Sliding doors in business class: an open and shut case?

Privacy doors which transform a business class seat into a private suite are all but a must-have for modern business class.

By David Flynn, September 26 2023
Sliding doors in business class: an open and shut case?

Once the exclusive domain of luxury first class suites, sliding privacy doors are steadily pushing beyond the curtain into the business class cabin.

Since the debut of Delta Air Lines’ doored Delta One suite and Qatar Airways’ superb Qsuite across 2016-2017, just about every new business class cabin to take to the international skies is now framed by a door between the passenger and the aisle.

This year alone has seen Air IndiaHawaiian Airlines and Starlux join a growing cohort includes forthcoming business class suites from the likes of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas – with Japan Airlines and United Airlines expected to add their names to the list them in the near future.

Even some airlines where doors are not found on every business class seat are adding them to those seats in the front row to create a more premium – and yes, more expensive – ‘business plus’ experience, as is the case with Air New Zealand and Lufthansa.

To date, Emirates and Singapore Airlines are among the heavyweight holdouts, although this will probably change with the reveal of their next-gen Boeing 777-9 business class products.

Meanwhile, the companies which create, design and manufacture seats for airlines – among them Adient, Collins, Jamco, Recaro, Safran, Stelia and Thompson – now include at least one business class platform with doors in their catalogues: bait for carriers looking to not just catch up to but leap ahead of their competitors.

But now that many high flyers have sampled those doored suites, is a door really a deal-breaker?

They have obvious benefits when snatching some sleep on long international flights. Blocking out the distractions of noise and aisle movement helps transform your seat into a cosy snooze-inducing cocoon.

A closed door can also be a boon for those who need to work above the clouds: given enough personal space and fast inflight WiFi, a private business class seat becomes an office above the clouds.

However, many travellers tell us that the ‘novelty’ of a door quickly disappears and after a few flights, they find themselves generally keeping the door open for most of the trip.

So this week, we’re asking Executive Traveller readers who’ve flown in suites with doors: what’s your preference?

When do you keep the doors open, when do you close them, and does a door make that much of a difference to the overall experience? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 48

I have experienced doors in both First (free upgrades on a few occasions) and Business. OK, doors are nice in Business however I would not pay more for this feature. I can see that airlines are using this to provide a point of difference right now however if this becomes the norm then we, the travelling public will pay more for our flights across the board as we step towards the current First Class offering. Do we really need doors and do we really want that to pay more than we do now?

My personal opinion (for what it is worth) having travelled for years in open Business Class. I am very happy for a direct aisle access with seat against the window so some space to the aisle and I don’t expect a door. 

15 Nov 2012

Total posts 14

I used to fly in long haul business for both work and pleasure 10-15 trips per year- and I definitely value the privacy of having a door in Business. It's an introvert's dream to be able to shut the door and be in your own world. Although a sliding door is not a must - I'd say if was flying in a seat that had a door I would not leave it open.

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 201

Attempting to navigate the aisle in an open business class such as Emirates at night, when the aircraft is full, as is the case these days, tends to be a bit of an exercise, as sleepers and their covers extend out into the aisle, catching the unwary. And if you were slightly caught up in one, you tended to immediately wake the sleeper. So I for one will look forward to seeing doors in J and will be prepared to pay a bit more for the privilege.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 122

Such a vexed position to take. I usually keep my door open,  but like @grov, navigating an aisle at night with no doors is not fun. As someone who has flown J since the 90’s (because of corp biz travel) and now pays my own way, I’m always grateful for space and a bed on a plane, no matter how it manifests because ANYTHING beats Y

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 124

I don’t like the doors in J, the seats are not big enough to warrant them and they make the space too small…. I think it’s a waste of money that we have to pay for. 

What are you all doing in your seat that you need all this “privacy”? The qantas J seat in my opinion offers plenty of privacy to your head while in sleep and sit mode 

No doors please 

27 Sep 2023

Total posts 3

I actually found doors on business class more of a novelty than a must have. It was a little claustrophobic after awhile and like the article says, I left the door open for almost the whole flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 91

I only recently used Qsuite for the first time last month and it was an open-open case!!! No matter what I tried the door just kept sliding open of it's own accord. So completely pointless. And to be frank i didn't miss anything anyway. I actually find QRs A380 J to be about the most comfortable seat and space. But that said I also prefer privacy as long as the suite is relatively enclosed and has lots of storage then I'm perfectly fine without a door.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 May 2018

Total posts 22

if I had a sliding door I would still leave it open-too claustrophobic-  otherwise feel like I am in a MRI

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 463

I always keep the doors open; they are just a marketing gimmick giving the illusion of privacy. Unless they - and the aisle-side walls of the suite - are at least 190cm tall, then everyone walking past can see over the top of them anyway!

Qatar Privilage Club

31 Mar 2023

Total posts 8

Personally I will put preferance to airlines with suites with doors and book those before I book airlines without. 

11 May 2016

Total posts 12

I had flown first class with door and TBH that didn't make any difference, so I would not be glad to pay the premium. 

04 Jan 2024

Total posts 1

If I want a suit I fly first - not only for the door but the service airside as well as airport side


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