Best Business Class Cabins in the Sky
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We recently named the worst business class cabins in the sky. Now, it’s now time for something more fun: listing the best in the game. In the months since the inaugural TPG Awards, our reviewers sampled a wide variety of business-class offerings. Some of those cabins were memorable enough to end up in our TPG Awards winners’ circle, while others were happy just to be nominated. And some of the business-class seats we’ve reviewed in the first half of 2019 may very well end up contenders in this year’s awards (we already have our eye on a potential 2021 candidate).
If you enjoy a top-notch business-class flight, you can be a winner with these choices.
JetBlue Mint A321
The first TPG Award winner for Best Domestic Business, JetBlue’s Mint class, which flies three rows of 2-2 and two rows of 1-1 throne seats, earned raves from TPG editors for its generous seat size (22 inches wide, converting to a 6-foot, 8-inch-long flatbed), ample storage space and peerless IFE (complete with JetBlue’s well-known live TV feature). But what puts it over the top is the mini-suite with door, the only one you’ll find among US carrier domestic routes.
Now that it’s flown to the top of the heap in the United States, Mint (or, more accurately, a new version of it) is eyeing overseas dominance. JetBlue recently announced that it will start flying to London in 2021 on the new Airbus A321LR, and part of the airline’s British invasion involves a Mint makeover. “We are reimagining the Mint experience,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told TPG about the new London route. “Our intent is to create an experience like flying on a private airplane, but for a fraction of the price.” If Mint’s British cousin achieves that goal, JetBlue may soon contend for best-in-class accolades for both international and domestic business class. Stay tuned.
Qatar Qsuite 777-300ER/A350
The TPG Award winner in the International Business category, Qatar’s Qsuite, which flies a 1-2-1 configuration, offers one of the best flying experiences, business class or otherwise, on the planet. The Qsuite earns widespread praise for first-class-level opulence, thanks to its attractive design, sensible layout and extremely comfortable bed. Of course, Qsuite is just that — a suite, with a much-lauded door for maximum privacy when traveling alone. If you’re not traveling alone, Qsuite’s got you covered too; some seats can convert to a double bed configuration. If you’re traveling in a group of four, you can book a “quad suite,” in which seat partitions open up to create a four-top table in the sky (as The Points Guy demonstrated during a recent flight with his parents). If you’ve been looking to see what all the fuss is about, this may be your year to experience Qsuite; in recent months, Qatar has been adding US destinations to its Qsuite route network.
Swiss Air Lines A330
While not as flashy as its international competitors, Swiss Air Lines’ A330 emerged as a solid favorite among the business-class offerings TPG recently reviewed. The popular “throne” seat (width of 20.5 inches, bed length 79 inches) impressed TPG UK General Manager Christian Kramer with its sleek, spacious and private vibe, as well as classic-looking wooden finishes. You’ll find an alternating 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 configuration on the A330.
Delta One Suite A350
As you might expect, this list is dominated by foreign-based carriers. As US carriers go, the Delta One suites in a 1-2-1 configuration on the airline’s international Airbus A350 routes are a solid entry (which is why Delta was the only US-based airline to score a TPG Award nomination in the Best International Business category). While not quite as well regarded as Qatar’s Qsuite, Delta One’s suite-with-door offering provides a welcome bit of privacy for long flights. What really sets Delta One apart is its cabin decor. In contrast with the more traditional-looking Swiss Air Lines’ business class, Delta One’s look is snazzy and modern. TPG Editor Emily McNutt praises the very comfortable lie-flat seats (21 inches wide, 77-inch bed length). True, Delta One has yet to crack two of its most annoying trouble spots: lack of storage and a huge gap around the seat that becomes a Bermuda Triangle for your small personal items. That said, it’s still a satisfying flying experience overall.
Japan Airlines 777 Apex Suite
Another TPG Award “Best International Business” nominee, the Apex suites in Japan Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER business class offer a lot of the elements found in the other entries on this list: a comfortable, generous seat (25.5-inch width, 75-inch bed length); a measure of privacy (via staggered seating with a push-button privacy divider), and an aesthetically pleasing cabin — all in a 2-3-2 configuration. But one thing that sends JAL’s product to the top of multiple TPG reviewers’ lists: the cuisine. TPG contributor Eric Rosen said the airline has “some of the best catering in the world” while TPG Reviews Editor Nick Ellis called his inflight dining experience “one of the most memorable meals I’ve had, especially in business class.”
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) A330
A longtime TPG favorite, the SAS A330 business class, which flies in a 1-2-1 configuration, remains a top-notch business-class product. The sleek but subtle design of the SAS interior, the comfortable and private seats, and the excellent food and service were more than enough to put even the most well-traveled TPG reviewer in a state of zen.
EVA Air 777-300ER
We were very impressed with the first look we got recently of EVA Air’s business class, which also flies a 1-2-1 configuration, in its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. But that doesn’t dull our appreciation of the 777-300ER’s sterling business class offering, which belongs in any conversation about the best in the biz. It checks all the boxes you want in an international business-class seat. And in our book, EVA’s business class gets a huge boost for its generous award availability.
Korean Air 787-9 Apex Suites
Korean Air’s turquoise-colored Dreamliner business class rounded out our TPG Award nominees for Best International Business. In addition to a 2-2-2 configuration, it boasts excellent service, great food and a comfortable seat — as long as you select the correct one. Our reviewer was not impressed with the lack of privacy in the center section of business class. Try to book the Apex suites on either side of the aircraft, which are arranged in a more staggered configuration.
As usual, international carriers dominate the business class product. For JetBlue’s domestic Mint class to be even mentioned alongside them is a huge feather in its aviator cap. We’re excited to see how competitors, and their business-class cabins, will respond to JetBlue’s upcoming foray into transatlantic travel.
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Featured photo of the JetBlue Mint Cabin by EQRoy / Shutterstock.
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