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 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.
"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’.
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.
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 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.