Emirates upgrades A380s with fresh first class, business class

This tip-to-tail transformation will keep the double-deck jets flying “for the foreseeable future,” the airline says.

By David Flynn, November 22 2023
Emirates upgrades A380s with fresh first class, business class

There’s good news for travellers who enjoy the private first class suites with their own showers, not to mention the upper deck cocktail bar, on the mighty Emirates Airbus A380.

The Gulf carrier has confirmed it will continue flying the superjumbo until into the 2040s, unlocking another two decades of its flagship double-decker jet experience.

“The A380 has been and will continue to be very much part of the Emirates story,” Emirates President Sir Tim Clark told reporters on the sidelines of this month’s 2023 Dubai Airshow, adding “we currently expect to fly them until at least 2041.”

Emirates expects its A380s to be flying until the 2040s.
Emirates expects its A380s to be flying until the 2040s.

What’s more, the Emirates A380 experience is getting even better as the airline ramps up a massive $2bn refit program which will see some one hundred A380s given a new lease of life.

Clark promises passengers “will notice the difference the moment they step onboard – the spacious A380 will look and feel even more impressive and comfortable.”

Emirates' refreshed A380 first class.
Emirates' refreshed A380 first class.

The first class and business class cabins are adopting a lighter colour palette, stepping gently away from the original gold and faux-walnut burl finishes towards the softer tones  and cream-coloured leather upholstery of the second-gen cocktail bar and the latest 777 first class suites.

The 14 first class suites are being finessed with higher walls for added privacy and a wider seat for greater comfort, while high flyers tuck into those unlimited servings of Persian caviar paired with vintage Dom Perignon.

Emirates' refreshed A380 first class suites.
Emirates' refreshed A380 first class suites.

Both of the first class shower suites are also in line for a makeover which includes hand-stencilled panels of the UAE’s native ghaf tree; similar motifs will also feature elsewhere throughout the A380 cabins.

A sleek new look for Emirates A380 showers and cocktail bar.
A sleek new look for Emirates A380 showers and cocktail bar.

The business class seats stretched along the upper deck are being dismantled and overhauled at the Emirates Engineering workshop, to emerge with reupholstered quilted cream leather and lighter wood veneer as in first class.

Emirates' refreshed A380 business class.
Emirates' refreshed A380 business class.

At the rear of the upper deck, the original cocktail bar will be ripped out and replaced by a modern showpiece flanked by an L-shaped sofa and a four-seat ‘club-style’ table, with improved soundproofing so passengers in the last few rows of business class aren’t too disturbed by moments of onboard merriment.

Old vs new: Emirates is also transforming its signature A380 bar.
Old vs new: Emirates is also transforming its signature A380 bar.

Emirates boss Clark says the bar draws its inspiration “from private yacht cabins and (is) more intimate and conducive for our passengers to socialise or enjoy our lounge service.”

Emirates' elegant new-look A380 bar.
Emirates' elegant new-look A380 bar.

The spruced-up superjumbos will also be transformed into four-class jets with the addition of a 56-seat premium economy cabin at the front of the lower deck (in place of 88 economy seats).

Premium economy takes pride of place at the front of the Emirates A380.
Premium economy takes pride of place at the front of the Emirates A380.

Those plush recliners with their 40” seat pitch will wrap around the staircase to the upper deck in a 2-4-2 layout, with dedicated washrooms for premium economy flyers.

Emirates' all-new A380 premium economy.
Emirates' all-new A380 premium economy.

All carpet and flooring throughout the aircraft cabins also also being replaced.

Unseen by passengers, but certain to be appreciated, will be an upgrade of the A380’s satellite-powered WiFi system to higher speeds, although the service will remain free for all travellers provided they sign in using their Emirates Skywards number.

(All Skywards members enjoy free messaging, with full Internet access in business and first class as well as for Skywards Platinums regardless off where they’re sitting.)

Emirates expects its A380s to be flying until the 2040s.
Emirates expects its A380s to be flying until the 2040s.

Emirates’ massive A380 makeover will be completed by 2024, while some of the oldest A380s will be stripped down to provide spare parts for the current fleet.

“The A380 will remain core to our network and customer proposition for the next decade, and we want to ensure our fleet is in tip-top shape,” Clark says. 

That “next decade” will of course see a next-gen fleet emerge from the hangars at Dubai, built around relative newcomers such as the Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and of course the Boeing 777X, which Clark expects to see arrive in late 2025.

The workhorse Boeing 777s will also see their dated 2-3-2 business class replaced by a modern seat with a more passenger-friendly 1-2-1 layout from mid-2024.

Read more: Emirates to launch new 777, A350 business class in mid-2024

Such wonderful news. Well done EK for keeping these amazing aircraft going for as long as possible. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 689

Well done Sir Tim, he deserves another Peerage (if that's at all possible).  EK will certainly get me onto that big, beautiful bird and its Bar-in-the-Sky (hic!). 

05 Sep 2023

Total posts 3

That's great news. BA retrofitting its A380 over the next few years also will see commitment from them to run well into another decade plus as well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 43

They do need a refurb, my last flight on the top deck my headrest fell off and the TV didn't work.. Great staff let me move to wherever I wanted as most of business was empty.

17 Nov 2023

Total posts 11

Soooo glad this beautiful plane will keep flying.

While they offer it, I'll be travelling!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 7

Great news. I love flying on the Emirates 380. Well done EK

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 163

Great corporate move by EK - finally an airline looking at passenger comfort over economics. 

Will the competition now realize their mistake! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 139

A true "revamp" would bring the F suites in line with the few 777-300ERs that have their best product, much publicised but inaccessible for most passengers in F. 

This is a cosmetic disguise for the next 18 years - missed (shortsighted) opportunity 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 130

Well done EK. Great to see an airline with management that think of the customer and refreshing their offer to ensure customer retention and also gain new ones. Hats off to Sir Tim and his team. I know who I want to fly with.

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 202

Great news. Hopefully the older J seats will be refurbished first. Had four different layouts on a recent trip, with the last one being not very nice, with a big sloping section occupying most of the floor area.

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 26

Flew the new 1st class a few months ago, and its a vast improvement on the older one.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Emirates upgrades A380s with fresh first class, business class