Airline review: Emirates A380 economy class

THE PLANE 

Airbus A380-800. Emirates has 57 A380s in service. The plane is configured with 14 first class seats, 76 business class seats and 399 economy.

THE ROUTE 

Sydney to Auckland.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME 

Emirates Skywards.

CLASS

Economy class, seat 46C.

DURATION

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Three hours. Departure is delayed 70 minutes by a late-arriving plane and we arrive 55 minutes late.

THE FREQUENCY

Emirates flies daily between Sydney and Auckland.

THE SEAT

Comfortable seat with a large seatback storage pouch, adjustable headrest, good recline and a foldable tray with separate cup holder.  Not every seat in the 3-4-3 configuration has a power socket (my aisle seat doesn't) so if this is important, ask at check-in. The only disappointment is the mauve, green and blue-coloured seats, which are bland compared to the crew's stylish beige and red uniforms. Seat pitch: 32 inches (81 centimetres). Seat width: 18 inches (45.5 centimetres).

BAGGAGE

Emirates provides a generous checked luggage allowance of 30 kilograms plus one carry-on bag up to 7 kilograms.

COMFORT

Despite being in commercial operation since 2007, the A380's quieter cabin still comes as a pleasant surprise, particularly on a short flight like this  for which they're rarely used. A comfy seat and a clean, fresh interior make it a thoroughly agreeable place to while away three hours.

ENTERTAINMENT

With more than 2000 channels of on-demand entertainment (including TV shows, documentaries, podcasts, radio stations and more than 500 movies), you could easily spend most of the flight deciding what to watch. A useful favourites system allows you to save options to a wish-list and delivery is via one of the largest seatback screens I've seen in economy – a whopping 10.6 inches (27 centimetres). Handily, the system is available gate-to-gate so you can tackle a three-hour epic safe in the knowledge that you won't miss the last 10 minutes. Our plane has onboard Wi-Fi but the only time this is mentioned is during an announcement to say it's being turned off on descent. I manage to access it on the return flight but the system struggles to cope with anything more than basic emailing. Refreshingly, the first 10MB is free and an additional 500MB is only $1.

SERVICE

Efficient and unfailingly polite service from a crew that hails from 18 countries and speaks 13 languages. Colouring books for the kids are a nice touch.

FOOD

On this morning flight we get fruit followed by a choice of a tomato and cheddar frittata with hash browns, baked beans and mushrooms or scrambled eggs with chives, sausages, fried potatoes and tomatoes. The frittata is tasty and filling and my neighbour is similarly impressed with his scrambled eggs. Menus are distributed before take-off and there's a welcome second tea and coffee service. 

ONE MORE THING …

With its wood-effect panelling and toilet seat, the bathroom is one of the swankiest economy loos I've encountered.

THE VERDICT 

Emirates has long been the benchmark for long-haul flights and this experience shows they can deliver the goods on short hops too. 

Tested by Rob McFarland, who travelled at his own expense.

See also: Airline review: Emirates A380 business class
See also: Airline review: Emirates' extraordinary first class suites

Read more of Traveller's Flight Tests in our airline reviews section.

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