The Qantas Business Suite is all the buzz with Australia's business travellers, and with good reason – it's a revolutionary leap forward for domestic and international flights on the Flying Kangaroo's Airbus A330 fleet.
We've already presented a 'deep dive' on the details of the seat, but here are ten things that you probably don't know about the next-gen seat – including a lot of information that wasn't in the official Qantas press release.
1. About that 'gate-to-gate' recline
One unique trait of the Business Suite is that it can partially recline for taxi, take-off and landing (the aviation geeks call this TTOL).
You can't drop it into flat-bed mode until the plane reaches level flight – but you can hit a button on the control panel to angle the seat back and swing the legrest up as soon as you board the plane.
Here's how the seat is shaped in its gate-to-gate recline mode.
The actual degree of recline varies between aircraft: the Airbus A330-200 used on domestic routes will have a 5 inch recline, equivalent to 21 degrees. On the international A330-300 jets you'll get a more snooze-friendly 7 inches or 25 degrees.
"Slight nuances between the domestic and international configuration means that the gate-to-gate recline position for take-off and landing are pre-set slightly differently," Qantas tells us – indicating that the longer business class cabin of the A330-300 makes for a bit more room between the suites, in turn allowing for that extra recline.
If you want to really maximise your sleep, your Business Suite can not only be pre-reclined before you board but also be dressed with a mattress.
With Singapore-Sydney flights around the 7h30m mark, for example, everything you can do to snare more sleep – and everything the Business Suite can do to help in this regard – is a win.
2. There's a lap-sash seatbelt
A key safety measure for the gate-to-gate recline is a three-point seatbelt similar to what you wear in a car (and in the first class seat on Qantas' Airbus A380).
An over-the-shoulder belt combines with the waist-height belt for additional extra restraint during the take-off and landing stages, and can withstand the 16G forces exerted in what is classified as a 'survivable accident'.
3. The seat width varies
So just how wide is the Business Suite? It depends on where you're sitting.
Some Business Suites have a seat width of 23 inches, others give you 24 inches; and not all of the suites can drop their armrest to gain an extra two inches in bed-mode.
Qantas hasn't yet released a seating chart for the new A330s, but here's what savvy travellers (and plus-sized passengers) will need to know in order to choose the best seat.
The Business Suites follow a 1-2-1 layout so that every passenger has easy access to the aisle, but some seats are directly next to the aisle while others have the side console positioned between them and the aisle.
With 28 Business Suites in each A330 (domestic and international) that'll mean seven rows of 1-2-1, with each row alternating in the actual location of the seats.
One row of 'window seats' has your armrest next to the window, with the console between you and the aisle.
The row behind flips that – the console is next to the window while the armrest is adjacent to the aisle.
Got that? Now here's the cheat sheet.
1. Those seats which have the armrest directly on the aisle are 23 inches across when you're sitting or reclining, and the armrest can be pushed down into the seat's shell to deliver an effective 25 inch width as a lie-flat bed.
2. The seats with the console next to the aisle are also 23 inches wide but the armrest remains raised when the seat becomes a bed.
3. If you're seated in the middle pair of Business Suites the armrests are also locked in place, but the seat itself is a slightly wider 24 inches in both 'seat' and 'sleep' modes.
Armed with this knowledge, once Qantas releases a seat map for the new domestic and international A330s you'll be able to 'decode' this to directly identify the '23 inch, 24 inch and 25 inch' seats.
4. Privacy plus
Unlike the sliding screen between business class seats on the Qantas A380, the panel on the paired middle Business Suites (the '2' in that 1-2-1 configuration) is fixed in place.
That's probably not as bad as you think, given that no two Business Suite seats are smack next to each other.
5. New interface for video screens
The refurbished A330s will get a new inflight entertainment system from tip to tail with touchscreens for all Business Suites and economy seats.
Those screens will sport an all new finger-friendly user interface which bears more than a passing resemblance to Windows 8 with several different-sized 'tiles' displaying the latest movies and TV shows, popular programs, flight information and more.
We've seen a preview of the system ahead of its early November reveal and it's very slick.
6. Lighten up (nor not)
The Business Suite is littered with small but clever touches. One of these is the small sensor mounted atop the video screen, which monitors the ambient light in the cabin and automatically changes the screen brightness accordingly.
Of course, you can always over-ride that to dial the brightness up or down with the touchscreen or handheld controller.
7. "Now where did that passport go?"
Hands up if you've ever lost a precious pen, an iPhone or even your passport in that slim gap between the cushion and the armrest? It's not fun for you, the crew or even for the engineers who sometimes need to be called in!
There'll be no emergency rescue operations on the Business Suite, however, as it has a small piece of netting stretching from under the edge of the seat to the sidewall to catch those wayward bits of kit.
8. Do Not Disturb mode
The Business Suite's 'Do Not Disturb' mode will be especially handy for those overnight flights from Asia back to Australia.
Tap the button on the control panel and a small but noticeable indicator on the side of your suite lights up, alerting the crew to let you snooze (or work) without interruption.
9. Mirror mirror, on the wall...
Here's another of those little flourishes which shows how much thought has gone into the design of the Business Suite.
Flip open the panel covering the handheld controller and you'll spy a compact vanity mirror concealed in the underside of the lid – perfect for a quick pre-landing touch-up of your lipstick, eyeliner or hair without having to queue for the loo.
10. New Kate Spade amenity bag
Also on show at this week's reveal were the new edition amenity kits to be handed out on international flights.
The ladies will get this colourful eye-catching Kate Spade bag.
The blokes will be handed a more subdued Jack Spade bag in the same mostly-grey design as before, but with a red stripe.
(Beyond the toiletries in the kits, we've found these bag are great for toting those large 6 inch smartphones as well as the usual assortment of USB cables, memory keys and what-not.)
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