New business “snuggle class” double beds

(CNN) – As the aviation industry looks to a future where business class seats will be filled with more video conferencing and fewer business travelers, it’s recruiting premium leisure travelers to fill the gap.

Airlines expect more business travelers to bring their partners on “blended” or business-leisure — “bleisure” — trips. However, most business class cabins were designed with privacy in mind, so you could snuggle up next to Pat from accounting.

Enter a new generation of design that allows two business class seats to be converted into a double bed better suited for couples.

“Covid was an epic reset button,” explains Daniel Baron, cabin designer and managing director of Tokyo-based airline design house LIFT Aero Design. “It changed the priorities of many travelers. Before the world was turned upside down, more people wanted things that don’t seem important today.

“They want a slightly slower pace, with creature comforts on the way, and meaningful experiences on the other side. The same for business travelers. Yes, career is still important, but time with loved ones should not be sacrificed. The tendency to mix business with pleasure, the opportunity to increase demand in the premium leisure category it gives.”

In international first class, double beds have been common since the mid-2000s, perhaps most famously in Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380 first class, and later the Etihad Residence one-bedroom suite in the mid-2010s. a small double bed in his room.

“Traditionally,” says Baron, “in business class there was an expectation of wide, fixed armrests on either side of the passenger, with multiple storage spaces. Large movable dividers were also associated with first class, not business.

“Ultimately, it’s about providing an experience that drives repeat business and positive word of mouth. From ‘give me complete privacy’ to ‘you’ve given me options’ in the business class industry. The ability to approach that can be a competitive advantage.”

There is something truly delightful about having your arms snuggled around your special someone while the soft hum of the plane lulls you to sleep.

Beds in business

The magic that turns a fully walled suite into a double bed revolves around two centers: first, the middle section of seats between the two wide aisles of the aircraft, and second, the middle divider between the two premium seats in that middle section (in a row, every other row, or the entire cabin).

In practice, the flight attendants raise the wall below the level of the bed, add a mattress and linen and you have a first class double bed.

And now, the double bed comes to business, although the design and logistics are more complicated because passengers have less space than before, although of course still a ton more than in economy.

On the bright side, however, very few airlines charge couples to select a double bed over regular business class seats, so check out those seat maps! As a guide, business class is currently four to six times the price of economy.

The modern business class seats overlap well with the passenger in front, giving all passengers direct aisle access without taking up a lot of first class space.

They usually do this through the trick of a passenger’s side table, with the feet of the passenger behind them being a footwell that goes like a bed, through a tiered configuration, or the seats in an angle-bone design.

Here’s how some airlines that offer double beds in business class do it.

Singapore Airlines offers a double bed option in seats on its fully refurbished Airbus A380 fleet. All middle pairs in this design have the option of lowering the divider to waist height, but the front row seats in each section are the best: these (seats 11D+F, 91D+F and 96D+F) no You don’t have a middle divider, so you’re not into waist-high kisses limit

Qatar Airways offers twin beds as part of its QSuite product, which appears on some of its Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft, where the seats in the middle sections are placed next to each other in a row so that you are in the very middle of a row. in another to the passage. Airlines and business class regulars call it the “honeymoon/divorce” design.

However, if you look at the seat map, you quickly realize that these “honeymoon” seats only make up a quarter of the total seats in the cabin. That’s often not enough for an airline looking to revive its premium leisure market.

Qatar Airways’ business suites on its Boeing 787 are a completely different type of seat, where the middle sections are wrapped around the aisle. This means that the passengers in them are shoulder to shoulder between the central divider. So when the center divider is pulled back, there’s a heart-shaped section where you can kiss your loved one goodnight.

Think of these as a relatively modest waist-up snuggling class, if you will.

More and more airlines and seat manufacturers are focusing on this type of business class double bed when choosing and making new seats.

And there’s more to come, says Daniel Baron of LIFT Aero Design: “surely, the next chapter is honeymoon suites on long-haul narrow-gauge aircraft.”

Image above: Business class on a Singapore Airlines A380R has a double bed option. (Singapore Airlines)