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EMIRATES: Premium Economy revealed. Resistance is futile!

EMIRATES: Premium Economy revealed. Resistance is futile!

Emirates resisted the move of almost all intercontinental airlines towards installing a Premium Economy cabin for years. Then they submitted, and today after much speculation, company President Sir Tim Clark has finally announced what seat was the winner via an interview with (you will need to use the translate plugin unless you read German way better than me).

And the Winner is . . . Recaro – their PL3530 seats specifically.

a close-up of a chair

Here is Recaro’s pitch to airlines:

‘. . . The relax position is extremely comfortable and allows a pleasantly relaxed sitting position – thanks to the up to 8-inch reclining backrest. Even with the longer and wider calf rest, which is unique in this segment, airlines are bringing business class comfort to their premium economy cabin. The calf rest is individually adjustable, which is a significant plus especially for taller passengers. The center console’s armrest can be comfortably shared by two people. Additionally, passengers can customize their headrest.

On long-haul flights, comfortable seating and wellbeing are of great importance to passengers. The RECARO PL3510 aircraft seat also offers several innovations that make working above the clouds as comfortable as possible. These include the large tray-table and additional storage space. Thanks to its advanced design, the tray-table does not have to be completely stowed for passengers to be able to get up while the food is still on the table. Another special feature is the elegant integration of the screen (up to 13 inches), which can be operated easily and intuitively with the Passenger Control Unit (PCU). The PCU is integrated into the design of the seat, as well as the power supply for PCs and a USB port.

The RECARO PL3530 is compelling for airlines that want to provide their passengers a new level of comfort in the premium economy class. After all, when the passengers feel comfortable, they will likely book again with the same airline.’Recaro Website

This is not what people were expecting. The speculation was that the seat would come from HAECO using their Eclipse premium economy seat.

the inside of an airplane

I for one am not convinced this staggered design was the solution it purported to be. Others liked the narrative of the launch customer being a major middle eastern airline debuting the seat in 2020, and everyone from OMAAT to RunWayGirlNetwork jumped on the bandwagon. Given Emirates had announced they would introduce Premium Economy in 2020, it was an easy (lazy?) connection to make.

About the seat

We know that it will be installed on one A380 scheduled for delivery in December. We also know that Premium Economy will be located at the front down on the main deck. There are eight Recaro Sleeperette seats per row, a total of 58 seats in the cabin each with an above standard 38-inch pitch.

According to Clarke the heavily customised seats “look like in a Mercedes, with a striking colour scheme on the walls” but are without accompanying carpet for the cabin, as that is still to be chosen.

In the A380’s that previously had 2 class cabins, the 52 to 56 seat Premium Economy section will be located in front of business in the upper cabin. There will be three toilets where the first class showers usually are in the 3 class version of the A380.

Eventually, these extendable footrest cradle seat Premium Economy cabins will be fitted across the fleet including on Boeing 777-300ER, 777-9, 787 and the Airbus A350s.

a diagram of a plane seat
Emirates current 3 Class A380 layout

When does Emirates get them?

Aside from the new cabin’s start in A380’s in mid 2021, Emirates will only receive the latter three types from 2022. Clarke reminds us that the fleet will need to have installed the Premium Economy cabin in a substantial number of aircraft before it can offer the class as a consistent option, and that won’t happen until probably mid 2021. Once that is achieved, they will be offering the cabin on specific routes towards the end of 2021.

a row of seats in an airplane
Emirates A380 Business Class – Upper Deck

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

Emirates has been one of the stragglers when it comes to the near-universal adoption of Premium Economy for long-haul routes. Clarke hung onto the idea that they would just rob them of their income stream from Business Class.

In fact, time has proved them to be very appealing to those who want more than Economy, but aren’t prepared, or can’t afford the cost of Business Class.

Clarke thinks the cabin will give Emirates a competitive edge. Unless he knows more than we do (and he does), this is Emirates playing catch-up on an income stream that international airlines discovered about 30 years ago in the 1990s.

I think of Premium Economy as baby boomer cabins myself.

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