Ever-improving business class seats are making many airlines rethink the need for first class
Wide seats which convert to long fully-flat beds topped with mattresses and duvets – direct access to the aisle – large HD video screens paired with noise-cancelling headphones – plenty of room to work in flight, and ample stowage space around your seat: those traits used to be the exclusive domain of first class, and passengers would pay a premium for the experience.
But that list of luxury features applies equally to the best of today’s business class seats, reducing the justification for the high ticket prices and expansive cabin space demanded by first class.
As a result, an increasing number of airlines are spurning costly but often empty first class suites for world-beating business class seats – while those airlines which remain committed to first class are taking it to the next level of luxe, especially on the Airbus A380.
Now: First class is limited to the Airbus A380, with the 12-strong fleet in turn limited to the flagship routes of London (via Dubai), Los Angeles and Dallas. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last week confirmed that the airline wouldn’t be taking up the final eight superjumbos from its full order of 20.
Next: Qantas’ Boeing 787-9s, due to begin flying from October 2017, will top out at business class unless the airline opts for a separate first-equipped long-range configuration to be used on touted routes such as Perth-London and Sydney-Chicago.
Now: Private first class suites adorn Emirates’ massive Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER fleets, although the Gulf colossus has also introduced a super jumbo sans first on selected routes.
Next: Emirates plans to begin flying an all-new first class suite by the end of 2017, with both the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER in line for the luxe cribs.
“I hope we will be looking at the final product towards the end of this year and go into production for October of next year” says Emirates CEO Tim Clark, who has previously described the suite as being even more private than the current closed-door cabin.
“We’re talking fully enclosed rooms, with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on.”
Now: Singapore Airlines has evolved first class into two distinct lines – the private suites of the Airbus A380, for which it was launch customer (and which kick-started the modern wave of first class suites)….. and the more recent open design of the Boeing 777-300ER.
Next: The Star Alliance member has a new raft of A380s coming from 2017, and they’ll be decked out with all-new first class suites.
But there’ll be fewer of these plush private suites than the 12 on the current A380s, which indicates their successors will be larger; SQ has also ruled out showers on its new superjumbos.
More on the future of the first class covering some other airlines please follow the LINK