"Luxurious business class" trumps first class on Airbus A350

By John Walton, May 25 2012

Passengers on Airbus' new A350 jet will see a continuation of the push away from first class towards of business class. But the premium cabin will be  "very luxurious" promises Airbus exec John Leahy.

"The trend tends to be more to the two-class right now, with a very luxurious business -- or a business/first with lay-flat beds -- and coach" Leahy told Australian Business Traveller during this week's Airbus Innovation Day media conference in Toulouse.

"And sometimes there's premium economy in there so that it becomes three class again," Leahy says. "It becomes business, premium economy and economy, rather than first, business and economy."

But the specific mix, as always, remains with the airline buying the composite-bodied A350.

"It all depends on the airline. Some will have first class, some will have two-class -- some will even have one class."

Airbus showed off models of its business class cabins -- including the excellent Sogerma Solstys staggered business class layout with direct aisle access for every passenger -- at this year's Innovation Day.

Airbus' A350 model is showing off sister company Sogerma's Solstys seat, but several other business class options are available.
Airbus' A350 model is showing off sister company Sogerma's Solstys seat, but several other business class options are available.

Behind business class will come premium economy, which Airbus demonstrated off in a 2-4-2 layout on the stretched Airbus A350-1000 variant due to fly a few years after the first A350-800 takes to the air in 2014.

The planned 2-4-2 premium economy cabin treads the line between the business and economy offerings.
The planned 2-4-2 premium economy cabin treads the line between the business and economy offerings.

Boeing's competitor 787 is also focussing more on better business class seats -- and fully flat beds -- instead of ultra-plush first class seats.

"We’re seeing many airlines starting to reduce their full-blown first class offering, mainly because business class is beyond what first class used to be," Tom Galantowicz, Boeing’s Director of 787 Interiors, explained to Australian Business Traveller late last year.

John Walton travelled to Toulouse to attend the Airbus Innovation Days as a guest of Airbus. Catch up with all the news from the Innovation Days!

For more news, reviews and the very latest info for business travellers, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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23 May 2012

Total posts 268

I really hope this raises the bar for first class because I read a report that First Class twenty-thirty years weren't even lie-flat. I hope it means better service at a more competitive price.

08 Oct 2011

Total posts 47

First class during the 1970s means wider seats, a bit more recline and a few inches more of legroom.  Angle flat or lie-flat does not exist at all.  :-)

 


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