TALKING POINT | Is this the seat which could make a 15 hour flight in economy actually bearable?
The radically-designed staggered seat is called the Cozy Suite, it comes from the seat design gurus at Ireland's Thompson Aero – and it just might be the economy seat you'll see on the Qantas' long-range Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Let us repeat: it might be. And it very well might not be.
This is pure speculation, centred around a novel interesting seat design and Qantas' plans for its Boeing 787s.
We already know that Thompson is crafting the pointy end of the red-tailed Dreamliners ahead of their first flights in late 2017: flights which could include non-stop 15+ hour routes such as Sydney to Chicago, Melbourne to Dallas and even Perth to London.
Those business class seats will be a refinement of the same highly-regarded Business Suite (below) which Thompson and designer Marc Newson created for Qantas' Airbus A330 fleet.
AusBT review: Qantas A330 Business Suite business class
However, speaking on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference in Dublin this week, Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said that the airline was working with Thompson Aero "on a number of the products" (italics ours) for the Boeing 787.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce added that the Dreamliner would have "a very luxurious configuration, and it's there for the distances that were flying" – and while the economy seats will be nine-across, in a 3-3-3 arrangement, "we will be giving some very good seat pitch for economy seats given the the lengths we’ll be flying."
Get cosy in your own cocoon
Now consider that Thompson Aero currently lists only two core products: the Vantage business class family (from which the Vantage XL-based Qantas A330 Business Suite was drawn) and the Cozy Suite, which the firm list as "bringing comfort and space to economy and premium economy cabins."
So yes, the Cozy Suite could also be Qantas' choice for the Boeing 787s' premium economy cabin, leaving travellers down the back of the bus with a more conventional seat simply spaced further apart for added legroom.
(Thompson could also be beavering away on an all-new economy seat design; the company has form in innovation, as both the Vantage and Cosy designs can attest.)
This is all speculation, of course – but either way, the Cozy Suite is ideal for those long, long non-stop flights which Qantas has in mind.
The unique staggered layout gives each passenger more personal space: as Thompson puts it, "no more clashing of elbows or shoulders, no fighting for ownership of a shared armrest."
This writer has sat in an early version of the Cozy Suite during an aircraft seating expo some years back (the Cozy Suite has been on the market for some time but hasn't yet snared a customer) and found it created a pleasingly personal cocoon.
They can enjoy the full 20 inch width of the seat, and there's also easier access to the aisle – even though the seat can deliver the revenue-friendly 3-3-3 layout which airlines desire,
Interestingly, the seat itself doesn't recline – each set is mounted in its own 'shell' which remains in place, so there's never anybody leaning back into 'your' space.
To go from bolt upright into a lazier inflight position, the seat's bottom or pan nudged forward: it's a concept which other airlines have used in the past to varied effect, and it all comes down to how well the seat as a whole can provide sufficient cradling of your lower back and lumbar support in 'recline' mode.
Qantas will reveal its final seating choices and layout for the Boeing 787 later this year, ahead of the assembly of the first Qantas Dreamliner and its arrival into Australia towards the end of 2017.
Once again, this is speculation – we're not privy to any 'inside information', and we're the first to admit we could be wrong – but if you had to fly economy, is this a seat which you'd think would make a long Boeing 787 flight better? And what would you expect from an economy seat on a 16 hour flight?
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