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Business class seat installations on board long haul aircraft have probably witnessed the most significant transformation in recent years, says Mario Pierobon

The business class seat has evolved over time, to the point that it has nearly replaced first class cabins on long haul flights. One of the major and most evident developments of such seats has most certainly been the embedment of lie-flat capability features.

While the trend to densify the seating capacity applies also to the premium part of the cabin, those carriers which offer a ‘luxury area’ – and these are mainly the major flag carriers – are continuing to look for maximum comfort and lie-flat capability, even if this is achieved with smarter and more compressed layouts, thus reducing the space consuming bulkier products of the long haul cabin classes, notes Doria De Chiara, Business Development Manager at Geven.

With the large number of new widebody aircraft being delivered, these new flagship aircraft have typically been given the first priority for the installation of new business class seats. “Airlines are focused on providing the highest levels of comfort and amenity for the passenger, so fully flat beds, adjustable levels of privacy and plenty of personal storage has become the standard for business class seats,” says Mark Vaughan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Aircraft Seating, Interior Systems at Rockwell Collins.

“We are currently modernising our Airbus A330 aircraft and providing fully flat seats in our World Business Class. In 2017, we completed the retrofit of the Boeing 777 fleet and earlier of the Boeing 747 fleet. We already have fully flat seats in our Boeing 787s as well. KLM will have 100% fully flat seating in all long haul aircraft by the end of 2018,” notes KLM airlines. “Our Boeing 787 seats have direct aisle access in Business Class. The positioning of the new seats in the cabin and various other smart design elements ensure maximum privacy while sleeping or working. The palette of warm colours, which are different for every seat, combined with plenty of storage space, ensures greater comfort and more personal space for passengers. Together with bigger, soft cushions and luxurious new blankets, all this ensures a warm and friendly atmosphere in the new World Business Class.”

In recent years, fully flat seats (180° in flight) have become standard and all-aisle access is gaining ground as well. Angled lie-flat seats have practically disappeared  from the fleets and step-over products are hardly in demand at all anymore, according to Mark Hiller, Chief Executive Officer of RECARO Aircraft Seating. “Whether eating, working, watching movies or sleeping, the passenger should feel good when flying. What is needed are products that offer a very good living space with high layout efficiency in terms of passenger count. Our long haul CL6710 business class combines these requirements as a ‘hotel room in the sky’. In addition to offering ergonomic comfort with a fully flat bed and all aisle access, the CL6710 is characterised by light weight and it allows an efficient use of space in the cabins of widebody aircraft.”

Lie-flat seats in business class have become the overwhelming majority and has expanded on to narrowbodies. “For example, flydubai’s recent launch of its new 737 MAX sees fully flat seats introduced into the all new Business Class cabin, which we have designed,” says John Tighe, Design Director Transport at JPA Design. “It is now possible to purchase many different fully flat business class seats from manufacturers’ catalogues, with a wide range of passenger densities to choose from. Business class has gone through several revolutions; first angle-flats, then fully flat beds, then aisle access. Now, we are often asked what’s next once a flatbed is expected. Our answer is linked to our work in other parallel industries, as we also design hotels, restaurants and luxury sleeper trains. Every hotel room of course has a fully flat bed, but it does not mean that people will not pay ten times the price for a better quality bed and its surrounding space. Business class travellers are very discerning, and in the social media travel blog era, depth and quality really count.”

The new Business Class of Lufthansa will be available on regular routes for the first time in 2020, with the roll-out of the Boeing 777-9. “The new seat is the key element of the service and comfort level in the cabin, which have been improved even further.

It was developed with the goal of facilitating the best and soundest sleep above the clouds. Lufthansa guests can not only look forward to beds with a length up to 86.6in, but also the comfort and convenience of the seat ensuring heavenly dreams, and the construction of the back rest making it possible for the shoulder to sink in when you are lying on your side. This keeps the spine straight and makes it possible for side sleepers to also benefit from ideally healthy and relaxing sleep,” notes Lufthansa. >>


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