Emirates reveals new premium economy seats, cabin

Emirates has pulled back the curtains on its long-awaited premium economy class.

By David Flynn, December 29 2020
Emirates reveals new premium economy seats, cabin

Emirates' premium economy will take flight in the first half of 2021, with the Gulf carrier this evening revealing the new seats and cabin in its latest Airbus A380.

As previously reported, passengers looking to upgrade from the standard economy experience will find themselves cradled in this more spacious seat with a pitch of "up to 40 inches" compared to the 32-34 inches of economy.

Emirates premium economy.
Emirates premium economy.

Emirates' premium economy seats are also a little wider than their economy counterparts – 19.5 inches compared to 18 inches – and arranged in a 2-4-2 layout rather than the more crowded 3-4-3 rows of economy.

While flatbeds remain the domain of business class, the 8 inches of recline and a generous leg-rest which swings up at the front of the seat should help travellers get from A to B with plenty of Zzz.

Emirates premium economy seat in 'sleeperette' mode.
Emirates premium economy seat in 'sleeperette' mode.

"It's probably where business class used to be, and in some cases where first used to be in the old days, 30 years ago," Emirates President Sir Clark told Executive Traveller, describing the seat as akin to a railway-style ‘sleeperette’.

Emirates premium economy cabin.
Emirates premium economy cabin.

The premium economy seats and cabin sport a similar colour scheme to Emirates' latest business class, which has also been refreshed on the newly-delivered A380s, with the seats clad in cream-coloured anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing.

Emirates premium economy seat.
Emirates premium economy seat.

Each seat includes a 13.3 inch video HD touchscreen, complemented by AC/USB power outlets, a wide dining table and a side cocktail table.

Emirates premium economy cabin.
Emirates premium economy cabin.
Emirates premium economy cocktail table.
Emirates premium economy cocktail table.

Emirates took delivery of its first A380 with premium economy last week, and its final five superjumbos – to arrive over the next 18 months, with the last set for May 2022 – will also feature the new seats.

These will see the 56-seat premium economy cabin located at the front of the main deck, with two dedicated lavatories. "We're aiming to make it a quiet zone, a comfortable zone," Clark told Executive Traveller.

The airline says that premium economy will also be installed on some of its new Boeing 777X jetliners, which are due from 2023, while it is "considering plans to retrofit its existing A380 fleet."

Emirates isn't expected to begin selling premium economy for some time, "until we have a viable number of seats in our inventory to bring to market," Clark says.

However, Skywards Platinum and Gold members booked in economy on the latest A380s will be in for a treat: as soon as this new superjumbo is flying "we plan to offer the Emirates premium economy experience as a complimentary upgrade to valued customers," Clark says.

The airline also intends to share this A380 around its global network rather than lock it into a single route, in order to showcase the new seats.

Clark expects the 'better than economy, less than business' proposition will prove popular with travellers looking to step up from economy class, not only for the extra comfort but also for the appeal of a little more personal space in the post-pandemic travel era.


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 147

EK really loves that faux wooden finish 

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 101

EK and Gaudiness go hand in hand. Product look ok, but the leg room looks a little tight.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 599

Tbh, other than an extra 2 inches legroom over the standard 38 inch pitch, these seats aren't that woopty doo...especially when thecseat infront reclines fully and the tv is facing your crotch.  JAL are still my preferred way in W with 42 inch pitch in a fixed shell and probably the most solid table setup in any equivalent seat...plus they include lounge access

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 375

It is "up to 40"" It could be 38" with the bulkhead being the only 40". The article is a bit light on details

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 116

While it does have an upgraded look with the leather and faux wood, the true test will be flying this product. It also will be interesting to see where and how EK price this in comparison to their competition. The 40” pitch is going to see the current 38” airlines increasing theirs as the likes of JL and NH with their 40-42” are not impacting SQ/CX/LH group. LH group is at least priced accordingly, where you can get to Europe for under $3K in Y+. But with the vast EK network and single connection, it could be enough to convince flyers to turn to EK if the pricing is reasonable for the offering. Time will tell. 

The 40" pitch will only be the front row, facing the bulkhead, the rest of the seats will probably be 38" pitch.

Okay, so not as revolutionary as Clark might have been talking up but it still looks pretty good to me, certainly better than Qantas' latest premium economy seat. I like the calf rest which swings all the way up to meet the foot rest.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 71

Given that most passengers will have 38 inches of pitch, in what way, specifically, is it "revolutionary"?

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jun 2020

Total posts 3

Wow what a let down EK, last to market with Premium Economy, the hype and talk-up, plus the images of the suggested seat looked  better than what has been launched. Was looking forward to traveling on something special and this is not it.  Very disappointing. 

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 47

the EK PR team clearly all ex-QF...

40" pitch and 19.5" width, practically regional business, fly this from MEL to LHR would be stress free.

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