This new seat could be ideal for Qantas’ next-gen business class

The Vantage Duo business class seat aims for the ‘sweet spot’ between a standard recliner and a lie-flat bed.

By David Flynn, June 7 2022
This new seat could be ideal for Qantas’ next-gen business class

Qantas is in the market for a new domestic business class seat to be fitted to its Airbus A320neo-family of jets due from late 2024, and the innovative Vantage Duo design from Thompson Aero Seating might be just the ticket.

Revealed overnight ahead of its debut at next week's 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the Vantage Duo retains the beancounter-friendly two-across layout favoured for domestic and short-range international routes – essentially, flights up to five or six hours, where there’s less demand or justification for a fully lie-flat bed and the significant amount of real estate it requires.

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

However, the Vantage Duo goes beyond the current conventions of domestic business class with a deep ‘zero-gravity principle’ recline which Thompson describes as an “immersive relaxed position… where research into the relationship between posture and pressure has established the most comfortable position possible, other than lying flat.”

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

“Suspending the passenger in a neutral posture increases the feeling of weightlessness, allowing deep relaxation and comfort, taking pressure off the heart and allowing a stress-free position,” Thompson maintains.

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

“The seat kinematics have been carefully designed to ensure that the body is supported at all angles of recline.”

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

This includes a recline to 130 degrees, compared to a typical maximum of 110 degrees for your average business class seat – although the Vantage Duo demands a seat pitch of 41 inches, which is quite a bump from the current norms of 37” adopted by most airlines (including Qantas, on its workhorse Boeing 737 fleet).

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

The Vantage Duo is a counterpoint to Thompson’s more beguiling Vantage Solo, which sees just one lie-flat seat either side of the aisle with the option of sliding privacy doors; the Vantage Solo is already flying as JetBlue’s A321LR Mint business class.

JetBlue's latest Mint business class is based on Thompson's Vantage Solo design.
JetBlue's latest Mint business class is based on Thompson's Vantage Solo design.

“The fast-emerging mid-to-long-range single-aisle market means that passengers want greater comfort and privacy but not necessarily a fully flat seat such as the Vantage Solo,” explains Andy Morris, Vice-President Commercial for Thompson Aero Seating.

“The Vantage Duo offers exceptional comfort and a very marketable seating option, with the same number of passengers as traditional business class seating.”

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

The fixed back of each Vantage Duo seat ensures that travellers don’t recline into the personal space of the passenger behind them.

Thompson says the Vantage Duo’s development began with the passenger “placed in the most comfortable position possible, and the seat was then designed and engineered around them.” 

The long list of creature comforts built into the Vantage Duo includes handy storage areas dotted around the seat, wireless device charging and a 16” video screen.

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

But the window seat is the place to be, with those Vantage Duo seats gaining a convenient benchtop area.

Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.
Thompson's fresh Vantage Duo business class seat.

“Our aim was simple,” Morris states: “Greater comfort in the same space, which we have achieved through our many years of experience in design and engineering innovation. The result: no loss of density, no increase in weight, just greater comfort, space, and recline for the passenger.”

The Qantas Business Suite is based on Thompson's Vantage XL seat.
The Qantas Business Suite is based on Thompson's Vantage XL seat.

Qantas’ current Business Suite for the Airbus A330, Boeing 787 and now the Airbus A380 is based on Thompson’s Vantage XL platform.

A spokesperson for Thompson confirmed to Executive Traveller the company has already begun “initial discussions” with some airlines, with the aim of seeing the Vantage Duo take wing by the end of 2024. 

Qantas has already revealed that its first wave of Airbus A320neo-series jets – the A321XLR – will feature 20 business class seats, which is more likely to arrive as five rows of 2-2- seating than ten rows of 1-1 seats. 

However, it’s expected Qantas will end up with two versions of its Airbus A320neo-family fleet: one for domestic routes and short-range overseas routes such as New Zealand, and another with fully flat beds in business class for the medium-range international routes to Asia – such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila – which are within the scope of the surprisingly long-legged single-aisle Airbus jet.

14 Feb 2015

Total posts 15

You know, I really don't understand how QF is even still around in the capacity they are on long haul and why anyone bothers to travel with them outside of "Australia pride". They are coasting on their reputation for quality earned in the 80s-90s and now are what I and many others see as a second rate carrier when compared to nearly all their competitors. Would have loved if VA took their market share when they were doing long haul.

KG4
KG4

08 Jun 2022

Total posts 1

I do not think that you have travelled with Qantas in a while.

 I travel frequently. It is an excellent airline, particularly in its premium classes, and well deserves the support of every Australian. 

Give them another try. And support Australia. 

Qantas is also the world benchmark in air safety, a fantastic achievement, especially considering it is the second oldest airline in the world 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 135

I like the look of this. I'd certainly prefer this to a narrower seat that is trying to squeeze in a flat bed for the sake of being flat. Have just returned from a trip with 4 legs in business with SQ and the most comfortable position for me (I'm a larger fella) was in a reclining/cradled position. The regional business class that was on the a35 from SYD to SIN was far too narrow, and a seat like this one would be much more welcome! As an aside, that regional seat really shouldn't be on the SYD-SIN run, esp a flight leaving at 6pm.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1102

It looks like an attractive option for short to medium haul international operations.  You'd have to wonder if Qantas may baulk at the idea of having to add another 4 inches pitch per row on the fleet that spends most of their time on domestic short-haul though.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 317

Seeing that the seat product is a "mid" product for short-haul and medium haul flights, it may also suit VA's short haul international operations to NAN and DPS, and potentially the TransCons as well considering VA's mid 'Value Orientated' approach.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1102

It seems VA have already decided that they will stick with recliners on their 737 fleet including the new MAX aircraft using the new recliners currently being trialled on 2 of the ex-Silkair 737s.  Given their price positioning of J class significantly under the prices charged by QF, I don't think VA believe they need to match hard product on a like for like basis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 576

Yep, a recliner on AUS transcon flights would be just fine for me, if I really need a flat-bed I'd just stay another night and fly next day.  

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 121

B-Tragic - the problem with this is that QF will use these planes on regional flights to Asia and the Pacific, where often the only schedule option for the return to Oz sector is an overnight flight. For me it's lie flat or I'll use another airline.

27 Feb 2014

Total posts 2

This seat reminds me very much of Air New Zealand's Space-Seat from 15 odd years ago.  Which I have to say, i'm very happy about, because I really liked them

27 Feb 2014

Total posts 2

This seat reminds me of the Air New Zealand SpaceSeat from about 15 years ago... which is great because I really liked them

07 Jun 2022

Total posts 2

Looks great for short haul however if these aircraft are flying East - West or East - Darwin or East - SE Asia, I would expect a lie flat product.

It's unfortunate most aircraft fly the golden triangle and then onto Darwin or Perth overnight with both cities lacking wide body fleets.

Airlines within Asia offer 777, 787, A330, etc on sub Asian routes and don't understand why we don't have the same standard of service.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1102

Why do you need lie-flat on daylight flights which most trans-continental flights are?  On a 3-4 hour daylight flight, very few people would be expecting to sleep at all and would be happy in a J class seat that provided them some space to work or relax which most recliner seats do perfectly well.

The reason Asian cities offer widebodies on a number of medium range services is purely a function of demand.  Flights to Perth and Darwin just don't have anything like the same level of demand.  VA and QF tried operating nearly all Perth flights from the east-coast with A330s and both lost a bundle with lots of empty seats.  

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 121

Reeves - putting aside the part about widebody aircraft, these aircraft will be used outside Australia's borders and will be used for overnight flights, usually back to Australia, where lie flat seats are nonnegotiable. I agree not needed for daylight flights, but these planes will be doing a lot more than the triangle and the odd redeye from Perth.

07 Jun 2022

Total posts 2

Seems ok for short haul however East Coast - West or to Darwin or NZ and Asia will be too cramped as it is currently. We all know the B737 currently runs the golden triangle and then continues to a longer flight in the evening.

If you are going to introduce a new type of aircraft that can fly longer, provide the experience of flying a wide bodied aircraft otherwise you will lose our custom. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 92

Looks like a good option - thanks for the article; like the wireless device charging

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1438

It seems perfect for the day time up to six hour flights, but for the eight plus hour overnight flights deeper into Asia such as Tokyo and even Singapore (from Syd and melb) then a lie flat bed (like Scandinavian A321LRs to Canada) as well as transcontinental in Australia may work better. Having two seat types may however limit flexibility that is why the A330s are all the same.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1102

You're right.  Logically, if the A321s are going to do medium haul into Asia, they probably need a sub-fleet with a lie-flat J seat.  That is not ideal from a fleet management point of view but having largely unused lie-flats using up massive space on short-haul domestic routes simply so all the fleet is the same is even worse.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1438

Reeve, they have only one fleet type for the A330s and the do a goodly amount in the triangle work, so the bean counters will do the sums and work out whether the space difference versus fleet management versus having lie flat for the 4+ hour domestic flights plus 8+ plus hour Asia flights is worth the bother.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 81

This is what Air Canada needs for the the trans-continental flights (4–6 hours) that don't use services continuing to Europe or Asia (lie-flat beds). The current non-bed J seats are pretty horrible, and the newest of them, to be found in A220's, are IMO worse - no lumbar support whatsoever. I'm actually in pain after the first hour.

Qatar Airways

06 Jul 2016

Total posts 48

The debate between recliner and lie flat is a reasonable one for QF and others to consider. But please don't fall for the marketing bull**** of "zero gravity" 

JKH
JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 151

Is there a footrest of any kind? A leg rest/calf rest when reclining without support for feet is pretty uncomfortable.


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