TALKING POINT | Domestic business class is back on the radar, and in a big way.
Australia's transcontinental trek between east coast capitals and Perth has always deserved better than the same seats as a quick commuter-grade sprint from Sydney to Melbourne.
But the dogfight between Qantas and Virgin Australia for coast-to-coast corporate travellers turned into an arms race which gave us arguably the best domestic business class seats in the world, in the shape of the Qantas Business Suite and Virgin's The Business.
Fitted to each airline's Airbus A330 fleets, these are 'best in class' products – spacious wide seats which transform into fully lie-flat beds providing direct aisle access for every passenger – which put many other airline's international premium cabins in the shade.
But with WA's resources market coming off the boil and demand for business travel softening, high flyers are encountering more and more Boeing 737s on east-west routes – which means a business class experience well below that of the big Airbus A330s.
On Qantas, that's the difference between this...
... and this.
On Virgin Australia, it's this A330 seat...
... or this Boeing 737 seat.
Virgin Australia is now promising an all-new "quantum leap" business class for its transcontinental Boeing 737s, to be unveilled before the year is out and take wing in the second half of 2018, while Qantas says it will stick with the airline's current Boeing 737 business class.
Given those two vastly different positions, we felt this would be as good as time as any to take the temperature of Australian Business Traveller readers on what you want from a transcontinental business class on the Boeing 737.
For starters: how vital is direct aisle access on these 4-5½ hour flights?
Is a fully flat bed a must-have, or will an angled bed – such as Virgin Australia's 2012 A330 business class, shown below – suffice, even for red-eye flights?
Would you be happy with something closer to a premium economy or regional business class seat, along the lines of Cathay Pacific's current (albeit soon-to-be-replaced) regional business class?
Or does Virgin need to somehow raise the bar even higher in its efforts to compete against Qantas?
There's been no shortage of speculation as to the shape of Virgin's new coast-to-coast Boeing 737 business class – including expectations that it could be based on the same platform as US airline JetBlue's Airbus A321 Mint business class (below).
It's noteworthy that seat manufacturer Thompson Aero – whose Vantage business class product provided the foundation for Mint – is said to be working on a 'next generation' lie-flat Vantage seat for the Boeing 737.
But for now, it's over to you. What do you want from a transcontinental Boeing 737 business class? Cast your vote in our poll below, and then share your thoughts with other readers in the Comments section.