
It’s up to Emirates to embrace this difference or continue to dance around it as other innovate.
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