How to Make the Most of Emirates Economy Class

Emirates goes above and beyond even with its economy class, which features generous legroom and kids' meals.
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Emirates is known for its service and luxury. While the cheap seats aren't going to offer the luxurious benefits of flying Emirates first class — and are even a far cry from the surprisingly lavish Emirates Premium Economy seats — Emirates Airlines economy class offers one of the fanciest experiences you can get on an international flight at that price point.

Compared to other international plane travel, the Emirates economy class experience provides the best food, the best inflight entertainment, the fewest additional fees and the most comfortable seats you'll find in the economy fare realm.

(Photo by Sally French)

What to expect flying economy with Emirates

Value-focused travelers will generally find Emirates international economy flights pricier than those on budget airlines, but the trade-off is a much more enjoyable experience in economy class. In fact, Emirates has always been a leader in terms of economy class options. Among its impressive history of offering benefits that even economy travelers can benefit from:

  • In 1992, Emirates was the first airline to introduce individual television screens in economy class.

  • In 2007, Emirates was the first airline to equip its entire fleet with mobile phone connectivity

  • In 2011, was the first globally to introduce onboard Wi-Fi for passengers.

The Emirates economy class experience

Emirates economy class won't get you into any fancy lounges or bonus service ahead of time, so the experience really begins at boarding. Priority boarding is available for families and for Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members. Otherwise, the economy cabin is boarded row by row based on seats on the plane, with those in the back boarding first.

Emirates economy class seats

Upon boarding, you'll find your seats. Free economy seat selection is available online 48 hours prior to boarding or with your purchase of flex and flex plus economy fares. Emirates' international economy seats are comfortable, with above-average ergonomic features, flexible side panels and leather headrests. Seats pitched up to 33” apart with a recline of over 6”.

Seat cushions are 17.05” wide on the Boeing 777 aircraft and 18” wide on the Airbus A380.

Emirates economy class entertainment

Once in the air, revel in the fact that the A380 provides a quiet and smooth flight, perfect for napping. But if you can't sleep, at least save yourself the cost of several movie tickets and enjoy Emirates’ award-winning entertainment system. The 13.3-inch seat-back screens offer thousands of entertainment options — movies, TV, music, games and even language-learning applications.

If you'd rather watch something on your own device, you can keep it charged. Laptop or tablet power outlets, dual USB port and RJU headphone jacks are available for each seat. Inflight Wi-Fi on Emirates is free for Emirates Skywards members (though there are some usage limitations), or otherwise starts at $2.99 for everyone else.

You don't even need your own headphones, as those are complimentary too.

(Photo by Sally French)

Emirates economy class food

When it's time to eat, know that meals are included — even on short flights (though that meal will typically be something small like a sandwich). For flights longer than what's considered "short haul," you always get a multi-course meal in economy class, which consists of a main dish served along with fresh fruits or a salad, crackers and cheese, plus a dessert.

You can also pair your meal with a complimentary fruit juice, soft drink, wine, beer or spirits, as well as Lavazza coffee and Dilmah tea.

Emirates economy class bathrooms

Assuming you're hydrated, you'll likely have to use the bathroom at some point. While not as luxurious as the Emirates first class bathrooms (which feature showers and have heated floors), the Emirates economy class bathrooms are slightly more spacious and fancier than most airlines.

(Photo by Sally French)

The bathrooms have some extra pleasant touches, like high-end, scented soaps and lotions that can feel especially calming when you're otherwise trapped in a crowded cabin flying over the ocean.

(Photo by Sally French)

Emirates economy class checked baggage policy

The Emirates economy class checked baggage policy is among the most generous in the world. That said, baggage allowance varies based on your fare type and location. Here are the Emirates bag policies, by region, and compared across fare classes:

Economy Class

Premium Economy

Business Class

First Class

Flights to and from the Americas and Africa (except flights within the Americas and between US and Europe)

One piece up to 23 kg for Special fares. Two pieces up to 23 kg each for Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus fares.

Two pieces up to 23kg (50 lb) each.

Two pieces up to 32kg (70 lb) each.

Two pieces up to 32kg (70 lb) each.

Flights within the Americas and between the US and Europe

One piece up to 23 kg for Special and Saver fares. Two pieces up to 23 kg each for Flex and Flex Plus fares.

Two pieces up to 23kg (50 lb) each.

Two pieces up to 32kg (70 lb) each.

Two pieces up to 32kg (70 lb) each.

All other routes

20-35 kg, depending on fare type.

35 kg.

40 kg.

50 kg.

The Emirates economy class checked baggage policy is especially unique when it comes to flights outside the Americas and Europe, as you can bring as many bags as you want — as long as you don't exceed the weight limit. In theory, you could check 20 bags that each weighed 1 kilogram, which might offer some passengers more flexibility.

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Emirates Economy vs Emirates Premium Economy: which is a better value?

Emirates premium economy seats. (Photo by Sally French)

Emirates unveiled a premium economy product on select A380 flights at the end of December 2020. The product proved to be so popular, that they were then installed on the Boeing 777X Emirates, and they continue to appear on more routes (they were finally added to flights from Los Angeles in July 2023).

So what is Emirates premium economy like? Check out the full NerdWallet guide to Emirates Premium Economy here, but here is the short version:

These seats include a 40-inch pitch — incredible legroom for premium economy travelers — and a 19.5-inch width. And not just are they large, but they're cushy, comprised of cream leather seats outfitted with soft pillows.

And while they won't lie flat like the seats in business or first class, there's a cushioned leg rest with greater recline, plus a six‑way adjustable headrest. You'll inevitably sleep better in Emirates premium economy versus the standard economy seats.

The food is more elevated too.

Given the huge upgrade over standard economy (but not necessarily the huge price point of the business or first class seats), Emirates premium economy seats are far harder to come by versus Emirates standard economy. But if you can come by a seat for sale, it's likely worth the extra cost.

Note that if you currently have Emirates elite status and think you can snag one while still booking simply an economy fare, know that these are generally only be offered as spot upgrades, most likely for those with higher loyalty status in the Emirates Skywards program.

(Photo by Sally French)

How to maximize value in Emirates economy class

Use the Best Fare Finder and pay in cash

Emirates’ Skywards loyalty program is not known for giving frequent travelers the best bang for their buck, though there are a few ways to find redemption sweet spots. Good deals on Emirates through partner airlines, such as Japan Airlines and Alaska Airlines, are possible, but more difficult to find than simply looking for good deals in cash.

To make it easier to fly Emirates economy class for less, use the Best Fare Finder tool on the Emirates website. Only available for economy travel on Emirates Airlines, this tool shows a classic fare calendar to find the best deals for those who can be flexible with their travel dates.

Book Emirates economy fares on points

While the sweet spots for booking Emirates flights on points tend to exist in the airline's higher fare classes, it's not necessarily a bad idea to spend credit card points or miles on Emirates economy class if it means saving money. NerdWallet values Emirates Skywards miles at 0.6 cent per mile.

Use NerdWallet's Skywards miles calculator to understand how much your miles are worth in dollars based on our valuation:

Of course, the exact value of a point varies on each flight, because cash prices constantly fluctuate. In general though, Emirates miles tend to have higher value for flights booked during peak winter holidays.

And you don't necessarily have to have flown Emirates before to earn Emirates miles. Miles can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to Emirates from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and Citi ThankYou rewards.

You can also transfer on a 3:1 basis from Marriott Bonvoy, and at varying other rates from hotel partners, car rentals or Brex rewards or earn miles directly on one of Emirates' co-branded cards.

Cards for earning Emirates miles
Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard®
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Annual fee

$99.

$499.

$695.

$395.

Earnings rates

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Emirates purchases, which includes purchases on emirates.com or at the Emirates sales office.

• 2 miles per $1 on airfare, hotels and rental cars.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Emirates purchases, which includes purchases on emirates.com or at the Emirates sales office.

• 2 miles per $1 on airfare, hotels and rental cars.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 5 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 spent per year.

• 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 10 miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel.

• 5 miles per $1 on flights through Capital One Travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on everything else.

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Don’t forget the fifth-freedom flights

Fifth-freedom flights refer to flights operated by an airline between two countries, neither of which is the airline’s home base. While Emirates may be based in the United Arab Emirates, it operates fifth-freedom flights that can provide incredible value for U.S.-based economy class travelers. New York to Milan and Newark to Athens are two of the fifth-freedom flights Emirates operates through the U.S.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted typical flight schedules, fifth-freedom routes have the potential to give you the biggest bang for your buck, especially when booking with loyalty points.

Bring the kids

For the budget-minded traveler, booking a whole family on a premium airline may seem counterintuitive; however, Emirates is extremely child-friendly and justifies a potentially higher flight cost. The airline goes above and beyond in terms of entertainment for kids, with child-friendly channels on the TV system, stuffed animals and accompanying blankets, and various age-appropriate travel-themed activity packs.

Emirates even provides special children’s in-flight meals, organic baby food options and milk- and bottle-warming services. On top of all these perks for kids, children 11 years and younger travel on a discounted fare. There are even separate check-in desks for families to help ease the potentially stressful experience of traveling with children.

(Photo by Sally French)

Emirates Airlines economy class: is it worth it?

Emirates is best known for its luxurious first and business class products. Still, with high standards of inflight service; enjoyable, regional economy food; and generous seat sizes and baggage allowances, there are plenty of ways to make the most of economy class on Emirates Airlines.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

How to maximize your rewards

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