Look familiar? SAS business class seat is Qantas' new business suite

By David Flynn, July 24 2014
Look familiar? SAS business class seat is Qantas' new business suite

Qantas won't be rolling out its next-generation Business Suite business class seat which is bound for its Airbus A330s and potentially the Boeing 787-9 until the end of this year.

But thanks to Irish design firm Thompson Aero Seating and Scandinavian airline SAS we're able to give you a better idea of what's in store for the Flying Kangaroo's latest lie-flat seat.

Thompson is the creator of the Vantage XL seat, which the Qantas Business Suite is based upon – indeed, Qantas was the first airline to choose the Vantage XL.

SAS happens to have been the second airline and has already conducted a public launch for its new international business class ahead of its debut in early 2015.

Neither the standard 'off the rack' Vantage XL or SAS business class seat is identical to the Qantas Business Suite, which is undergoing customisation by the Red Roo's resident designer Marc Newson.

They can, however, provide a few clues beyond what we've already gleaned based on the handful of PR images which Qantas has shared.

The Thompson Vantage XL

Very few airlines will create a new seat from scratch. Instead, they'll choose a design from a specialist company such as the big guns of B/E AerospaceRecaro, Sogerma or Zodiac Aerospace.

Founded in 2001 and with only a handful of seats in its portfolio, Thompson is a relative newcomer to the game, but its Vantage XL seat caught the attention of Qantas as the pointy end product on its domestic and international Airbus A330 fleet.

The Vantage XL is a upgraded version of the original Vantage seat, which JetBlue selected for its Mint premium class on trans-continental US flights.

Review: JetBlue's new Mint business class seats and suites

Australian Business Traveller caught up with the Thompson team at this year's Aircraft Interiors Expo show in Hamburg, Germany for a closer look at the Vantage XL.

As we've previously detailed, the Vantage XL – and thus the Qantas Business Suite – uses a staggered 'dovetail' layout in which the footwell of one seat extends into the side table space of the seat in front, as shown on these diagrams for the Vantage XL in the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.

This also allows every passenger to enjoy direct access to the aisle without stepping over a seatmate.

Even the 'base' model Vantage XL can be dressed to good effect for airlines which want it ordered straight off the catalogue and fitted into their fleet.

The seats themselves range from 23 inches to 25 inches across, with plenty of elbow room either side of the cushion itself, and extend to a 79 inch (200 cm) lie-flat bed.

A trait which all business travellers will appreciate is the seat's ample storage for assorted personal items.

This includes a large side table workspace for each passenger.

HD video screens are mounted into the rear of each seat shell, with a clever pocket to the right of the screen for holding a magazine, tablet or slim laptop.

SAS international business class

Scandinavian Airlines – the common flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden – also adopted the Vantage XL for its new long-range business class.

This will include an upgrade to seven current Airbus A330 and A340 jets as well as factory installation on four new Airbus A330s from in 2015-2016 and SAS' eight new Airbus A350s due from 2018 onwards.

This concept artwork illustrates the staggered 'dovetail' nature of the seating in the same 1-2-1 layout as we'll see on Qantas' Airbus A330 fleet.

Scandinavian's seat is a more fully-formed and finished version of the Vantage XL.

The familiar shape and some hallmarks such as the recessed corner shelving remains.

As seen in this photo from the SAS launch, snapped by our colleagues at BusinessClass.se, AC and USB power ports and handily placed near the passenger.

Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se
Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se

There's also a small handheld controller for adjusting the LED lighting, activating the reading lamp and calling the flight attendant. 

Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se
Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se

The seat adjustment panel reveals a massage function and the ability to vary the seat's 'firmness'.

In front of each passenger: a 15 inch HD video screen plus two storage nooks.

Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se
Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se

This PR shot from SAS shows how an iPad can sit snug in one of those nooks and even recharged, provided you've packed a USB cable long enough to reach back to your seat.

(If you're wondering about that stylish and comfy-looking bedding in SAS' new business class it's supplied by Hästens, Sweden's oldest bed manufacturer.)

Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se

Photo: Jacob Molin, BusinessClass.se

The Qantas Business Suite

SAS' Vantage XL provides a hint as to just how good the Qantas Business Suite could be once the curtains are finally pulled back.

It should make good on Alan Joyce's promise to be "the world's best domestic business class seat" for those long east-west flights, although the lie-flat bed will be even more welcome on the overnights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok.

The mockups of the Marc Newson seat show a larger laptop stowage space plus a panel which we assume contains AC and USB power sockets.

Each Business Suite will be fitted with a 16 inch screen.

Qantas says it will launch the new Business Suite on both domestic and international routes by the end of 2014.

Sydney-Perth is tipped for the Business Suite’s domestic debut with the Sydney-Singapore A330 route be at the front of the starting grid.

For more details, read: Up close with the Qantas Business Suite  

Get the latest updates for business travellers and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.


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

28 May 2012

Total posts 76

Looks really good, i just wish it was rolled out a bit quicker.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 143

It's enough to consider switching back to QF for ;)

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 436

I still don't know why QF announced their new seat 18+ months before it was even ready - if it wasn't available to book there was absolutely no point. All it did was give their compeditors a huge insight into their forward planning.

22 Jul 2011

Total posts 95

Well apart from CEO ego, the only plausible rationale would be to encourage customers to stay with Qantas with something good on the horizon. I just hope they don't overprice the product and delay the launch (like they have with recent lounge upgrades).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Suspect Qantas needed some good news at the time, and the seat manufacturer might have wanted the publicity as well.

Note that JetBlue also announced their similar 'Mint' seat at the same time as Qantas (albeit it is based on the older Vantage not Vantage XL design)

and it only just went into service.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 131

David, have you seen any comments out of Qantas yet on any confirmation of J seat numbers on the QF A330 after the refit? Whilst the new 1-2-1 seat is in staggered formation, surely there will be a small reduction in the overall numbers of J seats on the current Domestic config on the 332? Not sure QF will get 36 seats in the same cabin space? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Feb 2011

Total posts 52

Only just catching up to Virgin and Singapore Airlines so no real excitment to return to Qantas after being made to fly on all current A330-200 jobs that have rotten seating!

Qantas missed the boat 3 years ago giving all the new planes to Jet star so why would go back now?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2014

Total posts 25

Looks great

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 146

David - that tray table only appears in one of the photos and it looks really thin. How stable was it? I generally prefer to have my laptop on that table, rather than off to the side if I'm working, but it's not going to appeal if the table's a bit wobbly with some weight on it.


16 Nov 2011

Total posts 586

Think you will find the photo you are refering to is a render of the new Qantas seat not the real thing. So take what you see with a grain of salt.

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

Looks similar to the one on the Vantage.  It is fine, just a little painful to get out the first time.

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