Emirates rolls out its 615-seat superjumbo

Where 14 private first class suites used to be, there's now row upon row upon row of economy seats.

By David Flynn, September 17 2021
Emirates rolls out its 615-seat superjumbo

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.

There are fewer business class seats but at least the bar remains.
There are fewer business class seats but at least the bar remains.

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."

Read more: Behind the design and evolution of Emirates' Airbus A380 bar

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 swapped 14 first class suites for a lot more economy seats.
Emirates swapped 14 first class suites for a lot more economy seats.

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."

Also read: Why Emirates won't retire its Airbus A380s until the mid-2030s


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.


09 May 2020

Total posts 566

Pretty clear that Emirates are expecting to fight a capacity war like in the days of yore when there were limited access to gate and landing slots, but with the decimation of LCCs and further rationalisation of network and merger (ie downsizing) it would need a lot of faith and booking flexibility for people to put money into an airline ticket again particularly with ongoing uncertainties with some highly vaccinated countries still making changes to their border rules 

Good luck to them, really, since they are one of the few who still flying to Australia keeping us connected and frankly they should reap some reward from this (detractors may point out some of the ludicrous pricing in the cattle class but hey I don’t expect them to offer the same cheap fares as precovid with  plenty of competition around, it’s a foreign state-supported business not an Australian charity)

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 237

I think you are over-thinking and over-anaylsying this, it's not "pretty clear" to me when Emirates is just putting this A380 onto a handful of routes so far where there will be pent-up demand. It had this A380 on 'less premium' routes or times of year before and that will continue.

17 Sep 2021

Total posts 1

Emirates have been flying these aircraft with only 2 classes for quite some time.

Exactly, these two-class A380s don't mean there is a big new "capacity war" on the horizon, the airline has always used these to focus on routes which have less demand for business & first but plenty of demand for economy, and where they can fill these mostly economy planes up if they can keep the price down. It just makes sense that Emirates is rolling more of them out now to capitalise on where it sees that demand.

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