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how Emirates is wooing luxury travelers

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Dubai’s Emirates airline in August announced an investment of over $2 billion to enhance its inflight customer experience, including cabin interior upgrades and recent menus — with unlimited caviar.

The world’s biggest long-haul carrier might be retrofitting over 120 aircraft with recent interiors, in addition to dishing up menus with recent vegan options and cinema snacks like popcorn, Emirates said in a press release.

Other recent perks for the carrier’s first-class travelers include unlimited portions of Persian caviar, paired with Dom Perignon vintage champagne.

Those investments come just as Emirates posted a $1.1 billion loss for the 12 months ended March 31.

“While others reply to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever higher experiences to our customers,” said the president of Emirates airline, Tim Clark.

What other airlines are doing

Emirates will not be the one airline pulling out all of the stops to ride the tailwinds of “revenge travel” — the concept persons are making up for time “lost” throughout the pandemic to travel again.

Earlier this 12 months, Finnair launched a recent line of premium economy cabins, featuring seats that provide around 50% more room than their economy seats.

Emirates in August announced an investment of over $2 billion to raise its inflight customer experience.

Photo: Emirates

Air France, likewise, announced recent long-haul business seats in May, complete with sliding dividers for passengers who want their very own private space.

Emirates told CNBC that it has seen “lots of interest” in these luxury upgrades, though it said it doesn’t have the complete numbers yet.

Is that enough?

One travel analytics company, nevertheless, noted a shift in demand toward premium seats.

“In the course of the pandemic, we saw that the numbers of individuals travelling by air collapsed. Nevertheless, the proportion of travelers flying in premium cabins increased significantly,” Olivier Ponti of ForwardKeys told CNBC in an email.

Ponti said that before the pandemic, the split between premium and economy seats was a ratio of 13:87, compared with 17:83 in 2022.

“While there is no guarantee that the shift towards premium seats might be maintained as air travel recovers, one can understand why the airlines would want to take a position in keeping hold of premium passengers, who, this 12 months have typically spent 575% more on a seat than those flying economy.”

Others are skeptical, nevertheless.

Edward Russell, an editor at Skift, a travel industry news site, told CNBC it’s unclear how much of an effect “small” product changes could have on sales.

“Most travelers either fly the airline, or alliance, where they’ve loyalty, or go for the most cost effective fare. It is just a small subset of travelers who will actually book a flight based on the addition of a sliding door or unlimited caviar.”

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