Emirates’ Fancy New Business Class Still Has Middle Seats
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On Sunday, Emirates blew my mind with an out-of-this-world first-class product. The new 777-300ER Suite is, in a word, incredible. I can’t wait to take it for a spin on the December 1 inaugural flight.
At the same time, I’ll be avoiding business class on this plane. Why’s that? Bizarrely, while Emirates completely redesigned the seats, executives decided to maintain a 2-3-2 arrangement — as a result, not only do many passengers not have direct aisle access, there are even middle seats in every row. (Coach is 3-4-3, also the same as the current layout.)
Can you imagine booking a brand-new business-class seat on a world-class airline and sitting in between two other passengers? Yeah, no thanks.
While Emirates offers several different products across its 777 fleet, all of its Boeing wide-bodies sport exactly 42 business-class seats, all in a 2-3-2 configuration. Most are angle flat — and not very comfortable, in my opinion — so in that regard this new product represents a huge upgrade.
For example, here is the old seat:
And here’s the new one:
The seat finishes look fantastic, and there are some nifty features tucked into the relatively tight area, including a mini-mini-bar (yes, mini-mini — it’s small).
There’s also a pop-out tablet to control the 23-inch entertainment system, customized lighting, USB-A and USB-C charging ports and what Emirates is calling “classy textured panels” throughout.
If middle seats in business class were still the norm, this product would probably blow your mind. But they’re not — even US carriers like American and United are moving to all-aisle-access configurations, and Delta has offered 1-2-1 for years. This middle-seat-in-business thing just doesn’t fly anymore.
The good news is that this is the final Emirates business-class seat that we’ll see with a 2-3-2 arrangement — once the airline begins taking delivery of Boeing’s next-generation wide-body plane, the 777-9, it’ll come with a new 1-2-1 seat layout installed.
And, really, that’s what Emirates should have done this time around — installed 1-2-1 seats, even at the expense of a smaller cabin. The Emirates A380 has offered direct aisle access for nearly a decade now, with a seat similar to what I just flew from Seoul (ICN) to Dubai (DXB).
Even this older A380 design would have been a step up from the new 777 seat, in my opinion — new finishes or not, 2-3-2 just doesn’t cut it in business class anymore.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.