Emirates Airlines Economy Review: The Best Airlines for Long Haul Flights?

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa

Emirates Airlines Review Airbus380 9088
Emirates Airlines Review Airbus380_9088

Emirates Airlines Economy Review: Is it the Best Airlines for Long Haul Flights?

Being from Hawaii, most of my travels are long haul flights. Getting older and accruing back issues and sciatica, long haul flights can wreak havoc on my body ; not to mention, throw my internal clock into wacko!  When planning a long-haul flight, choosing the right airline can make a significant difference in my overall travel experience. I heard Emirates Airlines was a premium carrier but I had flown on premium carriers before; some did not live up to their hype.  How would Emirates Airlines handle a 16 hour long haul flight?

In this Emirates Airlines economy review, I will dive the pros and cons may make flying with Emirates the best economy choice than competitor airlines.

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Watch my Emirates Airlines economy video review experience

Emirates Airlines economy review

I was returning to Kathmandu, a guest of the U.S. Embassy invited to speak about YouTube Monetization at the Creator Mela, the first conference for creators in Nepal.

Ordinarily I’d have to book a U.S. airlines for the U.S. Embassy to be about to cover it, but this was a very last minute booking with specific dates.  Only a couple of U.S. airlines had partners connected to Nepal too. I found a cheap ticket with Korean Airlines (one of my favorite carriers) for $600, but each day I waited, routes were selling out. It was a tricky booking, dealing with 1-2 day time differences, passing through various time zones, layovers and connecting flights.  Airlines prices jumped by the day and my options of cheaper airlines carriers dwindled. Over 30 airlines connect to Nepal, but no straight shot from Honolulu; you’re looking at multiple connecting flights.

A seat in Emirates Airlines economy became my saving option and the cheapest option. My “cheap” ticket price was $3,400 USD (okay, not quite economy, but considering my circumstances this was the cheapest option). Ordinarily, I’d not pay that type of price. But I needed to be in Kathmandu in a week.  As a guest speaker, I was going to be reimbursed for my flight expense.

This is the first time my route was not passing through Asia, but through the Middle East.

11 Reasons why Emirates Airlines Economy is the Best Airlines for Long Haul Flights

China Airlines and Asiana Airlines have a pretty darned smooth economy experiences if you’re traveling Asia.  Turkish Airlines economy was only really great when I had a super long layover and wanted the free transit hotel (read for more on free transit hotels).

Where does Emirates Airlines economy class stand in comparison?

1. Emirates all wide-body aircraft experience

Emirates Airlines has built a reputation as a premium airlines carrier, even if you’re in economy class. It ranks among the world’s 20 safest airlines too. What seals it?

According to Wikipedia: Emirates Airlines is one of the few airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet (excluding Emirates Executive). As of December 2023, Emirates is the largest Airbus A380 operator with 123 aircraft in service.

The Airbus experience isin my opinion– the aircraft you want to keep your eye on, even if you are flying on other carriers, because it means S P A C E. Wide-body aircrafts are a natural upgrade for all economy flyers.

Wider seats, a bit more legroom. I booked an Airbus flight on the princely Qatar Airlines just a couple months later and they changed the aircraft at the last minute and gave me a Boeing and the seats were cramped as sh**, making it a horrible long haul flight for me. Cramped everything! It was a huge contrast to my Emirates economy experience.

Emirates Airlines Economy Pros

Let’s breakdown the goodies of what makes Economy in Emirates Airlines a worthwhile flight.

2. Emirates’ amenities are stylish & sustainable

In Emirates Airlines economy class, I was treated to a personal amenity kit. First, you get a stylish and washable, 70% kraft paper pouch amenity bag that can be used for toiletries, pens, or makeup. It included socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and an eye mask.

But Emirates doesn’t stop there. They have a sustainability policy and the amenity items and pouch is made from recycled rPET plastic, recycled paper or wheat straw.

Furthermore, each seat comes with a plush blanket and pillow, ensuring a more enjoyable journey.

emirates airlines economy free toiletry kit
emirates airlines economy free toiletry kit

3. Emirates Air Seat Spacing and Seat Pitch

Emirates Airlines seat spacing is known to be generous in space and pitch, even in economy class. I had ample ample legroom to stretch out during the 14.5-hour flight. It did not disappointed.

Seat width was 17.5″.  Pitch was 32-34″. What those numbers mean is that my legs and body had ample room to wiggle around and stretch. I was not cramped. I could even set a purse next to me. This is hugely different from my Qatar Airlines seat spacing, where we sat ridiculously shoulder-to-shoulder in economy class or my Turkish Airlines 777-300R bad seat experience! Some airlines should not be long haul carriers.

Furthermore, these were ergonomically designed seats, equipped with adjustable headrests.

emirates air review entertainment counsel legroom
emirates airlines economy inflight entertainment

4. Emirates Airlines A380 Airbus aircraft (double deck plane)

As I mentioned earlier, Emirates operates on all wide-body aircrafts. But i’ll dive into more here. My EK 226 flight operated on the Emirates Airlines A380 aircraft, an impressive double-deck aircraft. I’ll be honest—I didn’t know I was on a double-decker plane until I saw the in-flight safety video (you’ll see it better in my YouTube video review). The only other time I’ve traveled on a double-deck aircraft – and in the upper deck- was with Japan Airlines; although their double-deck at the time was highly overrated as seat experience was smaller.  Quite the opposite with Emirates.

Being in economy, I did not go upstairs. The upstairs cabin is roped off to ensure the upper cabin has privacy.

I did not know that the Emirates Airlines A380 aircraft is known for its quietness and smooth ride, so I didn’t pay close attention to the sound factor. But it was not a noisy engine, so I can see how it’s a popular choice among travelers for long-haul flights.


emirates airlines economy inflight entertainment

5. In-flight Emirates Airlines Food & Dining Experience

Emirates Airlines excels in its in-flight dining and food in economy class. Yay! Emirates meals options offer an array of international dishes, catering to diverse tastes. Passengers can choose from a selection of main courses, and complimentary beverages are served throughout the flight. Special dietary requirements are also accommodated, ensuring a great dining experience for even vegetarians like me, who don’t want to be reduced to just salad and fruits.

My economy seat got four food meals and a pizza snack! Yep, you get a helluva lot of food in economy class! I was served more food than the average airline serving long haul flights. Generally, you’d get three meals at most in economy, so Emirates feeds you extra. See my Emirates economy food menu photo below!

Emirates food was delicious, and stocked with premium items from granola snacks to high-quality cheeses. The condiments section came with extra snacks like breadsticks and cheese or chocolate, even if a bread roll was *not* included. Emirates really packs your plate full. I was very impressed.

Additionally, Emirates Airlines carriers employ eco-friendly travel measures to reduce waste and plastics, so trays and dishes are washed, ground down, remade and reused. Super impressed.

airbus 300-800 emirates inflight dining menu
airbus 300-800 emirates airlines economy food menu


Emirates airlines economy review, emirates airlines economy food
emirates airlines economy food: In my condiments tray of butter and jam, there is also a Kind granola bar
Emirates airlines economy food, emirates airlines in-flight dining economy class
emirates airlines economy class food
Emirates airlines food, emirates airlines economy class food
emirates airlines economy class food: notice the cheese and chocolates in my condiments travel of butter and jam?
emirates airlines economy review worthwhile
Emirates airlines economy review: Is it worthwhile? Paneer meal with breadsticks, chocolate as condiments

Emirates airlines economy review: Is it worthwhile?

6. Emirates Hospitality on EK226

Emirates Airlines is widely recognized for its hospitality, and this extends to economy class on EK 226. The flight attendants are attentive, friendly, and dedicated to providing top-notch service. Their warm and professional demeanor creates a welcoming environment for passengers.

7. Emirates Airlines Lavatory experience

There was always a queue for Emirates Airlines lavatory; it could be due to the amount of complimentary food in economy class, so I won’t complain . I didn’t mind so much because their lavatories were quite nice. With wood paneling, it had a warm charm and it was well-maintained to carry a certain freshness during that long-haul flight. Toilet paper was always stocked and the toiletries were nice. I forgot the eau du toilette they had but it was a lovely scented spritz. I think they also had facial mist, but I could be wrong.

8. Emirates Airlines In-flight Entertainment on Long Haul Flights

In-flight Channels

Entertainment is a key aspect of any long-haul flight, and Emirates Airlines offers a state-of-the-art personal entertainment system at every seat, featuring an extensive library of movies, TV shows, music, games, and more. You’ll get the standard Hollywood, Europe, Asia, and Bollywood shows. But being that Emirates’ headquarters is in Dubai, their influx of passengers leans towards the Middle East and Northeast Asia. Thus, Emirates Airlines’ entertainment channels include movies from those country regions. Pakistan was one of them.

I’m hosting my first tour group to Pakistan and wanted to learn about its culture through in-flight entertainment, so I stayed on that channel during my flight.

Entertainment Console

I was initially underwhelmed by my Emirates in-flight entertainment console on this flight from San Francisco to Dubai. It seemed standard, basic, plain. Nothing particularly special to improve my flight experience that much more. But at least it had a console. In Alaska Airlines, you need to use your mobile phone to stream movies!

But on my return flight, I had an entertainment console that was all tricked out and included a gaming console!

Tech and Charging Ports

The Airbus EK 226 has charging ports. There was the standard USB port under the entertainment console and (gasp!) a multi-plug outlet below the chair near the leg in the passenger in front of you. Plug outlets on airplanes can sometimes feel standard these days, until you get a plane that doesn’t have them (Qatar Airlines and Korean Airlines… I’m looking at both of you!). Being that I work on my laptop often times, I look forward to flights that have them.

Multi-camera View

A cool feature that almost goes unnoticed is the airplane multi-camera. You can see camera views outside the airplane, so when you’re taking off, you can see the runway and the tiny city below the plane wheels. You can also see other angles. Watch my videos for a fuller experience.

emirates air review entertainment counsel legroom

emirates air review entertainment counsel legroomemirates airlines flight economy review

9. Emirates Checked Luggage Allowance

In Economy, you can check one or two bags for free, depending on the fare you paid. Nice! I was allowed two free checked luggage, but only had one (drats!). Luggage can be no heavier than 50 pounds (23 kg) each.

You’re also allowed the standard of one carry-on bag and a purse. Your carry-on luggage cannot be heavier than 15 pounds (7 kg) and cannot be larger than 22 x 15 x 8 inches.

10. Emirates’ positive impact : sustainability & recycling projects

In this Emirates Airlines EK 226 review, I want to point out a few initiatives that Emirates Airlines supports in their operations and it’s quite impressive. It’s something I only read about much later, when I began to research points from this review.

First, there’s a recycle and reuse program, where anything from amenity kits to meal trays, even your blanket is re-made from recycled plastics and ethically sourced. The in-flight blanket they loan you is actually made from 28 plastic bottles! This just makes me adore them more!

They support wildlife and Dubai desert conservation  and even have a plane dedicated to reminding you about protecting wildlife and endangered species. Read my 30 responsible tips for ethical travelers

11. Free In-Transit Hotel

Emirates Air offers a free transit hotel with meal tickets.  I cannot remember the situation, but I did not qualify for it or  plan ahead for it. Bummers!

See which airports offer free city tour for your layover

2 Cons of Flying Emirates Airlines Economy Class

Reviewing my Emirates Airlines economy experience, I’d say it was pretty perfect, even with a 16 hour in-flight experience. I didn’t feel as tired as other long haul flights I’d flown. I was still tired due to my internal clock though. The cons of my Emirates Air experience was with its main hub, Dubai International Airport.

1. Emirates Skywards loyalty program

Emirates Airlines is independent and does not belong to any of the major alliances: Oneworld, SkyTeam, or Star Alliance. Unfortunately, unless you’re traveling to the Middle East or their routes (you can get an idea by looking at the Emirates flight schedule photo below), it will take a while to redeem your reward points.

2. Dubai International Airport Gate Experience

If I have one complaint about Emirates Airlines, the Dubai airport gate experience would be it. Dubai airport is Emirates Airlines’ headquarters, so the entire wing of Terminal 3 in Dubai International airport is dedicated to it.

dubai airport terminal 3

The problem is you’re kept in gate limbo until 45 minutes before your flight. So if I just got off a 16-hour long flight into an 8-hour layover, (read this guide on how to choose layovers) then reason stands that I’d be exhausted. I wanted to go to my gate to collapse and take a nap. Instead, I was obsessively checking the timetable every hour to look for updates. I was anxious that they’d put me at a gate far away.

Although they had comfy lounge chairs for the in-limbo passengers, it wasn’t nearly enough to accommodate every passenger, who who had to wait for their flight. It was continually filled with sleeping passengers.  Instead, I was continually checking the flight timetable to see when they would list my gate!

See my airport sleeping pods guide
Emirates Airlines Review Dubai Airport
Emirates Airlines Review_Dubai Airport Comfy lounge seats arent everywhere
Dubai airport for Muslim prayer
Dubai airport bathroom for Muslim prayer

Dubai International Airport Terminal 3

Terminal 3 has all the basics of a pharmacy, tech and souvenir shopping and restaurants. There are water and hot water refill stations. Of course, there is a McDonalds. Prices are not expensive for airport prices, but they’re moderate. Mc Donalds sells a veggie burger for under $5, so not bad. But after my Emirates Airlines in-flight meals, I didn’t feel so hungry.

Still, if Dubai airport prices are still too high for your budget, they have a ramen noodle vending machine, where you can buy an instant noodle meal for a dollar and there’s a free hot water refill station right next to it.

mc donalds prices at dubai airport
mc donalds prices at dubai airport


Emirates Travel Tips

  1. Book Early: Emirates Airlines is a popular choice for travelers, so it’s advisable to book your flight early to secure the best seat and avoid disappointment.
  2. Enroll in the Emirates Skywards loyalty program to earn miles and enjoy various benefits. They are not connected to alliances, so unfortunately, unless you’re traveling to the Middle East a lot, you might not be able to use them.
  3. Download the Emirates Airlines mobile app. It’s very handy!
  4. Check for Free Stopover Offers: You can book a free stopover in Dubai. Emirates offers a way to explore Dubai and break up your journey. Had I more time to research or to arrive earlier, I would’ve tried to book a stopover in Dubai to explore it for a day or two.
  5. Check for In-transit hotel stays for long layovers, over 8 hours. Emirates’ Dubai Connect offers you a free in-transit hotel (along with Turkish Airlines free hotel, China  Eastern Airlines, Qatar Airlines, etc..), meals and even a short term visa for qualifying tickets.

Emirates Airlines economy review Conclusion

Flying economy on Emirates Airlines EK 226 from U.S./ San Francisco to Dubai is undoubtedly worthwhile if you can afford it, especially when compared to competitor premium airlines. Generous amenities, comfortable seat spacing, excellent food menu, outstanding hospitality, and diverse entertainment options ensure that you’ll enjoy your long-haul flight from start to finish. Emirates Airlines should be at the top of everyone’s list!

best airlines for long haul flights
emirates economy review: long haul flights

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