Emirates’ forthcoming Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 jets will sport new “social areas” for business class passengers when they join the Emirates fleet from 2023.
While these spaces won’t be as sizeable or swish as the airline’s iconic Airbus A380 bar and lounge area, they’ll still be a step above the social space currently seen on the airline’s refitted Boeing 777-200LR fleet, which places self-serve snack and drink counters in the centre of the cabin:
In an exclusive interview with Executive Traveller, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark describes the new social zone on the A350s and Boeing 787s as being “fairly glamorous and attractive for people to stand and have a chat,” hinting that the space won’t have the breadth of seating as on the A380.
“It won't be as big as the A380 of course, but there will be sort of convivial areas where people can go and gather, and pick up whatever they want to eat or drink,” he elaborates.
“Social areas have now become a bit of a signature for us. People expect it, and as the A380 comes to the end of its life – which is not for a long time yet – we need to keep the same kind of (thing) ... (so) we’ll incorporate social areas in the A350 and the 787,” Clark confirms.
These jets will feature business class, premium economy and economy, although not first class, rendering these social areas the exclusive domain of business class flyers.
Emirates will also install social spaces on its Boeing 777-9 and 777-8 jets, currently due for delivery in 2020, but which, as with the A350s and Boeing 787s to follow, won’t offer tended bars as on the A380.
How will Emirates' new social areas compare to the current Boeing 777-200LRs?
Unlike the Airbus A380s which have two passenger decks of floor space to play with, Emirates’ next-gen aircraft are all single-storey, with less overall space available for amenities such as bars and social zones.
Clark describes his plans for these new social areas as being an “embellishment” of what passengers currently see in business class on the airline’s Boeing 777-200LR flights.
“We're trying to continue what we've always done, albeit with smaller real estate to work with (compared to the A380). But there'll be something.”
The current social area of the comparable Boeing 777-200LR is “more of the ilk of what we can afford to do with the real estate on those aeroplanes,” Clark adds. The new social area would be developed from “what we did on the LR, but be slightly better located.”
One observation from business class passengers taking these Boeing 777-200LR flights is that the current social space can prove disruptive for those not using it, both due to the sound of passengers talking, and the lighting here when trying to sleep, as the space sits open in the centre of the cabin.
With this in mind, the updated spaces for Emirates’ next wave of jets are aimed at being “not too loud, because obviously you'll be disturbing other passengers around you.”
Separately, Emirates is also working on a third-generation inflight bar and lounge area for its remaining Airbus A380s, which passengers will see on selected flights from late 2020 or early 2021.