Emirates turns to AV to give its new first-class suites the wow factor

Image courtesy of ThePointsGuy.com

Emirates is already one of the world’s most luxurious airlines currently in the skies, but its latest offering takes that to a whole new level. That’s largely thanks to the importance of AV on-board Emirates’ refreshed fleet of Boeing 777s, which includes everything from virtual windows to larger than life in-flight entertainment systems.

The crème de la crème of Emirates’ new offering can be found in its new first-class suites. These specially designed areas were created in collaboration with Boeing, Rockwell Collins interior systems, Panasonic, Jacques Pierre Jean Design studio and Seattle-based design firm Teague. Rather than simply offering a comfortable seat, Emirates has chosen to enclose its first-class offering as individual suites, complete with everything a passenger may need. This includes a lie flat bed, a video call system to contact cabin crew, and even a personal mini bar packed with drinks and snacks.

Arguably the most notable feature present in Emirates’ new first-class suites is the addition of virtual windows for passengers located in the centre of the cabin. These displays are disguised to look like actual aeroplane windows, and they’re connected to cameras on the outside of the aircraft, meaning the view should be identical to those with dedicated window seats. For first-class passengers without the virtual windows, Emirates is supplying binoculars to allow them to explore the outside a little closer.

Passengers AV it all

While the virtual windows are a nice touch, first-class passengers are likely to spend more time staring at the in-flight entertainment system that has been specified on-board Emirates’ latest offering. That’s because there’s not one, but two screens inside the suites. The main display is a 32in Full HD LCD TV, while the second is a smaller 13in tablet that is located right next to the seat. The tablet has been installed to allow passengers to control the larger screen or video call with cabin crew.

It’s a little disappointing to see Emirates opt for a 1080p display, especially considering Panasonic has a 4K offering, although that doesn’t detract too much from the company’s impressive first-class suites. That’s largely thanks to the ice system the screen is connected to, which offers 2,500 channels of on-demand entertainment and even supports casting from a passenger’s own device.

Visuals are just part of the equation, however. Emirates also wants its first-class passengers to enjoy great audio, which is why each traveller will find a pair of Bowers & Wilkins’ Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones in their suite. These headphones were created exclusively for Emirates, meaning they cannot be had anywhere else and should be perfect for use on a plane.

Image courtesy of ThePointsGuy.com

Something for everyone

While first-class passengers are getting the five-star treatment, all passengers on-board one of Emirates’ refreshed Boeing 777s will have something to look forward to. That’s thanks to a new lighting scheme and design accents that have been inspired by the interior of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Business class passengers will have a 23in display in which to enjoy all the entertainment available, similar to the offering on-board Emirates’ A380s, while in economy class the screens measure 13.3in. All cabins offer USB ports for charging mobile phones and tablets, and dedicated PC power outlets for keeping laptops powered.

Commenting on the refreshed plane, Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, says, “The in-flight experience is the heart of our brand and service proposition. The new 777 interiors that we are unveiling today is part of Emirates’ ongoing investment to continually raise the bar and exceed our customers’ expectations.

“Aside from our new fully enclosed private suites, Business Class features our latest fully-flat leather seats with personal minibars, Economy Class seats have adjustable full leather headrests, and the inflight entertainment system has been upgraded for all cabin classes.

“Throughout the aircraft, our customers will see modern and airy cabins, with painstaking attention to detail evident in design touches such as the textured wall and ceiling panels, lighting features, and more.”

Emirates vs the competition

Back in 2016 Emirates was riding on a high, having been named the best airline in the world by Skytrax. Sadly, that win wasn’t replicated in 2017 – with Emirates dropping to fourth place. It also failed to make AirlineRatings.com’s Airline Excellence Awards top 10 list.

The airline market remains hotly competitive, with each carrier hoping to offer passengers something unique to entice travellers on-board. Qatar Airways offers double beds in business class, Etihad gives its first-class passengers an apartment in the sky, while high-flyers travelling with Singapore Airlines can get hotel room in the sky complete with a luxury double bed. Emirates’ latest offering is likely to push the industry further.

It remains to be seen how long Emirates will remain as the only airline with virtual windows. There’s already an emerging trend in the travel industry to offer these inexpensive offerings to passengers who cannot have their own window, especially on luxury cruise liners. Some airline industry experts also envision a future where all windows are replaced with displays, as it could lower CO2 and fuel expenses, both attractive incentives for airlines. Virtual windows also don’t suffer from some of the problems associated with real windows, including condensation and the need for thicker fuselages.