Emirates Airlines has created a new premium economy class of service with first and business class touches, a category so impressive that it stretches the definition of “economy.” This new class of service fits more squarely as a typical business class on most other airlines ― or at least “business light”, if that were a category, for this or any other airline.
The new aesthetic design in Emirates’ premium economy is pulled straight from the first and business class playbook with tone-on-tone neutrals and the signature ghaf tree motif in gold, making this feel much more like what one would expect in business or first class over economy. The wide cream-toned seats are leather (as is the case with first and business class) and come with a foot and leg rest, creating a cradling effect, a larger and fluffier pillow, a wider screen for watching movies and television, and much more overall space to recline comfortably for long hauls. As with first and business class, there’s a separate check-in for premium economy customers in most of the airports, and an exclusive menu, including Emirates’ bubbly Chandon Vintage Brut, only available to premium economy customers.
Premium economy is a more affordable option over first or business. At the time of publishing, Emirates.com listed the cost of a round-trip premium economy seat from JFK to Dubai (Saturday, July 1 to Saturday, July 8) at $3,298. Compare this to an available first-class ticket on the same flights at $21,574.00, business at $8,314.75 and an economy ticket at $1,882.75. The premium economy price is a fraction of first class, and more than half the price of business class while featuring many of the similar comforts. Would a first- or business-class customer feel comfortable in premium economy? In an interview on-board a newly retrofitted A380, Essa Sulaiman, Emirates’ division vice president for USA and Canada, thinks the answer is yes. “The experience is going to greatly impact those regular economy customers who wish to upgrade, but anyone flying in first or business would notice that there is a difference, but would not mind the difference because it will feel familiar.”
More than simply an airline brand, Emirates is well-known as a lifestyle brand. The airline’s many sponsorship activations evoke an association with high-end cultural activities: symphony orchestras in Sydney and San Francisco, jazz and literature festivals in Dubai, globe-hopping teams in sailing and cycling, and prominent tournaments in tennis and golf.
All passengers who fly Emirates benefit from the award-winning ICE entertainment system across all cabins with 5,000 channels and movie selections. Emirates’ signature service does well to cater to more than jet-setting adults; their cabin crews love children, notes Sulaiman. “We have special gifts and soft toys we give to children and you will find our crew with a Polaroid camera taking pictures with kids,” he said. “It’s all the about the experience.” This special momentum and attention to customer detail can be felt no matter what class of service you are flying, which is what makes Emirates special.
The new Emirates premium economy is now available on their A380 with service from JFK and SFO to Dubai, and SFO to Dubai. Additional flights from Dubai to Houston and Los Angeles are scheduled to be introduced by July.