2020’s been a grim year for Australians when it comes to travel.
Not only have we been prevented from travelling internationally, but domestic travel has also been severely curtailed thanks to border closures and the prospect of hotel quarantine deterring travellers. While there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for some states, the recent Sydney COVID-19 cluster has got us feeling like we’ve taken one step forward, two steps back.
According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Australian overseas travel ban is expected to be in place until 17 March 2021. On top of that, our national carrier Qantas has also announced that they’ll be requiring passengers to have a COVID-19 vaccine if they want to board an international flight – and seeing as the vaccine rollout hasn’t started yet, things are still up in the air.
So it seems most Aussies won’t see the inside of a plane for a little while. Thankfully, Emirates has come in clutch with an exciting new announcement that’ll give us something to look forward to once international air travel becomes a reality once again.
The Dubai-based airline just revealed their overhauled Airbus A380 in-flight experience, unveiling a new premium economy offering as well as enhancements across every cabin offering. Emirates has never offered premium economy before, so it’s a big move for the well-regarded airline.
Their new premium economy cabin, which offers 56 seats in a 2-4-2 cabin layout, is sure to be an absolute paradigm shift. Not only do they boast a generous pitch of up to 40 inches, but Emirates’ premium economy seat is also 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out.
The premium economy seats are supercar-level luxurious – a somewhat appropriate aesthetic for an airline from the supercar capital of the world. The luxurious cream-coloured anti-stain leather seats have stitching details that almost evoke a Bentley Continental GT or Genesis GV80’s comfy buckets, the lashings of wood panelling only heightening the luxury car comparison.
Business class on Emirates’ A380s has also seen an aesthetic refresh in line with the business class on Emirates’ Boeing 777 Gamechanger planes, but considering how good premium economy looks, we wonder if it’s even worth splashing out for the upgrade. There’s no details on the pricing for premium economy yet, so we’ll reserve our judgement until then.
They didn’t forget about first class, with the 14 private first class suites on their A380s becoming slightly wider with taller doors, for even more privacy and comfort. Cabin detail and finishes have also been refreshed with new motifs and colours, from the sweeping stairs that lead from the main deck to the upper deck, to refreshed design trims and modern fittings in their famous Shower Spa – a lavish offering that Emirates has become famous for.
Finally, Emirates’ already quite respectable A380 economy offering has also seen a subtle upgrade, with new ergonomically designed seats that come with full leather headrests and flexible side panels. All cabin classes are equipped with the latest generation of Emirates’ award-winning ‘ice’ inflight entertainment system, too.
“The Emirates A380 is already one of the most sought-after travel experiences in the skies, and now we’ve made it even better,” Emirates Airlines President Sir Tim Clark relates.
“While others cut back, Emirates is working hard to restore the products and services that we’ve had to suspend or adjust due to pandemic precautions, and introduce new offerings and enhancements. True to our fly better promise, Emirates continues to invest to offer our customers the best possible experience.”
It’s a bold move for the airline. While Emirates has garnered praise for their approach to COVID-19 safety this year, they – like virtually all airlines – will have no doubt had a rough 2020. Fingers crossed this new premium economy will help them bounce back into 2021.
Emirates has a particularly strong presence in Australia, serving airports in our five biggest cities and flying to over 120 destinations across the world from the Land Down Under. That means we’re better served by them than other big tourist destinations (and sources) such as France, Germany, Italy or Japan.
While we’d love to get our bums in their new premium economy seats, we’re just looking forward to travelling anywhere. Even Air Koryo would be tempting at this stage…