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First Class, Lie-flat Seats  
User currently offlineTheFlyer From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 7 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 12381 times:

I am looking for information for a report on the history of first class, lie-flat seats. Does anyone know when the first angled seats were used in airplanes (or have any examples of that)? By angled, I mean the seats are not facing towards the cock pit but might be angled, for example, at an offset towards the aisle. Seats arranged in a herringbone type layout would be another example of the angled seats. I've seen some very early versions, but more information would help too for the project. That type of info and the development into modern day angled seating (of course) would be great. Thanks.

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePs76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (3 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 12286 times:


This is a quite interesting question for me and I have been doing a little looking on google but found just a bit.

From Wikipedia:

"Long Haul Business Class

Long haul business class seats are substantially different from economy class seats and many airlines have installed "lie flat" seats into business class, whereas previously seats with such a recline were only available in international first class. There are essentially three types of long haul business class seats today. These are listed in ascending order of perceived "quality".


Herringbone seating, in which seats are positioned at an angle to the direction of travel, is used in some widebody cabins to allow direct aisle access for each seat and to allow a large number of fully flat seats to occupy a small cabin space. The concept was first developed by Virgin Atlantic Airways for its Upper Class cabin and has since been used by Delta, Cathay Pacific, Air Canada and Jet Airways, among other airlines.[13]"

And from an article in flightglobal:

"In 2003 Virgin Atlantic introduced the "Herringbone design" seat layout in it's "Upper Class" on which it had spent £50 million designing."

The article goes on to say that in fact Virgin thought they had patented the idea and were not happy when the design company started selling herringbone seats to other carriers. According to the article they apparently are suing the company and the other airlines but will probably settle out of court. Pretty ugly!

Personally I'm not sure you can really own a seat layout but I'm not a lawyer!

I'm not aware of angled seats ever being used in the golden era of aviation. However looking at an old Anet thread RFeilds made this comment

"Originally most airliner seats were rear facing because it was assumed they would be safer."

I couldn't find any info of DC-2's and stuff with sideways or rear facing seats. All the photos I could see showed them facing forwards. I think military transport aircraft have always had and still have rear facing seats (but not sideways).

There was another good page which describes all the different business layouts today, forward and angled:


So to sum up from me as far as I know it was Virgin Atlantic who first introduced the idea in 2003 with the basic herringbone. However I'd be very suprised if this is correct and someone hasn't done so before in the history of commercial aviation.

Hope it might help.

Many thanks,


P.S. Here's another link for the design company I mentioned earlier. They claim the Virgin design was the World's first sideways facing seat. (that's what they claim anyway):


Also, have you thought of asking this question on PPrune? I'm not on there but there are lots of airline pilots and some may remember or know someone who flew in the old days.

[Edited 2012-07-06 13:22:02]

User currently offlineTheFlyer From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 7 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 11898 times:

Thank you very much for this information. It is very helpful. It's funny how Virgin Atlantic thought, and claimed, it was the first to develop herringbone seating when BA did so earlier. I also thought the same thing when posting this article. VA couldn't have been the first to come up with angled seating in airlines, and there must be some earlier lineage and/or history that shows airplanes having angled seating. It's very interesting. Please let me know if you've come up with anything else in this respect (apart from BA's seats), which show early angled seating. Thanks again! I will check out Pprune.

User currently offlinePs76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 11858 times:


You're welcome sir. It was fun looking into it although, as you've found too, information particularly about older history on it is quite hard to find on the web.

Will post if I come across anything else.

Many thanks.


User currently offlineoxygen From Hong Kong, joined Sep 1999, 675 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (3 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 11060 times:

Does this United DC-3 count as having angled seating?


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