a woman standing in a plane

Not everyone has the budget for business class and few have the means for a ride in Emirates incredible first class. But many people want more than basic, and have more to play with than what they might pay for an economy ticket.

Dreams of a little extra space, some snooze-worthy recline or a smaller cabin also play really well in a world hoping to exit a global health crisis, and a chance to earn more miles never hurts either.

With all these trends converging, Emirates is betting big on premium economy and the leisure market, as the slow return of business travel continues.

a group of seats with a patched up design

Emirates Adding Premium Economy To 105 Planes

Emirates latest A380 deliveries have all come with premium economy installed from the start, but starting in late 2022, more than 105 planes are set to receive premium economy retrofits.

At least 52 Boeing 777 aircraft will feature premium, in addition to circa 60 Airbus A380 super jumbos. Not only does premium economy add more legroom, width and recline, with 19.5” wide seats and 40” of legroom — compared to around 32” tops in economy, but larger screens and improved amenities feature too.

A 2-4-2 layout is far more desirable than economy as well.

One highly underrated feature of premium economy is cabin size. Emirates will place the 777 premium economy cabin directly behind business class, with just a few rows. Premium passengers will be able to deplane faster, and enjoy a more boutique feel.

The A380 features premium economy at the front of the aircraft on the main deck.

a group of people standing in an airplane
Emirates will offer a 2-4-2 layout in premium economy on the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380.

Most installations won’t begin until late 2022, but in the interim, flights on aircraft currently equipped with premium will launch between Dubai and London, Frankfurt, New York and Paris.

As part of the 777 premium retrofits, a much welcomed business class retrofit is also expected, with a yet to be seen seat. Emirates Boeing 777 business class is one of the few weak points in the Emirates experience, with a dated and tired experience on board.

a woman standing in a plane

Betting On Leisure While Business Idles

Business travel hasn’t yet returned in meaningful levels, even as countries have reopened. New and increased pressure to reach climate goals mixed with potential image woes for companies with expansive travel poses an even greater threat to that recovery.

Leisure travel, however, is largely booming. After years cooped up inside, with money saved, people are eager to visit family friends and relatives, or reconnect with favorite leisure destinations.

Emirates adding premium economy puts the airline in an ideal position to capitalize on people who are willing to pay a higher margin for a substantially better experience. For elites, premium is also the greatest and potentially last “hack” to getting business class upgrades without paying for them!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. That looks quite nice. What are the miles options to fly Emirates these days? I’d love to have my first Emirates flight also be my first A380 flight, going first class. Only with Alaska out of the picture, I don’t know what options are out there. Any thoughts?

    1. Emirates has been rather smart with their program. If you want to fly F, it’s gotta be with EK miles. Fortunately, plenty of banking transfer partners.

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