Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:35 pm

First Class, Lie-flat Seats

Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:09 pm

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.
Posts: 1015
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: First Class, Lie-flat Seats

Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:51 pm


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]
Topic Author
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:35 pm

RE: First Class, Lie-flat Seats

Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:23 pm

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.
Posts: 1015
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: First Class, Lie-flat Seats

Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:45 am


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.

Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 1999 12:27 am

RE: First Class, Lie-flat Seats

Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:03 am

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

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos