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”…
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.
In 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…
Emirates 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.
This 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…
When 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.
With 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.
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.
To 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.
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.
Emirates 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.
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”.