State of Play: How business class seats fare today

1 Jun 2011

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, business travel is not just a result of but also a catalyst for economic growth. The study stated that if business travel were to drop by 25 percent over two years, the global GDP would consequentially fall by 5 percent. And premium travel, in particular, leads the way.

Despite unprecedented global phenomena such as the earthquake in Japan and the Arab Spring, which led to a dip in March, premium travel is expected to bounce back by five to six percent in the second half of this year, predicts IATA. Inevitably, competition to offer the best business class seats onboard has intensified and airlines are investing in providing products that offer the most comfort possible. Here are five Asian carriers that have recently revamped their business class offerings:

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

The carrier unveiled its new business class seats at the end of 2009 and began rolling them out progressively since February last year (see story here). Currently, they feature on the carrier’s Boeing B777-300ER for flights from Tokyo Narita to New York JFK, London Heathrow and Frankfurt.

Layout: Staggered in a 1-2-1 configuration; in fact, the seat is called ‘ANA Business Staggered’. The layout enables all passengers access to the aisle.

Recline: 180 degrees

Specs:  Width 19.4 inches / Length 74.5 inches / Pitch N/A


Asiana Airlines

The Seoul-based carrier rolled out fully flat business class seat last year, dubbed the OZ Quadra Smartium (see story here). These seats currently appear on four of the carrier’s B777-200ER fleet used to fly from Seoul to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

Layout: Like ANA, Asiana has adopted a staggered layout in a 1-2-1 configuration so that all passengers can access the aisle.

Recline: 180 degrees

Specs: Width 42.3 inches (including table) / Length 80.2 inches / Pitch N/A


Cathay Pacific Airways

Following a few years of passenger discontent with the business class configuration launched in 2009, the carrier unveiled an improved seat late last year (see story here), taking into account all the criticism of the older product. Fortunately, the new seats have generated positive feedback, said John Slosar, CX chief executive (see story here or here).

These seats are now found on a handful of B777-300ERs and Airbus A330-300s serving the Sydney and New York routes, and will be rolled out successively on more long-haul flights over the next two years. For our exclusive tried and tested of the new product, click here.

Layout: Herringbone layout has been retained in a 1-2-1 configuration

Recline: 180 degrees

Specs: Width 20.2 inches / Length 80 inches / Pitch N/A


Malaysia Airlines:

Just last month, Malaysia Airlines unveiled its new A330-300 fitted with a new business class product (see story here). The configuration of the aircraft has been changed. The total number of seats went from 294 to 283: 36 in business class and 247 in economy. The new business class seat is now larger however it is not a completely flat seat.

This aircraft, deployed on the Kuala Lumpur-Brisbane route, is the first of carrier's 15 A330s with this new product. The rest will be delivered over the next few years.

Layout: A 2-2-2 configuration

Recline: 170 degrees

Specs: Width 20 inches / Length 75.2 inches / Pitch 60 inches


Thai Airways:

In March this year, the carrier took delivery of an A330-300 retrofitted with revamped economy class seats (see story here). The shell type business class seat was fitted with a new AVOD IFE system but nothing else was changed. The angled seats in business class will eventually be phased out and replaced with fully flat beds from 2016 onwards and all new aircraft delivered between 2012 and 2022 will have fully flat beds.

Layout: Like MAS, the seats sit in a 2-2-2 configuration

Recline: 170 degrees

Specs: Width 20 inches/ Length 60 inches / Pitch 58 inches


Alisha Haridasani

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