Fitting lie-flat business class seats onto airplanes

Written by Staff Writer

Kiraly Magdziarz, CNN

Business class on airplanes in 2025 will not look much like it does today.

By the end of this decade, most business class seats will be lie-flat and high-tech, it was predicted by J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials analysts.

New business class technology from Boeing might just make lie-flat seats a reality on commercial flights. Credit: Courtesy Boeing

Today, most business class business class seats are narrower than coach, in order to fit passengers into the same amount of overhead space. Business class seats on business class flights currently come with up to four wide-body compartments.

But a less expansive seat could work against the claims of lie-flat seats in the future.

In the long run, it could actually be better for passenger comfort, because the smaller space of the future “simplifies movement in the lower-middle” without inhibiting oxygen supply.

Instead of four compartments, business class seats will have single compartments, in the form of seats with 22 inches of pitch, according to J.P. Morgan. The so-called “biplane” would have 32 square inches (0.8 square meters) of pitch.

By contrast, current business class seats are 16.5 inches wide and come with 8.4 square inches (0.24 square meters) of pitch.

By 2025, there will be four full-size commercial jets capable of flying over the Arctic Circle, according to Airbus. Credit: Sarah Hebron via UPI

Business class beds

Other carriers could go a step further by packing empty seats in between a smaller lie-flat bed.

In the first half of this decade, flights could be equipped with “four-paracetamol recovery aircraft” to kickstart recovery after hours of travel, the analysts predicted. The planes, that can sleep between 700 and 1,400 passengers, can fly 3,000 miles (4,600 kilometers) per day.

At present, most long-haul flights take 48 hours or more, so an airline would need up to five planes to fill the capacity, creating a demand for large planes.

But business class travelers will also benefit from lie-flat beds in the long run. Lie-flat seats and custom-made meals will have become synonymous with first class.

While bags would still have to be packed between seat rows to facilitate the seamless movement of passengers, lie-flat seats — larger than today’s economy seats — will allow passengers to carry suitcases on board.

A general view of an Airbus A380 aircraft at Berlin airport in 2009. Credit: AFP

The bigger cabin

Better lie-flat seats are also likely to force long-haul operators to expand their passenger seating.

The analysts put the total available space per passenger in 2024 at 35.2 square meters (349 square feet). The figure will be 55.1 square meters (498 square feet) in 2025, if the analysts’ forecasts prove accurate.

The new business class class will no doubt be a vast improvement from the form of today’s economy class. The most popular “three-class” seats are 6.7 inches wide and 8 inches high — less than half the width of a standard queen-size bed.

An interior view of an Airbus A380, from an interior view. Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

These seats are largely dominated by ports for personal electronic devices, but they require the guests to bring the power supply themselves.

The new business class class will also likely have the latest in inflight entertainment. The demand for amenity kits with snacks and alcohol will still exist, but instead of tickets selling at huge mark-ups, passengers will be charged only if they want the use of inflight gaming consoles.

And in the future, it will also be possible to experience one’s meals — including cold meals and soft drinks — at home, thanks to a high-resolution, interactive system, according to the analysts.

Leave a Comment