- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Dubai International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
- United Arab Emirates
Emirates operates a huge fleet of well over 100 A380 aircraft. As such, it is no surprise that there are several different seating configurations available. In particular, the airline has aircraft configured with two, three, and four classes, used for different routes and ranges.
Emirates and the A380
Emirates is by far the biggest operator of the Airbus A380. It currently has 116 aircraft in the fleet (with 73 active as of mid-August, according to data from ch-aviaion.com). This is much more, of course, than any other airline. Lufthansa, for example, is currently operating 14 aircraft, and British Airways is operating 10 aircraft.
The economies of scale from such a large fleet have meant Emirates has made the aircraft work where other operators have struggled. The aircraft matches well Emirates’ hub operating model, and scheduling, maintenance, and operations all become easier (and cheaper) with the larger fleet.
Emirates has a much larger fleet than any other airline. Photo: Emirates
With such a large fleet, it is not surprising that there are different configurations. Until recently, Emirates operated two different configurations – a three-class configuration with first, business, and economy, and a two-class configuration without first class. After introducing a premium economy product in 2021, the airline added a third configuration with four classes of seating. To make the configurations more confusing, there have also been multiple three-class layouts with different numbers of economy seating.
The following is a quick look at each of the current A380 configurations.
The four-class A380 configuration
The four-class A380 is the newest configuration. It was first introduced in early 2021, featuring a brand new premium economy design. Premium economy with Emirates features wider seats, with additional legroom, arranged in a 2-4-2 layout (as opposed to 3-4-3 in economy). It also has other additions, such as a larger screen and wood-effect fold-out tables rather than seat-back ones.
Emirates new premium economy seat on the A380. Photo: Emirates
Emirates has now taken delivery of its last A380s, with the final deliveries all featuring the new cabin – giving it six aircraft in total. There are no plans yet to re-fit the existing A380s with the new cabins, but the airline has said it will feature in its new Boeing 777X cabins. In terms of routes, the four-class aircraft serve destinations including London, Paris, and Sydney.
The other cabins on this new four-class aircraft configuration have also seen updates. Economy class has a new seat with an ergonomic design, a similar wood-effect seat back table, and leather headrests. Business class retains the same seat but has had a refresh, including new champagne-colored leather covers and a new premium wood finishing effect. First class again retains the same seat product, but the suites have slightly wider and taller doors.
The new business class seat (left) has a whole new color. Photos: Emirates | Tom Boon – Simple Flying
In terms of layout, the new premium economy is at the front of the lower deck and has 56 seats. The main economy cabin occupies the rest of the lower deck, and is reduced to 338 seats. The upper deck layout remains the same as on the three-class configured aircraft, with 76 business class seats and 14 first class.
Two different three-class configurations
The three-class A380 configuration is by far the most numerous. Emirates operates these in two main configurations, differing only in the number of economy seats. The upper deck on all aircraft is the same – with 76 business class seats and 14 first class suites. All A380 configurations also feature the same bar area, located on the upper deck at the rear of the business cabin.
Emirates bar on the A380. Photo: Emirates
Note that all A380 aircraft have the same first class seat design; These are closed mini-suites, not the new full suite found on some Boeing 777 aircraft.
Emirates first class seats on the A380. Photo: Emirates
Emirates refers to the different configurations as “three class mid-range” and “three class ultra-long range.” The economy seats in both configurations are the same, as is the width and seat pitch. Economy class always occupies the entire lower deck. The main difference on the ultra-long-range aircraft is fewer seats towards the rear of the cabin, with more galley space and a crew rest area. The mid-range version has between 426 and 429 economy seats, whereas the ultra-long-range version has 399 seats.
Emirates is currently operating 28 aircraft in ultra-long haul configuration and 67 aircraft in mid-range configuration (again, according to data from ch-aviaion.com).
Two-class business and economy configuration
Emirates has one more configuration with just two classes. The focus here is on capacity, and these aircraft are used on shorter and mid-range routes. As of 2021, Bangkok was the most frequent route, followed by other Asian destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Mauritius, Taipei, Amsterdam, Shanghai Pudong, and Beijing. They have, since 2021, been deployed on European routes, including Manchester and Frankfurt.
These aircraft offer an incredible capacity of 615 – with 557 economy seats and just 58 in business class (lower than any other configuration). Economy occupies the lower deck and half of the upper deck.
Economy class occupies the entire lower deck. Photo: Emirates
The first of these dense configuration aircraft, with registration A6-EOP, was delivered in November 2015. There are now 15 aircraft in the fleet, all delivered between 2015 and 2018.
Have you flown on the A380 with Emirates? Do you recall which seating configuration it was? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts on the product in the comments.