AF022
Topic Author
Posts: 1630
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 10:41 pm

Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:10 pm

I travel frequently in business and lately it seems that there are so many seating options that vary greatly. When I travel for personal reasons and I'm in the back of the plane, the variations of the seat aren't really that big. But in business class the variations are enormous.

Does anyone know of any surveying that has been done to compare all the options and what the overall preference is? Lie-flat is obviously important, but beyond that?

I have flown Delta's herringbone 77L and I don't really like the narrowness of the seat, or the feeling that I am going to be tossed into the aisle. I have flown AF's newer business class which seems flatter (although I don't know if this is perfectly flat), but the shelf where you put your feet seems to be good; I really like their A380 business seat because of the stowage available on the window seat. I'm intrigued by Swiss's new product, but I'm wondering about the individuality of the seats. I have seen pictures of QR's product on the 777 with standard seat pairing and I like what I have seen with the standard seating but comletely flat, but their website has very little information. I've also seen WY's and SQ's product, but it seems very luxe and I don't have the opportunity to use them.

Is there a source for a discussion on all the variations of seating and what passengers really prefer?
 
falkerker
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:53 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:26 pm

Personally I think premium classes have become the real competition arena (product-wise) between the airlines. Since economy class already have all an airline is willing to give for the price (IFE) and the seats cannot get any smaller, the race moved to the premium areas (and since they are higher yield, airlines try to tempt paying premium customers). This has gone to the point where nowadays J class seats (and in some cases soft product) is far superior to what F used to be a few years ago with F starting to have outrageous perks (showers, private chef, double beds).

That said I dont know of any unbiased, honest survey comparing seats. I believe skytrax favours whoever pays the most and other sites (seatguru?, etc) are really outdated or not trustworthy. I believe the best choice you have when comparing premium cabins is reading TR for each "candidate".
If you find a good survey/comparison site, pleeeease let usnknow.
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8101
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:19 pm

I always enjoy talking to real pro travellers who have tried it all. One guy who seems to spend his entire life in the air said Asiana's J class is a "sleeper hit" - I think in the movie business sense, that it's an underground sensation, rather than it's ability to help you sleep (although in this context they are actually the same thing). Also those in the know rave about Oman Air.

I have sampled a fair few J class products and for me BA is the winner - it's a properly lie-flat bed, you can enjoy the company of your neighbour if you want, or enjoy total privacy if you don't. The fleet includes 57 747s, which gives you the private jet feeling absent on the main deck of a 777 or A330, and they fly to six continents. Best of all - it's a consistent product with the same seat across the entire fleet so you know exactly what you're getting, which is not true of all airlines.

Unlike Emirates, where every aircraft has a different product - some 777s have the A380 product, others have an ancient laz-e-boy. I think all the A330s and A340s have the old recliner, but you'll pay top dollar. Prepare to be majorly disappointed, especially on the A340 which flies some long haul routes eg Casablanca, Osaka. Also the minibar on the A380 / 777 is useless, it's actually a little shelf of soft drinks etc, but who wants to drink at room (cabin) temperature? So you still need to ring a call bell for ice. It's an irritating waste of weight and space that wasn't thought through at all.

Some products are bizarrely bad - herringbone is terrible cos you can't see your travel partner - for instance my niece, 8 years old, got freaked out in her Virgin Atlantic* seat cos she couldn't see mummy (or anyone). And the window is behind you. And the angled lie-flat is an abomination, flew it on Qantas and won't ever fly QF J class ever again, lying there trying not to slide off this awful thing is not what I paid for.

Was very disappointed by Egyptair recently - they had a nice looking flatbed which I spied on a recent CAI-LHR in Y so I booked LHR-CAI-PEK in J last month cos it was cheap. LHR-CAI was as I remembered, although the cabin service was very hit-or-miss. I looked forward to the CAI-PEK sector to sleep, but imagine my disappointment to find an 80s style recliner. So Egyptair are putting flatbeds on midhaul and crappy recliners on long haul. Even worse, as soon as the door closed, they upgraded all their friends so every seat was taken, which makes you wonder why the hell you paid for it, plus when the guy next to you coughs like a SARS victim the whole time, you can't move. Singapore Airlines never ever upgrades passengers except if they're overbooked, and I think this is an excellent policy.

Finally - sometimes it's the soft product that does it. American Airlines J class isn't much of a match for BA but their food is better, which makes them an equal in my eyes. I don't think Thai have the best hard product, even the new seats. But such nice crew, who couldn't be charmed off their feet? Some airlines soldier on with an outdated product but will win your heart with kind and professional service (Iran Air). And some have both - JAL and Nippon have a fantastic hard product and really nice and polite cabin crew. Singapore Airlines goes without saying.

Who have I missed out?

* my niece, bless her, thought the name of the airline was Version Atlantic.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
falkerker
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:53 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:46 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Reply 2):
Singapore Airlines goes without saying.

Talk about comparison!!! WOW, just WOW, the only thing you missed out was a drink and inviting us all    

AV J is getting much, much better, especially on their widebody fleet, LAN as well.
AF J (Ive only tried their A340, not the A380) is nothing special.
SQ "goes without saying", it is better than many F Ive flown recently.
EK is nice but as CedarJet said many things are there just for the sake of being there but not for a true purpose.

Herringbone is hideous, no matter the carrier. And in this day and age, anything but lie-flat should not be legally sold as J (some say even angled lie-flat shouldnt be called proper J)
 
Viscount724
Posts: 18834
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:03 pm

Quoting cedarjet (Reply 2):
Some products are bizarrely bad - herringbone is terrible cos you can't see your travel partner - for instance my niece, 8 years old, got freaked out in her Virgin Atlantic* seat cos she couldn't see mummy (or anyone).
Quoting falkerker (Reply 3):
Herringbone is hideous, no matter the carrier.

I like the herringbone layout. They have to consider the majority of the passengers who in J class are flying alone. It's also a good way to maximize the number of seats in the available floor space. It also gives all passengers direct aisle access, which is a problem with the BA design (with half the seats facing backwards) where window seat passengers have to climb over the adjacent passenger's legs.

In my experience, the best configuration is the staggered forward-facing design as used by LX and quite a few others, where your feet fit in the space beside the offset set in front. That also permits more seats in the same area since the seat pitch can be reduced. It also permits all but a few seats to have direct aisle access.

Obviously you can't please everyone.
 
planeguy727
Posts: 1054
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:58 am

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Wed May 01, 2013 2:07 am

I recently flew with LA in the new J class. Found it fine. Was able to get some sleep on the overnight flights. Food was ok, not the best J I've experienced, but given the discounted rate I can't complain.

Like Viscount, I too appreciate the herringbone layout. I like being able to access the aisle while having light from the window close by. Given that I usually fly by myself it works well. I've come to appreciate it after flying on TG and US.
I want to live in an old and converted 727...
 
Sethor
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:09 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Wed May 01, 2013 11:59 am

Quoting AF022 (Thread starter):
Is there a source for a discussion on all the variations of seating and what passengers really prefer?


There is a lot of discussion of airlines product offerings on Frequent Flyer forums if that's what you're after, largest one will be Flyer Talk . You also have regional or airline specific forums like SQ Talk & Australian Frequent Flyer etc. You also have travel news & review sites like Australian Business Traveller & Business Traveller.
 
aklrno
Posts: 1162
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:18 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Wed May 01, 2013 12:24 pm

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 4):
Quoting cedarjet (Reply 2):
Some products are bizarrely bad - herringbone is terrible cos you can't see your travel partner - for instance my niece, 8 years old, got freaked out in her Virgin Atlantic* seat cos she couldn't see mummy (or anyone).
Quoting falkerker (Reply 3):
Herringbone is hideous, no matter the carrier.

I like the herringbone layout. They have to consider the majority of the passengers who in J class are flying alone. It's also a good way to maximize the number of seats in the available floor space. It also gives all passengers direct aisle access, which is a problem with the BA design (with half the seats facing backwards) where window seat passengers have to climb over the adjacent passenger's legs.

I noticed that the people who hate herringbone seem to be in their twenties or thirties. They might have a different opinion if they were in their sixties and male. We need to get out to the toilet a lot more often! When I look around the business class cabin, I see a lot of older men, some flying alone, some not. Even if you are flying with someone else, if you are going to make use of the bed you won't be doing a lot of talking to someone else. My business partner much prefers to be separate from his wife who wants to stay up, have a drink, and watch a few movies to get the full value of the premium experience. To my partner and me full value means a quiet night. He and I both prefer the isolation of the herringbone seat. If you are flying alone you usually don't want to see or hear anyone else. I also don't want to have to climb over them in the middle of the night, nor have them climb over me. The best case against the seat is probably the case of the 8 year old mentioned above, but that is rare in premium. In any case, they can be seated opposite each other across the aisle and she would not feel isolated.

Most modern first class seats are also very isolated.
 
CXB77L
Posts: 2599
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:18 pm

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Wed May 01, 2013 12:37 pm

Quoting aklrno (Reply 7):
I noticed that the people who hate herringbone seem to be in their twenties or thirties. They might have a different opinion if they were in their sixties and male. We need to get out to the toilet a lot more often!

You can have a fully flat bed and direct aisle access without going to the "herringbone" configuration route. Staggered forward facing seats is the way to go, or simply have 4 abreast (1-2-1) forward facing flat beds, like SQ, CX, AA and many others who have started picking up this trend.

Personally, I despise the herringbone layout due to the difficulty of looking out the window, but I love CX's new "reverse herringbone" J class. Herringbone is not the only way to enjoy direct aisle access.

[Edited 2013-05-01 05:37:52]
Boeing 777 fanboy
 
deepunderground
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:38 am

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Sun May 05, 2013 9:33 am

Herringbone is not the layout for me traveling with a 1 year old and a 4 year old. Perhaps that is a plus to most business class passengers.  
 
spacecadet
Posts: 2788
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:36 am

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Mon May 06, 2013 6:21 am

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 8):
You can have a fully flat bed and direct aisle access without going to the "herringbone" configuration route. Staggered forward facing seats is the way to go,

ANA has staggered seating and it has some (though not all) of the same disadvantages of herringbone. You still can't really talk to your partner, for one thing. I traveled with my wife on ANA just a couple weeks ago (she is also my business partner and we were traveling for our business!) and we were forced to lean around a partition every time we wanted to talk. I don't see why the middle seats, at least, couldn't have a movable partition, but it's still a long way to talk to the person next to you because of the staggered layout itself.

I think this is partly intentional, because they want that cabin quiet.

Otherwise it was great, although one other issue with the staggered layout is that some seats are clearly better than others. Half the window seats have a direct window view and great isolation from the rest of the cabin, whereas the other half force you to lean over to look out the window and you've also got people brushing past you in the aisle all the time (but at least you *can* look out the window). The aisle-adjacent middle seats are clearly the worst - no isolation from the aisle, no way to talk to the person next to you and no way to look out a window. I think ideally passengers would probably favor a layout that was not so inequitable.

I'm curious about JAL's new layout, although at first I thought it couldn't compare to ANA's. But it doesn't seem to have such a vast difference in the quality of each seat, and it has movable partitions. The seats also look bigger although there is not a big table as on ANA, or as much empty floor space (both of which I found useful on a long flight - it's like having your own little apartment to dump all your stuff in).
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8101
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: Business Class Seating - So Many Variations

Mon May 06, 2013 10:37 am

Just booked Air China 747 from San Francisco to Beijing in October* and learned to my delight and amazement that J is upstairs (to be expected) and in Zone A, the nose! First class is in the second cabin on the main deck, Zone B. I must say sitting in the nose was a major reason for booking J in this case, although the price was excellent and I have become a fan of Air China after some excellent long haul flights in Y lately (PEK-LAX, PEK-JFK) which have made me curious about their premium product.

Then again, judging from some research (Google Images, a.net photos and airlinequality.com), they are one of the airlines who have a different product in each aircraft type, and not only that, but the 747 seats might even be the dreaded angled-lie flat that cost Qantas my custom forever (this is my first time on their jumbo - their 777-300ERs have a fantastic fully lie flat J class product). Well in this case I guess I will make an exception cos it's a daylight flight and I get to sit in the nose.

* en route to participate in the last 2013 aviation tour of the DPRK, with Il-18, -62, -76; Tu-134, -154, -204; An-24, -148
http://www.juchetravelservices.com
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz

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