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The best business-class seats for tall people

Feb. 28, 2020
9 min read
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If you're tall, flying business class can really make a difference in how comfortable you are in the air. But some business-class seats offer more length and width than others, so today we're going to look at which biz class offers tall passengers the room they crave.

More and more airlines are creating business-class products like Qatar's Qsuite or ANA's new "The Room" business class, but most buy one of several common models of business-class seat and simply customize the color and finishes. This means you'll find seats with identical "bones" across many different airlines. Of course, little details can make or break an otherwise good seat, like how much spacing the airline decides to leave between rows, or whether an armrest retracts to give you more room.

U.S. Airlines

Let's start by taking a look at the big three legacy airlines in the U.S. and their flagship business-class products. For United, that would mean Polaris aboard the Boeing 777-300ER. For American it's Flagship business class, also aboard the 777-300ER. And for Delta it's Delta One Suites on the Airbus A350.

AirlineAircraftBusiness class bed lengthBusiness class seat width
United AirlinesBoeing 777-300ER78 inches22 inches
American AirlinesBoeing 777-300ER75 inches20.5 inches
Delta AirlinesAirbus A350-90076 inches22-24 inches

You can see immediately that United Polaris has the longest beds, though passengers of all heights should go out of their way to pick a bulkhead seat with a larger footwell (you'll also have somewhere to store all the different pieces of Saks Fifth Avenue bedding United gives business-class passengers). I'm only 5 feet 7 inches tall, but I can tell the Polaris seat is spacious, with plenty of room to stretch out in all directions whether it's upright or in bed mode.

United Polaris on the 777-300ER (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

By the numbers, Delta One Suites would take second place in both bed length and width, edging out American Airlines' 777. However, when I flew Delta One Suites on the A350, I found the footwell narrow. This might cause some passengers to curl up or angle themselves while sleeping, which can eat into the minimal extra width the seat offers.

Delta One suite on the A350 (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

American Airlines is actually the only one of the three legacy U.S. carriers to use an "off the rack" seat for its Flagship business class; both Delta and United use exclusive, proprietary seats. The Safran Cirrus seat that American uses is a popular choice among airlines around the world, including Cathay Pacific and EVA Air. Although it is technically an inch or two narrower than what you'll find on Delta or United, the wide plastic shell around the seat (combined with a retractable armrest on the aisle side) gives you a lot more room to stretch out within your pod.

American Airlines biz class on the 777-300ER (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

I'm not sure most passengers would be able to notice a one-inch difference in bed length, but the open and spacious footwell should more than make up for it.

The footwell in American biz class on the 777-300ER (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

International airlines

Among international airlines, two are widely recognized as having the best business-class hard products on the market. The first would be Qatar Airways, whose signature Qsuite generated a lot of interest when it launched a few years back and still ranks among the best. It won back-to-back 2018 and 2019 TPG Awards for best international biz class.

Further Reading: Approaching perfection: A review of Qatar Airways’ Qsuite business class on the 777-300ER

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Qsuite on the 777-300ER (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

You'll find a number of different configurations in the Qsuite cabin, including rear-facing window seats and "honeymoon" seats in the center of the cabin, which can be combined with the row across from them to form a quad-seat cubicle. No matter what seat you're flying in, you can expect it to be 21.5 inches wide and to recline into a 79-inch bed. As much room as you have in your private suite, I've heard some people complain that the seat itself feels (and definitely looks) rather narrow for business class:

An individual Qsuite seat (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Which brings us to the second, newer business-class seat, ANA's The Room, which is only available on select 777-300ERs flying between Tokyo Haneda (HND) and Tokyo Narita (NRT) and London (LHR) and New York (JFK), with Frankfurt (FRA) to follow soon. Unlike Qatar, ANA didn't hype its new biz class before it launched, instead giving passengers just a few weeks of warning before it unveiled what TPG's Zach Griff called "the new gold standard" for international business class.

With a whopping 64 seats, The Room takes up more than half of the plane's length, stretching from right behind ANA's redesigned first-class cabin (The Suite) all the way to behind the wings. The 76-inch bed length is a tad shorter than average, but with 35-inch-wide seats, this business-class product can compete head to head with Cathay Pacific first class for the sheer amount of space it offers.

An overview of the main The Room cabin (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

One of the most innovative parts of the seat is the way the bed extends all the way out to the console, taking full advantage of the interior space and not leaving any gaps. You could practically sleep sideways here, or at the very least sleep diagonally to enjoy much more room than the officially stated 76-inch length.

The Room seat in bed mode(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Qatar and ANA have gone above and beyond with these cabins. On airlines that choose to install more conventional business-class seats, you'll generally see one of the following three categories:

There's so much variation in how airlines install these seats and what planes they use them on, that it's hard to pick a configuration that always offers the most space. For example, United and Lufthansa both use a similar forward-facing business-class seat on much of their fleet (virtually all United planes that don't have the new Polaris seats). As you can see in the Seatguru maps below, United lines the seats up next to each other while Lufthansa angles them toward each other, cutting into the seat width even on the larger 747.

TPG readers weigh in

Numbers don't always paint the whole picture, so we asked our taller TPG readers to weigh in on the business-class seats they find the most comfortable.

Brett M., at 6 feet 7 inches, loves ANA's older 777 business-class configuration, even though SeatGuru lists the pitch at only 62 inches. One thing the product definitely has going for it is roomy footwells that make it easy to stretch out.

The older 777-300ER business class on ANA (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
Cabin view of the older ANA business class on the 777-300ER (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Sometimes, a simple seat can be more comfortable than a glamorous suite. Simon B. said that in his experience, Air China's business class on the Airbus A330 could hold a seven-foot person easily. At 6 feet 3 inches, Simon was barely able to reach the footrest in this spacious forward-facing cabin.

Bottom line

Every airline publishes its official pitch/bed length/seat width numbers online, and sites like SeatGuru make it easy to search and compare. But those numbers only tell half the story, and you'll have to account for other factors like the size of the footwell and how much room there is to the side of the seat when making your choice. Ultimately any business-class seat is going to provide a decent amount of room, but if you're tall and looking to get comfortable on your next trip, you might want to start with some of the products described above.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees