“Coffin Seats” Are The Worst Business Class Seats, Ever

Don't let your cabin's midlife crisis spoil your flight.

“Coffin Seats” Are The Worst Business Class Seats, Ever

Image: Live And Let's Fly

Business class never looked so bad. This is a story of how failing to keep up with the times can leave your customers feeling like they’ve got one foot in the grave…

Only a matter of weeks after Qatar Airways’ CEO claimed that first class was totally pointless compared to business class, it now seems that business class is having its own usefulness questioned… and with layouts like this one still on offer — recently endured by our friend Matthew Kliny over at Live And Let’s Fly it’s not particularly hard to see why.

After the pandemic pushed the cost of business class to new highs, a growing number of one-time business-class travellers are now opting for premium economy, choosing comparable comfort at a fraction of the price. When “coffin seats” are the order of the day, you can’t really blame them. Travelling on a recent transcontinental flight with United Airlines, Klint found himself in a “high density” 777-200 business class cabin, and the experience was like turning back the clock…

WATCH: Sadly, this isn’t the only dodgy business class offer out there…

Before United’s merger with Continental in 2012, United’s entire long-haul fleet featured a business-class layout that many, including Klint, fondly remembered. The cabin had seats that were cozy yet comfortable, serving him well on numerous trips to Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. However, a much more recent flight brought some memories flooding back that, though all the rage at the time, now felt more than a little dated…

Klint clearly wasn’t the only one who felt this way. In fact, he couldn’t help but laugh at the reactions of his appalled fellow passengers who, having expected the industry-standard levels of luxury that most airlines — including United ‚ usually offer, were met with something more closely resembling their college days:

I chuckled as passengers boarded and appeared horrified that the business class cabin felt more like dorm bunks than a true premium cabin.

Matthew Klint

What exactly was so shocking, beyond the dated look and feel? Well, the cabin had eight seats across, with four seats in the centre section and two window seats on each side, leading to a very tightly packed experience all round, especially for those sardines — I mean, passengers – who were wedged in by the windows with no direct aisle access.

Being trapped by the window is not a premium vibe. Image: Live And Let’s Fly

Far worse than the layout, however, was the incredibly narrow design of the seats themselves, rightly earning them the unfortunate nickname of “coffin” seats. Adding to all this peculiarity, the odd-numbered rows were rear-facing, while the even-numbered rows faced forward, meaning that a number of passengers had to spend the entire trip staring directly at their seatmates, which is more than enough to put you off your bread roll.

While United do claim to have plans already in motion to replace the “coffin seats” with modern recliners, this may not be enough to appease all passengers, who were also upset at the very limited amount of personal storage space. In a world where almost every passenger travels with a number of devices and outfit changes — the former of which should not be fully charged, by the way — this simply isn’t considered up to scratch by many.

Take a look at this seat map and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Image: Seat Guru

Despite all this, Klint’s overall angle was a surprisingly compassionate one: While far from ideal for long-haul journeys, he wouldn’t mind flying on these vintage seats for shorter domestic flights, especially if they continue serving the cheese enchiladas which he seemed to enjoy very much. When it comes to transcontinental flights, he now deliberately seeks out a Polaris seat, United’s newer business class offering which we’ve recently tried and review ourselves; in short, we recommend Polaris very highly indeed.

So, next time you find yourself booking a United Airlines flight, take heed of Klint’s cautionary tale: While some may appreciate the vintage charm of these “coffin” seats, for most the lack of personal space and modern amenities will be a deal-breaker. Consider seeking out flights with the updated Polaris seats for a more comfortable and contemporary business-class experience.

In the ever-evolving world of air travel, don’t let business-class’ midlife crisis spoil your flight. At thirty-thousand feet, there’s little need or want for coffins or unwanted eyeballing.