Emirates recently invited AirlineReporter for a tour of their new business class cabin in their reconfigured 777-200LR aircraft. The beautiful cabin is laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration. Fort Lauderdale is the first gateway to feature the newly refurbished aircraft. This also provided a nice setting to sit down with some of the airline’s leadership to learn more about this new product and their direction.
Emirates plans to invest over $150 million to refurbish their existing 10 777-200LR aircraft. The two-class configuration features 38 business class seats and 264 seats in economy class. I was excited to get on board and see for myself the changes. Although not revolutionary, they will allow Emirates to better compete.
A Virgin Atlantic 787-9 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Photo: Colin Cook
On a recent trip to Europe, my girlfriend and I had the opportunity to fly in two different premium cabins to compare different products. The first story covered the British Airways First Class experience on a 747-400 from Seattle to London. This second part reviews the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) product on a 787-9 from London back to Seattle.
The flight in BA First Class set an extremely high bar for any future flight to exceed. Simply put, it was the best flight I’ve ever experienced, both from a hard and soft product perspective. I was interested in comparing the premium cabin experiences on aircraft that are generations apart in technology. While the 747 will always be the Queen of the Skies and helped to open many international travel routes, the 787 is very much the future of air travel.
On the night prior to our flight, we discovered that Virgin Atlantic offers Upper Class passengers a premium car service from central London to Heathrow. Unfortunately, we were evidently not eligible for this perk, as we were traveling on an award ticket. We also discovered that when you are arriving by a car service (we took an Uber), there is a special airport entrance, the Upper Class Wing, for which you can register. Once I requested the Uber on the morning of our flight, I had our hotel call Virgin Atlantic to register the car’s license plate, which allowed us access to the private check-in area for Upper Class passengers. Now that’s classy.
Emigrating in style – 9K on EK016 LGW to DXB – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
I recently took a job in Hong Kong, swapping the grey skies of London for a life-changing experience in the fascinating Asian city. For my big life transition, I treated myself to Emirates (EK) business class and an upstairs berth in one of the carrier’s Airbus A380-800s. Taking a slightly more scenic route meant an overall journey time of roughly 16.5 hours (versus approx. 12 hours on a direct flight from the UK). That also included a 2.5 hour stopover in Dubai (DXB) en route. I decided to experience transiting the city for the first time ever, and also wanted to take advantage of their checked baggage allowance. I was not shipping possessions separately to Hong Kong. However, I mainly wanted to sit upstairs on the big bird!
Our ride, looking sleek in red and blue – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
SAS Scandinavian Airlines has a lot of history under its belt — over 70 years’ worth, in fact. It was first to offer a regularly scheduled transpolar flight way back in 1954. More recently, it was a founding member of the Star Alliance. It continues to make big moves, expanding its US route network into Miami and Los Angeles to solidify its status as the airline with the most flights between the US and Scandinavia.
But as of a few years ago, SAS’ business class on its long-haul A340 and A330 fleet was stuck in the past, with a 2-2-2-across layout and only angle-flat seats. The airline ordered a few A350s but deliveries aren’t expected until late next year. In the meantime SAS needed to do something to keep its existing fleet from aging out of relevance. So starting last year it launched a massive effort to reinvent its flagship premium cabins.
We got a chance to experience SAS’ reimagined business class for ourselves and we found a lot to like — all documented in this trip report. And as suckers for aviation nostalgia, we’re glad that travelers will have the chance to fly the classic A340-300 for a while longer, and won’t have to sacrifice on style or comfort to do it.
Read on and join us on a Scandinavian adventure for the ages!