Game of thrones: the best business class seat for the solo traveller?

By David Flynn , March 19 2018
Game of thrones: the best business class seat for the solo traveller?

TALKING POINT | They're the favoured seat of many frequent flyers – a prize pick at the best of time, especially if you want to turn your business class seat into an office above the clouds.

They're the 'throne' seats available on a handful of airlines due to a unique seating layout, where instead of two adjacent seats there's just one seat flanked by a pair of useful side tables.

Swiss' business class 'throne' seat
Swiss' business class 'throne' seat

This makes them not only exceptionally private but ideal for spreading out your work or inflight reading, keeping laptops and tablets and smaller knick-knacks within reach, and even watching a video on your laptop during dinner.

Throne seats are understandably prized by solo travellers – so much so that Swiss airlines last year began charging a premium seat selection fee of between 99 and 199 Swiss Francs (A$135-$270) – unless passengers are elite HON Circle and Senator members of the airline's Miles & More frequent flyer program, who can choose them for free and before they're offered to the hoi polloi.

In most cases there are only a handful of thrones on any Swiss jet – for example, just 12 out of the 62 business class seats on Swiss' new Boeing 777-300ER – so their scarcity makes them even more valuable.

Malaysia Airlines' new Airbus A330 and Airbus A350 jets also sport a handful of thrones, because it selected the same business class seat as Swiss (specifically, Thompson Aero Seating's Vantage model) which makes the throne a necessary part of the cabin layout.

Malaysia Airlines' business class 'throne' seat
Malaysia Airlines' business class 'throne' seat

Of the 35 business class seats on Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 there are just four thrones (at 2K, 5K, 9K and 11K, all of which are located on the right side of the aircraft).

Lufthansa has also incorporated a throne into its custom-designed business class for the new Boeing 777-9 jets, which will begin flying from 2020.

Lufthansa's all-new Boeing 777X business class
Lufthansa's all-new Boeing 777X business class

However, these thrones are in the middle of the big Boeing jetliner and alternate between every second row of two-across seats – so there'll be more of them, underlining Lufthansa's deliberate choice to take the business class throne mainstream.

That said, no everybody wants to sit on the throne: many business travellers consider them uncomfortably confining when it's time to sleep, due to the presence of those side walls created by the shelves.

Cocoon or confinement? Swiss Boeing 777-300ER throne in bed mode
Cocoon or confinement? Swiss Boeing 777-300ER throne in bed mode

If you've flown in thrones on Swiss or Malaysia Airlines, what's your take: do you go out of your way to choose a thone seat, and are these at their best during the daytime portions of a flight but at their worst for sleeping?

David

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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 748

How space efficient is the throne arrangement? In a given space, what gets more seats, thrones, staggered (eg QF A330), or reverse herringbone (VA)?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

It depends.

The thrones are just a result of a staggered arrangement; the alternating 1-2-1/1-2-2 arrangement used on MH's A330-300s results in 27J between doors 1 and 2, so it's not really any different to QF's 28J in 1-2-1 on the same aircraft type. On the A330-200, VA's reverse herringbone arrangement fits 20J between doors 1 and 2, while QF's staggered arrangements fits 22J.

However, because the floor space Tetris with all these various types of J seat depends so heavily on the specific amount of space you have to play with, there are different sweets spots for different seats and aircraft types, although it's also worth pointing out that the differences are really just one or two seats here and there.

But it really depends on what your goals are and what the given space is.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 16

No to reverse Herringbone; the worst way to fly is backwards in one of those kennels.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 748

Reverse herringbone is not flying backwards. It is where the feet point away from the aisle. Traditional herringbone (NZ/VS) has legs pointing towards to aisle.

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

These throne seats are absolutely balla. You can imagine certain types of business travellers who would eventually refuse to travel in J class unless it is a throne.

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 2

I flew MH A330 in January and got a 'throne' seat - liked the privacy, but it was cramped while trying to sleep. Still, I think the best seat in their cabin. Loved the old Finnair A340 thrones...

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 5

Jet Airways of India have 4 Throne seats on there A330-300's. Seat numbers 1A, 3A, 5A & 7A. All of them on the right hand side of the Aircraft. Excellent seats

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 5

Sorry should be "on the left hand side of the aircraft". On the right hand side they have regular single seats alternating between true window and aisle

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 125

I have "flown the throne" on MH's A330 and A350. For a daytime flight, the throne is an absolute no-brainer. For a nighttime flight I still prefer it. I am not sure that the narrowness of the seat is affected by whether the seat is a throne or part of a two-some - both have shell surrounds, and both are bloody narrow, so for a tall side-sleeper like me it can be hard to get comfortable as I need to bend my legs but there is very little knee-room. I still go for the throne every time, though.


Like MikeMac, I loved the old AY thrones as well, and again they were always my choice.

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 5

I've flown in Swiss's throne seats a number of times, and find that unless you get one of the front ones with a bit more length, the space to get out into the aisle is small and a bit difficult if you're a bit stiff! And a bit coffin-like to sleep in. I actually prefer a seat with a bigger opening on to the aisle as I find them easier, although the extra flat space in the throne seat is great. But overall the Swiss business class offering is excellent.

On my last trip on Swiss, I was confirmed in a "throne" only to be bumped, I believe for a Swiss flight attendant. Not even

advised until just before checkin. Will never travel with them
again.
As fro Malaysian. Who wants to fly from Perth at 2am in a
737 to enjoy a"throne" on a A330 going somewhere. Not me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2013

Total posts 6

Would be perfect if they stuck a toilet under the seat !

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

Row 5 window on the QF747 was always great, if not quite this same configuration

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Sep 2014

Total posts 4

yes 5A or 5J on the 747 great seats for the solo traveller. Also close to the door so a bit cooler which I prefer for sleeping.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 37

Had a throne seat on a Finnair A340 a few years ago, very private but kind of felt like the seat I sit in when I have a blood test

09 May 2017

Total posts 32

With all these new Tetris type configurations length and feet space is an issue. Hubby has size 13 feet and whilst they are fine for me he has real difficulty laying down. Give us the 'old' Qantas freestanding configuration anyday for footroom

01 Sep 2015

Total posts 17

ohhh throne seat.... Was flying swiss from zurich to nyc. although took nothing to get that seat, but i kept loosing my stuff in the gap (between the left table to the window). First my air piece, then my phone. I was the last one got off the plane, took 2 flight attendants trying to get my phone, they even rang maintenance trying to remove the seat. Finally got it out without pulling the seat away, along with other things left by other passengers. One crew said it happens all the time...

19 May 2017

Total posts 2

The bulkhead throne seats (such as 4A and 6A on SWISS J) are brilliant, you don’t have to deal with restricted legroom or footroom at all.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 56

Great for the day but not for sleeping, feels like a coffin, reminds me of the old CX business class with high partitions on either side.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

Love Air NZ 777-300ER Herringbone seats -

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 332

ANZ seat is good but still prefer QF Business Suite


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Dec 2016

Total posts 2

It seems to me that airlines are competing for solo traveller's business, and not so concerned with people travelling together. The non movable divider between business passengers on the Qantas 300/330 to Narita from Melbourne

is annoying, as it makes conversation almost impossible with your fellow travel mate. The Jetstar Dreamliner on the same run, still has the motorised divider, so you have choice, and I like that better.

Maybe they like us being quiet....


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Game of thrones: the best business class seat for the solo traveller?