Emirates Will Introduce a New Cocktail Bar In Business Class

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Should “Even though Etihad, whose home airport is a mere 72 miles away in Abu Dhabi, added showers to their Airbus A380s the Etihad shower suite remains the gold standard,” read “…the Emirates shower suite remains the gold standard”?

  2. The only thing I can conceive of as a negative flying Business Class on Emirates A380 is that the silverware is cold, like it comes out of the fridge. Flying Emirates is the most pleasant travel experience of my life.

  3. @potcake, Gary is referring to the seat’s “real estate”, I think it is to say the cabin density is high compares to other international first class.

  4. I remember in the 1970’s flying first class on a Pan Am 747. The upper deck had lounge seating and a tended bar. The good old days!

  5. The reference to the PanAm 747 is great; but for a truly memorable and historical ‘back to the future’ concept, readers here should appreciate how so many of the deluxe First/Business features the select international air carriers continue to add had their origins from select U.S. railroads, post WWII into the 1960s.
    -New York Central’s crack, non-stop, All Pullman “Twentieth Century Limited” (Chicago-New York) offered a very select mid-train lounge providing crafted cocktails, champagnes, wines, shower; barber; stenographer. The twin-unit dining car served the very best of prime meats and fresh fish-prepared on board..
    -Santa Fe’s elegant All Pullman “Super Chief” (Chicago-Los Angeles) offered a private, intimate dining area referred to as the Turquoise Room in the same special lounge car with the pleasure dome upstairs; a limited seating dining car offering the very best of foods freshly prepared aboard; including a special Champagne Dinner.
    -Illinois Central’s popular, All Pullman “Panama Limited” (Chicago-New Orleans) provided a unique lounge car providing numerous brands of bourbon; twin-unit dining car serving up elegant southern dishes, including the famous King’s Dinner.

    As American and Amtrak race to the bottom in parallel over their trashing of food/beverage services and any belief in customer experience, one can only imagine what so many generations have missed in order to be true epicureans today of fine food and drink, evidenced by consistently superb service. C’est la vie…

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