Emirates Review – Seats, Amenities, Customer Service, Baggage Fees, and More

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Emirates is the fourth biggest international airline, based on scheduled passenger-kilometers flown, and has a large fleet including the enormous double-decker A380.

The airline’s vast route network, quick connections, and emphasis on quality meant that Emirates was the first choice for many passengers for a long time.

As with many airlines struggling in this competitive market, Emirates is making changes to compete for customer demand, launching its Business Class Flex fare offering business class without the pre-flight perks.

Basic Info

Airline: Emirates

Category: International airline

Frequent Flyer Program: Skywards

Tagline: “Hello Tomorrow”

Number of passengers annually: 59 million

Fleet: 255

Main Hub: Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Destinations: 158 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific

Emirates Route Map
Emirates route map. Image Credit: Emirates

Frequent Flyer Programs

Skywards is Emirates’ loyalty program where members can earn Tier Miles and Skywards that can be redeemed for award flights and other benefits.

Collecting Tier Miles enables members to ascend through Blue, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels to gain elite tier benefits such as excess baggage allowances, priority check-in, priority boarding, and lounge access.

Hot Tip: Explore the best ways to earn lots of Emirates Skywards, and you’ll soon see the points rack up for an award flight.

Ticketing Options

Emirates has 4 different fare types for its economy and business class tickets, and 2 for first class, offering a different level of flexibility and benefits such as baggage allowance.

Special

Emirates Special fares are available occasionally and will typically offer the cheapest rate. The low price tag comes with several restrictions, such as no seat selection or cancellation, higher change fees, and no access to the lounge for business class passengers.

Special fares for economy passengers also limit the checked baggage allowance to 33 pounds (15 kg).

Special fares cannot be purchased using frequent flyer miles, and it’s not possible to make cash or miles upgrades to other cabins. As a Skywards member, passengers flying on Special fares will earn fewer miles than other fare types — around 10-20% of the actual miles flown for economy and 80-100% for business class.

Hot Tip: If you are a Skywards member, you can use the Emirates Miles Calculator to see how many miles you can earn with different routes and fare types. Miles are not stated online during the booking process for Special fares so you will need to use the calculator to view this.

Saver

Saver fares are usually the next cheapest and offer a little more flexibility than a Special ticket. For economy passengers, seat selection is possible for a fee, but is free for business class. Checked baggage allowance is 55 pounds (25 kg).

For both cabins, it’s possible to use miles to upgrade to a higher cabin, and passengers will earn Skyward Miles from their flight (quantity featured on the online booking page).

For economy, the earning potential is around 30% of the miles flown, and for business class it’s 100-125%.

Saver fares allow upgrades using miles, are non-refundable, and offer changes at a lower fee than Special fares. Business Class Saver fares also permit usage of the lounge (where available).

Flex

Flex fares are available for economy, business class, and first class and offer premium rates for greater flexibility. Changes are possible (for a fee) across all cabins, and chargeable cancellations are possible for economy and first class only.

Upgrades from economy and business are possible using miles, although passengers are not able to purchase a Flex fare outright using miles. The earning potential for Skywards Miles is higher with a Flex fare at around 65% for economy, 150% for business, and 200% for first class.

Economy Flex passengers are permitted 66 pounds (30 kg) of luggage, all cabins have free seat selection, and Business Class Flex fares are not eligible to use the lounge or chauffeur services.

Flex Plus

As the name suggests, Flex Plus is the most flexible fare available (and the most expensive) with free changes and cancellations across all cabins. Economy passengers can earn 80-95% Skywards Miles of the actual distance traveled, 165-175% for business class, and up to around 220% for first class.

With Flex Plus, economy passengers can bring up to 77 pounds (35 kg) of checked luggage, and all seat selection is complimentary across all cabins. Upgrades are permitted from economy and business class using miles, and all lounge access and chauffeur services are included for business and first class (where available).

Emirates Baggage and Other Fees/Add-Ons

Baggage Fees

Emirates uses a weight concept for the majority of its destinations where the fare type determines how many kilograms of luggage a passenger is permitted to check-in.

Flights to/from the U.S. work on a piece concept, where 2 pieces of luggage are permitted, and the weight is dependent on the cabin.

Emirates Carry-on Allowance

Economy passengers may bring 1 piece of carry-on that must not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20 cm) or 15 pounds (7 kg).

Business or first class passengers are allowed to bring 2 pieces of carry-on — 1 briefcase and either 1 handbag or 1 garment bag.

Size and weight restrictions:

  • Briefcase: 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm)
  • Handbag: 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20 cm)
  • Garment bag: 8 inches (20 cm) thick when folded
  • Each piece must not exceed 15 pounds (7 kg)

Emirates Checked Luggage Allowance

Flights to/from the Americas or flights originating in Africa (piece concept):

  • Economy: 2 x 50 pound (23 kg) bags. Economy Special fares are permitted 1 x 50 pound (23 kg) bag*
  • Business and First: 2 x 70 pound (32 kg) bags

* Flights originating in Africa are permitted to bring 2 x 50 pound (23 kg) with an Economy Special fare.

Size Restriction (Piece Concept):

  • Maximum linear dimensions of each piece must not exceed 59 inches (150 cm).
  • If checking 2 pieces of luggage (any cabin), total combined dimensions must not exceed 118 inches (300 cm).

Flights to/from other destinations outside of the Americas (weight concept):

  • Special: 33 pounds (15 kg**)
  • Saver: 55 pounds (25 kg)
  • Flex: 66 pounds (30 kg)
  • Flex Plus: 77 pounds (35 kg)
  • Business (all fares): 88 pounds (40 kg)
  • First (all fares): 110 pounds (50 kg)

**Flights between UAE and India are permitted to bring 55 pounds (25 kg) with an Economy Special fare.

With the weight concept, there is no limit to the number of bags a passenger can bring providing the combined weight/size does not exceed the stated allowances. A single piece must not exceed 70 pounds (32 kg).

Size Restriction (Weight Concept):

A single piece must not exceed max linear dimensions of 59 inches (150 cm) with the combined max linear dimensions not exceeding 118 inches (300 cm) across all pieces.

Hot Tip: Find out more information about the baggage policy in our dedicated Emirates baggage article.

Other Fees and Add-Ons

Change/Cancellation Fees (Cash Tickets)

Emirates does not disclose set fees for changes and cancellations on its website and advises customers to check their terms and conditions during the booking process, or contact customer service.

From running a few route searches, we found these consistent prices for changes and cancellations:

  • Economy: $75-$200
  • Business class: $300-$400
  • First class: $200-$400

However, word on the web is that charges could exceed $1,000 for some tickets! Be sure to check the change and cancellation terms before booking.

Name Change 

  • All markets (excluding U.K., India, and Brazil): $30 per ticket for direct bookings
  • U.K.:
    • $13 (£10) per ticket for direct bookings
    • $25 (£20) per ticket for travel agent bookings
  • Brazil: No charge when booked in Brazil and travel is from Brazil
  • India: No charge when booked in India

Hot Tip: Learn more about the Emirates’ fees in our award flight changes and cancellations article.

Advance Seat Selection

Seating typeFee
Regular$15-35
Preferred$25-80
Twin$35-135
Extra legroom$55-205

Other Fees

Unaccompanied minor: Charged at an adult fare.

Transporting a pet as checked: Passengers cannot transport pets in the cabin, and the following fees apply to transport your pet as checked luggage:

  • Animal and cage combined does not exceed 50 pounds (23 kg) and 59 inches (149 cm): $500
  • Animal and cage combined weigh 52-70 pounds (24-32 kg) and dimensions are 59-118 inches (149-299 cm): $650
  • Animal and cage combined weigh over 70 pounds (32 kg) and dimensions are 59-118 inches (149-299 cm): $800

Onboard Wi-Fi: Passengers can enjoy 20 MB of free data or buy 500 MB for just $1 on all equipped aircraft.

Silver meet and greet service: $43.56

Bronze meet and greet service: $27.23

Family meet and greet service: $95.92 (family of 4);  $27.23 for additional passengers

Food and beverage: Meals and drinks (including alcohol) are complimentary across all cabins; however, economy passengers can purchase Champagne for $15 per bottle (200 ml). For a special occasion, passengers can purchase a cake and Champagne (Moët 200 ml) combo from $43.

How to Avoid Paying Excess Fees and Travel Expenses

There are several rewards cards where charges on your statement can be paid for by using your points/miles balance. We like Capital One cards for this strategy and here are the cards we recommend:

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This no annual fee card comes with a 20,000 mile welcome bonus (worth $200) once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. When you use your card for travel purchases (e.g. baggage fees), use your miles to pay off all, or part of, your statement! This is why we like this card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - The "big brother" card to the VentureOne® with a larger 50,000 welcome bonus (worth $500) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening and you'll earn 10X miles per $1 spent across thousands of hotels.

Emirates Lounges

Dubai International Airport (DXB):

  • First Class Lounge
  • Business Class Lounge
  • Emirates Lounge

Other Emirates Lounge locations:

  • Auckland International Airport (AKL)
  • Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
  • Beijing Capital Airport (PEK)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Brisbane Airport (BNE)
  • Cairo International Airport (CAI)
  • Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
  • Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
  • Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)
  • Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS)
  • Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
  • Glasgow International Airport (GLA)
  • Hamburg Airport (HAM)
  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
  • Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL)
  • London Gatwick Airport (LGW)
  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Manchester International Airport (MAN)
  • Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL)
  • Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
  • Munich International Airport (MUC)
  • New York – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Perth Airport (PER)
  • Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport (PVG)
  • Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
  • Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
  • Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)
  • Zürich-Kloten Airport (ZRH)

Inflight Inclusions, Amenities, and Seat Specs

Economy Class

Emirates Economy on Boeing 777-300ER
Emirates economy on Boeing 777-300ER. Image Credit: Emirates

Amenities include:

  • Complimentary snacks, meals, and beverages including alcohol (number of meals depends on flight duration)
  • 13.3″ screen with access to over 4,000 channels (including live TV) on Emirates’ Ice in-flight entertainment system
  • USB power charging
  • Ergonomically designed headphones
  • 20 MB of free Wi-Fi data for 2 hours; additional data available for a fee

Business Class

Emirates A380 Business Class
Emirates A380 business class. Image Credit: Emirates

Emirates has 2 fits for business class — 1 on its A380 aircraft and 1 on the 777 aircraft.

Amenities include:

  • Chauffeur-drive service to/from the airport
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Access to Emirates’ airport lounges (where available)
  • Fully flat bed on the A380; angled flat beds on the 777
  • Personal mini bar on the 777
  • 23″ screen with access to over 4,000 channels (including live TV) on Emirates’ Ice in-flight entertainment system
  • Amenity kit by Bvlgari
  • Onboard lounge on the A380
  • Gourmet meals and fine wines
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Hot Tip: Want to explore what it’s like to fly Emirates business? Read all about it in Cherag’s experience flying Emirates business class on the A380.

First Class

Emirates First Class A380 Seat
Emirates A380 first class. Image Credit: Alex Miller / Upgraded Points

As with business class, Emirates has 2 fits for first class — 1 on its A380 aircraft and 1 on the 777 aircraft. These fits are significantly different with a fully enclosed suite available on its 777 aircraft and a pod with privacy doors on the A380.

Emirates First Class Suites
Emirates “Game Changer” first class suites on the 777. Image Credit: Emirates

Amenities include:

  • Chauffeur-drive service to/from the airport
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Access to Emirates’ airport lounges (where available)
  • Enclosed suite with a fully flat bed (onboard the 777); privacy doors onboard the A380 with a fully flat bed
  • On demand dining and fine wines
  • Luxury Byredo skincare set including sleep oil and pillow mist (777) and Byredo amenity kit (A380)
  • Onboard show spa (A380)
  • Onboard lounge bar (A380)
  • 32″ screen with access to over 4,000 channels (including live TV) on Emirates’ Ice in-flight entertainment system
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Hot Tip: Did you know you can book one of these Suites on points? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to book Emirates first class on points!

Seat Specs

Emirates has a young fleet consisting of just 2 types of aircraft — the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777.

Airbus A380-800 3 Class (Layout 1)
CabinSeat CountSeat PitchSeat Width
First14 suites86/78″23″
Business76 flat bed seats48/70″18.5″
Economy39932-34″18″
Airbus A380-800 3 Class (Layout 2)
First14 suites86″23″
Business76 flat bed seats48″18.5″
Economy42732-34″18″
Airbus A380-800 2 Class
Business58 flat bed seats48/70″18.5″
Economy55732-34″17.5″

 

Boeing 777-200LR 3 Class
CabinSeat CountSeat PitchSeat Width
First8 suites86/78″23″
Business42 flat bed seats60″20.5″
Economy21633-34″17″
Boeing 777-300ER 3 Class (Layout 1)
First8 suites69″20.5″
Business42 angle flat bed seats60″20.5″
Economy30432″17″
Boeing 777-300ER 3 Class (Layout 2)
First8 suites69″20.5″
Business42 angle flat bed seats60″20.5″
Economy31032″17″
Boeing 777-300ER 2 Class
Business42 angle flat bed seats60″20.5″
Economy38533-34″17″

Emirates Customer Satisfaction


Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (26 countries & counting)!

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