In 2016, Tim Clark (Emirates’ president) announced
that the airline was considering unbundling its business class – giving
travelers the option to pay for all the frills of the business first class
ticket, or to pay only for a great seat.
The company is not only slowly implementing this new
fare (called Special), but will also be introducing a premium economy class in
Emirates’ new Special fare joins the other several types of business class fares the company already offers, such as Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus.
Special fares are booked in the “H” fare class. Business class passengers booking Special fares will be subject to the following restrictions:
No lounge access, unless they also have status, in which case they can access a lounge on account of their status (currently all business class passengers, including those who upgrade and use miles, have lounge access)
No Emirates chauffeur service (currently all paid business class passengers get chauffeur service — those on award tickets and upgrades don’t)
No upgrades to first class using miles (currently all paid business class passengers are eligible upgrade to first class for some number of miles)
Restricted seat assignments, so you can only select seat assignments after check-in opens (Emirates won’t let you select your seat in advance, and won’t allow travelers to purchase seats ahead of time) Reduced mileage earning, which means business Special passengers earn the same number of miles as economy Flex Plus passengers
This is a bold move considering the airline’s reputation of its blinged-out cabins, on-board showers, and excellent service from beginning to end.
Only time will show us how passengers and the competition will react to such approach.
Sources: onemileatatime.com, “Unprecedented: Emirates Unbundles Business Class” by Ben (Lucky). June 12, 2019 thepointsguy.com, “Comparing Emirates’ Special Business Class Fare and Basic Economy” by Victoria M. Walker. June 16, 2019