Emirates plans all-new Airbus A380 inflight bar for 2020

Emirates aims to take its inflight bar and lounge to new heights, with a third edition of its popular A380 lounge on the way.

By Chris Chamberlin , December 12 2019
Emirates plans all-new Airbus A380 inflight bar for 2020

Emirates is currently laying the groundwork for a “third generation” of its popular Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge area, set to debut on the airline’s newest superjumbos from late 2020 or early 2021.

That inflight space was initially launched in 2008 when Emirates took the reins of its first A380 – complete with other brand new features such as the shower spas in first class – and was later redesigned in 2017 to provide more communal seating in a lighter, brighter and more modern environment.

Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.
Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.

Speaking exclusively with Executive Traveller, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark teases that “I won't reveal exactly what is going to happen, because you know, it’s still a work in progress: but it'll be a step change in what we're doing. It'll be very, very, very attractive, I can assure you.”

Clark does confirm, however, that Emirates will be “enlarging the seating area again” with the debut of the third-generation bar, with clusters of AC and USB power points also added around the tables.

This would create somewhat of an alternative working environment for business travellers taking a break from their regular seat, but could just as easily be used to top-up a smartphone while enjoying both a bartender-mixed beverage and the company of others.

Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.
Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.

But “what we tend to find is that people (usually) leave their PDAs, laptops, mobiles etc. at their seat, and just go back and get stuck into what we always used to do, which was talk to each other,” Clark recalls.

It’s an experience that drives many passengers to “go out of their way to travel on us, because they have this superb product,” which has “more than paid for itself” over the years, he assures, even though the floor space occupied by the lounge could otherwise have accommodated eight extra business class seats on every flight.

Once a gamble, now a staple

Interestingly, when the bar – and A380 – were first introduced into the Emirates fleet, the airline hedged its bets by planning ahead for the bar's removal, in case the space didn’t prove popular enough with passengers.

“I designed the bar at the back of the aircraft on the upper deck, on the understanding that if it didn't work, we could remove it in 96 hours and put eight more business class seats in,” Clark continues.

Emirates' original Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.
Emirates' original Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.

This is why Emirates’ oldest A380s have overhead lockers in the bar area – fitted to make that transition quick and easy if the bar were to be ripped out.

Of course, once Emirates saw of the bar’s success, future A380s were delivered without those lockers, creating a more open environment and with more room for standing passengers.

The first revision to Emirates' first-generation bar was to remove those overhead lockers.
The first revision to Emirates' first-generation bar was to remove those overhead lockers.

“If the truth be known, I would have liked the A380-900, which is the stretch version (of the A380-800), right from the start. So, I would've got my 84 business class seats in, plus the bar, but that wasn't to be.”

(The three-class A380-800s that Emirates flies today have 76 business class seats: the ‘84’ figure being this plus the eight extra seats lost to make way for the bar, whereas the longer upper deck of an A380-900 would have provided room for both, but which Airbus never built.)

Still, “every time I try and travel on it – which is regularly – the bar is pretty full: and since we've expanded it, chased out the design of it and put in better seating, it's only increased its popularity.”

“I'm hoping that we will get the first of the new look bars at the back end of next year or the beginning of 2021,” Clark confirms.

Also read: Emirates redesigns its iconic inflight bar [2017]

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 303

I would have to agree with Clark. It is a great addition to the A380 and a key reason I prefer this aircraft type.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 517

One of the only airlines that gives and just doesn't keep taking or 'enhancing'. It is so customer focussed it blows competitors off the stage with a consistent all round high end product. The A380 will be sorely missed once it's gone but glad that QF's partnership with Emirates means I'll be flying on it for a while yet. The only thing Emirates needs are pyjamas for Business Class pax, then they will be wanting for nothing. Emirates have made the A380 the jewel in their crown- the best aircraft in the world for passenger experience, as well as high end lounges, awesome network, fully optioned cabins, world class hub, showers, bars etc etc. My point is Emirates are the best value for your premium dollar - you get what you pay for unlike Qantas in 'first' for example, whose cabin designers must have had anxiety attacks for months about using leather for the first seat headrest or a darker shade of wood in the new A380 J cabins.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 316

Joe, while I agree that Emirates A380 are excellent. The B777-300ER's in business are ABYSMAL. 2-3-2 RECLINERS.. really? In this day and age!! I think not!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1227

They're not recliners, they're angled lie-flat seats. But I take your point.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 95

I've always enjoyed the bar on the Emirates A380. The last time I flew, all of first class was down there. I find the first class a bit confining sometimes and it is wonderful to be able to go to such a wide open space that you can enjoy, be social and still drink Dom Pérignon Champagne...

I'm one of those passengers that will go out of their way to fly on the emirates A380 rather than the B777. I am willing to wait up to 6 hours to get on that A380. I'll never get on another B777 ever again if I can help it. I love the A380, the space, the way it flies, it's three redundant engines and its quiet operation... i❤️✈️

I dread the day the A380 no longer flies…

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 154

The A380 is without doubt the most beautifully comfortable aeroplane ever built.

It's so roomy , quiet and comfortable and with such good seats in the good Airlines- Love it !!!

Nothing matches it although the A350 is close.

Boeing is miles away for comfort etc.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 79

Sorry to disagree with some/most but the bar on Emirates 380 is a little gimiky. Yeah, its nice if you travel by yourself a couple of times, but really it's not that great when travelling like most people do, by yourself...!!! Sure, it's a great thing to catch up with a group of people, but really it's not that great.

Lets be honest, all that most travel weary people really want is food/preferred tipple followed by sleep and the dreaded necessity of work. End of glamorous story...!!!


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