The events of the last few years have seen the Airbus A380 take something of a back seat at certain operators. However, this is not the case at Emirates, which has well over 100 A380s at its disposal. As such, it is no surprise that different seating configurations are 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 examples of the superjumbo in its fleet, with 85 active in January 2023, according to data from ch-aviation.com. This is much more, of course, than any other airline, and these quadjets make up just under half of Emirates’ entire 262 aircraft fleet.
The economies of scale from such a large fleet have meant Emirates has made the aircraft work where, contrastingly, 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.
With such a large fleet, it is not surprising that there are different configurations. Until recently, Emirates operated two different configurations in terms of the classes of travel offered onboard. These were a three-class configuration with first, business, and economy, and a two-class configuration without first class.
After introducing a premium economy product, the airline now has a third configuration with four seating classes. To make the configurations more confusing, there have also been multiple three-class layouts with different numbers of economy seating. The following is a 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 has now taken delivery of its last A380s, with the final deliveries all featuring the new cabin. There are big plans in place to fit the new cabins to many more A380s, and dozens of 777s too. The project is one of the biggest aircraft refits in aviation history. Earlier this month, its first refurbished A380 re-entered service.
The other cabins on this new four-class aircraft configuration have also seen updates. For instance, economy class passengers have new seats 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. Either way, passengers on the refurbished A380s are in for a lovely time.
Photos: Emirates / Tom Boon | Simple Flying
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, which is located on the upper deck at the rear of the business cabin.
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 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 are the width and seat pitch. Economy class always occupies the whole lower deck of the Airbus A380 when it comes to these three-class configurations.
However, the main difference on the ultra-long-range aircraft is that there are fewer seats towards the rear of the cabin, with more galley space and a crew rest area placed there instead. All in all, the mid-range version has between 426 and 429 economy seats, whereas the ultra-long-range version has 399 seats.
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, also been deployed on European routes, including Manchester and Frankfurt. These aircraft offer an incredible capacity of 615: 557 economy seats and just 58 in business class (lower than any other configuration). Economy occupies all of the lower deck, as usual, as well as half of the upper deck.
The first of these dense configuration aircraft, with registration A6-EOP, was delivered in November 2015. While these aircraft are perhaps lacking some of the exclusivity that makes the lower-density configurations so appealing, Emirates’ high levels of comfort across all classes still make them an attractive prospect.
Where should I sit?
With so many seats to choose from in each class on Emirates’ double-decker giants, choosing where to seat can be a confusing and difficult task. Luckily, Simple Flying took a look at the best spots in each class last week, considering various factors along the way. These included the proximity to toilets and galleys, as well as traveling solo vs in pairs. You can read our analysis of the matter here.
Have you flown on the A380 with Emirates? Do you recall which seating configuration it was? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Dubai International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
- United Arab Emirates