Always up and down, never down and out. Points and miles are like a wild stock market ride, but one constant in travel is that seats up front are getting better. A whole lot better. While airlines contemplate how sardine like humans can be in the back of the plane, they duke it out to reward their high value customers with increasingly long beds, larger televisions and improved restaurant quality meal service, not to mention expensive booze. Here’s a look at some seriously exciting seats who’ve just made or will make their debut in 2016.
Cathay Pacific Business Seat By Porsche
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Cathay Pacific is yet to release any photos of the brand new seat but we know this: it’s an inspired revamp of the current award winning seat, not an overhaul. Oh yes, and it’s designed by Porsche. I’ll expect the same industry leading sleep quality and hopefully a big entertainment screen to keep up with trends.The airline is set to debut the seats on it’s brand new state of the art Airbus A350’s expecting delivery in February.
Launch Date: June-July 2016
Route: Selective intra Asia and Asia to Europe routes in June for crew familiarization with Auckland as planned first full time route in June/July 2016.
Plane: A350-900 and then retrofitted onto B777 and A330.
AIR FRANCE BEST + BEYOND BUSINESS
Ok so their title not mine and it’s hardly new (2014), but my god it’s taken a long time to install. Nonetheless, this is a great improvement on many of the angle flat seat founds across even Air France’s newer aircraft. Air France is investing in retrofitting their fleet with a wonderful reverse herringbone business class seat similar to the likes of Cathay Pacific and American Airlines featuring direct aisle access (a must in my opinion) and a 6’5” bed. It’s visually beautiful and with many installs completing this year, you have a great chance of finding it.
Launch Date: January 2015-2017.
Route(s): The seat is already live on most flights between Paris and New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Boston, Shanghai, Singapore and Sao Paulo. Check your seat map at purchase.
Plane(s): Boeing 777-200’s and 777-300’s are being retrofitted first with around half completed. Airbus A330 and A340’s will be next up for 2016-2017 on remaining routes.
Qatar Airways Business Bedroom
This one has me extremely excited. Qatar already flies a very nice business class featuring direct aisle access and fully flat beds with state of the art entertainment yet the airline wants to beat the ultra luxe without ultra rich pricing. While most airlines choose a pre existing seat model and add a few customizations, Qatar has chosen to craft their own design from scratch, forming what will be known as the “double bed” of business class. It’s said to be an almost enclosed cabin, similar to Emirates First Class suites of today, just at business pricing. I’m all ears.
Launch Date: Late 2016 into Early 2017
Route: No set launch route, yet.
Plane: Airbus A350-1000 and retrofitted onto most of fleet including B777, A330.
Virgin Australia New Business Class
Virgin Australia has really raised the bar on flights to… Australia from… Australia with it’s latest offering. Fortunately, it will begin it’s world tour in December, ready for prime time in 2016 with all Virgin Australia flights from the United States (and most other regions) featuring their gorgeous new product with direct aisle access, large screens and a wide flat bed. This is a huge step up for the US to Australia market which has seen as many as eight wide in business class, without aisle access. Oh yes, and in true Virgin style, there will be an onboard bar on the 777’s making it hard to choose between bed and … bar.
Launch Date: July 2015-December 2015 (Australia) May 2016 (US).
Route(s): Sydney to Perth, Los Angeles to Sydney, Brisbane to Los Angeles.
Plane: Airbus A330’s currently. Boeing 777’s in May (now).
Air Canada Business Executive Pods
If there’s one thing I can get behind it’s extra long beds and even larger in flight entertainment screens. This seat has both. Air Canada has made a large investment in Dreamliners and is rolling out an extremely nice business class to follow suit. Dubbed “executive pods” the seat will convert into a 6’6” bed while featuring functional work space and an 18” screen.
Launch Date: Currently live on 787’s. Coming May 2016 for 777-200 jets.
Route(s): Toronto to: Delhi, Munich, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Dubai, Copenhagen. Vancouver to: Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Brisbane, Beijing.
Plane(s): Boeing 787, 777.
I, for one, am most intrigued by Qatar’s business bedroom and most excited at the off chance I’ll get to experience Cathay’s new Porsche designed seat this year. Anytime you find yourself flying flat, it’s a good day. There is much to be excited for in the near future of aviation design as top technology, branding and seat design firms collaborate in hopes of creating a best in class experience. Is there a more competitive market? I don’t think so.
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