Review: Emirates A380-800 Business Class (BKK-HKG)

Emirates' A380 Business Class does little to justify the hype, with an ageing seat and a service experience best described as "assembly line".

Emirates received its first Airbus A380 more than 15 years ago, and it’s safe to say the airline rather likes them. It’s now the largest operator of the type in the world, with more than 120 whalejets in its fleet. And while other airlines have started the process of sunsetting their A380s, Emirates is still investing in them, with plans to fly the aircraft “well into the next decade”.

In that sense, I’m awfully late to this party. Though I did try the A380’s First Class product last year (and what a crazy experience that is!), it’s only now that I’ve been able to review Business Class, on a Bangkok to Hong Kong flight.

Emirates A380 Business Class | Photo: Business Traveller

And granted, this was only a short-haul service, but I didn’t go away all that impressed. The seat hasn’t aged well, the service felt like an assembly line, and in a way it kind of highlights the halo effect Emirates gets from its (admittedly awesome) First Class.

✈️  tl;dr: Emirates A380-800 Business Class
Emirates’ A380 Business Class does little to justify the hype, with an ageing seat and a service experience best described as “assembly line”.
👍 The Good 👎 The Bad
  • Full-flat beds and direct aisle access (something you won’t find on Emirates’ B777Ws!)
  • Onboard bar is a fun place to hang out and chill
  • Assembly-line service which doesn’t feel very personable
  • Inflight entertainment displays are a few generations of out of date
  • No universal power outlets
👶 Baby Supply Run: Trip Planning

Emirates A380-800 Business Class

Emirates A380-800 Business Class

Given how many Airbus A380-800s Emirates has in its fleet, it’s no surprise that they have multiple different configurations. AeroLOPA shows seven different seat maps, but you’ll generally find 76 Business Class seats on every A380 (except the two-cabin configuration used for less premium-focused markets which has just 58 Business Class and a whopping 557 Economy Class seats).

Also, Emirates has a few versions of its A380 Business Class seat, though the bones are the same. Some of the differences are cosmetic, such as the seat upholstery, but others go deeper, like the specs and controller for the IFE system, or the type of power outlets- not all A380s have universal ones! FlyerTalk has an excellent resource that tracks all of Emirates’ A380s and their cabin configurations.

Emirates A380-800 Business Class

Regardless of which A380 you get, Business Class will be in a 1-2-1 configuration, which gives every passenger direct aisle access. Mind you, that’s better than Emirates’ other long-haul aircraft, the B777-300ER, which still have middle seats in a 2-3-2 layout!

The 76 seats are split into a forward cabin of 58 passengers, and a rear cabin of 18. My advice? Avoid the rear cabin if possible. You’ll get a lot of disturbance because:

  • There’s four lavatories in the rear of the aircraft, so foot traffic is guaranteed
  • All Business Class service is conducted from the rear galley, so crew will constantly be walking back and forth with service carts and trays
  • The bar is located at the rear, and boisterous patrons are not quiet patrons

That’s not to mention you’ll also be the last off the aircraft when disembarking. 

Solo travellers will prefer the A or K seats, as these are shielded from the aisle by the side console and have better views of the window.

A/K seats

In contrast, the B or J seats are closer to the aisle, and the window is partially blocked. 

B/J seats

Couples travelling together may prefer the E/F seats in the middle, as the privacy divider can be lowered for conversation and sharing a meal.

E/F seats

If you’re a solo traveller who can’t get the window seats, then the D/G seats will ensure you’re at least well separated from your seat mate. 

D/G seats

I chose seat 20K, which like all Emirates Business Class seats, had no shortage of walnut burl. It was on the table tops, the side storage bins, the walls, even the IFE tablet, almost as if someone on the Emirates’ design team got a bulk purchase discount. But you know what? That’s just Emirates for you. Getting upset with Emirates about their over-the-top bling is like getting angry at a cow for mooing. If you think this is tacky, you’re flying on the wrong airline.

Seat 20K
Seat 20K

Business Class passengers have a 23″ touch-sensitive screen, which doesn’t perform very well in bright light as the photo below shows. 

Entertainment screen

In terms of navigation, you can either lean forward to tap the screen, or you can use the corded remote located beneath it. There’s also a third option of a wireless tablet that allows you to browse and make selections. This is locked in its charging bay whenever the aircraft is on the ground, and during take-off and landing. 

IFE tablet

The tablet charger is next to the mini-bar, which is another fun little Emirates gimmick. However, it’s not very useful because it doesn’t actually chill the drinks. I appreciate having extra bottles of water at hand, but unless you like room-temperature Pepsi and 7-Up, you’ll still need to ask the crew for a glass of ice.

Tablet stowage and mini-bar
Mini-bar drinks

Each seat has two Type-A USB ports. There’s also an in-seat power outlet, but bizarrely, it’s not universal. Given that Emirates carries passengers all over the globe, it’s hard to see why they would choose to do this. If you have a Singapore/UK/Hong Kong plug, you will need a power adapter (I should note that there’s an element of luck at play here, as Emirates’ newer A380s have universal power outlets).

Power outlets

Near your head is a reading light, plus seat controls for full flat, lounging and full upright.

Reading light and seat controls

The tray table was large and sturdy, and didn’t have any bouncing or wobbling when I typed on my laptop. Unfortunately, the design does not allow you to easily exit your seat when you have the table deployed.

Tray table

One nice thing about the A380 is that you have additional storage bins by the window that can easily accommodate a backpack (or three). The windows have electrically controlled shades, with day and night options.

Storage bin


Business Class amenities

No amenities kit was provided on this short-haul flight, but each Business Class passenger had a pair of slippers and eyeshade waiting at their seat. I appreciated that this eyeshade had an adjustable velcro strap, unlike the elastic band that Singapore Airlines and other carriers use, which puts pressure on your eyeballs (after using it for a few hours, your vision will be temporarily blurred when you remove it).

A smooth blanket was also provided, and there was bedding in the storage bins, which I assume the crew would have set up on request.


Food & Beverage

Pre-departure beverages

Pre-departure beverages were served on the ground in Bangkok, which consisted of freshly-squeezed orange juice or champagne, plus a hot towel.

Post-takeoff drinks

The crew served mixed nuts after take-off, together with more drinks. I opted for a mojito, which showcases nicely the benefits of having an onboard bar. Freshly muddled mint beats pre-mix anytime.

Emirates allows you to check the menu for your flight in advance via this link. On this flight, the following menu was served.

For shorter flights, Emirates serves the entire meal on a tray in Business Class, which is meant to speed up proceedings. Still, my meal only reached me around the halfway point of the flight- probably because I was at the rear of the first cabin. 

I went with the prawn machbous, which is supposed to be something of a signature dish on Emirates. It consists of prawns marinated in a traditional Emirati spice blend, served on fragrant rice cooked in a broth of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. I didn’t think it was great, to be honest, since the prawns were tiny and the dish was mostly rice. 

Business Class meal

Much better was the salted caramel cheesecake served for dessert, and I had to stop myself from finishing the whole thing. 

Since I’m not a particularly big fan of the Moet & Chandon champagne that Emirates serves onboard (while it’s one of the best-known champagne brands, most of their money goes into marketing instead of the wine), I decided to try some of their other wines instead.

Emirates has an unrivaled wine programme (the airline has a cellar in France with 6.5 million bottles of fine wines, some of which won’t be ready for tasting until 2035), and on this flight the following options were available.

Wine Type
🇫🇷 Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne
🇫🇷 Pouilly-Fuisse Louis Latour 2021 White
🇳🇿 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2022 White
🇺🇸 Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay 2019 White
🇫🇷 Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 Red
🇫🇷 Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne, M. Chapoutier 2013 Red
🇵🇹 Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port 20023 Port

The crew went around the cabin with the wines in a metal basket, so they could pour you a flight if you wanted. I decided on the Pouilly-Fuisse Louis Latour, which for me was better than any Business Class wine I’ve had on Singapore Airlines.


Onboard bar

But why booze at your seat when you can booze at the bar? One of the signature touches of the Emirates A380 is its onboard bar, which opens shortly after take-off and runs all the way till last call about one hour before landing. 

This bar is open to both First and Business Class passengers, on flights of at least 2 hours 30 minutes. Bangkok to Hong Kong squeezes in just above the threshold with a 2 hour 45 minute flight time!

Emirates A380 bar

While there’s no stools at the bar, you can take a seat on one of the two crescent-shaped couches by the sides, each of which has seatbelts for three passengers. 

Help-yourself bar snacks can be found on a shelf beneath the bar’s TV, including fruit, potato chips, and pre-packaged sandwiches. 

Snacks selection
Bar menu

The novelty of an onboard bar can’t be overstated. No one’s saying you need to be a social butterfly to enjoy it; even if you hate the idea of small talk, there’s a lot of utility in having a change of scenery, a place to walk around a bit, order a drink, and briefly forget you’re in a pressurised cabin. 

By the way, your bar may look very different from mine because the newer A380s have a refreshed design, which adds booth seating with tables. 

Emirates retrofitted A380 bar | Photo: Emirates

Inflight Entertainment

Emirates ICE

Emirates is a powerhouse when it comes to IFE, with its Information, Communications, Entertainment (ICE) system widely regarded as one of the best out there. 

This packs a bewildering 5,000 entertainment options, including full box sets, the latest Hollywood movies, classic movies, TV shows, music, and many options for the non-English speaking crowd.

The letdown is actually the display. These seats incorporate screen technology which is more than a decade old, and even though Emirates started a mid-cycle refresh in 2015, not all aircraft have been upgraded. My 23″ screen was full of reflections and glare, and was often washed out by cabin lights. 

Emirates ICE
Emirates ICE
Emirates ICE
Emirates ICE
Emirates ICE

Business Class passengers receive over-ear noise cancelling headsets, which were comfortable and performed well.

Noise cancelling headphones


Emirates does offer complimentary Wi-Fi, but not to all passengers. 

Whether or not you get free Wi-Fi depends on both:

  • your cabin class, and
  • whether or not you’re a member of Emirates Skywards

For example, an Emirates First Class passenger would not enjoy free Wi-Fi, unless they also happen to be a member of Skywards.

Skywards Economy & Premium Economy Business First
None N/A
Blue Free chat-only Free chat-only Free Wi-Fi
Silver Free chat-only Free Wi-Fi
Gold Free Wi-Fi

There’s no cost to join Skywards, but in order to get free Wi-Fi your membership number must be linked to your booking at least 24 hours before departure. Moreover, this means that if you wish to credit your Emirates flight to a different FFP, you won’t get free Wi-Fi.

If you forget to add your Skywards number in time, you’ll have to pay for access. This costs

  • US$2.99-5.99 for a chat-only plan
  • US$9.99 for 30 minutes (selected regions only)
  • US$9.99-19.99 for full-flight Wi-Fi

As a Skywards Blue member flying in Business Class, I received a free chat-only package, which was only good enough for WhatsApp without media uploads (Telegram was not supported). 

I’m quite surprised that Emirates doesn’t just make Wi-Fi free for all First and Business Class passengers, period, like what Singapore Airlines has done. 

Sleep Experience

Bed mode

This flight was too short for a proper rest (especially given how long the meal service took), but I did put the seat all the way down to try it out. 

The seat padding is comfortable, though the bed is on the narrow side. Like many Business Class seats, you’ll find that the space for your feet is somewhat restricted, and it suits those who sleep on their side more than back sleepers.

Foot cubby

I also found it difficult to access the aisle once the seat was fully reclined, as you need to manoeuvre through a very small corridor between the side table and seat back to do so.


Emirates A380 Business Class lavatory | Photo: Milesopedia

The 76 Business Class passengers have a total of six lavatories; two at the front of the cabin, and four at the rear, behind the bar. 

The lavatories are also not free from Emirates’ love of walnut burl, though surprisingly for a Middle Eastern airline, there’s no bidet function. Taps are sensor operated, and Bvlgari toiletries are stocked.

Basin area
Bathroom amenities

Bathroom were kept reasonably clean on this short flight. 


My biggest issue with Emirates Business Class service is how impersonal it felt, much like an assembly line. You never got the feeling like you were more than just another cog in the machine (not helped by the fact that Emirates isn’t very consistent with addressing passengers by name), and it felt like the crew were more interested in checking off each item and moving on, rather than making passengers feel welcome or at home. 

There were times when the crew literally went around seat by seat with a clipboard in hand, asking a methodological list of questions (what drink do you want after takeoff/ do you want nuts/ what meal option do you want) without even making eye contact.

Maybe it’s because this was a short flight and they were pressed for time, but from what I’ve read online, this is a common issue even on long-haul services. Besides, SIA shows that it’s possible to offer excellent, personalised service even on short-haul flights, versus the whole “hurry up and relax” vibe I got with Emirates.


Emirates’ A380 Business Class clearly goes for wows. The first time you board, it’s hard not to be overstimulated: Wow, there’s a bar! Wow, look at the trim on these seats! Wow, there’s a mini-bar in my seat! 

But after you settle in and start actually using the seat, you’ll find that even though it isn’t bad by any means, few would call it market leading. It’s hard not to get the feeling that most of the buzz comes from the over-the-top experience in First Class, rather than the merits of the Business Class product itself.

Of course, there’s fun little touches like the onboard bar, as well as a wine and alcohol selection that’s second to none. But it’s counterbalanced by the fact that the seats have seen better days, not to mention there’s still a good number of A380s out there with non-upgraded screens and non-universal power outlets.

Fun to do as a bucket-list thing, but perhaps not warranting repeat patronage.

What do you make of Emirates Business Class?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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The bar was fun as was the ability to take a polaroid photo, but the hard product felt old. Never mind that, the FAs got my wrong meal order too and there was an LED strip that turned itself on and off and was distracting. I brought the last two matters up in-flight and via email and customer service was so defensive.


I would take this experience anytime over shocking experience I have with SQ. You might have different experiences cause of PPS or gold member ? But I think for others, Sq experience would be likely same as what you had at this flight


While i would agree that SQ service is quite mechanical nowadays, I still managed to experience one or two flight recently (HKG-SIN, and LHR-SIN) with excellent service even though i am not like some ah pek with 30+ years of Solitaire. The crews were lively, attentive and excel in almost every aspects (maybe there was an auditor on-board lol).

While I also experienced bad flight with EVA 2weeks ago (KIX-TPE).

I think nowadays many things are not given… depends on luck. However most would agree that they are in general still much much better than United and Delta….


Finally some honesty in a EK review, the only premium aspect about them are the price, publicity materials and the brush walnut ascents. Not only is SQ better than them on average, I would rather fly MH or TG knowing that service would be more personal.


One of the very few EK reviews without using “ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!” “CRAZY!!!” or “ISNT THIS JUST AWESOME?!!”

The GuyBetsy1

Oh gosh. This Ah Pek is going on SQ SIN-HKG next month which I’m looking forward to as having not been on board SQ’s premium cabins in over a decade. I haven’t been on EK’s for even longer than that. I only remember there was too much gold colour for my liking.