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Emirates Squeezes 615 Seats onto a Single Plane

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At this week’s Dubai Airshow, Emirates let attendees tour its two-class 615-seat Airbus A380, the new record holder for the most seats on any commercial aircraft. TPG Contributor JT Genter explores the new arrangement.

Fans of Emirates’ first class – which we certainly are – are disappointed this week to see the new airline’s A380 plane (registration: A6-EOP) revealed with 615 seats in just two classes: business and economy.

Thankfully, Emirates is not planning on flying this configuration to the US anytime soon. The airline’s initial routes for this configuration are from Dubai to Copenhagen and Dubai to Bangkok starting on December 1. Dubai to Kuala Lumpur and Dubai to Manchester are scheduled to get this high-density superjumbo beginning January 1, 2016.

Sorry Jennifer... No first class product on this A380!
Sorry Jennifer… No first class product on this A380! Screenshot from Emirates’ commercial.

Interestingly, this will be the first Airbus A380 by any airline configured without a first-class cabin. This is especially intriguing coming from Emirates, the airline with arguably one of the best first-class products, which was featured prominently in the carrier’s recent commercials.

Emirates two-class A380
That’s a lot of economy seats. Image courtesy of SeatGuru.

Once it takes to the skies, this 615-seat aircraft will the most dense configuration of any Airbus A380. Second place will fall quite a bit back: Lufthansa’s 526-seat arrangement has 89 fewer seats than the new Emirates configuration. Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines’ four-class A380 – the least-dense A380 – has a whopping 236 fewer passengers.

Worried that having 615 people on a single aircraft might be unsafe? Fortunately, the Airbus A380 is certified to carry up to 853 passengers and 20 cabin crew, assuming an all-economy 30-inch pitch configuration. In the certification test – which you can see in this mesmerizing video – all 873 passengers and crew were able to evacuate from a darkened aircraft in just 78 seconds… from just half of the aircraft’s exits!

A380 11 abreast
At least Emirates left economy “suboptimal” and did not go 11 seats across on this configuration! Image courtesy of Airbus.

Believe it or not, this configuration could have been a lot more dense. Airbus recently unveiled a new 11-across A380 option. While the airline did not decide to go 11-across in this configuration, at least one analyst thinks that Emirates could do so in the future on some of the 72 A380s still on order. If Emirates does opt for more seats across, hopefully the airline will still retain its 32-34 inch seat pitch in economy.

Even with 615 seats, Emirates is still able to fit in its signature on-board bar.

Hoping to experience Emirates’ on-board bar? Despite fitting 615 passengers into this A380 configuration, the airline still had room to fit in the on-board business-class bar. As a bonus, you might have shorter lines, with fewer premium passengers on board. While the other Emirates A380s have 90 seats between first and business class, this configuration has just 58 business-class seats.

Alaska miles award chart for flying Emirates to the Middle East and Africa
Alaska’s award chart for flying Emirates to the Middle East and Africa.

Want to experience the Emirates bar – and exceptional service – for yourself? You can book Emirates first class between US and the Middle East for 90,000 Alaska miles or Emirates Business Class for 72,500 Alaska miles, and you can even work in a free stopover in Europe via the airline’s Milan to JFK flight. Start racking up the miles now by signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex, which let’s you convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 Alaska miles.

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