Emirates Economy: a well-designed product

I just flew Emirates four times in a week, including two long hauls from SFO to Dubai and back. And I’ve got to say, Emirates has done it right. No one looks forward to 15 hours in the air and Emirates seems to fully grasp this.  They have done their part to make this time go by as quickly as possible. Notice I didn’t say as comfortably as possible, because we’re still talking about Economy class here, although the First Class seats did look quite comfortable.

Here’s what stood out for me:

  • they’ve got power sockets for each seat with multi-national adapters.  This super important feature allowed me to catch up on a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad and then to play around with learning Ruby
  • they’ve got thousands of movies, tv shows, songs and games and even real time news alerts, all on your own screen
  • they’ve got a usb socket for each seat for charging your device or connecting it to your screen
  • there’s an ethernet socket which didn’t seem live but maybe that’s for future expansion
  • the food is killer, especially if you like indian food, and there’s a healthy portion of it
  • they hook you up with a sleeping eye mask and a toothbrush kit, both of which are needed on a long flight
  • they’ve got two airplane cams you can follow on your screen, one that shows the pilot’s view from the front of the plane, and one that shows below the plane. These are especially cool when you’re landing as you see the pilot land perfectly centered on the tarmac with the white stripes of the runway whizzing by across the middle of the screen
On top of all this, the reason I booked Emirates was because it was the most affordable flight to get me from San Francisco to Delhi, so double bonus on the price too.
Now if they only partnered with StarAlliance I could accrue my miles in one happy place.  Maybe in the next rev of the product.


We wanted an easy way to track where each of us was spending our time each day.  We have a couple products which we could be working on any day, and also general General and Administrative (G&A) tasks like interviewing, buying office supplies or meeting with realtors to look at new office space.

We decided on a simple system we’re calling Chips.  The basic concept is every day you get four chips.  At the end of each day you allocate these chips towards one or more of the buckets of work .  Then I tally up everyone’s chip count in an Excel spreadsheet with built in tallies and rollups. 

Example: say I spent half my day working on our Mother product (that’s the internal name for our tariff collection product).  Then I spend a couple hours working on Brother (our consumer facing site whatsmypower.com) and an hour looking at resumes.  My chip count would be:

  • 2 chips Mother
  • 1 chip Brother
  • 1 chip G&A

It’s an approximation and certainly not a scientific measurement but it works.  Even though I probably spent more than 4x of time on Mother vs G&A, I still log them as 2 and 1 and then the next day if I have the same distribution, I may just put 3 to Mother and 0 to G&A.

In our first month of doing this, we were surprised to see how much time we had put towards G&A, which was a lot of time posting jobs and interviewing candidates.

And for the implementation of Chips, we use a Mancala board.  It’s already got buckets which we label with each bucket of work we want to track.  And each person gets their own color chips and they distribute this within the appropriate buckets at the end of each workday.

Mancala comes with four different color chips, so once we expanded to five people, the new hires started using pennies and quarters as their chips.

It’s a lightweight process that adds ten seconds a day and gives a good insight into how the team is spending their time.  If you try it out, let me know how it goes.