Emirates chairman tests out 17-hour direct flight to New Zealand – in economy

Chairman revealed he likes 'to be close to the people', as airline prepares to launch longest commercial flight in the world

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. (Getty Images)

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. (Getty Images)

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed has revealed he tested the airline's new 17-hour flight to Auckland - in economy.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Sheikh Ahmed said: "I have tried it [the new route] - 17-18 hours in economy."

He added that he does not mind the prospect of flying in the back of the plane, because he "likes to be close to the people".

Emirates launches commercial flights to Auckland in two weeks' time, and its second 'ultra long haul' service, to Panama, launches at the end of March.

At between 17 and 18 hours long, the planned new services will be among the longest direct flights offered by any airline in the world.

But Sheikh Ahmed said: "We did not plan these flights to get more publicity - it was to make money. We want to service these hubs and our [geographical] location means we can."

The chairman and CEO also revealed that Emirates is planning an exciting new in-flight innovation expected to launch either by the end of this year or beginning of next. He declined to comment further. The airline was the first to introduce in-flight showers in first class when it was introduced in 2008.

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Posted by: JohnB

Did he fly back first class? I wouldnt blame him. :)

Posted by: Anwar Ali

Very good initiative by the Chairman of Emirates.

I think Emirates CEO should also take a trip like this, possibly dressed (camouflaged) as an ordinary traveler so that what he observes is natural. Otherwise the staff get very defensive in their service. From his observations, he will walk away with a lot of good tips about operation of airline from customer's expectation and point of view.

Posted by: Yousuf Abdul Ghaffar

Good step by the Chairman ! To add more flavour, I suggest he travel as a normal passenger, without the crew member knowing that he is the Chairman !

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