As airlines continue to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai-based Emirates has taken a further step towards normality by reopening its iconic Airbus A380 lounge and First Class shower spa. When Emirates resumed A380 service several months ago, both areas were strictly out of bounds to comply with strict COVID-19 preventative protocols but they have now resumed operations “with the introduction of additional health and safety measures”.
The onboard lounge will now be open to both Business and First Class passengers as a take-away bar with social distancing rules in place and some limited seating. Passengers won’t, however, be allowed to linger in the bar or socialise with seat mates and passengers will instead be asked to take their freshly prepared drinks back to their assigned seat straightaway.
Smaller social areas on Boeing 777 aircraft have also been reopened, giving passengers the opportunity to stretch their legs and select pre-packaged snacks to “grab and go” without the need to ask a member of cabin crew. In contrast, regional rival Qatar Airways says social areas on its aircraft will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
For First Class passengers, the opportunity to have a shower at 38,000 feet will also once again become a reality as Emirates reopens its legendary shower spa. Attendants will be on hand to clean and disinfect the shower spa between each use, just like before the Corona crisis, and bathroom amenities will now be handed out in pre-packaged bags.
Emirates was quick to reintroduce hot meals across its cabins when it resumed regularly scheduled flights and now the airline says it is bringing back its “signature service while observing strict hygiene protocols”.
To reduce interaction between passengers and crew, Emirates had been offering a single tray set up that included an appetiser, entree and dessert but will now transition to serving courses individually. A full selection of wines, champagnes and cocktails will also be offered for premium passengers.
Targeting a desire for wellness onboard, Emirates has also introduced a new ‘Vitality Boost’ welcome drink in premium cabins. The “nutrient-rich” drink features a blend of apple, ginger and hibiscus, and while the flavours will change every few months, the ‘health drink’ will become a permanent fixture onboard Emirates flights.
Airlines have broadly adopted many similar policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on flights but onboard service can vary wildly from airline to airline. Carriers like Emirates, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways have been offering hot meals for months, with proper glass and tableware.
Others, like Delta and British Airways, continue to offer pre-packaged snacks in a bid to mitigate the risk of the novel Coronavirus… and perhaps to help shore up their finances.
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.