Dubai-based Emirates Airlines was the first airline in the world to put showers in international first class. Even though Etihad, whose home airport is a mere 72 miles away in Abu Dhabi, added showers to their Airbus A380s the Emirates shower suite remains the gold standard.
First class passengers have a large lavatory with shower, and get use of 5 minutes of water they can start and stop. Floors are even heated so that you don’t get cold when you’re finished and step out.
They also installed a bar at the back of business class. They’re hardly the first airline to do this, but they dedicated significant real estate to the bar. It’s tended throughout the flight, there are snacks and good libations on offer.
All of this ‘bling’ serves a purpose. Emirates has developed a reputation for quality, and created a halo effect over their products. The shower and bar are only on their Airbus A380s, though they have more Boeing 777s in their fleet. And they squeeze plenty of passengers into their planes in all cabins. The footprint of their first and business class seats are modest. Most of their Boeing 777s don’t even offer fully flat business class seats. And Boeing 777s are 10-abreast in economy. In contrast Delta still only puts passengers 9-across on those planes.
In order to generate buzz and keep premium fare paying passengers enthralled, Emirates is redesigning their business class bar once again. This is being referred to as the ‘third generation’ bar, and will feature more seating as well as USB and standard power ports, creating an alternative space to work in addition to passenger seats. The space was modernized with additional seating on some aircraft in 2017.
Emirates President Sir Tim Clark tells Executive Traveller that the new concept is “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.”
While Emirates believes the bar ‘more than pays for itself’ attracting business class ticket sales, they originally viewed it as a gamble.
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 stopped taking delivery of A380s with overhead bins above the bar, having decided that the concept truly worked.