Review: Emirates A380 Economy Class from Dubai to Vienna

With my previous flight on a double-decker aircraft – both the 747 and A380 – having been back in 2018, I was excited to be flying on one again while making my way from Tokyo to Vienna last December. To make things even better, there were two nice little surprises waiting for me with this flight – one at the boarding gate and one onboard.

Continue reading this review to see what those were and to see what economy class on Emirates’ Airbus A380 is like in general.

Emirates A380 Economy Class
Emirates A380 economy class.

Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Dubai Airport

After getting off my flight from Tokyo on an Emirates 777-300ER and going through transit security, I took an automated train to Concourse A where my flight was departing from.

With my connecting flight’s boarding still a couple of hours away, I went to Marhaba Lounge. While it was nothing to write home about, it provided a decent place to wait for my next flight. While one-time access into the lounge can be bought for those who don’t have access otherwise, I accessed it using Priority Pass.

Dubai Airport
Waiting for the train to Concourse A.
Marhaba Lounge Dubai T3-A
Marhaba Lounge.

With boarding scheduled to start at 8:15AM at gate A15, I left the lounge around 8AM. While walking to the departure gate, I saw one of Emirates’ three A380s painted in the very noticeable blue EXPO 2020 livery (registration: A6-EES) being prepared for its next flight.

Arriving at my gate, I was pleasantly surprised – another one of the EXPO 2020 A380s (registration: A6-EEW) was parked there, being prepared for my flight to Vienna! I was happy to be able to log another flight on a special livery aircraft during what turned out to be a year of special liveries for me.

At this point, passengers were already being let into the gate’s waiting area, so I got my boarding pass scanned and went in.

Dubai Airport
Curious to see how long PCR testing at airports will be a thing…
Emirates A380 EXPO 2020 Livery
One of the A380s in EXPO 2020 livery.

The boarding itself started around 8:30AM when first and business passengers, as well as status holders, were invited to board. After that, economy class passengers were invited to board by zones.

It was around 8:45AM that I got onboard and settled in my seat, 74D.

Emirates A380 EXPO 2020 Livery
Another A380 in the EXPO 2020 livery – and on my flight…
EK127 Dubai to Vienna
Boarding.
Emirates A380 EXPO 2020 Livery
One more view of the special livery aircraft.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Cabin & Seat

While Emirates operates A380s in a number of different configurations, the aircraft that I flew on was in a three-class configuration. Its upper deck was equipped with 14 first class suites in a 1-2-1 configuration and 76 staggered business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. The lower deck consisted entirely of economy class featuring 10 seats in each row in a 3-4-3 layout.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Cabin
Economy class cabin overview.
Emirates A380 Economy Class Seats
Economy class seats.

The seat itself felt noticeably wider than that on the 777-300ER I flew on from Tokyo to Dubai. It also offered slightly better legroom.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Legroom
Legroom.

All of the seat’s features were located on the seatback in front.

There was a fairly large and high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen, an in-flight entertainment controller with a screen, a USB port, a power outlet, the audio output, and a coat hook. The tray table was foldable in half and there was also a cup holder which could be used without having to set the tray table.

In addition to a larger seat pocket containing a waste bag, there was a smaller pocket with a safety card.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Seat Features
Seatback.

Departure from Dubai Airport

Upon boarding, a pillow, headphones, and a blanket were waiting on each seat.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Amenities
Headphones, blanket, pillow.

Shortly before 9AM, the captain welcomed us onboard.

He introduced the first officer who was from the UK and let us know that there were 24 cabin crew members led by a purser from Serbia, and two supervisors – one from Ethiopia and another one from Serbia. I love how international Emirates’ crews always are.

The captain also mentioned that we were waiting for the last few passengers to board, would be pushing back in five or ten minutes and that we were expecting a flight time of approximately six hours, cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet.

Not long after that, the cabin crew wished “Merry Christmas to those celebrating,” handed out toys to the children on board, and offered duty-free catalogs to the adults. In fact, duty-free shopping – including a fifteen percent holiday shopping discount – was promoted quite aggressively throughout the flight.

As the last thing before departure, each passenger was handed a pair of masks and a tube of hand sanitizer.

Emirates Economy Class COVID-19
Masks and sanitizer.

We were pushed back at 9:18AM, eighteen minutes behind schedule. At that point, the safety video was played. We took off from runway 30R at 9:34AM, after one of the other A380s in the EXPO 2020 livery.

Not having flown on the A380 for quite some time prior to this flight I was surprised how quiet and smooth the take-off roll was.

Emirates A380 Safety video.
Safety video.
Emirates A380 Ready to Take Off
Second in line after another EXPO 2020 A380.

Emirates Mid-Haul Economy Class After Take-Off Snack

The seatbelts signs were switched off about five minutes after take-off. They were switched back on about twenty five minutes later, though, due to turbulence. As such, it wasn’t until more than an hour after take-off that the after take-off snack was served.

A pastry with blueberry filling was offered. For drink, I got a cup of orange juice. While nothing groundbreaking, the pastry was good and just the right size considering the time of the day.

Emirates Economy Class After Take-Off Snack.
After take-off snack.

Emirates A380 In-Flight Entertainment System

As with all other Emirates aircraft, the A380 that I was flying on was equipped with the airline’s ICE in-flight entertainment system which is second to none. The system consists of three parts: Information, Communications, and Entertainment.

The first two included access to the in-flight map, onboard telephone (does anyone ever use this?), information about Emirates and Dubai, information about the onboard wi-fi, and so on. The entertainment part provided access to movies, TV shows, music and other audio, and games.

While the content selection was not as extensive as on the 777-300ER, it was still way more than what pretty much any other airline offers.

Emirates A380 In-Flight Entertainment
Main IFE screen.
Emirate A380 ICE System
Information.
Emirates A380 Movies
Movies.
Emirates A380 Music
Music.

In addition to on-demand video programs, there was also live TV with three channels – Sport 24, CNN Internationa, and BBC World News. While there were only a couple of episodes of most of the TV shows, there were some (like Young Sheldon) where ten episodes or more were available.

Emirates A380 Live TV
Live TV.

One thing that I found great about the in-flight entertainment system was that thanks to a “window-in-window” mode on the main screen and another screen on the controller, it was possible to watch a movie, an exterior camera feed, and the in-flight map – all at once!

Emirates A380 Economy Class In-Flight Entertainment
Three-in-one.

It’s also worth noting that the headphones that Emirates provides to its economy passengers are better than those offered by most other airlines.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Headphones
Headphones.

Emirates A380 Onboard Wi-Fi

While I didn’t try it, as indicated earlier, the aircraft was equipped with onboard wi-fi. Emirates offers a couple of different packages and the pricing differs based on the flight length.

On this flight from Dubai to Vienna, the prices were reasonable. The following plans were offered:

  • Unlimited chat: 4.99 USD (no ability to send images, etc. – just text)
  • Full flight unlimited: 16.99 USD
  • Easy connect: 9.99 USD for 30 minutes

Cruising Onboard an Emirates A380

Other than enjoying the provided meals, I spent the time onboard getting some work done and watching Free Guy, a recently released movie. I also paid a brief visit to the galley to get a cup of water (unlike on the long-haul flight I took, there were no pre-filled cups of drinks), to the rear of the aircraft to see the stairs leading to the upper deck, and to the lavatory, of course.

Emirates A380 Economy Class
Cruising toward Vienna.
Emirates A380 Stairs
Stairs.

The lavatories featured some faux wood touches and a nice, relatively large sink. While not as nice as those on the 777-300ER with Emirates’ new interior, they were still considerably nicer than what most other airlines offer in economy class and even what some airlines offer in business class.

On the wall outside some of the lavatories, there were also drinking water dispensers.

Emirates A380 Lavatory.
Toilet.
Emirates A380 Economy Class Lavatory
Sink area.
Emirates A380 Economy Class Water Dispenser
Water dispenser.

Emirates Economy Class Lunch

Around 9:30AM Austria time, the lunch service started. Considering that there were still about three hours of flight time left, it would have been nice if the lunch was served a bit later, perhaps one and a half hours before landing or so.

There were two main course options with the latter being marked as a festive special:

  • Beef ragout served with basmati rice with lentils and onions, sauteed yellow peppers, and sugar snap peas
  • Roast turkey served with cranberry jus lie, chestnut roulade, green peas, Parisienne potatoes, and mashed parsnip with carrots

I opted for the turkey. It came with a side of orzo salad, a packaged bread roll, cheese with crackers, a sealed cup of water, and chocolate mousse (marked as a festive special too) for dessert. Additionally, I asked for a cup of orange juice.

The entire meal tasted great and the portion was perfect. In fact, to the extent that I can remember, it was one of the, if not the best economy class meals I’ve had.

Emirates Economy Class Lunch
Lunch.
Emirates Economy Class Dessert
Gingerbread man dessert.

About an hour after the meal was served, the crew passed through the cabin offering hot drinks.

Here too, Emirates put its Santa hat on (and the crew put Christmas stockings on their carts) as in addition to the regular tea and coffee, hot chocolate with marshmallows was served. What a nice touch!

Emirates Economy Class Drink Service
Christmas time.
Emirates Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Arrival at Vienna Airport

I finished watching Free Guy just as we were near Varna, Bulgaria. At that point, we had about 90 minutes to go.

Then, at 11:35AM, the first officer made an announcement that we would be starting our descent soon and expected to land in about 50 minutes. He also mentioned that it was a cold clear day with a few clouds in Vienna.

Fifteen or so minutes later, the cabin crew went through the cabin to collect blankets and headphones, and asking passengers to fasten their seatbelts.

Emirates A380 In-Flight Map
Overflying Bulgaria.

For the last 45 minutes of the flight, I watched a couple of episodes of Young Sheldon in a small window next to a stream from one of the exterior cameras.

The flight came to an end when we landed in Vienna at 12:24PM and reached our gate at 12:29PM, four minutes behind schedule.

Emirates A380
Watching the onboard camera and Young Sheldon.
Emirates A380 Vienna
Landing in Vienna.

Emirates A380 Economy Class Summary

Just like my flight from Tokyo to Dubai, this flight has proven that Emirates offers one of, if not the best economy class experiences in the world. The tasty meals, unparalleled in-flight entertainment content selection, and nice lavatories help differentiate Emirates from its competition – something that is not easy to do considering the inherent constraints of economy class.

Combined with the festive touches – and especially the hot chocolate – this flight has easily been one of my most memorable ones when it comes to economy class.

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