As the airline industry continues to cut costs and maximize revenue, every inch of the finite space within each aircraft is being closely examined.
An Italian company called Aviointeriors which makes commercial airline seats recently debuted an ‘ultra high density seat’ and what’s been dubbed by many as the ‘world’s most cramped airline seat’.
Photo credit: Aviointeriors website (http://www.aviointeriors.it/)
According to the Aviointerior’s website, airlines want to introduce a new class of passengers – a below economy class, aka the standing class. So they’ve designed a seat that lets a passenger perch in a slightly-higher-than seated position straddling a base that looks vaguely like a horse’s saddle. You won’t slide off onto the floor, but it’s doubtful you’ll be comfortable and certainly not on a long flight.
Of course, not everyone travels on a corporate spending account (do those even exist anymore?). While most of us can’t afford a first-class seat, we may spring for business class on medium- and long-haul flights.
Here are the best business class airline seats (in no particular order) to take the pain out of long flights wherever you’re headed next.
American recently moved away from the seats that slowly slide passengers to the bottom in favor of fully flat cocoon-style spaces with more privacy than most. Plenty of storage, universal AC power outlets and USB jacks are available with every seat.
Photo credit American Airlines website (http://www.aa.com/)
Eva Air, a privately owned airline based out of Taiwan, delivered a new business class cabin last year. This Asian carrier’s business class cabin features muted colors and mellow tones and the same seat as the American Airways. Each seat has multiple plug point and all the bells and whistles of an executive office.
Photo credit: Luke Lai via flickr
Great privacy combined with clean, modern lines makes this airline’s business class unique. The business class chairs include massage functions and they lie fully flat. All seats have direct aisle access, so there’s no climbing over or waking your neighbor to visit the loo.
Photo credit: Etihad Airways website (http://www.etihad.com/)
The business class seats in Swiss Airlines planes have been copied by many as the ideal for sophisticated design. The cabin sports wood veneer, warm grey colors and a sleek modern design. This is a consistent and practical seat true to its Swiss design and has few bells and whistles.
Photo credit: NewbieRunner via flickr
With one of the widest seats in business class – a 22″ base – it’s also the longest seat as well, stretching to 6′ 5″. The seats exude warmth with a calming toffee color. The business cabin is small and split by a galley so that it has an exclusive feel that simulates the first-class experience.
Photo credit: Oman Airways website (http://www.omanair.com/)
Air New Zealand
The unique positioning of the seats combined with the privacy wall make for a comfortable trip. White leather and clean lines demonstrate Air New Zealand’s business class redesign and gives the business class cabin a light and airy look. Of course, don’t forget that Air New Zealand pioneered those fun videos for those who can recite the safety speeches from memory.
Photo credit: Air New Zealand website (http://www.airnewzealand.com/)
Still by far the widest and most spacious seat in the sky – far outdoing most first-class seats – the Singapore Airlines’ experience is legendary. It’s also the most expensive pampering you can get in the air. The cabin crew and the food are one of the biggest selling points to flying with Singapore, but you can’t beat those seats either.
Photo credit: mas95 via flickr
The versatility of the Cathay Pacific seat – move it back for privacy or forward to chat with a fellow traveler – is excellent, but it’s worth noting that this is the same seat as the American Airlines class seats. It’s also intuitive and comfortable. The Cathay Pacific team has always been up against some pretty good competition and yet they regularly manage to keep their price point lower.
Photo credit: Bayaer via flickr
Beware the lie of the ‘lie-flat’ seat
The penultimate seat for any long haul traveler has to be a seat that will allow you to lie flat, just as you would in your bed back home. Some airlines have installed ‘lie-flat’ seats in their first- and business-class cabins but the ‘lie-flat’ label is used with some liberties. In most cases, the seat reclines to a position that is nearly straight, but pitched at an angle that looks more like a shallow ‘v’ shape.
If you’re trying to recognize and understand the difference between seats and how to pick a better airline seat, SeatGuru.com’s got the essential Guide to Booking the Best Airline Seats.