Up next for business class: supersizing the fold-down tray table?

By John Walton, June 21 2012
Up next for business class: supersizing the fold-down tray table?

Sitting in the bulkhead seat at the front of the business class cabin during a recent Frankfurt-London flight, we came across a truly useful feature: an extra-large, extra-deep fold-down table.

Lufthansa's business class is one of those "Eurobusiness" styles, where all you get is a blocked middle seat -- so if you're lugging around a larger laptop because you need the performance or prefer a bigger screen, you'll have difficulty getting it open and adjusted to a comfortable angle at a decent distance to type on.

(The bloke across the aisle, hardly portly in shape, handily demonstrates how much room there isn't for his iPad.)

In front of my bulkhead window seat, however, was a slide-up-and-fold-down version.

As you can see, it comfortably took my 11-inch laptop and phone across, with enough depth so that I could actually push my laptop to the wall and still have enough room for the lunch tray.

In fact, since there's an empty middle seat -- Lufthansa calls it "Ihr Freiraum" -- you get the chance to the fold-down table in front of the middle seat as well.

But wait, there's more -- since there's a cocktail table blocking off the middle seat, you have even more space to spread out papers, external drives and everything you need to get the most out of your business class fare.

It might seem like a relatively small thing, but I found that the extra space to spread out all my stuff in an L-shape (since there was no aisle passenger) was incredibly useful.

With a fair bit of air-traffic delay, it meant that I could get a good bit of work done on the ground before the plane pushed back from the jetway even before we took off.

Inflight, I could read up on some documents while having a snack, and didn't have to bother having my tray cleared. And I was able to get some serious work done up to the very last moment before descent.

All in all, this is a trend we hope continues -- we've seen an awful lot of business class tray tables are compact verging on the frustrating, and this is a why-didn't-they-think-of-that-before solution.

It's also a real selling point for premium economy seats or the 'extra-legroom-economy' seats that many business travellers and frequent flyers end up in when travelling in economy.

What do you reckon? Will this make working in economy better? Does it make you want to book a bulkhead seat? Sound off in the comments below!

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.

20 Jul 2011

Total posts 72

That middle table is actually smaller now than it was on the old LH shorthaul J configuration - and the old seats had an armrest which moves inwards, widening the window and aisle seats.  So you've actually seen a bit of a downgrade...

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

You wouldn't happen to have a snap of those old middle tables, would you, Rufus? I don't recall the tables being particularly bigger, but it's been a couple of years since I flew Lufthansa's Eurobiz in a bulkhead.

08 Apr 2011

Total posts 24

Here's a snap of one of those old middle tables from the net: Lufthansa A320

I actually like this version: the pop-down middle seat is great for putting a beer and some nuts on, while working on a laptop on the main flip-down table.


03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

Aha -- I now realise that Rufus meant the "table that takes over the middle seat", not the "table that folds down from in front of the middle seat"!

I have to say that the slightly smaller "table that takes over the middle seat" didn't feel significantly smaller to me. Functionally, lorks, you're right -- it's the "beer & pretzels" table, not the "working on my laptop" table.

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