Boeing 787 Dreamliner nixes first class for business, premium economy

By David Flynn, October 26 2011
Boeing 787 Dreamliner nixes first class for business, premium economy

Don’t go looking for the first-class cabin in Boeing’s newly-minted 787 Dreamliner – the company says that business class now takes pride of place at the pointy end of the plane.

Even the three-class ‘stretch limo’ 787-9 model, which is a longer version of the 787-8 which makes its debut today with Japan airline ANA, is more likely to have business, premium economy and economy sections than a high-luxe first class cabin.

“We’re seeing many airlines starting to reduce their full-blown first class offering, mainly because business class is beyond what first class used to be” observes Tom Galantowicz, Boeing’s Director of 787 Interiors.

Today's business class seats are close to what first class used to be, Boeing says.

“The front end of the 787 cabin has first class features, and business class is where the better airlines spend money because passengers are willing to pay for it” Galantowicz explains.

“So there’s (increasingly) a big gap between business class and economy class. Airlines are looking at an intermedia product to fill that gap, which is why we're seeing wide interest by airlines in premium economy.”

“25 years ago, business class was the gap-filler between first and economy, and if you look at a lot of premium economy product they literally mirror what we saw in business class 25 years ago.”

Things get tighter towards the back of the bus, with economy cabin “far and away being nine abreast seating”, although the first commercial Dreamliner sold to ANA seats eight across in economy.

This version of Weber's economy seats comes with video screens running the 787's Android-based in-flight entertainment system.

Airlines ordering the 787 must also choose their economy seat from Boeing’s ‘catalogue’ of approved seat designs from a handful of manufacturers, although they can specify their own seats for the premium economy and business class cabins (or pick one of the ‘premium’ products from the same seat companies).

It's not quite Ikea, but Boeing's showroom of pre-approved seat designs makes it easy for airlines to mix-and-match their Dreamliner's cabin design based on models from several seat manufacturers.

Qantas is still to decide if its own Dreamliners, the first of which will arrive in 2015-16 (following an initial Dreamliner shipment to low-cost sibling Jetstar starting 2013), will sport a third-generation Marc Newson Skybed design or if it will go catalogue shopping from Boeing's pre-approved 787 suppliers.

"You tend to shop off the catalogue for the rest of the aircraft but Boeing allows flexibility around the premium cabins" Lyell Strambi, Qantas Group Executive for Operations, told Australian Business Traveller. That will be a big decision for us to make closer to the time, on what will be the ultimate configuration for this plane and how many seats we have in each class."

Also in AusBT's Boeing 787 Dreamliner coverage:


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

I doubt that they'd steer away from their own design for something off the shelf. A consistent product is very important, and has been an issue for them of late... Is their Recaro A380 Y seat available in the Boeing catalogue? I'm hoping that we don't lose the carbon fiber!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

No airline is allowed to BYO economy seat, Boeing says - and I doubt the Marc Newson one (designed for Qantas) would be offered up to any airline – but I do hope it'll be submitted for 'off-catalogue' Boeing approval, as I agree with you, it's consistent design and also IMHO it's a damned good economy seat!


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

100% agree! Hopefully because the seat is basically a Recaro one that has been styled by Marc Newson it will be similar enough to an approved Recaro seat to get through! Fingers crossed!

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