US Airways has announced plans for its new fully-flat seating in business class. The new Envoy Suite will be fitted to the US Airways fleet of Airbus wide-bodied aircraft starting with the A330-200 this December. The remainder of the A330-200 fleet, which will be 15 in total with new deliveries, will be fitted by summer 2011, each A330-200 offering 20 Envoy Suites.
This is the first commercial application of the fully-flat seat designed by JPA (see online news June 15), the company behind the award-winning business class seating
onboard Singapore Airlines’ A380s, as well as JAL’s new first class
suite, and forthcoming projects with Arik Air and Gulf Air.
US Airways has three A330-200 aircraft, with two more due to be delivered before the end of the year. The airline says that the Envoy Suite design for the airline’s nine Airbus A330-300s is under development and installation is expected to be completed by summer 2012.
The new seats will have on-demand in-flight entertainment with a 12.1-inch adjustable touchscreen, a 110-volt universal power outlet, satellite telephone and USB port.
From the pictures released, it is clear that the seating is in the herringbone configuration pioneered by Virgin Atlantic with its Upper Class Suite, although interestingly, unlike Virgin, the seats are facing forward at a different angle (for a seatplan of Virgin’s Upper Class, click here). The US Airways seating has seats facing the window, rather than away, as with the Virgin layout, and the centre seats face inwards rather than outwards toward the aisle. Nevertheless, as with Virgin, the configuration allows all passengers direct access to the aisle.
Other US airlines have introduced flat-bed seating (for an article on this, see US carriers go fully flat (11 September 2009), but US Airways is the first carrier in the world to introduce four-abreast seating in this formation.
The seats recline fully-flat, and have a range of lengths from 77 inches (195cm) to 81.5 inches (207cm) depending on the Suite’s location in the cabin. The seat is 20.5 inches (52cm) wide and a fully adjustable, drop-down armrest provides an additional five inches when sleeping.
US Airways calculates that the new seat has nearly 42 inches (107cm) of personal space with the choice of either a raised side table or tray table for working/dining. Laptop cases can be stowed beneath the ottoman seat in front (the pictures show a mock-up of the cabin, presumably the front seats will have a protective shield around the ottoman seat, as with Virgin and other carriers).
- A technology panel with an adjustable personal reading light, power outlet for laptops, USB port for charging small electronic devices and a dual satellite/telephone/entertainment controller.
- Audio-video on-demand (AVOD) in-flight entertainment system by Panasonic Avionics Corporation. The system, with a 12.1-inch (31cm), adjustable, touchscreen monitor, offers hours of entertainment. Customers can learn a new language with Berlitz Word Traveller or play games in-flight with other passengers, like Blackjack or In-Flight Golf Tournament.
More information about the Envoy Suite and an interactive tour is available online at usairways.com/envoysuite.
Report by Tom Otley