a seat in a plane
The Final Verdict
The Seat
Food & Beverage
In Flight Service
Sleep Comfort

There’s no doubt about it – Emirates is one of the world’s very best airlines, with perhaps the greatest first class experience of all, and an economy class anyone can get behind. In fact, Emirates has long held the award for the largest entertainment screens in economy. Yet when you peel back the curtain to reveal business class, you could say Emirates isn’t even a top contender at all.

Across the various planes Emirates flies you’ll find seats of varying quality, and even the “best” has fallen behind the curb. I recently flew Emirates Boeing 777-300ER on a two class plane with economy and business class, and at the very best, it was “meh”…

a room with tvs on the wallEmirates 777-300ER Business Class Seat

Don’t get me wrong, business class is always a more comfortable and privileged way to fly, but once we move beyond those basic truths, Emirates is found wanting on its Boeing 777. Rather than the new industry standard trend of no more than four seats stretched across a cabin, Emirates offers 7 seats across, with a 2-3-2 layout.

a man taking a selfieIn case it didn’t quite hit you yet, that means that in each row, a paying business class passenger will need to step over a seat mate, creating an actual “middle seat” element to a luxury cabin, on an airline known for the epitome of luxury.

If you’re thinking “hey, but I heard Emirates business class is amazing”, you’re probably thinking of their A380, where seats are indeed four across, and there’s also an on board bar. Not here, not by a long shot…

a seat in a planeEmirates is not alone in this regard, but making matters worse, the seats almost entirely lack storage space and basic comforts. Padding is minimal, there’s absolutely nowhere to stash anything wider than a basic wallet and nowhere to retrieve anything without reaching down past your toes. As the photos show, it’s tight, anyway you squeeze it.

a window on a plane a window in a planeThis isn’t said without appreciation for the overall spacious perks of business class, but if you’re a business class passenger cashing in hard earned currency or lots of miles, with other choices out there, this just simply wouldn’t be a first choice by any merit, given the new benchmarks set by other airlines.

Oh, and try getting in and out of your seat without coming within a flash of spilling your wine, mixed nuts or glass of water. Each journey to and from this seat is a unique challenge, and challenging isn’t the word we aim for with business class…

a bed in a planeWhen it comes to sleep time, things don’t get much better. The seats don’t feature a bonafide foot rest, so instead guests find a flip out bookmark style foot rest to keep you from slipping down out of the slightly angled seat. This takes away one of the very few benefits of these older 6 or 7 across seats, which was the ample room for feet and legs to wiggle around.

a seat in an airplane a seat and window in an airplaneWith the narrow, borderline awkward foot rest and lack of seat padding, you just can’t feel the comfort of even the older British Airways Club World, or Qatar Business Class seats. That leaves much to be desired.

a tv on the side of a plane a screen on the wallEmirates Business Class In Flight Entertainment

If you were hoping for a positive twist, you’ll have to wait until the food and beverage section, because it’s certainly not here. This Emirates Boeing 777 business class cabin features some of the oldest and most frustrating in flight entertainment you’ll find in front of a curtain on an airplane.

a room with tvs on the wallTo put it simply: the screen was small, dull and old, the controller was sluggish and downright hard to use and to finish off the trifecta – the entertainment selection, at least on this particular flight, was meagre. Thank whatever God you believe in for Pretty Woman, otherwise this would’ve been worse.

If you’ve got a laptop or tablet and an internet connection, download some good offline content, bring your best headphones and be ready to self cater. At least you’ll be prepared for the worst, which you may or may not find.

a plate of nuts and a glass of wine on a trayEmirates Business Class Service, Food And Beverage

Emirates has won numerous awards for their wine cellar program, and I’m here to tell you that each award is more than deserved. Business class is a cabin often glossed over by airlines, who put all their best efforts into sourcing superb wines for first class and something passable in economy, but not here.

Emirates offers a fantastic business class wine selection, in addition to serving Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label across all flights. Think Premier Cru wines with enough age to be enjoyed properly and a nice rotating cast of new world and gems from other regions. For example, you’ll find things like a Castello Monte Vibiano “L’Andrea” 2010 on many routes at the moment, which is drinking very nicely.

a plate of food on a tableEmirates business class tends to also excel with food, working closely with local caterers on flights inbound to Dubai to showcase dishes which they can pull off, rather than staples which perhaps may not work out quite as well.

If you enjoy spicy food, you can’t go wrong with Emirates traditional Arabic dishes, particularly out of Dubai where the spicing is just right. Pro tip: the bold flavours of spiced dishes taste better at altitude than delicate flavours.

The In Flight Service

Service on this particular flight fit the “meh” theme present around most of this experience, with the exception of the lovely food and wine. Without a dedicated first class cabin on this particular aircraft, there’s no question that a more personal and proactive service could’ve been offered, but this crew seemed eager to plonk meals onto trays and get the curtains closed.

It happens, and I don’t think this is indicative of Emirates typically very high service standards across all cabins, let alone business class. It wasn’t particularly bad, it wasn’t good, it was just almost entirely unremarkable, that’s all. I’ll chalk this one up to bad luck, and bad luck alone.

an airplane flying over water

Emirates Boeing 777 Business Class Overall

If it’s the choice between economy or business, yeah – we know where that leads. But if the question is whether to fly Emirates business class on the Boeing 777, or a top tier competitor, it’s hard to see how Emirates could create a Hollywood twist clever enough to win that battle.

If you find a similarly priced experience using cash, or miles, that offers four seats across, fully flat beds and even just a bit more storage space, you’re going to increase the chances of an enjoyable flight over what this Emirates experience presently offers.

After ANA stealthily launched the world’s best business class seat on the Boeing 777 this year with hardly any advanced warning, I can’t help but hope Emirates pulls something clever out of the bag to make the weakest point of their flying operation into one of their strongest. We’ll see. For now, “meh”.

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. i have a recommendation to ask you please. i am looking for a carrier with reasonably priced business class trans pacific from LAX to Singapore. i do not want any of thevchinese carriers no matter the lowest priced J they offer. any opinion about PAL via Manila? any comments on their business class prodyct? any other recommendations? thank you. btw i do enjoy reading your articles.

    1. Use ANA either through themselves or better yet as a partner of Virgin Atlantic. You could also look at JAL and if you have Alaska miles it would help.

  2. I think you mean “behind the curve” not “behind the curb”, which I believe refers to a bell curve and indicates that someone or something is less than passing or less than average. Great article though, I love reading about different products on the same airline. Its interesting how differences in aircraft and seating can render the product “meh” or “amazing” on the same airline. Thank you for all of your hard work and sharing this with us.

  3. In some circumstances I would pay not to sit or sleep in a space with such overdone and gaudy colors. I thought it was cool 10 years ago but this seat does not age well.

  4. That still makes it a tad better seat experience than BA’s 8 abreast business cabin on the 777 which also lacks adequate accessible storage and counter space.

  5. Literally just stepped off of China Airlines’ business class from Auckland to Frankfurt on the 777 and then 359 with a product looks to walk all over what has been described. Four across (reverse herringbone), great food and an unassuming but slick service. And the best bit; all for a heck of a lot less than what the big airlines charge (had to be a bit clever with the routing but all the same I got there and back).

  6. Spot on – agree with your points! I recently flew with Emirates and after flying in Qatar business class, I must say I was tad disappointed with the business class experience on the Emirates 777. The seats are as you describe and the screen provided for in flight entertainment wanting, with a dated look to it. The wash bag, a luxury one no doubt, too blingy for me! On the second leg of my journey it was on Emirates’s A380. I sat on the upper deck and was taken aback by the number of business class seats – rows and rows. Counted up about 100 seats. Felt more like mass Bus-class than Business Class. Food, service and attention though was excellent.

  7. I flew Emirates numerous times Europe to Cape Town First Class. Food is to avoid. It is boarding school quality. Absolutely none whatsever control over caterers. But even out of DXB it is miserable. I brought my own before returning to LH.
    Seats OK no further recommendations.

    1. Couldnt agree more with Dr Kim. Emirates has poor food and poor seats (in business ) – never understood why anyone would say they are a top airline.

      Hate BA business but would rather fly that than Emirates business .

      ANA, Qatar and Singapore are all outstanding. 5*

  8. Great review.

    the tendency of all business classes is to stuff everyone as close as possible. Emirates are one of the best airlines world wide, however they try to sell as much seats as possible.

    Nowadays you have to go First class and beyond. Otherwise it is just an economy plus with better food.

  9. Emirates 777 business class is atrocious, your comments about the staff and service make it sound as though you were on the Durban to Dubai flight (and vice versa).
    Those flights are only 8+ hours but I have had the misfortune of flying on this plane from Fort Lauderdale to Dubai and it is even worse as it is 14+ hours.
    I normally fly into and out of JFK so that I can fly on a 380 but it always means a long wait in the terrible Jet Blue terminals to get to Florida.

  10. Great review. I flew Emirates A380 to Australia last month. However the first part of return journey to the UK was 14 hours Sydney – Dubai on a 777 aisle seat 9D ( not to be recommended ). I agree with all your comments regarding seat comfort, but I also had the misfortune to have a rather portly gentleman ( no, wait, “clinically obese” would be an understatement) and his partner ( who also had the build of a female shot putter) in the other two seats . Every time he got up, or even shuffled in his seat, my seat got a heavy jolt and every time I thought ” the next time he does this I ‘m going to be knocked into the aisle. He even requested a belt extension. Well as you can guess I got no sleep at all. I considered reporting it to the cabin staff but as the plane was full I guessed it would get me nowhere so I just put up with it. Next time it will be A380 or nothing.

  11. I fly Emirates business a lot because I have friends and family in Australia and New Zealand. The 380 is a pleasant experience and on a long flight the rear bar is most welcome. However their 777 offering is truly terrible and if I can’t have a 380 then I would look to another carrier. I hear very good reviews about China Airlines new business class so I shall look at them for my next trip albeit I do like the Emirates complimentary car service

  12. I had exactly the same experience Dubai to Hanoi. I love the 380 but I will never fly business on a Emirates 777 again, it’s not good for the price

  13. Just flew this exact aircraft and it was a huge disappointment. You were totally spot on in your review. I will begin to follow ! Thanks

  14. Absolutely atrocious and not worth the huge amount I spent to return to Brisbane from the UK via Dubai after Christmas. I was in seat 08A. Struggled to get past the end of the TV’s as I was in the window seat in front of the loos. I actually asked the stewardess if I was in business class. First time I had flown Emirates. I had a brilliant trip on the A380 from Brisbane to UK and the return trip was not comfortable. I pay for business as I have several health issues. Sadly disappointed and I won’t be flying with them again. I fly once or twice a year to the UK so looking for comfort and good service. Never again.

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