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Emirates’ premium economy is finally coming to London — here's what you need to know

May 11, 2022
6 min read
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Emirates is rolling out its long-awaited premium economy class to flights between London and Dubai starting on August 1 and will be available to book from next month.

The oak-paneled cabin class will be housed on the airline's iconic Airbus A380s, fitted with opulent, leather-bound seats with calf rests and blankets made from recycled plastic bottles. Booking will open on June 1, for flights departing from August 1.

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Where can I fly in premium economy?

The first routes to include the deluxe cabin will fly to London, Paris and Sydney from August 1. Then, from December, the carrier will open a route to Christchurch in New Zealand.

With eight flights per day to London and only six aircraft with the premium economy cabin fitted, it's likely that only one or two flights per day will feature the new product, so choose your flight carefully.

The blankets are made from recycled plastic bottles while each seat’s “amenity kit” come in reusable, sustainable bags. (Image courtesy of Emirates)

Which planes will include it?

Premium economy will currently only feature on six of the airline’s double-decker Airbus A380s, the largest commercial aircraft ever manufactured and known as “the giant of the skies.”

The cabin will sit at the front of the main deck, with 56 seats laid out in 2-4-2 configuration.

Related: How to combat aches and pains on long flights

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However, Emirates is in the process of retrofitting a further 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s with the new cabin.

“At the end of the program, Emirates will have 126 aircraft fitted out with premium economy cabins, as well as our latest interiors across other cabins," said Emirates Airlines president Sir Tim Clark.

On the 777s, up to 24 premium economy seats will be installed in a dedicated section between business and economy.

There will also be a dedicated check-in area for premium economy at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

Dedicated check-in area for premium economy at Dubai International Airport. (Photo courtesy of Emirates)

How good are the new seats, really?

Here’s the newsflash: they’re nicer than economy class, yet not quite as nice as business class.

While that may not come as a surprise to you, the shorter answer is that this is Emirates, so it’s pretty nice.

The cabin is oak-paneled, mirroring business class, and the seats are bound in creamy leather.

Related: 14 things that caught me off guard in Emirates’ new premium economy

According to Emirates, the seats have a pitch of 40 inches (101cm) and recline of 8 inches (20cm) into what the airline describes as “a comfortable cradle position.” However, when TPG flew Emirates premium economy last year, we actually measured the pitch at 38 inches. The seats also come with calf and footrests (with built-in charge points) to rest your weary limbs.

You can feel good about flying, too. The blankets are made from recycled plastic bottles, and each seat’s “amenity kit” comes in reusable, sustainable bags, and contains items made from either recycled or sustainable materials.

What about in-flight entertainment?

Each seat features a 13.3” screen, one of the largest in its class, with up to 5,000 channels of music, movies, TV, news and other content on Emirates’ award-winning ICE (information, communication and entertainment) in-flight entertainment system.

Meals are made with seasonal ingredients and served on Chinaware. (Photo courtesy of Emirates)

What food will I get?

It’s not quite business class, but inspired by business class. You’ll be greeted on board with a welcome drink in “fine glassware.” Meals are made with seasonal, regionally influenced ingredients and served on Chinaware, accompanied by stainless steel cutlery wrapped in a linen napkin, no less. It's worth noting, however, that when TPG's Zach Griff flew premium economy last year, he felt that while "the food itself was above average" for a long-haul economy flight it still fell short of being “premium.” You can read his full review here.

A selection of wines will be available during the meal, and liqueurs and chocolates for after.

Notably, premium economy doesn’t come with access to the onboard bar and lounge at the back of the Emirates A380. That’s reserved for business- and first-class flyers.

What was the TPG verdict when we flew Emirates premium economy?

According to TPG's Zach Griff: "Thanks to spacious seats with high-end finishes, ergonomic touches like calf rests and a generous recline, the new premium economy seats are some of the best that I’ve experienced."

While the 'hard' product is a very compelling upgrade compared to economy for a much more reasonable cost than business, Emirates shouldn’t rest on its laurels.

"If it wants to win the title of 'world’s best premium economy,' Emirates needs to design a service concept that’s uniquely premium, whether that means investing in additional food and beverage options, fancy table settings with glassware or an upgraded amenity kit." Read the full review.

What does Emirates have to say?

Emirates President Tim Clark wants you to know that “Emirates premium economy is in a class of its own, offering a signature experience unmatched in the industry.”

“As with everything we do, Emirates premium economy will be exceptional in its class, with minute attention given to every aspect of the customer experience,” said Emirates President Tim Clark. “Customers trading up from economy will be getting excellent value."

Related: AvGeek dreams do come true: British Airways’ all-biz flight to New York

“Since we first introduced our premium economy seats in January 2021, the positive response and demand has been tremendous. We currently have six A380s equipped with this cabin class, which limits our initial deployment, but our intention is to offer this experience to many more markets across our network."

"This November, we will begin our retrofit program to install premium economy on 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s. At the end of the program, Emirates will have 126 aircraft fitted out with premium economy cabins, as well as our latest interiors across other cabins. It is a major investment to ensure our customers continue to have the best experience in the sky.”

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.