You want lie-flat business class beds in a Boeing 737? Done.

By David Flynn, January 5 2018
You want lie-flat business class beds in a Boeing 737? Done.

Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.

Is this the next wave of business class for single-aisle jets like the Boeing 737, which are the domestic and short-range workhorse of airlines around the world?

Forget about seats that merely recline: these ones fold down into a fully flat bed that's on par with your best superjumbo-grade business class.

Middle-eastern airline Flydubai takes the medal for putting these seats into the pointy end of its new Boeing 737 MAX  jets.

There are ten seats in the business class cabin, ranked in two rows of a 2-2 layout and between those a row of solo 'throne'-style seats.

Based on Thompson Aero's popular Vantage seat and styled by JPA Design – whose most recent work was on Singapore Airlines' new Airbus A380 business class – the clean lines and efficient use of space brings a relative degree of luxe to the otherwise low-cost state-owned airline.

JPA Design raised the curved shell of the seat for an enhanced sense of privacy, added a 15.6 inch touchscreen display for inflight video and surrounded the panel with dark, low-shine materials to minimise glare and optimise the viewing experience. 

If nothing else, these premium pews show the degree of 'do-ability' for Virgin Australia's promised Boeing 737 transcontinental business class, which the airline intends to launch in the second half of 2018 as an alternative to its regular Airbus A330 services on east-west routes.


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

18 Dec 2016

Total posts 33

Honestly, if Virgin Australia did this, they’d knock Qantas out of first place, then go further

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 32

can i just say i hate 737s

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 135

if Qantas did it they would keep Virgin in the dirt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 460

Ridiculous for the short sectors flown by the 737.

13 Nov 2017

Total posts 1

For golden triangle routes you are 100% correct. However if they only ran these on trans-con then they’ll make sense. Considering VA’s push to expand into Asia, I can envisage a future where they pull all the A330’s off domestic routes and the 737’s will do it all.

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 7

Agreed. On the 737-capable hops (<6hrs) there is never going to be a way to arrive "fresh and ready" when you end up with around 4 hours of sleep. Though, on a vanity route an AU transcon where the usefulness is overshadowed by the ability to just say you have lay-flats, cramming in a 2-2 product makes sense density-wise.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 20

Yes i would, The Trans-con 737 from Darwin are quite long 3.3hrs - 4.5hrs, A nice Snooze after lunch or breakfast(redeye flight) would make you feel fresh and ready for work.

I flew red eye MH 737-800 from KUL to DWN, It was better to sleep in 3 seats of Y then a recliner J Seat. That was a 5 hours flight sometime.

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 122

Exactly -- just a snooze. Being able to lie down flat on a bed and snooze for an hour is an amazing thing. It's not the same snoozing upright. A flat bed on a plane doesn't need to be for an overnight flight.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 37

Finally! Someone said it! I've done close to 250 sectors between Darwin and Melbourne and flights used to fly overnight, but now simply fly late at night and this would be a welcome addition. Simply having it on Perth flights only just doesn't bode well.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2017

Total posts 80

While QF leads the way in domestic J class especially when it comes to lounges and service if VA was to introduce this product they would win me!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 239

Thanks for your opinion but since when did Qantas lead best business class? Didn’t Virgin just win Australia’s best Business class? Agree with QF lounges being superior, but I believe their is no overriding factor in the seats that makes one better than the other. Being in my 20s I prefer the younger service offered on VA and appearance of their FAs better groomed then Qantas / more professional IMO. Having flown QF 787 to Mel and VA 777 to LA just last week, I can say I prefer Virgin - the QF over shoulder seatbelt dug into my back which was annoying. Not a fan of Qantas pick your desert off the tray or the option of a small or big bowl of soup for one of your entree/mains. First world problems but hey this is what the forums about!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1020

You could see VA using this sort of layout for a sub-fleet of their 737s that would be concentrated on longer flights over 3 hours. I don't think these seats make sense on triangle services.

I suspect VA would go for 6 J class seats rather than 10 but VA would know what sort of demand they see on longer 737 services and whether using the greater amount of real estate 10 seats will demand will pay its way.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 105

Bring it on!

With the increasing use of 737s on regional flights, particularly where overnight I will pick an airline that has these over recliners every time.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 105

And the leg room when in seat mode looks way superior to current 737 J offerings. Another reason to applaud.

28 Dec 2016

Total posts 70

What about the seat width though? The 737 is not the widest of all narrow bodies and from the photos these looks incredibly narrow, which might make a shorter journey less comfortable than the normal “regional” biz class seats.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1020

Remember that in sleep mode, it is likely that the armrest retracts so the available space is actually more than it appears.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2013

Total posts 6

I recently flew JFK to LAX on American Airlines flagship service. They had flat beds in First on a narrow body jet.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 66

Yes but that was most likely an A321 which is wider than a 737. :)

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1020

An AA A321 is either 2 abreast in First or 4 abreast in Business with all seats angled in reverse herringbone style. It is a different layout from what is being proposed here which is closer to the layout of Jet Blue's Mint seating.

These are being deployed on their longer flights which are about 6 hours. Places such a Prague & Bangkok

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Sorry, which airline are you talking about?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1272

FlyDubai, the airline referenced in the article.

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 77

BA have 32 fully flat seats on their LCY (London City) to JFK A318s. Very niche market, and expensive to operate.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jun 2014

Total posts 255

Do it VA... I just had a red eye on the 737 and Loathe it.

14 Aug 2015

Total posts 3

Hi David,

Do you know what is the total seat count on the flydubai 737 max? Just wondering if the lie-flat is taking up any more space and if it is at the expense of a smaller economy cabin or they are just fitting the economy cabin with a true low cost seat pitch.

As a discussion point for those who are very excited about the lie-flat business cabin: What do you think about the lie-flat 737 business class if it is at the expense of a tighter economy cabin? I presume not all business travelers are allowed (by their company) to travel in business cabins on every trip.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 7

Qatar airways does a great job with Business class lie flat seats in its A320s

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