Emirates To Launch First Class Bedroom Suites

Yesterday Etihad unveiled all the details of their new Airbus A380s, including the introduction of their new Residences, Apartment, and Studio concept. It’s not often an airline truly innovates like Etihad did here.

In a way they just launched a new era of commercial aviation. Up until now the peak of commercial aviation has been showers on Emirates or double beds on Singapore, but really they’re combining those elements and taking them to a new level.

THE_RESIDENCE_BEDROOM_HORIZONTAL
Etihad A380 Residences

They’re quite literally making first class second class.

There’s no doubt the UAE is all about style over substance and trying to make the biggest and best of everything just because they can. I can’t help but feel like Etihad’s new A380 first class cabin almost makes Emirates’ A380 first class look like a mediocre business class product.


Emirates A380 first class

Of course Emirates isn’t about to be outdone, so it seems that they’re working on a suites concept of their own. Or at least are claiming to be.

Via The Wall Street Journal:

Both Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways are planning to launch fully enclosed private bedrooms on aircraft, where customers can experience the same modern technology in the sky that they are accustomed to enjoying at home.

“It’s all about privacy,” Emirates President Tim Clark said in an interview. “Our new bedroom concept will take it to the next level.”

Emirates wouldn’t disclose the price it will charge for its bedrooms. But a return ticket on a New York to Dubai flight retails for around $26,000 in one of the suites, which cost around $500,000 each to produce—roughly the same as the price of a studio flat in downtown Manhattan.

I can’t help but chuckle about this, given that Emirates hasn’t revealed any details about this supposed new product, and never even mentioned it before Etihad unveiled their details yesterday.

So I’m guessing this is simply a case where Emirates management doesn’t want to be outdone and is saying “oh yeah, we’re doing that as well,” and is now tasking their design team to come up with something quickly.

Only time will tell. But the differences towards premium cabins that we’re seeing among airlines is fascinating. Some airlines are eliminating first class in favor of just offering business class, while others are giving those poor people that can “only” afford to fly first class an inferiority complex.

You think Emirates actually has a plan for their new “suite” product, or just doesn’t want to be outdone by Etihad and is starting the process now?

Comments

  1. The interesting thing about the EY Residence is that there was essentially very little opportunity cost. I feel like a lot of airlines who got early deliveries of the A380 sort of missed the big picture. The floorspace for the residence is primarily the left side bathroom. On the TG A380, for example, they have the lounge currently (albeit on the right side), but that is practically just wasted space. In addition they have a stupidly oversized restroom on the left. Sure it is novel but there are plenty of better uses, as EY made evident this weekend. If EK wants to get in on the residence/suite game you don’t necessarily even have to shrink the rest of your F you just make one bathroom private and close off that front half of the plane. The 8 or so other passengers can share a single bathroom/shower. It is really a no brainer in some ways. Oversell F if need be and upgrade one full fare customer if the Residence doesn’t sell.

    I think the big differentiator will be the service. There are very few airlines these days that truly get what service should be and who I believe could pull off what it should be if you are going to drop 40k on a single return ticket. It is not all about bells and whistles in the hard product and I don’t just mean they should get an even more expensive bottle of champaign. It is now all about how you make the trip the most seamless experience possible from the time you leave your house to the time you arrive at your final destination. The big Middle East carriers each have that ability.

    Good luck to them and good luck to all of us as it is certainly sprinkling in some neat opportunities for awards in the near-future.

  2. These are getting to be pure bragging rights. For >$20K, may as well fly private – especially if flying with another person. I’m sure these mega suites will eventually be added to a top-tier award level.

  3. Just doesn’t want to be outdone. The people in Dubai are very insecure when someone outdoes them in anything (believe me, they are still bitter Abu Dhabi had to bail them out and have the world’s tallest building be called Burj Khalifa instead of Burj Dubai, it’s original name), because honestly, how else are people going to remember Dubai unless they keep announcing they have the world’s tallest/busiest/largest/most expensive/etc?

    Also, doesn’t Etihad, and by extension the rulers of Abu Dhabi, now own a chunk of Emirates anyway?

  4. Looks like Emirates is in a panic mode after Etihad’s announcement. This is the power of black gold (oil). Who cares about profits.

  5. Hehe – it is like that over there. Hey you got s new F1 race track, well I got one too! It’s all about status symbols in the region.

  6. Is Etihad planning to gift its passengers in The Residence a Louis Vuitton diary (first picture)?

  7. @ wwk5d, The Emirates Group (comprising Emirates Airline) is wholly owned by the Dubai government. Nothing to do with Etihad or Abu Dhabi.

  8. Interesting to see more evolution in first class travel, considering many airlines have scrapped F cabins and are focusing on improving their J product.

  9. @AdamH
    I would hardly call the bathroom on the Thai A380 “stupidly oversized.” Is it big? yes, but not really that big, there is the toilet space and the changing space, imo. The lounge, however, would be better utilized as a “stupidly overside restroom.” In my four TG 380 flight up there I have not seen a single person up there, and each of those flights had at least 10 people up front.

    Etihad didn’t introduce this concept to make money, they did it to outdo Emirates. And Emirates will do their own to outdo Etihad. It is just about ego.

  10. @AL

    I guess then only some of the jewels in the crown were sold off to Abu Dhabi then 😉

  11. @Kris

    I seen it, and the TG A380 F lav is quite large, but it is supposed to provide a place to change into the jammies they give you, and it has a vanity for folks who want to make themselves up. Were it just a pottie, I wold think it a bit large.

    What is needlessly large on the A380 is the
    “lounge” at the front right. It is too small to be a bar, and the seating is ill configured and less comfortable than the seat. Not once on a FRA-BKK did I see it in use.

  12. Personally I don’t think EK had plans to upgrade its current suite product. Having 2 showers for 14 passengers is a better ratio than what Etihad is providing their first class apt passengers (1 shower for 9 passengers.)
    In addition, I read a few articles online that stated EK’s plans to have the next few A380s be only 2-class (business and economy) for their high volume/low yield routes.
    From a human psychological point of view, which one would be better: paying for a first class apt fare on Etihad A380 knowing the passengers in the Residences have better seats, food, & service than you do (thus making you feel second class) or paying the fare on a first class in EK or SQ A380 knowing you’re in the best class possible receiving the best service/food/etc.

  13. Skeptical that Emirates had any plans or even knew about this (otherwise, they’d jumped Etihad and announced their offering first).

    Also, since you can’t fully combine two beds in Etihad first, SQ maintains their claim on double-beds.

  14. Between the new Etihad residence product and Emirates flight attendants writing online column mocking their first class passenger of eating too much, I guess chances are EK will be falling behind in this competition.

  15. @Norman – link to that EK FAs online column? would def like to read that post even if it isnt some kinda satire.

  16. Ek gives the best overall product in F class. To stay there they will / must keep inproving . As a F / flyer in first , a shower is something great on longhoul flights.
    Big seats and lots of legroom is a must. Service is & must be priority .
    Hope EK will impress me again soon with a new First class .

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