Emirates business class may be less glamourous than its First Class counterpart. However, in all respects, it’s still a comfortable way to get from point A to B — thanks mostly to the hospitality you’ll receive onboard.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Emirates business class, including what to expect before and during the flight, the routes available, and the tips you can leverage to book tickets with a Miles & Points strategy.
The Emirates Business Class Experience
When you depart or transit through Emirates’s global hub in Dubai, your ground experience includes a visit to the airline’s sprawling business class lounges. The two lounges span the entirety of Concourse A and B — no matter which concourse you depart from, there’s a cavernous lounge you could use.
Both Emirates business class lounges aren’t groundbreaking by any means. Still, you can expect the usual amenities you’d come to expect from a full-service airline lounge: an abundance of seating, buffet-style food, an ice cream station, premium beverages, and shower suites.
Plus, you could board your flight within the comforts of the lounges, and if you’re flying on an A380, you’ll get to board the upper deck directly.
In addition to the business class lounges in Dubai, Emirates also operates its own network of lounges in 25 airports worldwide, including Los Angeles, Sydney, and Cape Town.
Upon boarding the aircraft, you’ll immediately notice the conspicuous gold and wooden finishes that adorn much of the cabin.
All Emirates business class seats are outfitted with a small minibar, as well as an HDMI port, which allows you to connect your device to the in-flight entertainment system called ICE.
While Emirates’s ICE system isn’t the most modern, its selection of shows and movies is arguably the most comprehensive out there.
The seats are also equipped with a control panel, which allows you to fully customize the configuration of your seat, including turning it into a lie-flat bed.
Adjacent to each business class seat is a minibar stocked with still and sparkling water and a few cans of pop.
On long-haul flights, Emirates offers luxurious Bulgari amenity kits, which were refreshed in August 2023. Separate kits are presented to male and female passengers.
Food and Drink
Upon boarding, passengers are offered a choice of welcome beverage, which includes a flute of Champagne.
Meal service on Emirates business class is heavily influenced by the Gulf region, alongside the local cuisine of the destinations the airline serves.
Passengers are served the signature Arabic mezze to start, as well as a choice of entrées, such as red snapper in yellow curry sauce, and prawn makhbous.
To supplement your meal, you can choose from Emirates’s extensive wine and beverage list. Wines are an integral part of Emirates’s premium cabins, so you can expect the selection to change regularly.
Emirates Business Class Cabin
Emirates flies the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s to 158 destinations in 85 countries. Thus, you’re only flying on either of these two aircraft types.
The business class cabins of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 largely vary. Foremost among the reasons is that the Boeing 777 has seats laid out in a dense 2-3-2 configuration, putting it at a vast disadvantage over the Airbus A380’s 1-2-1 configuration.
Plus, the Airbus A380 has a snazzy onboard bar and lounge you can use to socialize in the air.
Emirates operates a 118-strong fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. There are four different cabin layouts for the A380, but generally, business class seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration solely on the upper deck.
On either window side, solo seats alternate between being closer to the window or the aisle. Clearly, seats closer to the window (“A” or “K” seats) afford more privacy, since the console shields you from the aisle.
Meanwhile, middle seats alternate between being closer together or further apart. Ideal for couples, seats closer together (“E” and “F” seats) may be considered “honeymoon” seats, since they’re only separated by a retractable centre partition.
At the tail end of the upper deck is the onboard bar and lounge, which is shared by First Class and business class passengers. A flight attendant is available to whip up your favourite cocktail.
Aside from the Airbus A380, the Boeing 777 serves as Emirates’s workhorse. There are four B777 subtypes currently on the fleet, namely the B777-300ER (extended range), B777-300ER (ultra-long range), and the B777-200LR (long range).
Owing to the B777’s wide fuselage, Emirates unfortunately decided to cram business class seats into a tight 2-3-2 configuration on most aircraft of this type.
The only exception is the dual-class B777-200LR aircraft, which offers business class seats in a 2-2–2 configuration – a marginal improvement over the 2-3-2 layout on other B777 subtypes. However, you have a low likelihood of encountering this aircraft, as only nine out of 132 passenger B777 aircraft are of this model and layout.
Business class seats on Emirates B777 are generally similar, but seats located on the bulkhead offer more space than other rows.
Emirates Business Class Routes
Emirates’s operations base is in its global hub, Dubai; thus, you’ll find most, if not all, of its flights originating from the most prominent city in the United Arab Emirates.
However, Emirates is also known for operating plenty of fifth-freedom flights, such as New York-Milan and Singapore-Melbourne.
Emirates’s fleet is currently made up of 100 Airbus A380 passenger aircraft, and 131 Boeing 777 passenger aircraft.
You can expect the Airbus A380 to ply the routes between Dubai and San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York, while you can expect the Boeing 777 to operate between Dubai and Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Newark, and Orlando.
While First Class and premium economy aren’t always offered, you’ll find business class on all Emirates flights.
How to Redeem Points for Emirates Business Class
Emirates isn’t a member of any airline alliance. However, the airline has partnerships in place with several carriers from around the world, so you can redeem Emirates business class tickets across different programs.
Let’s start with Emirates Skywards. The program doesn’t publish an award chart; instead, you can use the miles calculator to determine how many Skywards miles you’ll need to redeem for your desired route.
There are four types of awards: Special, Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus. As their names suggest, the former two cost fewer miles, but the latter two offer more flexibility.
Often, Special and Saver awards aren’t available, especially when booking one-way awards. You can think of it as Emirates’s way of imposing dynamic pricing on its award flights.
Note that the miles calculator doesn’t display taxes and fees, which can be quite hefty. To know exactly how much you’re being charged, you must try to book your ticket.
Using the miles calculator, you’ll see that a flight from Toronto to Dubai in business class may cost 138,000 miles or more. Taxes and fees amount to a whopping $1,162 (CAD) per way, which makes the Skywards program itself disadvantageous for booking Emirates flights.
In the US, Barclays issues two co-branded cards, namely the Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard, and Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard.
Moreover, Emirates is a transfer partner of major credit card rewards programs in the US. The following programs allow conversions at the rate of 1 point = 1 Skywards mile:
- American Express US Membership Rewards
- Capital One Miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
Marriott Bonvoy points could also be converted to Emirates Skywards at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 mile, with a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.
Air Canada Aeroplan
In late 2022, Emirates became Aeroplan’s newest partner airline. Unlike other partner airlines bookable with Aeroplan, however, flights operated by Emirates are subject to dynamic pricing, with the airline having its own distance-based award chart.
Despite the dynamic pricing, Aeroplan still requires fewer miles than Emirates Skywards for business class across the board. Plus, crucially, Aeroplan doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on any award booking.
Aeroplan points are the easiest airline currency to accrue in Canada, since major banks release co-branded cards, and the program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.
Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points†
Up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†
95,000 Aeroplan points
Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points
45,000 Aeroplan points
45,000 Aeroplan points
60,000 Aeroplan points
90,000 Aeroplan points
Up to 20,000 Aeroplan points†
10,000 Aeroplan points
Emirates Business Class Award Availability
With several destinations across North America, Emirates business class award seats generally aren’t too difficult to find, as long as you have some flexibility with which airport you fly from. Plus, with dynamic pricing on Emirates Skywards and Aeroplan, you’ll find availability quite easily.
Naturally, high-demand routes, such as Dubai to New York, may have less availability than less popular routes, such as Dubai to Mexico City.
Keep in mind that there isn’t a reliable pattern of Emirates business class awards being released, unlike other airlines, so your best bet is to search diligently.
Tips & Tricks for Emirates Business Class
Fly Fifth-Freedom Routes
You can avoid paying hefty fuel surcharges on business class awards by flying Emirates’s fifth-freedom routes and avoiding Dubai.
Currently, Emirates operates the following fifth-freedom routes:
- Accra (ACC) and Abidjan (ABJ)
- Conakry (CKY) and Dakar (DSS)
- Harare (HRE) and Lusaka (LUN)
- Hong Kong (HKG) and Bangkok (BKK)
- Larnaca (LCA) and Malta (MLA)
- Male (MLE) and Colombo (CMB)
- Mexico City (MEX) and Barcelona (BCN)
- New York City (JFK) and Milan (MXP)
- Newark (EWR) and Athens (ATH)
- Rio de Janeiro (GIG) and Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Sydney (SYD) and Christchurch (CHC)
- Singapore (SIN) and Melbourne (MEL)
Save Your Emirates Miles for First Class
Redeeming through Emirates Skywards is better suited for First Class awards, since First Class awards are only marginally more expensive than business class awards. Plus, fuel surcharges cost more or less the same.
For example, a one-way First Class award from Toronto to Dubai may cost as few as 163,500 miles, compared to around 138,000 miles for business class.
As mentioned above, you’re better off redeeming Emirates business class through Aeroplan than Emirates Skywards itself.
Emirates business class may not receive as much acclaim as its First Class counterpart. However, it’s still a comfortable and snazzy way to fly. After all, how many airlines offer an onboard bar and lounge to business class passengers?
Further, with Emirates’s extensive network out of Dubai, business class awards aren’t too challenging to book, so you should be able to find yourself flying the cabin in no time.