The flight

Emirates flight EK412; Airbus A380-800 premium economy; Sydney to Christchurch; departs 8.50am; flight time 3 hours, 5 minutes (lands 1.55pm, 1 hour, 5 minutes behind schedule). Original scheduled departure is 7.50 am.

Emirates launched its A380 on the Dubai to Christchurch via Sydney route in March of 2023.



The loyalty scheme

Skywards loyalty programme. Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn points and status credits for flights with a QF flight number.

Carbon emissions

About 0.541 tonnes when flying premium economy. Emirates has no offset program, but does run a closed-loop recycling initiative in which items like trays, bowls and dishes are remade into fresh meal service products.

Checking in

We arrive 2.5 hours before departure to no queues and two dedicated premium economy online check-in counters. Security queues move quickly. Emirates lounge access is for business and first-class passengers only.

Emirates was a late adopter of premium economy, but was awarded the best premium economy seat at the World Airline Awards.

The seat

Emirates’ premium economy seats, voted the world’s best at the 2023 Airline Excellence Awards, put this airline’s Sydney-Christchurch route in a league of its own. There are 56 seats with champagne and cream-coloured leather across seven rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. I’m seated in 34A; it’s ultra-secluded thanks to a staircase dissecting the middle row, acting as a privacy screen (I select it deliberately after using the airline’s handy 360-degree rotation cabin preview app). Seats offer a pitch of 40 inches (101.6 centimetres), a width of 19.5 inches (50 centimetres), a recline of eight inches (20 centimetres), and there’s a foldout footrest, USB port and push-button window screen. There are pillows and felt blankets; the headphones provided are clunky, but there’s Bluetooth connectivity for personal headsets.


Premium economy allows 10 kilograms of carry-on luggage, and checked luggage up to 35 kilograms.


At 13.3-inches, the HD TV screens feel enormous. Media options are as impressive; the Ice entertainment system includes more than 2400 movies and 650 TV shows. It’s a pity we only have time for one flick.


Emirates staff’s stellar reputation doesn’t fall short. Personal touches like introductions and welcome hot towels don’t go unnoticed.


Breakfast is a sumptuous medley of spinach and Parmesan frittata with corned beef hash, roasted tomato and sautéed mushrooms, alongside fruit, yoghurt with blueberry compote, croissant and Pepe Saya butter.

One more thing

Book a left window seat – it gets you incredible views of Christchurch’s lush, rolling topography as you descend. A dedicated cabin bathroom comes stocked with luxe Noir toiletries (the divine-smelling hand lotion deserves a special mention).

The price

From A$740 (NZ$792) one way for premium economy.*

The verdict

When Emirates restarted the Dubai-Christchurch via Sydney service using the retrofitted A380s in March, 2023, it was the first (and remains the only) airline on that trans-Tasman route to exclusively operate the four-class aircraft. But the most exciting addition is its award-winning premium economy cabin – and does it ever match the hype.

Our rating out of five


The writer flew as a guest of Emirates. See

*Fares are based on those available for travel three months from the time of publication and subject to change.