At the announcement event for the new United Airlines – Emirates partnership, Live and Let’s Fly asked Emirates President Sir Tim Clark what he thought about United’s service levels.
Emirates has built a reputation for a quality product, though the business class seat on its Boeing 777 workhorse fleet has long lagged the industry. Their top cabin product is among the very best in the world.
The new Emirates first class suite is an incredible space.
They serve Château d’Yquem in first class (if you know, you know).
There are shower suites on board their Airbus A380s.
And the Emirates A380 features a bar in business class.
In contrast, when I flew United’s top cabin this summer – its long haul Polaris business class – they ran out of food. The carrier didn’t even offer a beverage service with the main meal, which didn’t even come with an appetizer.
Business class passengers were not permitted to select both a cheese course and a dessert – it was one or the other. I had the ice cream. It was freezer-burned. Cabin crew gossiped loudly about work from the jump seats as passengers tried to sleep.
Live and Let’s Fly reports that Sir Tim Clark “acknowledged the difference in service levels” and shared that he raised the issue specifically with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, who provided “provided ‘assurances’ that United will continue to strengthen its onboard meal service offerings in all cabins, including economy class.”
I’m not worried. Emirates has been a great force in the industry for restoring service and we continue to see improvements from others. United is serious about its soft product and will continue to make strides.
There’s no question that Emirates premium cabin customers who find themselves on board United’s new Newark – Dubai flight will be surprised by the food and beverage program. Sir Time Clark says the airline needs to “make strikes” to improve. That’s an understatement. But he’s not worried. Indeed, Emirates is able to partner with easyJet, Gol, and Jetstar while maintaining their premium image.