As the battle for the lucrative business travel market grows more intense – with the spoils of success, and the cost of failure, greater than ever before – airlines have decided that a lie-flat bed is no longer enough.
From domestic business class cabins which wouldn't be out of place on an international flight, to seats which are more like suites, a handful of airlines are busy redefining business class as we know it.
Etihad Business Studio
What's so special about it? The new wave of business class for Etihad's Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 jets, the Etihad Business Studio brings suite-style design to business class travel.
In addition to an 80.5 inch bed (2.04 metre) bed, there's a side table and ottoman to maximise your space.
A top-loading cupboard and space below the ottoman provide plenty of storage – something of a trend among many new business class seats.
On the A380, Business Studio guests also have access to The Lobby, a serviced lounge and bar located between the first and business class cabins.
When you can fly it: From December you’ll be able to book into Business Suites on Airbus A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and London. The superjumbo will also fly between Sydney and Abu Dhabi from June 2015, with the Boeing 787 slated for Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services.
Read more: Inside Etihad Airways' new Business Studio
Singapore Airlines Business Class
What's so special about it? Revealed last year, this update to Singapore Airlines' already-impressive business class could easily be mistaken for first class.
Between sitting upright and lying flat-out, the seats offer new ‘Lazy Z’ and Sundeck modes – perfect for watching TV, reading a book or casually tapping away on your laptop.
There’s a new amenity storage area in the side console, a separate laptop stowage area and a personal vanity mirror, while the meal table is height-adjustable to suit all travellers.
The entertainment screen is boosted to 18 inches from the previous 15.4" size, while an ‘all-in-one business panel’ takes care of your power and connectivity needs.
When you can fly it: It’s sometimes available on SQ217/218 from Melbourne to Singapore and then onwards to London, while upgrades of the airline’s current Boeing 777-300ER fleet will begin next year, with all refits completed by 2016.
Qantas Business Suite
What's so special about it? The next generation of Qantas business class, designed by Marc Newson, gives each passenger direct access to the aisle and has plenty of space for working during the flight.
You'll also be able to recline the seat for take-off and landing – perfect for maximising your sleep on red-eye flights.
The new inflight entertainment includes backup storage behind the 16 inch screen so that even if the airplane-wide system goes down you'll still be able to watch a selection of the most popular movies and TV shows.
When you can fly it: Qantas expects to launch the Business Suite by the end of this year on at least one domestic (east-west) and international (Asian) service on its Airbus A330 aircraft.
Although the full re-fit program won’t be finished until 2016, Business Suites will eventually become a staple on all A330 flights to and from Perth, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok.
Read more: Up close with the Qantas Business Suite
What's so special about it? US airline JetBlue raises domestic business class to a whole new level with semi-private suites on flights between Los Angeles and New York.
With echoes of the transcontinental turf war that's played out between Qantas and Virgin Australia on east-west flights, JetBlue is going up against United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta.
Complete with closing doors, there are four semi-private suites on each aircraft plus 12 standard Mint seats.
The Mint premium cabin offers with the longest (80 inches, or 2.03 metres) widest (22.3 inches, or 56 cm) flatbeds in the US domestic market.
Creature comforts include multiple AC outlets and USB ports for each seat, a massage function and satellite TV.
When you can fly it: JetBlue Mint services are currently flying between New York’s JFK airport and Los Angeles, with a New York-San Francisco service coming later this year.
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