Ten new business class seats coming your way

Airlines are seeking an edge in what’s become a hyper-competitive market.

By David Flynn, March 21 2024
Ten new business class seats coming your way

Business class has long played second fiddle to opulence of first class. However, with many airlines reconsidering their approach to first class, the once-clear lines between the two cabins have become increasingly blurred.

When you think about it, it’s not at all surprising, given the latest pointy-end pews have moved beyond mere seats to fully-fledged private suites with sliding doors and greater space, alongside 4K video screens and even personal closets.

Here’s a glimpse at what ten leading airlines have in store for high flyers in the near future.

 

Hawaiian Airlines business class

Taking wing across April and May this year, Hawaiian Airlines’ latest Boeing 787 will feature a very different business class experience – one described as a little slice of Hawai’i.

Hawaiian Airlines’ new Boeing 787 business class.
Hawaiian Airlines’ new Boeing 787 business class.

Branded as Leihoku Class, with Leihoku meaning ‘garland of stars’, the cabin will feature 34 flatbed business class suites based on the Ascent design from Adient Aerospace, all of which include sliding privacy doors, an 18-inch HD screen and wireless charging.

Seats will follow a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout.
Seats will follow a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout.

From the paired middle ‘Cabana Suites’ to Koa wood-patterned flooring and wall panels to ceiling LED lights depicting the constellations of the night sky, it’s both inspired by and reflects the carrier’s island home and Polynesian heritage.

The middle seats of the original Adient Ascent design illustrate how ‘Cabana mode’ will look.
The middle seats of the original Adient Ascent design illustrate how ‘Cabana mode’ will look.

Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural Boeing 787-9 flight will be between Honolulu and San Francisco on April 15, running daily through to May 14 – at which stage the Dreamliners will appear on “select flights” between Honolulu and Los Angeles, as well as Maui-Los Angeles.

Air India business class

India’s national carrier Air India stunned last year with the unveiling of its impressive new business and first class suites, both of which are destined to roll out across the airline’s twin-aisle fleet in the very near future.

Of course, a hybrid version of this new business class is already in the sky – on an Air India Airbus A350 originally intended for Aeroflot – though the complete suite (as seen below) is yet to take flight. 

Business class onboard Air India's refurbished Boeing 777-330ER.
Business class onboard Air India's refurbished Boeing 777-330ER.

Concept images of a refurbished Boeing 777-300ER show a light and bright interior from nose to tail, with the business class cabin adorned in a neutral palette of aubergine and grey accented by rose gold and silver.

Wireless charging, a lie-flat bed and sliding doors are just a taste of what awaits within.
Wireless charging, a lie-flat bed and sliding doors are just a taste of what awaits within.

The seat itself is based on the Safran Unity product, which is coincidentally also set to take wing on Qantas’ A350 from 2025 (more on the Red Roo’s version later).

The refurbished interiors are part of new owner Tata's sweeping reinvention of the airline.
The refurbished interiors are part of new owner Tata's sweeping reinvention of the airline.

Passengers will be cocooned behind sliding privacy doors in a 1-2-1 layout, with the suite itself featuring modern conveniences such as wireless charging along and large touchscreen monitor, as well as a pull-out tray table and, unlike Qantas, a fold-down drinks shelf.

Cathay Pacific ‘Aria’ business class

Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific is jetting into a new era with a fresh business class on its flagship Boeing 777-300, with travellers primed to enjoy a first taste of the ‘suite life’ from the middle of 2024.

Cathay's new Aria business class suite.
Cathay's new Aria business class suite.

Marketed under the Aria Suites banner and earmarked for the current Boeing 777-300ER and forthcoming 777-9 jets, the suites are in many ways a reimagining of the airline’s long-standing business class, which debuted in 2010 and was refined in 2016.

Cathay Pacific's new Aria Suites 777 business class.
Cathay Pacific's new Aria Suites 777 business class.

Among the topline features are sliding closed doors and privacy ‘wings’, together with a 24-inch 4K video screen, wireless charging and an altogether warmer look and feel – think gentle curves and patterned wood grain-like surfaces.

A moveable divider between middle seats is sure to be welcomed by flyers.
A moveable divider between middle seats is sure to be welcomed by flyers.

The roll out will take some time though, with Lavinia Lau, Cathay’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, telling Executive Traveller that 30 Boeing 777-300ER jets will be upgraded at a rate of one per month, a process lasting through to mid-2027.

Qatar Airways Qsuite 2.0

Though regarded as the benchmark for business class, the Qatar Airways Qsuite is about to get even better, with the Gulf carrier set to launch its second-generation Qsuite business class in late July, ahead of its debut in 2025 on the airline’s first Boeing 777-9 jetliner.

Qatar Airways is keeping details under wraps, though there are signs where it may be headed.
Qatar Airways is keeping details under wraps, though there are signs where it may be headed.

Exact details are yet to be revealed, though former CEO Akbar Al Baker described it as “a huge enhancement of the current Qsuite, because people now are all booking on QR because of the Qsuite, it's a brand that is now really known to everybody”.

Early reports suggest the suite will move to a lighter-weight materials and framework to increase the fuel efficiency of aircraft, with the possibility of a revised height for the walls and door, increased storage and more room around the passenger’s feet.

How do you make the Qsuite even better? We'll soon see...
How do you make the Qsuite even better? We'll soon see...

The bespoke suite will no doubt come bristling with high-tech touches such as USB-C and wireless device charging, alongside Bluetooth audio streaming from the in-suite 4K video screen to the traveller’s own headphones or earbuds.

Air New Zealand Business Premier

September 2024 will see Air New Zealand finally ditch its 20-year old ‘sleeper shells’, with their narrow confines and a steep rake that sees many passengers facing one another like commuters on a bus on the way out in favour of an all-new Business Premier class.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

Taking pride of place on the marathon flights will be eight private Business Premier Luxe suites – four in the first row of each business class cabin – with a ‘buddy seat’ where a companion can sit and share a meal, a glass of wine or a game of cards, and dressed by upmarket touches including a Merino wool throw.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suite.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suite.

Behind will be new-look Business Premier seats with their own sliding privacy panels – albeit not a full door – a storage cabinet and vanity mirror, a spacious side shelf, wireless device charging and a massive 24” video screen with Bluetooth audio streaming to your own cordless headphones or earbuds.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.

The updated Business Premier beds are slightly longer than the current model, and in sleep mode will be dressed with a memory foam mattress and feather pillow; the seat itself can also be put into a reclined position for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the journey. 

Originally set to launch in September this year, the seat will now take flight on ultra-long range Boeing 787s dedicated to the Auckland-New York and Auckland-Chicago routes from mid-2025.

Lufthansa Allegris business class

Lufthansa’s next-gen business class is not just one seat but seven variations of the unique ‘Allegris’ design offering different degrees of space and privacy.

Lufthansa's Allegris business class.
Lufthansa's Allegris business class.

That manifold mix includes:

  • upmarket ‘business plus’ suites with sliding doors, personal wardrobes and even a minibar
  • double suites for couples travelling together
  • solo ‘throne’ seats with additional personal space,
  • and seats with an extra-long 2.2m flatbed
A section of Lufthansa's Allegris business class cabin.
A section of Lufthansa's Allegris business class cabin.

Lufthansa says it’s all about offering “personalisation and choice” to suit the needs of each traveller, although these different seats will generally come with a higher price tags than the ‘basic’ business class seat.

Lufthansa's Allegris business class.
Lufthansa's Allegris business class.

But no matter where you’re seated, common to all Allegris business class seats will be direct aisle access, Bluetooth audio connectivity, wireless charging, a minimum 2m long bed and a ‘shoulder sink-in’ to boost comfort for for side sleepers.

Lufthansa's Allegris business class.
Lufthansa's Allegris business class.

Lufthansa’s Allegris business class is set to debut on factory-fresh Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in May, followed by new Airbus A350s later in the year.  

The same seat, but with a markedly different and arguably more elegant look, will also be adopted by sibling Swiss from 2025.

Swiss' new A350 business class.
Swiss' new A350 business class.

Emirates A350, 777 business class

Emirates is another airline looking to narrow the gap between business and first class, especially on its forthcoming Airbus A350s, which won’t have a first class cabin at all.

Instead, the Gulf carrier is lining up an all-new business class suite – one which will almost certainly include sliding doors – to debut on the A350, and likely also be refitted to the Boeing 777-300ER fleet.

(And yes, that means an end to the dreaded middle seat as the dated 2-3-2 configuration gives way to a sensibly modern 1-2-1 layout.)

Emirates has awarded European  aerospace specialist Safran with a US$1bn contract to deliver new business, premium economy and economy seats for the A350, the 777 upgrade and the new 777X jets due from late 2025.

While this new business class seat remains under lock and key, the two front-runners from Safran’s published portfolio are the Unity, which is also the platform for the next-gen business class of Qantas and Air India...

Safran's Unity suite is a prime candidate for Emirates' A350 business class.
Safran's Unity suite is a prime candidate for Emirates' A350 business class.

... and the Fusio, which Safran touts as a “Business-First Class” product and would be Emirates’ best bet for taking on Qatar Airways’ highly-regarded Qsuite.

Safran's Fusio is a 'fusion' of business class and first class.
Safran's Fusio is a 'fusion' of business class and first class.

The Fusio is already being flown in a heavily customised version by Japan’s ANA as its flagship Boeing 777 The Room business class.

American Airlines Flagship Suites 

This business class seat is allegedly so good, it killed first class: at least that’s the take of American Airlines, which joins other carriers in removing first class from its international fleet.

The all-new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites feature more personal space than American’s current business class, along with the now-almost-mandatory sliding door.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

As a halfway point to transforming into a lie-flat bed, American claims its Flagship Suites convert into a relaxed “chaise lounge position” – which to us sounds like marketing-speak for what other airlines and seat-makers invariably refer to as Lazy Z, sun-lounge or deckchair mode.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

Other creature comforts include several storage nooks, power from AC and dual USB-A and USB-C sockets and, Executive Traveller understands, wireless charging for smartphones.

Each Flagship Suite is angled away from the aisle for greater privacy, with a sliding partition between the paired middle seats if you’re travelling with a partner.

American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.
American Airlines' new Boeing 787 Flagship Suites business class.

We’ll first see the Flagship Suites on new Boeing 787-9 deliveries expected from Q3 2024, with a retrofit to the older Boeing 777-300ER fleet also slated to begin in late 2024.

LOT Polish Airlines business class

‘Functional but not overly exciting’ is a common summary of LOT Polish Airlines’ current Boeing 787 business class. Yes, it has a lie flat bed, but a lack of privacy and rather outdated 2-2-2 layout hold it back from achieving its potential. 

LOT Polish Airlines' existing 787 business class.
LOT Polish Airlines' existing 787 business class.

However, that’s all set to change from 2026, when eight of its 15 Dreamliners are upgraded with an all new pew from seating manufacturer Recaro. And what a glow-up it will be.

AC, USB and wireless charging are all part of the deal.
AC, USB and wireless charging are all part of the deal.

Midnight blue walls, tangerine panels and timber-look detailing set the scene, while the 1-2-1 configuration and updated tech such as 17.3” 4K screens, USB-C ports and wireless charging and the addition of inflight WiFi bring it firmly into the modern era.

Subdued lighting gives it the feel of a boutique hotel room.
Subdued lighting gives it the feel of a boutique hotel room.

LOT Polish Airlines expects the rollout to be completed on its Boeing 787-8 fleet by the end of 2030, with premium economy and economy also receiving an overhaul. 

Sliding doors are an appreciated addition.
Sliding doors are an appreciated addition.

Those with a keen eye will recognise the Recaro CL6720 seat from Air China’s newer A350s, though styling is chalk and cheese between the two.

Qantas A350 Business Suite 

It’ll be early 2026 before we see this next generation of Qantas’ international business class, which has been designed especially for non-stop Airbus A350 ‘Project Sunrise’ flights from Sydney and Melbourne to the likes of New York, London and Paris.

Branded as the Qantas A350 Business Suite, the seat itself is based on the new Unity platform from Safran Seats – albeit heavily customised and styled by David Caon (who also helped shaped the airline’s Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 business class seats).

Qantas' new A350 business class.
Qantas' new A350 business class.

And it’s got the works: sliding doors, a long fully lie-flat bed, a generous 18” video screen with Bluetooth audio streaming, USB-C and wireless device charging plus plenty more.

Surrounding the suite is a soft-touch material which reduces noise while adding a tactile element which supports what Qantas describes as a ‘residential’ aesthetic in the materials and colours.

Qantas' new A350 business class.
Qantas' new A350 business class.

Each seat fronts a cushioned leather ottoman which becomes part of the 80” (2m) bed – that’s actually an inch longer than the beds in Qantas’ A380 first class – while the ottoman also lifts up to reveal additional storage space.

The Qantas A350 Business Suite is framed by 47” walls, with a sliding door at the same height (although the inside of the doors is bare rather being lined with that noise-dampening fabric).

Qantas' new A350 business class.
Qantas' new A350 business class.

The first row of each Qantas A350 business class cabin will offer more legroom and an enlarged ‘foot cubby’, just as it does on the current Business Suite family.

Additional reporting by Chris Ashton.

PG1
PG1

17 May 2017

Total posts 19

Business Class = Bed Class. If you don't get the bed right, forget it. Oh, and why have beds (seats) facing away from a window. That just does make sense in an aircraft, unless you are a cocooning, space saving designer.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1519

Why everyone so fussy with those flimsy sliding doors? Seriously? Anyone who walking by can see over those doors and when you seated you cannot see any other passenger anyway. So what is the point of those flimsy claustrophobic doors?

when all of these pretenders start catering for people over 1.8 metres we will have a genuine competitor for first class.  none of these confections manage to equal the old fashioned first  class on any 747

I am 192 cm and the best I have found is united despite it being very narrow.  I am looking forward to a business class with the service standards of SIA but with comfort for tall people who have to put up with cramped spaces.

If I could get lounge access for premium economy i would seriously consider leaving business class as I cannot afford First, even when it is allowed

I think many business class seats are pathetic

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 173

Perhaps to claustrophobic -  maybe move from little roomettes and cupboard style seating and open up the cabins up with space and ambiance. Aircraft floor plans are tight enough as they are.


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