Today (December 6, 2017): a tour aboard Emirates B777 new First & Business Class.
Last Friday, December 1st 2017, Emirates operated its first Boeing 777 aircraft that features the newly designed and highly anticipated Business and First Class cabins. Brussels, my home airport, was the first destination in the Emirates network to welcome the brand new plane. A media event was hold to celebrate the occasion, and Emirates invited me for the occasion (my first ever press meeting!).
After a small reception and a few obligatory speeches by representatives from both the airport and Emirates, I was offered a tour aboard the B777 aircraft (before its scheduled departure to Dubai). While I was not impressed by the new Business and Economy Class cabins, I have to admit that the new First Class product blew me off my feet.
I made a Youtube clip with my impressions, which you can watch below.
The Emirates B777 new First Class is one of the best First Class products I have ever seen. The product was created in collaboration with Boeing, Rockwell Collins interior systems, Panasonic, Jacques Pierre Jean Design studio and Seattle-based design firm Teague. However, despite some phenomenal design features such as virtual windows (more on that below), it’s not as revolutionary as the A380 First Class Apartments that you find on Etihad Airways A380 planes (which I reviewed here) and the soon-to-be-launched Singapore Airlines A380 suites.
Emirates newly delivered and refurbished B777s feature only 6 First Class suites arranged in 1-1-1 layout: 2 window suites on each side and 2 suites in the middle aisle (instead of 4 middle seats in the older B777 First Class cabins). The cabin itself feels claustrophobic and the aisle is very narrow, but that’s because the six suites – each one offering up to 40 square feet of personal space – take most of the cabin’s space. The suites are so large that they have ample space to change in the privacy of your suite even after the bed has been made.
Each suite is fully enclosed with floor to ceiling sliding doors, a first in the airline industry. Contrary to Emirates older B777 and A380 First Class suites – which feature a lot of walnut veneer and gold trim – the new B777 First Class suites features a sleek interior with a new color palette of soft greys, cream and champagne, conveying a contemporary, open and airy feel, with quiet and timeless luxury. Above the three windows, you’ll notice an artistic motif – representing the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree – that is used as a design highlight throughout the aircraft. An indigenous evergreen plant, the Ghaf is a considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and has deep cultural and ecological significance.
The suite’s layout it very similar to Emirates’ old First Class product (which I reviewed here), with an ergonomic seat at its center, which can recline into a fully flat bed of 86 inches (218 cm) long with retractable armrest. In front of the seat is a large desk with vanity mirror below a 32-inch Full HD LCD TV screen. The latter can be commanded with a tablet located in the arm rest. There are subtle differences though with the old First Class suite, such as the location of the private minibar on both sides of the TV screen instead of in the arm rest, but overall, the suite feels very similar. That said, the new First Class suites do feature some new spectacular design elements:
- The soft leather seat reclines into a fully flat bed that can be placed in a ‘zero-gravity‘ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness.
- To ensure all First Class passengers have a view, Emirates introduced the industry’s first virtual windows for the two suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real time camera technology. Wow! This is probably the first plane where I would prefer an aisle seat over a window seat.
- In the window suites, binoculars are available for passengers who want to explore the sky outside their windows.
- Passengers can easily communicate with the cabin crew, or request for room service using a video call function.
- The suites also come with a service window where passengers can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed.
- The inflight entertainment experience is enhanced with brand new Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones. These headphones were designed exclusively for Emirates to ensure the sound was optimised for the First Class cabin.
- Each suite is fitted with an inspiration kit which features a luxury Byredo skincare collection.
Emirates B777 new Business Class is very similar to the old product (which I reviewed here), although it has a more sleek overall look and feel. The design and shape of the new Business Class seat was inspired by the interior of a modern Mercedez-Benz sports car, with a diamond stitch pattern on the full leather cover and ergonomically designed headrest. In fact, is the first time an Emirates product has been so influenced by another luxury brand.
Despite the sleek look, the seats are still configured in a 2-3-2 layout, which means not all passengers have aisle access: passengers in the center seats and window seats will have to scramble over their neighbor’s legs to reach the aisle. It’s quite incomprehensible that Emirates sticked to this bad layout, although almost all other carriers are now going for a 1-2-1 seat configuration in Business Class. Nevertheless, this ‘traditional’ layout is quite good if you are traveling with a group of friends or family. In comparison: Emirates A380 aircraft feature a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, which is much better for solo travelers (and which I reviewed here).
The B777 new Business Class seat is almost identical to the old B777 Business Class seat: it has a pitch of 72 inches (183 cm) and also has touchscreen controls for the seat and inflight entertainment system, several personal lighting options, privacy panels between seats, and a shoe stowage area. However, there are 3 major differences which makes this product an upgrade as compared to the old B777 seats:
- The seats are fully flat beds (and not angled flat beds) and move into a fully flat sleeping position, which is a huge improvement.
- Each seat comes with an ottoman or footrest, covered in soft leather.
- There’s a personal mini-bar in the arm rest.
The Economy Class cabin now features a color palette of soft greys and blues. The ergonomically designed seats come with full leather headrests that have flexible side panels and can also be adjusted vertically for optimum support.