Could this be Qantas' Boeing 787 economy seat?

By David Flynn, June 2 2016
Could this be Qantas' Boeing 787 economy seat?

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.

Read: Where will Qantas fly its new Dreamliners?

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.

Andy Morris, Thompson Aero Sales & Marketing ace, gets Cozy in the middle seat
Andy Morris, Thompson Aero Sales & Marketing ace, gets Cozy in the middle seat

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?

Also more: Qantas CEO promises "very luxurious" Boeing 787 configuration

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


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

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 504

Thank god it doesn't recline, entire flights have been ruined when people think it's okay to take a few inches of space from the person behind you just so they could get more cosy!

04 May 2015

Total posts 268

Well, it is ok, because the seat is built with a recline feature. Don't like it, book a bulkhead seat or fly with an airline that has no recline, like Ryanair.

I'd love if this were true, although I'm not sure they could fit 20" wide cozysuites into the Dreamliner. And even if they could, they might go for 19" to not only increase the plane's turnaround time on the ground (wider aisles = faster loading/unloading) but also to prevent the canninbalization of any Premium Economy demand.

That said, its a possibility given QF are working with Thompson for the Business Suite, QF want to be more competitive and differentiate their product from JQ, and that the CozySuite would be a great choice for longhaul flights. It also doesn't cause much of a density penalty at all (CozySuite 9-abreast is almost as dense as normal seating at 9-abreast, and substantially more dense than 8-abreast).

But Joyce said the pitch would be "generous." Could QF stomach the density reduction both from the pitch and the slight reduction caused by the CozySuite? I'm not sure.

I'd love for this to be true and I've been one of the big supporters of the CozySuite, but I think that there are two options; either use CozySuite and keep the pitch at 31", or give a 32" to 33" pitch but use seats that will be somewhat narrow.

Perhaps, perhaps, there will be CozySuite at 32" pitch, which would be incredible, but I am not sure if it would fit. That said, if QF did go for it, they'd have the best economy hard product in the world.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

Please Alan Joyce! If it is to be nine abreast this is the best!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 227

There are drawbacks with this economy seat. Accessibility for the middle seat in the central row, plus the staggered seating is going to render the panoramic windows obsolete (unless you're sitting right next to it). For me personally being 6'2 I'd much prefer more legroom than width (even though my ahoulders are pretty broad, not to boast). I've learned my lesson on never booking Jetstar for a six hour flight jammed in a 30" seat.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 272

Yes how do you get out of non aisle seats easily?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

24 Feb 2016

Total posts 18

I think anyone that has experienced 9-abreast 787 can attest there is no way in which to make such a configuration comfortable, regardless of "additional" leg room (don't forget, Qantas' standard legroom on the A380 is 31" - below industry standard). The bar has already been set low by Qantas.

Emirates gave people "extra" legroom in the B777 when it deployed 10-abreast in their economy cabins (with similar width as 9-abreast B787), and again, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would describe that layout as comfortable, let alone luxurious.

I am also very interested to know how the 20" or 19" proclaimed width is calculated. Carriers have gotten very creative in measuring this on the B787 (e.g. BA simply reduced the width of the armrests).

Ultimately, unless Qantas does a 360 and introduces 8-abreast, it looks like Joyce is taking the carrier further in the LCC direction.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

Listen all the other airlines have gone down the 9 a breast route even premium carriers. Do you think Qantas has a choice? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jun 2015

Total posts 46

Surely Qantas will want to have a different product then Jetstar, a 3-3-3 product, even with more leg room would be a disaster for Qantas. I think that they will definitely be considering the cozy suite. Please AJ please do it

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jun 2015

Total posts 46

Surely Qantas will want to have a different product then Jetstar, a 3-3-3 product, even with more leg room would be a disaster for Qantas. I think that they will definitely be considering the cozy suite. Please AJ please do it

One word "Recline"

If this is anything like CX's attempt at a shell seat for the Y cabin, then it will be an epic fail.

  • It is quite unclear how one would achieve an adequate recline when the personal space from the passenger in front and behind is not compromised.
  • The mechanism supporting the lower back and the integrity of the entire back rest has to be both superior and durable to be provide a satisfactory recline for the life of the seat, with minimal repairs.

These factors remain unchallenged in all the talk of a private cacoon.

31 May 2016

Total posts 10

Yes exactly!  CX's implementation of the Y cabin shell seat was by far the most uncomfortable airline seat I've ever had the misfortune of sitting in.  Apart from the aforementioned issue of lack of lower back support, when 'reclined' the seat base slides forward and eats up most of your legroom thus resulting in your knees jammed into the seat in front.  Interesting concept but terrible execution.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1488

Interesting concept. I like those side headrests. However “pre-reclined” business smells rat.

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