Qantas has unveilled its all-new Business Suite business class, ahead of the seat's debut on a domestic east-west route to Perth in late December and international flights to Asia and Hawaii from January 2015.
All of Qantas' Airbus A330 jets will be upgraded to the Business Suite, which will provide every passenger with direct aisle access through a 1-2-1 layout (the middle pair of seats is shown below).
The fully lie-flat bed can be partially reclined on take-off and landing, with a mattress will be fitted to the seat before take-off, to help travellers on the relatively short overnight flights from Singapore and Hong Kong begin their snoozing before the plane takes off.
The airline's entire A330 fleet will be upgraded by the end of 2016 with what Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described as "the best (business class) travel experience between Australia and Asia, and probably the best domestic travel experience anywhere on the globe."
Due to the larger footprint of the Business Suite compared to the current A330 seats, the size of the business class cabin on all domestic and international A330s will be reduced to 28 seats.
However, Joyce believes that the smaller cabin will still be able to "meet the demand of our business class travellers and the requirements of customers get upgrades through points."
Joyce also confirmed that the Business Suite won't be fitted to Qantas' flagship Airbus A380s, saying "we think (the current A380) product is highly competitive on the routes it's operating on."
The Business Suite also offers ample room to spread out using the console next to each seat, while there's ample room to stow all your carry-on kit.
Today's business traveller brings on board "everything from their reading glasses to an iPad or books, a laptop, their own amenity kit" says Kylie Morris, Qantas' Head of Customer Experience.
"So we've really had to think around what devices customers are travelling with, and how we provide the right stowage locations" Morris tells Australian Business Traveller.
Morris wants Business Suite passengers to be able to stow their carry-on items "into a space right next to them where they can leave them for the entire journey but also make sure they're readily available, right at their fingertips, even during take off and landing."
Each Business Suite is fitted with a 16 inch screen, while the overhauled A330s will also sport Qantas' Q Streaming technology which beams videos and music directly to your own tablet, laptop or smartphone.
The seat has evolved several degrees from the initial illustrations shown here, however, being refined by dozens of trial runs – including sleepovers – by frequent flyers and Qantas execs.
For more on the Qantas Business Suite, watch the video below:
The Business Suite's December debut will give Qantas a vital head-start over Virgin Australia, which won't begin flying its own next-gen 'business/first' seats (seen below) on east-west A330 routes until March 2015.
Qantas is also aiming to hit a 'critical mass' with the fast roll-out of its upgraded A330s, with plans for six of the rejigged jets flying by the time of Virgin's launch – most of which are expected to be dedicated to east-west routes – and double that number when Virgin completed the refit of all six of its A330s in July 2015.
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