Learn About The 10 Business Class Seat Types Before You Book Your Next Trip
In this article, I decided to briefly introduce all of those (and then some) – in other words all commonly used – business class seat types. I split them into two groups – the four that I consider to be the best and then the rest.
With each, I talk about the pros and cons of the seat type, as well as some of the airlines and aircraft types that you can find the seats on.
Hopefully, this will help you make a decision in case you will have the chance to choose between two different seat types when looking for flights in the future. Just keep in mind that these are the “general” types of seats – and that the details differ (sometimes a lot) from airline to airline.
The 4 Best Business Class Seat Types
First, let’s start by looking at the four types of business class seats that I like the most.
They are roughly in the order of my preferences. Just keep in mind that I put suites in the first place based on Qatar Airways’ QSuites. I might still prefer an Apex suite over Delta’s or JetBlue’s suites as those are essentially Vantage staggered seats with doors.
1. Business Class Suite
By far the seat that I liked the most out of all the business class seats that I flew in so far was Qatar Airways’ QSuite. Not only did the seat offer all the benefits of a staggered seat (I will talk about those further down), but it offered more privacy than almost all other business class seat types do.
Since Qatar Airways’ introduction of QSuite, some other airlines including Delta Air Lines started offering business class suites with doors as well.
All of the currently available business class suites are – as far as I know – based on the staggered seat in one way or another. However, recently British Airways announced that it would start equipping its aircraft with suites as well – and those seem to be based on the reverse herringbone seat.
Same as the pros of staggered seats (see further down)Increased privacy thanks to the doorCons:
Same as the cons of staggered seatsAirlines, Types, Routes:
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the business class suite on:
”Throne” seats in JetBlue Mint classQatar Airways’ QSuites on the airline’s select A350s and 777s (read a review) Delta One suites on the airline’s A350s and select 777s British Airways will start offering suites on its A350s and some 777s later this year.
2. Apex Suite
The Apex suite is another excellent type of business class seat with each seat offering direct aisle access.
Unfortunately, there are not many airlines using it because of its fairly large footprint. Just as an example, while Japan Airlines can fit 28 of its reverse herringbone seats between the first two pairs of doors on a 787-9, with Apex suites, it can only fit 24 seats in the same space.
The one thing to keep in mind with the Apex suites, though, is that while the window seats are excellent, the other seats are mediocre. The reason for that is that they have all the drawbacks this type of seat has, yet lack its biggest advantage – privacy.
Window-seat privacy equivalent to that of a business class suiteTurns into a full-length bed without the need to put your feet in a tiny cubby.
Might feel like a “coffin” as it is quite narrowLimited storage optionsNon-window-seats lack privacy.
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the Apex suite on:
Some of Japan Airlines’ 787s and 777-300ERs (read a review)Some of Oman Air’s 787s and A330sKorean Air’s 747-8s and 787s
3. Reverse Herringbone Seat
After the staggered seats I talk about below, reverse herringbone seats are the most popular of the modern long-haul business class seats.
The reason they are called reverse herringbone is because while they are in the same herringbone layout as the regular herringbone seats, rather than facing towards the aisle, they face from the aisle towards the window (or the center of the aircraft for the middle pair).
Without a doubt, the biggest advantage of these seats is the fact that they all offer direct aisle access. And that all of the seats offer basically the same experience – something that staggered seats and Apex suites lack.
While all of the reverse herringbone seats offer roughly the same level of comfort, there are slight differences in the monitor and tray table placements between the different airlines’ seats which can result in different experience.
For example, while JAL has a fixed monitor which can get in your way when you try to sleep, Finnair has a screen that folds – resulting in much greater personal space.
All seats are “created the same”All seats offer direct aisle accessDecent level of privacyCons:
Relatively exposed to the aisle compared to staggered seatsNo seats are “next to each other,” making it a bit difficult to chat if you are traveling with someonePersonal space can be a bit limited with some airlines (e.g. JAL)
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the reverse herringbone seat on:
4. Staggered Seat
Staggered seats are probably the most popular type of modern business class seats, and they basically come in two major models:
Stelia Solstys: These seats offer a fair amount of space and alternate between seats being closer to and further away from each other in the middle sectionThompson Aero Vantage: These seats fairly limited space and each seat forms a bed together with a foot cubby located between two seat backs in front.
All seats on a plane equipped with the Solstys model offer direct aisle access while most of the seats on planes equipped with the Vantage seats offer direct aisle access.
The Solstys seats give passengers the greatest flexibility in terms of choosing a seat as there are solo window seats and aisle seats (by the window, but a bit distant from it), as well as pairs of seats that are both a comfortable distance apart from each other as well as pairs that are right next to each other.
On the other hand, Vantage seats are spaced equally, and so the choice is less varied. However, they come with “throne seats” – seats that have a counter on both sides and don’t have a neighbor.
Most seats offer a fair amount of privacyWith some exceptions, offer direct aisle accessSolstys seats offer several different types of seats suiting the needs of a wide variety of travelers.
Not all Vantage seats offer direct aisle accessVantage seats can be a bit tight and difficult to sleep inAisle seats of either model are fairly exposed and not as private as window seatsAirlines, Types, Routes:
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the staggered seat on:
Thai Airways 777-300ERs (read a review) and Emirates A380s are some of the aircraft equipped with Solstys seatsFinnair A330s, Austrian Airlines 767s and 777s, and JAL 767s (read a review) are some of the aircraft equipped with Vantage seats.
Other Business Class Seat Types Worth Knowing
Below are some other business class seat types that you can encounter on a wide variety of airlines. While they are not numbered like those in the first part of this article, they are still roughly in my personal order of preference.
Back when the herringbone seat was introduced by Virgin Atlantic, the seat was revolutionary. It offered all passengers direct aisle access on top of a fully flat bed.
In this configuration, the window seats face into the aisle with the seat back facing the window.And, the middle seats face towards the aisle as well. Because of the arrangement, while the seats offer a full-length sleeping surface, they are quite narrow. In that regard, they are similar to Apex suites.
Since the seats were first introduced, they lost popularity to reverse herringbone and staggered seats which lack some of herringbone seats’ disadvantages and allow for denser configurations.
All seats offer direct aisle accessFull-length sleeping surface without a foot cubbyDecent amount of privacy.
Might feel like a “coffin” as it is quite narrowLimited storage optionsEven window seats are not really window seats as the seat is facing the aisle.
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the herringbone seat on:
Most Virgin Atlantic aircraft except for A330-200sAll Air New Zealand wide-body aircraft.
Full-Length Full-Flat Seat
Full-flat seats not offering direct aisle access were fairly common before airlines started offering staggered and reverse herringbone products. That said, there are still quite a few airlines that use them – even newly installed – as they are (likely) a cheaper and easier to maintain product.
Roughly speaking, there are two different types of full-flat seats that are not staggered and extend to a full-length bed that are common across many airlines:
Those with the seat forming only a part of the bed and a separate ottoman forming the restThose with the seat extending fully into a bed.
Personally, I prefer the former, as I find the sleeping surface of those to be sturdier than that of the seats with the leg rest part of the seat “hanging in the air.”
In fact, if you don’t mind less privacy than you would get with staggered and reverse herringbone seats, the full-flat seats with ottoman might be the most comfortable business class beds out there.
Full-length sleeping surface without a foot cubby to tuck your feet intoGreat legroomCons:
Lacks privacyNot all seats offer direct aisle accessDepending on airline, might include middle seats.
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the full-length full-flat seat on:
LOT 787s (read a review), Air India 787s, Xiamen Airlines 787s, and Turkish Airlines 777s (read a review) are among the aircraft equipped with full-flat seats with ottomansQatar Airways 777s (read a review) and Garuda Indonesia A330s (read a review) are among the aircraft equipped with the “fully extending” full-flat seats.
Full-Flat Seat with a Foot Cubby
What I consider to be the worst among full-flat seats are full-flat seats that are staggered in a way, but don’t offer direct aisle access. These are typically installed in a 2-2-2 layout, and they offer airlines higher density than both the full-length full-flat seats, as well as reverse herringbone and staggered seats.
As such, they have all the disadvantages of the older generation full-flat seats that I talk about above. Regardless of the seat you are seated in, you may have a neighbor. And, window seats in this configuration lack direct aisle access.
In addition to that, you have the disadvantage of most staggered and reverse herringbone seats – the small foot cubby where you have to place your feet when the seat is in bed mode.
Fully flat sleeping surfaceCons:
Lack of privacySmall foot cubby instead of a full-size ottoman or legrestNot all seats offer direct aisle access.
Below are some of the airlines, aircraft types, and routes that you might encounter the full-flat seat with a foot cubby on:
All Lufthansa wide-body aircraftKLM’s 777s (read a review) and 747s
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