Flying business class ruins you for life. It’s indulgent, lets you work (if you need to) and – most importantly – gives you ample opportunity to sleep at a horizontal angle. It’s also changed a lot over the years. Now that first class is slowly being phased out, business class is getting all sorts of bells and whistles, from sliding doors to conjoined suites for couples.
The standard configuration for a business class cabin has changed too. Now if it’s not a 1-2-1 configuration, with instant aisle access for all, many travellers don’t even want to know about it. Privacy is a big theme in 2022 too, as things like sliding doors become industry standard.
New generation aircraft are making airlines bring out the big guns when it comes to design and comfort, making travellers actually look forward to flying.
These are our nominees for the Best Business Class seats of the year.
Delta One Suites
If you’re ever flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, Delta One Suites (on Delta’s A350 jets) are a must try. Why? Delta was the first airline to introduce an all-suite business class back in 2016 and remains a frontrunner in the space. This means doors that slide shut for privacy, lie-flat beds, bigger entertainment systems and signature Delta amenities like Westin Heavenly bedding and designer Alessi service-wear.
Other awesome benefits include a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, suites 21-24 inches wide and a fully flat bed that is 79-81 inches long. So far Delta has taken delivery of 11 A350-900s from Airbus, so if you’re flying on one of these, the Delta One Suites are a given. It has also retrofitted some of its Boeing 777-200s with the suites (check this out before you book) and plans to put some on its Boeing 767-400s too.
Qatar Airways’ Qsuite
Qatar Airways’ Qsuite is one of the best known business class suites in the world. And for good reason. It was voted the World’s Best Business Class in the 2021 Skytrax World Airline Awards. And it didn’t earn that title for nothing. Qatar Airways’ Qsuite offers both aft and forward-facing seats, as well as ‘quads’ – a private space perfectly adaptable for those travelling in groups. Qatar Qsuites have also partnered with two Italian luxury brands BRIC’s and Castello Monte Vibiano to design an amenity kit with a range of skincare products and in-flight necessities that are designed exclusively to ensure that you arrive fresh at your destination, and single travellers will enjoy their private suites. As for routes, you can fly from Adelaide to Doha on the Qsuite (QR Flights 914 and 915). You can also fly from Melbourne to Doha on the Qsuite (QR Flights 904 and 905). Finally, you can fly from Sydney to Doha on the Qsuite on QR Flights 908 and 909. Seeing as Doha is Qatar Airways’ global hub, this makes the Qsuite a great choice for Australians looking to head to Europe (from Doha you can fly on the Qsuite to London).
Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380 Business Class
Singapore is no slouch when it comes to air travel. Not only is Singapore Changi Airport one of the plushest in the world, Singapore Airlines’ new A380 business-class has to be seen to be believed – a mean feat considering its predecessor was the biggest bed in the sky. While this new version is 25 inches narrower, this purple beauty is actually more comfortable (you can use more than one armrest at a time), more private, has more storage space (and it’s all within reach, too), and has more cutting edge materials.
Speaking of which: this business class seat is made of handstitched full grain leather by Poltrona Frau. It easily reclines into a bed. Oh, and it has special “wings” for support while lounging around that can be flattened when you want to go to sleep (read: office to bedroom at the click of a button).
Not to mention: the lack of overhead bins makes your space feel enormous (and the middle seat removable divider is perfect for couples who want to create a temporary love nest). Oh, and the 1-2-1 layout means equal aisle access for all. Likewise, everyone gets an 18-inch video screen and a 198cm long bed.
It’s great for flying to Singapore from Sydney or Melbourne, and is also an option when going all the way through to Europe.
Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class
If you think there is no such thing as privacy on an aeroplane, think again. Cathy Pacific’s new Business Class allows you to control the degree of privacy and openness you prefer, by moving your seat back or forward and using a precision toggle to adjust the seat position. When not enjoying the additional hip support and knee space of the fully flat bed, passengers can indulge in a rotating library of 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 888 music CDS, 22 radio channels, and 70 games. Cathay Pacific’s new Business Class is being progressively introduced on the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300 aircraft, however, at the time of writing the A350-900 and A350-1000 are where you’ll find Cathay Pacific’s top offering. This one’s great for flying from Australia to Hong Kong (or potentially all the way through to Europe, too).
Emirates’ Airbus A380 Business Class
Next time you’re headed from Sydney to Dubai, hop aboard the Emirates Airbus A380 Business Class. There’s a personal minibar and foot-level stowage, as well as some of the tastiest mid-air food you’ll ever lay teeth on. For entertainment, the Ice system includes more than 1300 films, television shows, and documentaries. Need a drink? Or need anything, for that matter? The attendants speak 15 languages. And did we mention there are complimentary top-shelf champagne and a chauffeur drive service to the airport? Plus: the Onboard Lounge is a great place to attempt to break David Boone’s record for Martini’s sunk over the pacific if you’re so inclined. Great for flying to Europe or Dubai.
The Etihad Experience Business Class
Etihad is known around the world for offering one of the most impressive services in the sky. Business Class is no exception. Found on the airline’s A380’s and 787’s, Etihad’s Business seats are constructed in the 1-2-1 configuration to offer direct aisle access for all. Complimentary ACQUA DI PARMA amenity kits are also available, containing an eye mask, earplugs, luxurious socks and a signature fresh fragrance, so you can pamper yourself during your flight. Speaking of pampering, passengers are also given hot towels before drink orders are taken and served food with silver cutlery. If you’re on the A380, you can also venture to a swish lounge called The Lobby, or while away the hours with the onboard wifi (or vast entertainment system).
A surprising pick, but a worthy one in 2022 nonetheless. Turkish Airlines’ business class features lie-flat seats that open into a 193cm bed, a bed width reaching up to 66cm, fully adjustable armrests, a touchpad seat control panel, an adjustable and rotating 51cm tray table, a cocktail table, an 18″ IFE remote control with 4″ screen and adjustable privacy screens. Though it wouldn’t have made the cut in previous years, it’s currently up there with the best of them.
Air France’s A350-900 Business Class
Air France’s A350 is a favourite of business class flyers. Why? Other than the fact that it’s larger than most Paris hotel rooms (we kid, we kid), it’s got all the usual jazz of fully flat beds, direct aisle access, 1-2-1 seat configuration, high-definition seatback screens, noise-cancelling headphones, AC and USB ports, and a divider screen for extra privacy.
Qantas’ Business Suite A380
After the A380’s million-dollar facelift, the Qantas Business Suite is now available across the 787 Dreamliners, Airbus A330s and – now – the A380s. But if you’re feeling nostalgic for the old Skybeds – don’t. The Qantas Business Suite is a new level of luxury.
Designed in collaboration with Marc Newson with a focus on comfort, privacy and style, Qantas’ Business Suites are intuitive and luxe. The Vantage XL seats recline to fully-flat beds and have been customised extensively after inflight monitoring with a panel of experts (plus customer feedback). In other words: as tantalising amount you will ever place your bottom on. Trust us: we’ve tried.
The reclining seat can be fitted with a comfy mattress whenever you want (bar take-off and landing) and the new space means you can eat, work, enjoy the inflight entertainment options and store your luggage with unprecedented comfort. And the 1:2:1 configuration means equal (immediate) aisle access for all.
ANA’s ‘The Room’
ANA was the first Japanese airline to adopt the staggered seat arrangement travellers now relish. This ground-breaking setup lets you enjoy direct aisle access no matter where you are seated, and the spacious (the clue’s in the name) room means you can sleep, eat, enjoy yourself, or get some work done without worrying about your surroundings. Fittingly, this seat boasts a spacious pitch and a footrest that can be adjusted to four different heights.
The Room is also equipped with an array of functions, including a large 12.1-inch touch-panel LCD monitor, a large table, a personal reading light, a universal power port, and USB port. Some travel bloggers call it the best business class seat in the world – even better than Qatar’s QSuites, with the main differential being the sheer amount of space you get. Is it really all that? Try it for yourself and find out.
British Airways’ New Club Suite
The final step in British Airways’ luxe Club World investment, British Airways’ Club Suite is available on their ‘hushliner’ A350s aircraft and select Boeing 777 Aircraft services. If you luck (or research) your way onto one of these bad boys, you’ll find yourself sitting in cutting edge luxury – the Club Suite is a bespoke version of the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat in a forward-facing (no awkward eye contact) herringbone layout, featuring a sliding privacy door.
If this doesn’t whet your appetite, perhaps the 18.5 flat screen entertainment system, noise-cancelling headphones, generous storage, plush pillow, amenity kit or world-class menu (inspired by visionary chefs) will. Either that or the classic combination of a good English breakfast tea and a scone. And the 1-2-1 layout is another bonus. All in all British Airways’ Club Suite is a hotel like capsule which gives you your own private space at 35,000 feet.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Virgin Australia’s Upper Class is kind of like a silent disco. Passengers enter the cabin to find it soaked in colours of red, pink, orange, purple and blue. White seat cocoons act as a canvas for the mood lighting; within them are red wine-coloured leather seats with creme brulee orange detailing, pink touches, and gold flecks. Virgin Atlantic offers three different types of ‘Upper Class’ seats, depending on the aircraft type you fly. They all recline to be fully flat, offer direct aisle access to every passenger, have ample space to work in and have in-seat power to charge your stuff through the flight. The best Upper Class seats, however, are the ones on Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350-1000 fleet. These aircrafts feature a total of 44 seats layed out in a 1-2-1 layout.
Hainan Airlines’ business class features 180 degree lie-flat seats, which allow you to sleep like a (non crying) baby high in the sky and reach your destination feeling fresh as a daisy. The new business class seats are configured with USB ports and convenient reading lights so you can read or work, and the colour scheme is pretty cool too. They also have the awesome standard of food and in-flight entertainment we have come to expect from a top-end business class in 2022.
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