While I have flown Emirates multiple times in the past, I never actually reviewed any of its flights in detail. As such, I was excited to be flying with the airline on my trip to Europe, from Tokyo to Vienna via Dubai at the end of last year. I was even more excited to have a chance to fly on an aircraft equipped with the airline’s latest seats.
Continue reading this review to see what the flight from Tokyo Narita to Dubai on Emirates’ 777-300ER was like in economy class.
Check-in & Boarding Emirates Flight 319
I got to Narita airport around 7:15PM after spending a day at Haneda airport taking photos. The Emirates flight was being checked in at “I” counters where a surprisingly long line was formed.
At the queue entrance, one of the ground staff members was putting tags on hand luggage. While he wasn’t strict about the weight (all of the tags had “7” for 7 kg already handwritten on them), he was strict about the number of items one could take on board. Different ground staff was checking whether each passenger had all of the required documents.
Asking how many passengers would be on board while having my documents checked, I was surprised to hear 250, or over 70% of the available seats. This was way more than on my previous flights out of Japan during the pandemic.
Once I got to the check-in counters themselves, check-in was smooth and I had the boarding passes for both my flight to Dubai as well as the connecting flight to Vienna in my hands in no time.
Both security and immigration were deserted, and so I found myself airside just after 7:50PM – over two and a half hours before the departure time. Considering that my flight was one of the last three flights out of Narita that day (in addition to a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Honolulu which had already boarded and a Qatar Airways flight to Doha), the terminal was deserted too.
Airside, I headed straight to gate 73 where my flight was departing from. That allowed me to get a relatively clear photo of the aircraft as the baggage was still not being loaded at that time. After that, I found a quiet place to sit and got some work done.
Boarding started around 9:45PM, shortly after I got back to the gate. First, first/business class passengers and status holders were invited to board. Then, economy class zones C and D followed. Finally, about ten minutes after boarding started, passengers in zone E (me included) were invited to board.
Onboard, I was welcomed by one of the flight attendants before heading through the business class cabin into my economy class seat, 34D. As I was flying just a few days before Christmas, Christmas music was being played during boarding.
Emirates 777-300ER New Economy Class Cabin & Seat
The aircraft was equipped with 358 seats:
- 6 fully-enclosed first class suites in a 1-1-1 layout
- 42 lie-flat business class seats in a 2-3-2 layout
- 310 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 layout
Before I get to talking about the economy class cabin and seat, just a few words about the premium classes.
While I didn’t get to see the actual first class cabin, I had a chance to see the actual seat at an event in Tokyo before. It looked amazing and I definitely hope to be able to review it sometime in the future. On the other hand, the fact that the business class cabin is in a 2-3-2 layout with a middle seat makes the product unattractive. The seat itself looked nice, though.
The economy class cabin looked nice too.
The economy class legroom was decent.
There was a power outlet under the seat in front and a 13.3-inch screen in the seatback. While some might find the screen too large considering the close viewing distance, personally, I had no issues with that.
Under the screen, there were two USB ports (Type A and Type C), the audio output, and the screen control, reading light, and call flight attendant buttons.
Above the screen, there was a camera – I am not sure whether it had any practical purpose.
Departure from Tokyo Narita Airport
Upon boarding, a pillow, a headset, and a blanket were waiting on each seat.
About 20 minutes before departure, the cabin crew turned on mood lighting with a nice starry ceiling.
Just a couple of minutes later, the ground crew was asked to leave the aircraft and the first officer welcomed us onboard. In addition to introducing the rest of the crew, he mentioned that we were expecting a flight time of 11 hours and 30 minutes and would be cruising at 36,000 feet.
At 10:25PM, nice looking amenity kits were distributed, and a minute later, the aircraft doors were closed.
The amenity kits included a dental kit, earplugs, socks, an eyemask, a set of stickers (do not disturb/wake me up for meal/wake me up for duty free), and a card introducing Expo 2020 which is taking place in Dubai right now.
We were pushed back at 10:29PM, a minute ahead of schedule. At that point, the safety video was played too.
After a fairly long taxi, we took off from runway 16L at 10:52PM.
Shortly after take-off, an announcement mentioning that menus could be found in the Emirates app and via the wi-fi portal was made.
Emirates New 777-300ER Economy Class Lavatory
The seatbelt signs were switched off six minutes after take-off at which point I paid a visit to the nearest lavatory. While normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning it, entering the lavatory, I was shocked. It looked great – it was spacey and looked much better than most business and first class lavatories.
While not all of the economy class lavatories were as spacey, they all looked much better than any other economy class and many business class lavatories I’ve seen.
I especially liked that they put a touch of the UAE – an image of a ghaf tree – on the lavatory walls. It reminded me of KLM’s Dutch-themed lavatory walls.
Emirates Long-Haul Economy Class Dinner
Not long after the seatbelt signs were switched off, the cabin lights were made a bit brighter and the cabin crew handed out two masks and a tube of hand sanitizer to each passenger.
The meal service started at 11:30PM or about 40 minutes after take-off. As mentioned earlier, the full menu could be found on the wi-fi portal and one could choose from two different main dishes: grilled mackerel and beef yakisoba. I decided to go with the former.
While nothing special, both the main as well as the appetizer – brown rice salad – were decent. The dessert (milk chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce), on the other hand, was excellent. A packaged bread roll came with the meal too.
I had a cup of mango juice to go with the meal. In addition to that, the meal came with a cup of water
The crew passed through the cabin to collect the empty meal trays about fifty minutes after serving the meal. At that point, one of the passengers near me asked for one more meal as he was still hungry – it was provided with no problem. In general, the crew was very nice.
Tea and coffee were offered at that time too. I didn’t get either.
Emirates 777-300ER In-Flight Entertainment
Like all other aircraft, the 777-300ER I flew on was equipped with Emirates’ excellent ICE in-flight entertainment system. Considering that the one on this aircraft had slightly more content than the one on Emirates’ aircraft with older cabins, the IFE on the flight was about as good as it gets.
It was divided into three parts: I(nformation), C(ommunications), and E(ntertainment).
The “I” part included access to the flight map and exterior cameras, as well as some information about flying with Emirates, about Dubai, about the ongoing EXPO 2020, and so on.
The “C” part included information about the onboard wi-fi and in-seat power, the option to play media from one’s phone, etc.
Finally, the “E” part was where the magic of Emirates’ IFE was – an endless selection of content.
There were hundreds of movies and dozens of TV shows. There was also a good selection of music and other audio (including audiobooks and podcasts). There were some games too – not sure how the playability was, though, considering that the seat lacks an IFE controller (the IFE could only be controlled via the touchscreen).
Lastly, there were three live TV channels: Sport24, CNN, and BBC.
You can find the full latest selection of entertainment offered through ICE here.
Two other things worth noting about ICE, one good and one bad are:
- While most TV shows only offered a few episodes, there were some that had 10+ episodes and even full seasons
- Before each video program, an ad that couldn’t be skipped easily (i.e. it could only be fast-forwarded through) was played
It’s also worth noting that the provided headphones were better than what most airlines provide in economy class.
Emirates 777-300ER Onboard Wi-Fi
In addition to the in-seat entertainment, the aircraft was equipped with onboard wi-fi as well. While I didn’t test the wi-fi, Emirates at the time of writing this article offers the following decently priced plans:
- Unlimited chat: 2.99 – 5.99 USD depending on the length of the flight
- Full flight unlimited: 9.99 – 19.99 USD depending on the length of the flight
- Light: 9.99 USD for up to 50 MB (only available on selected routes)
Cruising Toward Dubai
After finishing dinner, I prepared to sleep. Even though the flight was relatively full and so I couldn’t have the entire row to myself like I originally hoped for, I could still sleep pretty well.
Two things briefly disturbed my sleep though: fairly long turbulence that resulted in the seatbelt signs being switched on for about an hour and the recline of my seat which kept returning to the upright position over and over for some reason.
All in all, I slept for about four and a half hours, waking up around 3AM Dubai time.
When I woke up, we had about two and a half hours to go. At that point, I decided to go see whether there were any refreshments in the galley. Sure enough, there were cups of orange juice, apple juice, and water ready for the passengers to take. There were some packs of rice crackers too.
Emirates Long-Haul Economy Class Breakfast
Breakfast service started around 3:20AM. Originally, there were two options: mushroom omelet with potato croquettes and baked beans, and stir-fried udon noodles with vegetables and chicken. By the time the meal cart reached me, however, the crew had run out of the first option.
As such, I had no choice but to go with the udon. It came with a packaged bread roll, some fruits, and a yogurt. Overall, it was an OK meal, but nothing special.
Arrival at Dubai Airport
During and after breakfast, I watched an episode of Brian Cox’s Adventures in Space. After that, I briefly fell asleep.
About forty minutes before landing, the cabin crew distributed warm towels. Considering that they are not offered even in business class on some airlines these days, I found that to be a really nice touch.
Around the same time, the captain made an announcement saying that we would soon be starting our descent and that it was 20 degrees Celsius in Dubai. At 5:07AM, the seatbelt signs were switched on. Blankets and headsets were collected by the cabin crew too.
We landed at Dubai airport at 5:28AM, and reached our gate, F9 at 5:33AM (eight minutes after schedule).
Emirates 777-300ER Economy Class Summary
Given the limited space, there is only so much that can be done to make economy class hard product above average. With the beautiful cabin and first class-level lavatory in addition to the now fairly standard in-seat power and large, high-resolution IFE screen, Emirates has managed to do exactly that.
Combine that with the decent meals (including an above-average dessert), an endless selection of entertainment through the ICE system, nice amenity kits, and a pre-landing warm towel, and you can easily say Emirates offers one of the best, if not the best, long-haul economy class products in the world.