Emirates plans new social areas for Airbus A350, Boeing 787

Emirates is planning ahead for the eventual retirement of its A380s, with "social areas" becoming the norm across its fleet.

By Chris Chamberlin, December 17 2019

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:

The social area on Emirates' current Boeing 777-200ERs.
The social area on Emirates' current Boeing 777-200ERs.

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.

Read: Emirates eschews first class for new Boeing 787-9 fleet

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.

Read: Emirates' Boeing 777X to have new business class, but no bar

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.

The social area on Emirates' Boeing 777-200ERs remains lit up throughout the flight.
The social area on Emirates' Boeing 777-200ERs remains lit up throughout the flight.

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.

Read: Emirates plans all-new Airbus A380 inflight bar for 2020

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2017

Total posts 40

Great idea! This is what Qantas should have included on their 787 fleet instead of squeezing that tiny business zone aft of doors 2, especially for a fleet designed for long haul flights. But I guess a bar area doesn't make money.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2014

Total posts 35

Yes, it must be such a pain actually having to make a profit. Pesky shareholders!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 586

Undoubtedly this won't be as spacious as the A380 but, then again, the premium cabin won't have as many people in it either. Hopefully it will be something like what VA has on its 777s.

01 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

VAs 777s have tended bars which while not spacious are a very practical use of the space.

This sentence from the article seems to suggest that emirates is not going to have a bar on any of the non A380s:

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"

18 Oct 2019

Total posts 15

Emirates' A380 bars are just the best. I will go into a serious depro when the A380s are retired. Never enjoyed flying as much as on the 380.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 6

The idea of a social area, while enticing-whatever EK aircraft you fly on- has never made sense to me, after 15 years of flying them on long haul trips out of DXB. Particularly dumb idea was on the 777-ER, smack in the middle of the cabin, with the annoying lighting, and the noise generated by the rare pax that actually use it mid-flight.Even on the A380, I find the acclaimed bar scene pretty scant.All you need is a place to get a beverage and stretch your legs, and that area, Sir Clark, needs to be tucked away from the main cabin area.I would recommend re-thinking the locations on new a/c.I might add that the cabin crew, in spite of my being their biggest fan and ambassador , need to be reminded that the galleys are not a place to talk loudly ALL NIGHT LONG and keep the poor souls on row 1 awake............

Finally, the goofball idea of employing native Emiratis to comply with the emiratisation mania in the Emirates is also a REALLY BAD IDEA.

Why on earth would you erode the sterling service reputation you have carefully achieved by hiring natives that do not come from a service culture, will be paid higher wages than their colleagues, and will only get in the way of the real pros who you have already groomed, and whom will certainly resent having to "carry" the natives? Better to leave them on the ground, a token few milling around the gates and the counters, but keep them out of your aircraft, or your service levels will plummet, and business travelers like me will flock back to LH/AF/QR, and yes, even the dreaded BA.Ouch.

30 May 2018

Total posts 15

This article really underlines why the A380 is the best loved aircraft for premium travel. These half baked attempts look quite pathetic and uninviting.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 17

OzGlobal is correct in his statement, no ifs or buts.

The A380 is and will always be the benchmark of premium travel. It will certainly be a sad day when we loose these great aircraft. Any other aircraft with a bar is only a pretender to the throne.


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