Emirates' Boeing 777 business class refresh keeps 2-3-2 layout

By David Flynn, November 12 2017
Emirates' Boeing 777 business class refresh keeps 2-3-2 layout

Emirates will refresh its Boeing 777 business class seats from 2018, but this minor facelift won't mean dropping the oft-criticised 2-3-2 layout and its inconvenient middle seat.

The move – revealed alongside the launch of new Boeing 777 first class suites – comes barely 18 months after the Gulf airline and Qantas partner unveilled new-look Boeing 777 lie-flat business class seats (below) in March 2016.

The changes appear to be exceptionally subtle, however, and intended to give the seats a slightly more consistent look against those first class suites which Emirates says were inspired by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class series.

For example, there's a different woodgrain pattern on the privacy dividers between the seats as well as around those massive 23-inch HD video screens (which can be overwhelming because your seatmate's screen remains well inside your own field of vision).

Emirates also tells us the revamped seat includes a slimline USB-C port – as used on an increasing number of smartphones and laptops – alongside the conventional USB-A jack, so that's definitely a nod to the tech-toting business traveller.

Overall the refresh certainly doesn't draw down that 'business class bling' factor, as passengers still face acres of that familiar faux woodgrain-effect plastic wrapped around the seats.

However, Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark confirmed a next-generation business class seat with a 1-2-1 layout would feature on the forthcoming Boeing 777X, which the airline expects to see flying in 2020.

Clark described the 2018 refresh as "the last makeover of this generation of seat” for Emirates’ Boeing 777.

Read more: Emirates plans new business class seat for Boeing 777X


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Dec 2016

Total posts 45

Plentiful fake woodgrain like a 1980's Toyota Crown and usually a crowded long bus rife to the terminal is a long way from premium

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

They took bling factor from a 10 to 9, whereas a 3 would have been more appropriate

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jul 2016

Total posts 22

If they sold the seats at a fair discount, but they sell that middle seat for plenty of $$$

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

Well one cannot mistake it for anything but Emirates bling

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 179

Nice enough looking seat but 2-3-2 is no good in today’s market. Even QF are going 1-2-1 and even BA (eventually) would choose and have done many times etihad when the 777 are compared, to be honest even the A380 for etihad is ahead of emirates (minus emirates awesome bar)


02 Oct 2012

Total posts 46

How can they be serious? Not sure why they would wait for 2020 and the 777X to match what is now basically the industry standard of direct aisle access for everyone in business class. They’ll still be flying these seats until what 2023 or beyond by they time they roll over their 777-300ERs, considering they don’t seem motivated to refit their older aircraft with their new product.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

26 Oct 2014

Total posts 2

See you in 2020, Emirates!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Dec 2016

Total posts 31

The seats look nice, the middle seat doesn’t

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

A dreadful uncompetitive seat that should be avoided.

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

To clarify, do we know if these refreshed seats will be retrofitted across all of Emirates' B777-300ER aircraft, or will it only be on newly delivered aircraft?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

Who would pay $6-7k for a return flight to Europe to sit 7 across in business class and be stuck looking at that hideous plastic wood? So many more better options available.

23 Jun 2017

Total posts 6

2-3-2 Business Class? Tel 'em they're joking.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2011

Total posts 21

Truly awful

The promotion of lovely Suites does not fool any business class passengers....I hope

Emirates? Avoid !!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 12

We used to fly PER-NCL(UK) with Emirates every year for past 8-9 years & copped the 777 J class seats on most of these trips (until the PER-DXB got the A380). DXB-NCL still flys the 777 with this below par 2-3-2 layout. This year we’ve gone Qatar to EDI (Scotland), saved ourselves $2+K each on the J class fare & paid for the Qatar chauffeur service to drive us EDI-NCL. Worth it for the 200 pounds for the chauffeur & a lovely drive from Scotland to Newcastle, given the overall savings & in my opinion a better hard & soft product than EK!! We’re going back again in Christmas & looking forward to it. See you in 2020 EK.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

Emirates is living proof that lots of money does not equal lots of style.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 193

as they say-you can put lippy on a pig but it's still remains a pig-compare this with Singapore or Qatar or Etihad and clearly there is no competition -the 2-3-2 just won't make it this modern age when the airlines get most of their revenues from business class pax-a poor pathetic attempt for the same or more price than the competitors

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

It would be neat to see these refreshed colour tones on the A380 business class seat.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 199

Got stuck with the two middle seats after a last-minute change from the 380. Weren't as bad as expected, but we were tired and just wanted to get home. Having said that, there is no way I would pay $1-2k more to fly to Europe with these seats when I can fly with better seats, better service and a lot cheaper with Qatar.

Malaysia Airlines - Enrich

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 8

its ok to use for shorthaul but not for medium and longhaul

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 163

EK have lost the mark with this decission and will pay for it with lost revenue loads in their 777 J cabins. Point upgrades may fill the cabin - revenue Pax ?. They need to live with this for the next 4+ years. I wonder who lost their job with this one!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 233

On my last flight with EK I had to endure the middle seat next to a 13 year old who played video games for most of the 13hr flight. In spite of the miserable divider his screen was glaring in my face at all times. The seat itself was poorly designed and narrow and quite uncomfortable.There's no doubt about it EK's J class seats are terrible! There are so many operators with far better seats around so EK is well off the list for me and all of my colleagues. Very poor indeed.

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