Boeing patents 12-across business class seating

By David Flynn, November 30 2015
Boeing patents 12-across business class seating

Is Boeing set to put the squeeze on high-paying passengers?

A US patent application filed by the aircraft manufacturer reveals a radical new design for business class seating which could stack as many as 12 travellers into a single row.

The 'high-density' arrangement would rely on aircraft being designed with three aisles rather than the two used in today's largest jets such as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner, resulting in a 3-3-3-3 layout.

It would allow airlines to pack vastly more passengers into business class cabins compared to today's typical configurations which average four passengers per row, although some airlines – foremost among them British Airways and United Airlines – manage to get eight passengers per row using a 2-4-2 layout.

Boeing maintains the seats would still convert to a lie-flat bed, albeit with a noticeable taper from head to foot which could make sleeping on one's side the only way to catch some rest.

And while passengers would still have access to the aisle, as indicated by the arrows in each diagram, this would clearly require a combination of ginger steps and yoga-like contortions.

it's arguable whether airlines could continue to charge high premiums for business class when passengers would  swap spacious cabins for sardine-like quarters.

Created by Mark Eakins – who holds over a dozen patents for the Boeing 787 and its 7E7 prototype – the patent application is described as "a passenger seating arrangement which maximises seat density."

The model is nothing if not flexible, with the patent application demonstrating multiple configurations including reverse seating and staggered rows.

This could deliver a 10-across setup in a standard twin-aisle jet with seats arranged in a 2-6-2 grid...

... or a marginally less claustrophobic 2-5-2 for nine abreast.

Boeing even suggests that a single-aisle jets such as the Boeing 737, which is the domestic workhorse of both Qantas and Virgin Australia, could hold up to 50% more business class passengers using a staggered 3-3 or dovetailed 2-3 layout.

The patent application also details a 'seat configuration' app so that airlines purchasing Boeing jets could easily see how many passengers they could squeeze into business class using the seat design.

Airlines would enter details such as the cabin's physical width, minimum aisle width and desired dimensions of each seat, and also choose to allow reversed or staggered seating.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment on the patent application (which can be seen here), a spokesman for the company said "Boeing files many patents every year that protect our intellectual property, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we end up pursuing them."

More seat design scoops from Australia Business Traveller:

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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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 116

without researching the details of the patent application, is this more of a business lite product - perhaps an 'enhancement' of premium economy? Maybe it will be called Premium Economy plus 

I'd say its a "business lite" product. Its an attempt at the highest-density fully-flat-bed possible, without vertical stacking at least. However there's seemingly no privacy or any substantial storage space or amenity beyond that fully flat bed.

The product may constitute a good way for LCCs to enter longer-haul markets but really, does anyone want this to happen?

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 733

Honestly it's a surprise nobody has tried vertical stacking yet. Imagine 'em stacked morgue-style. 

THEY HAVE    isnt that what the A380 is ?????    LOL

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1242


11 Mar 2012

Total posts 315


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

"does anyone want this to happen?" - absolutelly! I do not mind "business without any perks" as long as they give me flat bad!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Sep 2015

Total posts 12

And I thought CX's old biz was claustrophobic (but private, so it sort of weighed out). I really do hope that this doesn't end up on any airline. Even Air Asia wouldn't torture their business class passengers with this formation. Please keep premium cabins 'premium'.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

That's not Business class.  That's sub-Economy.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

Utter rubbish. I may agree that it is not true business, but sub economy? I rather call it proper PE.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Nov 2013

Total posts 29

How is having a bed sub-economy?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

No Thanks! Thats all

05 Sep 2014

Total posts 14

Some of these diagrams hurt my eyes...

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1242

I actually cannot make out the egress patterns.

21 Sep 2012

Total posts 49

I hate the BA ying/yang combination so will be giving whevever airline chooses this combo a wide berth!


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

Actually if you snatch proper seat in BA business it looks like own private mini-suite. Try last seat from window side on second deck of 747 while they still flying - own entry/exit; ample of space, ample of storage; full privacy and lids of storage bins acting as additional extra large table.

Business class - more like cattle class every time I see another stupid idea of how to stack people in like sardines.  I truly am glad I will not be flying any more after the end of next year when i stop working.

Already I have seen cattle class seats squeezed up closer so my knees are now jammed into the back of the seat in front, trying to eat what they serve as 'food' is getting harder and harder without dribbling it down your shirt as the guy next to you moves his arm to eat.

The fact is that planes are rarely so full that this sort of seating would be required - i think from memory in 30 years of being an expat engineer flying about 5 or 6 round trip long haul flights a year I have only ever been on a bare handfull of planes so full each seat was occupied.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

Move to First and I will be more then happy to take this "cattle business" providing that price is correct. I do not need any perks, I need flat bad.

RE full planes. Last 3 my flights to Europe in business only one leg was not fill 100%, rest was completely full. I guess this depends on route. On route with smaller capacity they will be able to use smaller planes.

BTW why that big fat font?

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 542

I think the third picture would actually make decent four-across seating. It's like a backwards-reverse herringbone style.

09 Jul 2014

Total posts 31

Backwards-reverse herringbone style sounds saucy...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 134

Given the current international terrorism/security situation, it looks like Boeing is trying to put the Undertaker out of business by offering passengers the chance of flying in their own personal and ready-made coffin. I wonder if it comes with brass handles?

NZ Elite

03 Jul 2014

Total posts 109

Coffin class.

gives a whole new meaning to 'a can of sardines'!

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 733

Call it Premium Economy and I'm down.

19 Jun 2014

Total posts 32

I think we can potentially smell other passenger feet in this seat arrangement below?

Couldnt help but notice how similar they look to coffins.

25 Feb 2012

Total posts 77

I'm speachless! 


03 May 2013

Total posts 673

The day thisJ class  config is introduced by any airline I fly will be the last time I fly with that airline.....hope you're reading this Qantas ;)


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

I love the idea, however not for business class bot for PE!

One World

02 Dec 2015

Total posts 1

I am Ok with it as long as the price is right! It is all about being to lay down on long haul. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 203

You'd have to be paying a considerable amount less than normal J-class fare for this shitty product!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 May 2015

Total posts 30

You mean to say there is a patent on this? Simply open a can of sardines and you get the same pattern. I'm sure King Oscar can challenge the validity of this patent. On another note why pay through the nose when you get somebody else's feet up your nose anyway?  

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 128

with world heading into one massive recession, this maybe the oy way airlines can survive, ie. by making "business class" cheaper

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

17 Apr 2014

Total posts 16

Why does Boeing not surprise me with this inasme suggestion. What will the airlines call it "sardine class". Surely they know that if they did away with the luggage racks, they could have three levels of bunks or what about the suggestion of bar stools. You could probably get 90 in an A330 cabin doing that. The airlines are out of control, Greed and market share have got the better of them. Look at the config on some Emirates A38O's. 3-5-3. What poor xxx would want to be in the middle seat. It is an absoloute disaster.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

This is a joke, have a look at the shape and more importantly the SIZE of most American business class passengers..................unless the world solves the problem of bulginging waist lines, not likely, this just won't work. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 72

I think I will wait till I die to fit into a coffin in the air.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 192

stop flying than if this happens only crap airlines would consider such nasty layout BA and AA -well they never been famous to be the best business class products so no wonder that they would implement this nonsense.


19 Jun 2015

Total posts 18

another crazy idea from the people who invented 3 & 4 across seating - as if every couple has an extra person with them.

And given the increasing size and weight of the average US passenger this config will never work - if the pax manages to get in the seat they'll never get out again. Its just dumb. 

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2015

Total posts 7

How can they patent this? They have been doing this in sardine cans for years now.

Who would want to sit flush with someones smelly feet!

This is not a new idea, I'm pretty sure that most airline have contemplated it and then discarded it.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

I'm thinking that if this going to happen... maybe cruise ships would be a solution for my trips. Already an airplane is closeted space… and I can't imagine 20hrs JFK-SYD on a business class that is designed for guys with pants size 30 slim fit and for me being 34 will not be possible to travel on any airplane or just seat and not move at all... in addition the service would be much slower and less...maybe more crew members, then business class will become a class where you would have to pay for advance seat selection, pay for extra meals… who knows. I think we are going in the track to use some after dinner pills for sleeping 17 hours and wake up before landing, like the intergalactic trips on those futuristic movies….

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2015

Total posts 8

 Honestly, the condemed cell in the Bastille must have been more hospitable.  Why not just string up hammocks and lay down some straw so you could do away with the loo's as well.  You could call the airline Dickensian Air.

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