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Emirates Eliminates First-Class Service on Most LGW Flights During the Holidays

Emirates Eliminates First-Class Service on Most LGW Flights During the Holidays
Jeff Edwards

The Gulf carrier with a reputation for luxury is said to be eliminating the first class cabins in favor of greater capacity during the busy holiday travel season.

Emirates plans to substantially increase the number of seats available between Gatwick Airport (LGW) and the Gulf carrier’s Dubai International Airport (DXB) hub during the upcoming holiday travel season. For air travelers used to a certain level of opulence, however, the extra capacity is going to come at the cost of first-class amenities.

According to Route Exchange, Emirates will add thousands more seats between LGW and DXB during the final two months of the year. While the airline will be adding extra daily flights, much of the boost in capacity will come from flying two-cabin outfitted Airbus A380 aircraft on the popular route. Using equipment with no first-class cabin will allow Emirates to shoehorn more passengers on each trip.

So far, the airline has announced plans to replace three-cabin aircraft with the much higher-capacity two-cabin equipment for about a dozen scheduled flights leading up to the new year. Dozens more seasonal flights added in November and December will also utilize two-cabin aircraft capable of seating up to 615 passengers.

So far, the move away from first-class service to and from London’s second busiest airport seems to be limited to a finite number of seasonal flights, but while Emirates has built its reputation on luxury and service, management has made no secret of its desire to trim costs and boost efficiency as the demand for ultra-high-end air travel experiences continues to wane. The first reconfigured two-class A380s with increased seating capacity were added to the airline’s fleet in January of last year.

The route chosen by Emirates to continue the experiment with two-class service equipment makes sense to one-time rival, former Monarch Airways Managing Director Tim Jeans.

“Whatever Gatwick would like people to think, premium passengers still tend to use Heathrow,” Jeans explained to The Independent. “Gatwick is fine for lower-yielding leisure passengers but overall airlines will have a better and more profitable mix of premium and leisure traffic on Heathrow services.”

Emirates still plans to offer a full slate of flights with three-class cabins to and from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) – at least for the time being.

There aren’t very many areas where Gulf Airlines and North American carriers see eye-to-eye. The superfluousness of a first class cabin on every flight is, however, slowly starting to look like one of these areas.

“It’s effectively the same service,” Current PayPal CEO and former United Airlines CFO John Rainey famously said of the difference between first-class and business-class cabins in 2014. “You’ve got a very similar product, very similar seat, even the food service is very similar.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (8)


  1. swm61230

    October 30, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    The reason why there is no difference between first and business class now a days is because the airlines gutted first class and made it business class with a different seat.

    The airlines are not makeing differentiation between the two in the type of service and amenities you get for the price difference they charge.

    And honestly a lot of the newer business class seats feel so cramped and claustrophobic it’s ridiculous.

    Offer a service and amenities to fit with the cabin and route and they will have the customers willing to pay for it.

  2. itsMoe

    October 31, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Of course the United CFO would say that. First class on United is a joke, and only distinguished from their business class offering by an admittedly better seat (although with Polaris that gap is shrinking) and an extra soup course during meals. There’s quite a difference on Emirates however, especially when it comes to food, which is served on-demand in F.

  3. eng3

    November 1, 2017 at 8:30 am

    UA cuts down F to be nearly the same as J (but doesnt cut the price) and wonders why no one is buying it.

  4. Austin787

    November 2, 2017 at 6:23 am

    It could also mean airlines have upgraded J so it effectively becomes J seat with F amenities and service. Many airlines J would have been called F years ago.

  5. deelmakur

    November 2, 2017 at 7:10 am

    This is a response to Norwegian scheduling cheap international services from LGW. BA has already added a number of flights to North American cities, using 777-200 aircraft with higher density, two class, configuration. Emirates, which is a de facto Indian airline, is simply reacting to the partial re-purposing of LGW as an Ultra Low Cost venue. When low price is the sole determinant in choice of carriers, the guy with the most seats wins. The A380 may have at last found its niche.

  6. Tr60

    November 2, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Just flew last night Mauritius – Dubai with EK in an A380 The plane had only two classes. The captain, in his welcome message, stated that the plane had 620 passengers!! I guess that they added 5 more seats somewhere since January 🙂

  7. MKE-MR

    November 3, 2017 at 1:37 am

    It would be nice if these articles were fact-checked, proofread, or written by people who know the industry.

    “will allow Emirates to shoehorn as many as 126 passengers on each trip”
    Wow…on a 380? I’d fly that in a second!

    “one-time rival, former Monarch Airways Managing Director Tim Jeans.”
    On what routes do you believe Monarch was a viable competitor to Emirates?

    Every time I read one of these articles I end up wanting my time back…

  8. theox

    November 4, 2017 at 1:20 am

    London flights are always oversold and full of upgrades mainly from economy upwards during the busy season. So this move makes total sense. It is not a shift away from F offerings. Suggest author stops exaggerating things he doesn’t know about fully.

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