As one of the best airlines in the world, it’s seemed a little strange that Emirates wasn’t offering a Business Class dining option that kept up with the competition. Both Etihad and Qatar Airways already offer their premium passengers in both First Class and Business a ‘dine on demand’ option.
To the disappointment of many passengers, Emirates doesn’t yet offer dine of demand. It’s probably no surprise that despite the airline’s success in many award categories, its scores for its Business Class product has fallen way below its rivals.
At this years Skytrax World Airline Awards, Emirates was placed ninth place in the ‘World’s Best Business Class’ category – falling behind neighbours Etihad who placed fourth and Qatar Airways who won the top spot. And in the ‘onboard catering’ category, Emirates didn’t even make the Top Ten – Behind Virgin Australia, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.
Despite the airline’s significant investment in its Business Class product – including the A380 onboard lounge, worldwide chauffeur drive services and an award winning entertainment system, the passenger perception of the product is starting to lag.
The current Business Class dining model…
At the moment, Emirates tries to offer a near restaurant dining experience for its premium passengers. Cabin crew work their way through the cabin taking individual orders and then hand deliver pre-plated meals to customers. To wash it all down, there’s a huge range of fine wines from the airline’s collection of over 60 different wines, champagnes and ports – an investment of over US$500 million by the airline.
Unfortunately, despite the quality of the service, there’s just no option to select when you want to eat. If you don’t fancy eating at the time Emirates select to start their meal service, then you’ll probably go hungry. That’s because all the food is heated at the same time – so if it’s not eaten by a passenger at the mandated service time, it will go in the bin.
And what it’s going to look like…
Now, it looks like senior executives at Emirates have taken heed and are about to offer a dine on demand option – or what the airline is calling a “flexible dining experience”. According to sources, the airline is in the advanced stages of programme development, precisely because it needs to keep up with competitors.
We don’t yet know what the dine on demand service is going to look like – or how far Emirates is going to go to keep up its rivals. What we do know, however, is that Emirates has set a goal to “create an award winning dining experience.” Could that mean an onboard chef like Turkish Airlines or Etihad? Or perhaps just lots of customisation options?
Trays or no trays?
There’s no date set for when the new service will be rolled out and Emirates is still actively consulting with its cabin crew to help develop the new product. In fact, they still haven’t decided whether the service will use trays or not.
The good news, however, is that there won’t be any major differences between the service on the airline’s Boeing 777 or Airbus A380 aircraft. Emirates has confirmed the new service will apply to both aircraft. Yet with up to 76 Business Class seats on its A380 aircraft, this development could prove to be a huge challenge for Emirates – it will be interesting to see how the airline rolls it out.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.