Flights to Asia and Australia often involve a stop off in the Middle East, in either Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Doha while these locations are also often destinations in themselves. The Points Guy UK travelled to the Middle East on three different airlines to work out which was the best Economy flight for these routes. The team tested Emirates, Etihad and Qatar’s A380s and scored them on ticket cost, ground experience, cabin and seat, amenities and inflight entertainment, food and beverage, service and overall scores. They ranked them and shared their verdict on how their flights went.
Fights: Emirates, Eithad or Qatar – The Points Guy UK reveals which Economy flight is best
From London, there are more flights to choose from which means competitive pricing.
“This is where we see the cheapest average fare for sure and a variation of only about £20 between each airline,” said The Points Guy.
Manchester is served by all three airlines. The cheapest airline from here, on the dates selected by the team was Etihad, which was between £30 and £40 cheaper than Emirates and Qatar.
Birmingham and Edinburgh’s cheapest flights was with Qatar in the absence of Etihad.
Newcastle is only served by one of the Big Three and is slightly more expensive than the cheapest option at other UK airports while from Cardiff Airport the cheapest flight was with Qatar.
The Points Guys said: “Emirates and Etihad each have their own frequent flyer programs so if you fly regularly, you may even have enough points to redeem against the cost of your ticket.
“The great thing about Qatar is that it is a member of Oneworld. This means you can earn Avios when paying cash, redeem Avios against your ticket and if you have elite status, you’ll have access to lounges at airports along your journey.”
Etihad and Qatar’s boarding process was classed “pretty great” by the Points Guy and lacking chaos.
Emirates only scored a five out of 10 due to the size, business and dirtiness of Dubai’s airport (DXB) – although given transit time will likely be no more than an hour here this is not a hugely important factor.
Cabin and Seat
“The sheer size of the A380 and the space it affords its lower-deck passengers was definitely noticed by each of us on our respective airlines. There were also nice little extra touches in the bathrooms on Emirates and Qatar like toilet seat covers and other little amenities,” said the team.
Qatar boasted “the lightest and cleanest economy cabin [the team had] flown in for a long time.”
Amenities and Inflight Entertainment
Each of the airlines scored well in the amenities and inflight entertainment category. “We were all very happy with the number of films and other entertainment options available,” said The Points Guy.
Etihad and Qatar also offer the ‘tail-cam’ option which gives you a birds eye view in real time of your flight.
WiFi was advertised for all three airlines but it only really worked on the team’s Emirates flight. “This might not be true of all Etihad and Qatar flights, but it is definitely something to be wary of if good quality WiFi in-flight would be a deal-breaker for you,” they said.
Each airline provided a small pillow, blanket and headphones. Qatar and Emirates’ earphone failed to impress however, although all were over-ear headphones.
Food and Beverage
Etihad and Emirates were “tasty” and “delicious” but Qatar did not receive such a glowing review from the team after offering “rubbery” eggs.
All three airlines provided metal cutlery, however. “Usually in economy you just get flimsy plastic cutlery that doesn’t really cut at all – so this was a nice little bonus for sure,” The Points Guy said.
“This is one aspect that really stood out for each of us – the quality of service we received was really excellent,” the team said. “Usually, due to the number of passengers in economy cabins and time pressure on the crew, it can often be difficult to create any kind of rapport – unlike in premium cabins where you receive a noticeably higher level of service – but this really wasn’t the case on our flights.
“Each of us felt that in some way our crew went over and above what is usually expected and that really does go a long way to turn an average experience into a great experience.”
Emirates came in first place with 82/100, Etihad in close second with 80/100 and Qatar one point behind in third place.
“Overall, it is clear we all had very good experiences with not actually much difference between each of the airlines,” The Points Guy said.
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