VC10er
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How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:13 am

Not to fly in, but how much do these elaborate and often beautiful seat units cost the airline?

Naturally there would a huge range depending on a number of factors and as a novice (here to learn) I will mention a few cost factors I could think of:

- how elaborate/materials
- off the self or custom designed
- size of order
- supplier
- airline's budget

Last week I was lucky enough to fly in Lufthansa's new First Class seat on an A340-300 from Sao Paulo to Munich. It was so fab (add given I love to fly "almost" more than anything) that I didn't want to sleep, I wanted to be awake and enjoy it as I don't think I will have this opportunity again for a while...but I will find a way into First on their 747-8 as soon as I can! But I did sleep in it and it was equally amazing.

It was really beautiful and LH must have spent a lot I would assume based on the design, mechanics, materials each unit must have been extremely expensive. Does anyone know who designed it? Now as fantastic as it is, it's not the only one that is fabulous for sure. I have been lucky enough to have been in LX, BA, SQ (not the booth), EK and "even" United's Global First, which I flew home in (and have been in a number of times) is pretty awesome and last JJ.

So I think that would basically cover the range? I have never been in Korean, Cathay, Etihad BA's newest, Asiana, Thai, AA or LAN. I am leaving out the many great business seats like SQ, LX, SAA, Virgin, ANA, TP and UA (sCO and sUA). I have flown AA and anything angled doesn't count (to me) and I'd be shocked if they had a similar cost to a lie flat business seat.

So I just can't guess. Is LH's new F seat (without separate bed) $40,000 a seat? $70,000, $15,000? I haven't a clue. It has to cost as much as a good car? And United? Clearly less, but by how much? UA must have spent a lot when it was launched years ago (designed by Pentagram) and JJ even less? Or perhaps I am influenced by TAM's bad color scheme in F so it looks cheap.

How much is the premium to "design your own unique seat" or buy something that exists and customize it? In anycase given what an airline charges for First (forget upgraders etc) they ought to be very expensive and anyone who gets the opportunity to fly in one should always be humbled by it even if F is the only way you fly. You are very lucky in any F seat.

Very, very curious, VC10er
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ghifty
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:29 am

I just did a quick search for "how much do airplane seats cost" on Google and the results are pretty poor.. hopefully someone can provide actual numbers from carriers/manufacturers..

AusBT reported:

"Eve[r] wondered how much your airline seat – not the ticket, but the actual seat – costs? Anywhere from US$2,000 to US$150,000, according to a report issued by the US Federal Aviation Authority. Here are the numbers..."

"At the back of the bus, a regular Economy seat costs around US$2,300. That's the same whether they're in a narrow body plane like a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 or a wide body plane like a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380. They're all mechanically operated, with the usual push-button options for reclining, which keeps the cost down."

Goes on to outline the rest of the costs (a very GENERAL outline).

Source: http://www.ausbt.com.au/how-much-doe...he-actual-seat-not-the-ticket-cost

I'm surprised at how much an F Class seat is reported to be.. really?? I mean, it's "just" a seat..
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Unflug
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:52 am

Quoting ghifty (Reply 1):
Eve[r] wondered how much your airline seat – not the ticket, but the actual seat – costs? Anywhere from US$2,000 to US$150,000, according to a report issued by the US Federal Aviation Authority. Here are the numbers...

These price tags are similar to the info I got from some LH crew - with no idea how reliable that was.
 
VgnAtl747
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:30 pm

$150k is a little more than I expected, but not by much. There's so many factors to consider when you really think about it. Weight is everything, which means the seats likely contain a high amount of lightweight but strong alloys and composites, which are expensive to manufacturer and work with. When we're talking something like an F or J seat, the weight distribution and overall net load of the seat has to match the load bearing rating of the floor, etc.

Add to the priority on weight, the complexity of many F and J seats, and the requirement that they have to operate with an extremely high reliability, and those systems must be built to aviation specifications. Aviation specifications on things like wiring and what materials you can/can't use are very strict.

The last piece to that puzzle is that the seat is where the airline makes their money. Obviously there's a lot more that goes into it than this simple example, but if a seat costs $150k, and it's flying between NYC and LON at an average fare of $3k, it has recouped its cost in 50 flights. Obviously that doesn't include that good percentages of the fare price go to fuel, personnel, etc., but I'd imagine at the end of the day, a break-even on a new seat isn't more than 6 months.

I'd also toss into the mix a little bit of supply and demand, and the fact that seats aren't exactly replaced every day. Fabrics and covers may be replaced, and damaged or worn components, but the physical seat structure is typically in service for years. Seat manufacturers have to offset the investment in R&D and manufacturing and assume that once that seat is sold it's not up for replacement for a number of years.

I'd be curious to know if those figures include the loss of revenue for installation. Taking an aircraft out of service for a cabin refit has a huge cost, not just in the labor hours to do the refit and the hardware needed, but also in the lost revenue of that aircraft sitting on the ground.
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VC10er
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:16 pm

I did think of all the complexity of the other associated costs of installation and having spares for an incident where a seat may need replacing after some time or fleet expansion. In fact given the sheer amount of business first and Global First seats United must have bought, all widebodies taken out of service etc

But as I sat in my LH seat, I couldn't help wonder what the unit cost must have been...never mind the cost of the cabin renovation. Perhaps all related costs are rolled up into the cost of the seat greatly increasing the unit cost.

Perhaps my question should relate to the entire premium cabin cost. I would assume the LH first cabin was well into the million dollar range per aircraft - with the 747-8 and A380 being higher (or perhaps since those VLA's are being delivered already outfitted.

How many companies / manufacturers are there for them to bid out to?
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KaiGywer
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:25 pm

The actual seat itself doesn't cost near that much. The reason for the high cost is because it's installed in an airplane. Anything that is certified for use in an airplane is automatically a LOT more expensive than the exact same item for use in a car for example (think wiring, nuts and bolts, anything that would be similar). The reason being the extensive testing and higher quality required for aviation use.
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VgnAtl747
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:43 pm

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 5):

The actual seat itself doesn't cost near that much. The reason for the high cost is because it's installed in an airplane. Anything that is certified for use in an airplane is automatically a LOT more expensive than the exact same item for use in a car for example (think wiring, nuts and bolts, anything that would be similar). The reason being the extensive testing and higher quality required for aviation use.

That was one of the points I tried to make, though you worded it a bit better. I seem to remember a show about aviation maintenance back in the late 80's or early 90's where they interviewed some UA maintenance folks. The one guy said even the smallest screws cost over $1, and that was 20-25 years ago. The sheer demand on weight savings makes those components (and the materials that make them) so much more expensive than you'd see on the ground. For every pound you add to an airplane you affect the fuel burn and range.
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emirates202
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:53 pm

I remember hearing that each EK suite costs them about USD $125,000. The numbers are pretty large, and I was surprised when I found out, but when y think about it, you understand why it's so much.
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yellowtail
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:19 pm

DOn't forget that these seats / suits have to go through vigorous flight testing, safety testing etc...all very expensive....not to mention the liability insurance these seats manufacturers must have....that alone is probably several hundred dollars per J class seat
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CALTECH
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:36 pm

When we were installing the LieFlat Diamond seats in our 757s, we were told that they cost $300,000 each, which IIRC, was for each Double set.
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777ord
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:01 am

I believe it. Having flown United's "Global First" many times recently. I can see where a seat of that magnitude requires precision installation, and care.

Also consider the weight and balance calculations to see exactly where and how those seats("Section") can do what they want it to do when you factor in the variations in the weight/balance of each flight.

I would venture to guess the F class seats easily weigh in around 300lbs. OR MORE. How much, I'd like to know.
 
Tod
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:13 pm

Quoting 777ord (Reply 10):
I would venture to guess the F class seats easily weigh in around 300lbs. OR MORE. How much, I'd like to know.

Quick example at my fingertips:

Under 250 lb for the Delta A330 Flatbed seat.
 
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Aesma
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RE: How Much Does A First Class "pod" Seat Cost?

Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:12 pm

These seats are not produced in great numbers so that won't help lower their prices.
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