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Emirates debuts the world's most passenger-packed Airbus A380

By David Flynn     Filed under: emirates, Airbus A380

Emirates will this week showcase its latest Airbus A380, designed to pack in some 615 passengers from tip to tail.

It's the most bums on seats of any airline flying the double-decker jet – around 100 more than the A380s of Air France, Qatar Airways and some of Emirates' other superjumbos, which average around 516 travellers.

Emirates magicked up the extra space by dropping its luxe first class suites from the nose of the A380.

The 14 private cabins, their two inflight showers and some of the kitchen area set aside for first class and business class passengers made way for 120 economy seats.

Review: Emirates Airbus A380 first class 'shower spa'

Business class also took a hit, going from 76 seats down to 58 – although the airline's iconic cocktail bar escaped the scythe and can still be found at the rear of the upper deck.

Review: Emirates Airbus A380 inflight cocktail bar and lounge

The lower deck remains given over to economy, with 437 seats in all.

By comparison, Qantas' A380s carry 484 passengers in first class, business, premium economy and economy class.

Emirates says its two-class A380s are intended for routes where there's insufficient demand for the high-priced realms of first class, and where even a full business class cabin can be hard to achieve.

The new A380s will debut on Dubai-Copenhagen and Dubai-Bangkok flights from flights from December 1, with Dubai-Kuala Lumpur to follow in January.

The Gulf colossus has no intention to drop first class from the bulk of its A380 fleet, however, and is working on a new extra-luxe version of the suites which an Emirates executive says will be "more like a private railway cabin."

Tim Clark, President and CEO of Emirates, has previously said the "our new bedroom concept will take [privacy] to the next level.” 

"We’re talking fully enclosed rooms, with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on."

Read more: New Emirates first class private bedroom for Airbus A380, Boeing 777

But the superjumbo's supersqueeze won't stop there, with Airbus now offering airlines a tight-fitting '11 across' seating option.

Dubbed 'budget economy', the seats will be less than 17 inches wide, compared to the 17.5 inches of a Qantas Airbus A380 economy seat by way of example.

And you can forget about the cheap seats being grouped in a 3-4-3 layout: Airbus has squeezed an extra seat into the centre row to create a 3-5-3 configuration. 

Here's the official Airbus PR pic, showing the middle seat which nobody will want to be stuck in.

Read more: Airbus reveals A380 'Budget Economy' seating, 11-across squeeze

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 2 weeks, 6 days ago by TheRealBabushka

3-5-3.... There is a word for that: Insanity.

1 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Serg

Herd wanna save a dollar. They simply deliver.

2 2 weeks, 6 days ago by Looking

Better than steerage on the Titanic I guess.

1 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Aussie Vee

At least the pax in steerage got to die.

1 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Alcoano

Too soon

1 2 weeks, 5 days ago by markpk

Too soon? 

That my friend is comment of the day! 

2 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Shoudy

I need to refrain myself asap!

3 2 weeks, 5 days ago by wilsoni

Ghost of the future: if EK do it, so will others. Yield is everything. 

4 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Chris_PER

11 across.  No thanks.  Yet the naive general public will still think Emirates are amazing.

1 2 weeks, 5 days ago by markpk

Totally agree Chris...

5 2 weeks, 5 days ago by tronixstuff

Haven't seen 5 across since the L-1011. Should have died with it as well. 

6 2 weeks, 5 days ago by StudiodeKadent

If Emirates go 11-abreast, I'm tempted to suspect they'll introduce an "Economy Plus" option (say, the front cabin of the lower deck going 3-3-3, same service but bigger seats and maybe a small snack bar) in order to compensate. They'd also be the first of the Gulf carriers to introduce an intermediate class between Economy and Business.

But really... please Emirates, 10-abreast is more than enough!

7 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Amjid

Whilst 11 abreast is not good - EK may be the first to offer 3-5-3, I remember MH on their old 777's with 2-5-2 configuration...So a 5-middle seat has been done - as recent at 2010/2011 too...

8 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Shoudy

9 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Dale

Are they CRAZY, 11 abreast on 17" wide seats. Creedy has a new name it's Emirates.


As in "His a bit Emirates".

10 2 weeks, 5 days ago by rhysr

Has anyone here actually read the article? EK have not gone 11 abreast nor have they displayed any desire to. The 3-5-3 is an Airbus concept that they will offer to airlines. As yet, no one has picked it up.

The 2 class A380 is still 3-4-3.

1 2 weeks, 4 days ago by vlad

To be fair, it was pretty disingenuous (to put it more-than-politely) of the author to hamfist in another unrelated article about Airbus' 'budget economy' concept under the headline 'Emirates debuts the world's most passenger-packed Airbus A380'.

11 2 weeks, 4 days ago by planemad

What happens to the F bathrooms?

It states in the article that the bar/lounge, will still remain in the same place, so are they going to put economy seats upfront in the old F class cabin? - therefore giving them the large and spacious bathrooms?

12 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Jason

David, I believe Airbus said it would still offer an 18in seat width on the 11 abreast A380 seating. This would be achieved through the special optimisation of the side panels.

I found this hard to believe at the time, but are we 100% sure Airbus would go sub 17in seat width, given their attack ads re the 9 abreast B787 and 10 abreast B77W??

1 2 weeks, 4 days ago by rhysr

Looking at the photos from the 18in window seats in the 11 abreast mockup, I'm thinking 17in would be the better option.

1 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Chris_PER

So they serve coffee in a slim line mug to make the seat look bigger :)

2 2 weeks, 3 days ago by itchyfeet

Nope. Noooo. No. Nope.

13 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Connor

Budget Economy huh? - That sounds as much fun as a cheese grater to the sausage factory!

14 2 weeks, 4 days ago by simon

does anyone know yet how they will disembark business when its behind economy on the upper deck? - or embark separately? ie maintain their special service?

1 2 weeks, 4 days ago by vlad

This is just a guess, but I would assume the walkway would connect to the jet midway, where economy and business split, and let business off first.

1 2 weeks, 2 days ago by simon

the front door is before business which is after some rows of economy - so will have to walk through economy to get to business - which isnt that bad of course on boarding - its more getting off which used to be nice and special - just wondering how they will do that?

15 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Wilma Ballsdrop

mmmmm I'm sure the condemmed cell in the Bastille was equally as comfortable.

16 2 weeks, 3 days ago by Jim

What a way to spoil such a good reputation, by squeezing in as many people as you can.  Who would want to sit in that number 3 seat in the middle?

17 1 week, 6 days ago by chap6595

It looks like my flight from Manchester to Dubai on the 12th Jan, is a Two Class A380...Could this be right?

18 1 week, 1 day ago by Stuart

What can I say, from the greedy 3-4-3 on 777's vs 3-3-3 on other airlines, to now a greedy 3-5-3 on the greedy A380 update. I always new Emirates liked profit, but I think this is now totally overboard. Would "anyone" in their right mind want to sit in the inside middle seat. This reminds me of the Continental Airlies DC10's in the 1990's. Realy Emirates, this is one step too far. For a so called (once was) premium carrier, greed has just got too much. It is bad enough that your business class service on the A380's at times resembles McDonald at lunchtime, where air crew are more interested in chatting than providing business class quality service. Shame on you...really. What next, coin slots on the lav doors??

19 1 week, 1 day ago by Brian

My first international flight was on an Air NZ DC10, from AKL to LAX via HNL, with a 2-5-2 configuration in Y. It never occured to me to ask for an aisle seat, and consequently I found myself stuck in the middle seat of 5 for the whole journey. Never again did I make the same mistake.

20 1 week, 1 day ago by bl812

like a packed bus service on economy-next move will be use the cargo hole for more seats-but this is what you get if you can only afford to fly on economy which is not cheap either-no wonder that emirates made a huge profit already this year-overpriced and mediocre to say the best-fly with rivals instead-Qatar and Etihad much better anyday


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