Emirates operates only two types of aircraft, the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A380. Emirates does have new aircraft on the way, such as the Boeing 787 (30 orders), the Boeing 777X (115 orders) and Airbus A350 (50 orders), but right now if you booked an Emirates ticket you are guaranteed to ride in either the 777 or the A380 (or the one-off private jet it has).
So which is better? Which aircraft gives a better customer experience? Let us have a look
How will we compare the two aircraft?
These two aircraft could not be more different. For one, the Airbus A380 has almost double the space onboard compared to the Boeing 777 series thanks to a second level. This means the airline can afford to be a little more opulent with its first class and business class offering onboard the Airbus A380 than the 777.
On the other hand, because the 777-300ER carries fewer passengers this does mean less demand on services onboard such as flight attendants or toilets. It also means lesser impacts on the passenger experience in the way of cabin noise, smell and so forth.
We will be comparing the Emirates fit-out onboard the Boeing 777-300ER to the Airbus A380. Emirates does also operate ten Boeing 777-200LRs but as they make up a small percentage of the fleet and are so close to the 777-300ER, we will overlook it for now.
There are also different configurations of the A380 and 777, thus we will focus on the newer version as listed on the Emirates website.
Let’s begin with the pointy end of the plane
The Boeing 777-300ER carries eight closed first-class suites with 60 inches of seat pitch and 20.5 inches of width. These suites are in a 1-2-1 configuration but you will hardly be able to tell considering that they have floor to ceiling barriers between each suite. These seats come with their own minibar, vanity mirror, table and electronically closing door.
The A380, on the other hand, has 14 closed suites with 86 inches of pitch and 23 inches of width. The private suites have all the same features as well as access to the business class bar at the back of the plane. Plus, the Emirates A380 also has a shower onboard which is exclusively for first class passengers. This easily takes the cake for us.
Winner: A380 – Bigger seats, more award availability, a bar, and a shower. Easy.
In the business class cabin, we will start to see things heat up between the Boeing 777 and A380.
The A380 has 76 lie-flat seats with 48 inches of legroom in seat mode and is 18.5 inches wide (0.5 inches wider than economy). However, onboard the A380 you do have access to a bar at the end of the plane so you don’t have to hang out in your narrow seat for the whole trip. The cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration.
The Boeing 777, on the other hand, has 60 inches of pitch in seat mode (and angled-flat mode) and is 20.5 inches wide. They might not have a bar to run off to, but the seat itself is bigger compared to the A380… that you share with too many people. The problem here is that the cabin’s 42 business passengers are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration, with an awkward middle seat with no direct aisle access.
Winner: A380 – Only just, because of the privacy and the bar at the back of the plane. However, the wider 777 seats might give you a better sleep if you are traveling with someone or don’t mind a stranger next to you.
Onboard the A380, economy passengers can pretend they are in business as their seat is only 0.5 inches narrower than the seats upstairs (18 inches). However, this joy is quickly diminished thanks to 32 inches of legroom in a cabin 3-4-3 configured.
Economy onboard the Boeing 777-300ER is worse with only 17 inch wide seats and the same 32 inches of legroom in a 3-4-3 configuration. There might be fewer passengers in economy, but it won’t feel like it.
The bottom line
Overall the A380 seems to come far ahead in first class, ahead in business (unless you are with a friend and don’t want the bar at the back of the plane) and barely different in economy. If you get the chance to fly in first class, then the Emirates A380 a great alternative to other airlines, but business and economy leave a lot to be desired.
What do you think? Which is more comfortable? Let us know in the comments.