Emirates' flagship Airbus A380s are returning to the skies as the world begins to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and that includes the two-class superjumbo with a whopping 615 seats from tip to tail.
The Gulf carrier famously has the world's largest A380 fleet, with 119 on hand – although most of those remain grounded for now – and three more to be delivered, all of which are the last superjumbos that Airbus will ever build.
But while its classic three-class A380 introduced private first class suites and showers, with later jets adding a premium economy cabin, Emirates also flies a number of superjumbos with just business and economy class.
These two-class A380s appear on routes where there's markedly less demand for a premium experience, so even the size of the business class cabin is trimmed by 25%, from 76 seats in Emirates' classic config to 58 in the two-class version – although those high flyers can still enjoy the airline's signature A380 cocktail bar and lounge.
Oddly enough, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark had his doubt that this now iconic feature would be a success, so he ordered the airline's first A380s to include overhead lockers in the bar area so that if the bar didn't prove popular, it could be easily replaced by more business class seats.
"All those (lockers) were left in deliberately, even though we spent an awful lot of time and money designing the bar and gilding the lily a little bit," Clark told Executive Traveller, frankly saying of the bar "there was a degree of concern as to how it would work."
But back to economy, where the two-class A380 has 557 seats – 130 more than the three-class version.
120 of those extra seats are found on the upper deck, including in the space usually given over to just 14 of those plush first class cocoons.
Emirates is already flying a two-class A380 to Amman, but from October 1 it'll appear on the Dubai-Manchester route, with Frankfurt and Dusseldorf to follow from December 1.
"Across our A380 destinations, we operate a combination of two and three-class configured aircraft, where the selection of aircraft type to operate on any specific route is determined to optimise passenger demand," an Emirates spokesperson told Executive Traveller.
"The allocation is based on a number of factors including the need for additional capacity arising from peak season travel periods and popularity of specific flight timings, as well as maximising efficiencies at slot-constrained airports."
"Our passengers love the A380 experience and we continue to expand its reach globally. The A380 remains an important part of Emirates' fleet and will remain so for many years to come."