Emirates, which operate the world’s biggest fleet of long-haul aircraft, threw its weight behind the future of first-class travel, pouring millions into an upgrade of the ultra-luxury category on its Boeing 777 aircraft even as other carriers dispense of the biggest berths.
President Tim Clark showcased the new design on the opening day of the Dubai Air Show, with flourishes including hard-wood floors, multiple mood-lighting options and the benefits of a window even in the center-cabin suite, which is created by beaming the outside view through a set of mock windows. The suites, created in collaboration with Mercedes Benz, were built by Rockwell Collins Inc., and Clark said they cost “many millions” to create.
Emirates’ new 777 first class suites have floor to ceiling sliding doors with design features that are inspired by the Mercedes Benz S-Class. The collaboration includes Mercedes-inspired soft leather seating, high-tech control panels, and mood lighting. Each suite offers up to 40 square feet of personal space, and the cabin is in a 1-1-1 configuration, compared to the previous 1-2-1 configuration (meaning that there there will be just six first class suites, rather than the current eight)
Here are some of the highlights of the design features of the new 777 first class:
- Rather than the blingy finishes that Emirates has in their old first class, the new suite has a color palette of soft greys, cream, and champagne, which conveys a “contemporary, open, and airy feel, with quiet and timeless luxury”
- The seat can be placed into a “zero-gravity” position inspired by NASA… I’ll have to test that one out myself
- The suite is truly fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling walls and doors, so passengers can change in the comfort of their own suite
- For passengers in the center seats, Emirates is introducing virtual windows that will project the view from outside the aircraft using real time camera technology; in the window suites, binoculars will be available for passengers who want to look outside
- The suite features a video call function for communicating with cabin crew (don’t worry, you can choose just to make an audio call, as this is optional), and each suite also features a service window where customers can be served drinks and canapés undisturbed
- Each suite has a 32-inch personal television with 2,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, and each suite now also features Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones
- Each suite has an “inspiration kit,” featuring a luxury Byredo skincare collection, Hydra Active moisturizing pajamas, and Bulgari amenity kits
- As part of the collaboration between Emirates and Mercedes-Benz, Emirates’ complimentary chauffeur service in the UAE will feature a fleet of S-Class vehicles to get passengers to and from the airport
The re-design introduced in Dubai is focused initially on the Boeing 777 aircraft, and Emirates will eventually harmonise the concept across its entire fleet, which includes more than 140 Airbus A380s, of which 100 have been delivered. That aircraft is bigger than the 777 and now boasts 14 first-class suites, which will shrink to 11 as the carrier increases the footprint of each berth.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. pioneered the enclosed suites on the A380 a decade ago, and Etihad Airways PJSC took the concept to the next level with its Residence design, which includes a butler service and living-room quarters. Emirates’ new layout is designed for single travellers.