I’m not going to lie, I spend almost absurd amounts of time touring new airline cabins with people waiting for me to go “ooh” and “aaah”. As such, I don’t often get all that excited when an airline totes a brand new cabin. Like Tinder dates, they can be far from what they seem, and realistically, most so called “new” seats are an iteration of an “off the rack” seat which has been plugged at design shows for years, and ultimately it gets a few bells and whistles thrown on to make it look unique, and that’s about it.
When I entered All Nippon AIrways (ANA)’s new Boeing 777-300ER “The Room” business class suites with privacy doors on it’s very first flight from London to Tokyo, all I could think was “holy $#!T”.
Sitting in this seat as a customer accustomed to business class, or anything below, is like being mega rich for the first time and buying a house that’s just absolutely way too big. You don’t know what to do with the space, or where to sit. There’s literally so much room in this suite, you don’t quite know what to do with it, but nonetheless I’m making do just fine.
For example, I haven’t even managed to use the other half of this seat in the first few hours of flight. I’ve put my laptop bag, my excess pillows and anything else that comes to mind there, just because I can.
That other side a pleasure I’ll now choose to reserve for the sleeping portion of this flight, which ANA’s special selection of wine is sponsoring very shortly, after my fried sea bass with miso. On that front, the very comfortable sleep angle ANA has created with the extra large bed means that this seat avoids all the awkward pitfalls of any similar ideas before it.
Before that happens, there’s a few things I’m going to call out here, to properly put this comparison into perspective. First, an award winning business class is more than just a seat, or “hard product” as many aviation nerds like to call it. But if we are putting a first place ribbon on the best business class hard product, it would be this – hands down. I’ve flown the Qatar Qsuite on every plane they fly, and this takes it by miles.
The screen is larger, the bed is wider, the entertainment is as fast or faster and the privacy door holds every inch. I can’t think of a single “hard product” discipline where this seat is equalled. Plus, these newly retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER have the new Boeing sheer curtain blinds, which create a lovely diffused lighting. Plus, you can control the TV with your own phone. That’s just baller.
A friend text me asking if this was as grand as it seemed, and I said this makes the Qsuite look like a Fiat SUV next to an Audi Q5. I’ve driven both, and I know which one I prefer. And I freaking love the Qsuite!
Before we go to the boxing ring and hold an airline’s hand up, as noted, it’s deeper than that. Qatar and other top airlines in business class offer more flexible dine on demand concepts, and arguably better quality booze in flight as well. Plus, they usually do it with a more scripted and personable service. But here in lay the cultural differences, which are ultimately different strokes for different folks.
There is beauty in the highly professional and non colloquial service of an All Nippon Airways crew, operating a flight with exacting standards. The airline shows respect to passengers in their culture by keeping things formal and buttoned up. They don’t call you “darling”, nor do they join you for a pint mid flight, which is probably good. With that said, each ANA flight crew I’ve ever enjoyed has been lovely – with today being no exception.
What Qatar Airways, or a cheeky Virgin Atlantic crew does may play more naturally to my upbringing and cultural norms, but I have the utmost respect for both. Weighing in the dine on demand concept Qatar offers, they definitely win on the service or “soft product” side of things, for the nerds. In full balance, the best business class in the sky is whether you value the private massive suite, or the soft touches.
I’m on the first ever flight as we speak, and will be on the same cabin again in a few days, but I just never expected to feel this way about another airline seat so quickly. The moment I saw this cabin in promo photos online I had the highest hopes, and actually lost sleep last night hoping they would all come true. Unlike many modern day online dating experiences where profile pictures probably don’t quite match up, I’m very pleased to be the first to report that these are absolutely true to form, and maybe better.
This is the best business class seat flying in the sky today. You’ll just have to fly London to Tokyo for a while to enjoy it, since there’s no guarantee when other routes will receive it. For everyones sake, let’s hope it’s really soon. Here’s more details on the current opportunities to fly it.