Airbus Unveils New Biz Class Couch, but Experts Say It’s Far From Takeoff

Apr 10, 2019

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At the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Airbus showed off its new Corner Settee, a couch-like seat for long-haul, narrow-body aircraft. The new seat is an upgrade of the sky couch product that many airlines like Air New Zealand, Thomas Cook and others offer.

Photo by @AusBT/Twitter
Photo by @AusBT/Twitter

This new seat concept is designed for business-class cabins on long-haul flights. Instead of the seat reclining into a sleeping position, it is laid out like a couch, allowing a passenger to lie across the seat rather than reclining. In fact, these seats don’t recline at all. This means that airlines can more densely pack the seats into the business-class cabin with shorter seat pitch.

Photo by @AusBT/Twitter
Photo by @AusBT/Twitter

“It appears to offer the comfort and privacy that premium travelers value on the longer journeys that the A321LR is intended to operate,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research group, told TPG via email. “As shown, the seat appears to provide a comparable, and perhaps even more generous, amount of sleeping space when compared to current lie-flat business class seats. The seat’s no-recline, fixed position also means travelers won’t intrude on one another’s space when they wish to relax or sleep.”

Harteveldt’s main concern was the stated seat pitch of 32 inches. He noted it “may be uncomfortably tight for travelers who want or prefer to sit up to eat, work or watch a film or TV show. Of course, the airline controls seat pitch, and can adjust this.”

Photo by @AusBT/Twitter
Photo by @AusBT/Twitter

“While I wouldn’t expect to see any airline commit to this soon, the manufacturer that comes up with a good way to improve density on narrowbodies while still having a flat product will do well,” Brett Snyder, president of Cranky Concierge and writer of the Cranky Flier blog, told TPG via email. “With a narrower cabin, seat designers are trying to rethink ways to achieve better density.  This idea lets them put rows close together since the traveler will lie sideways, so that can help get more seats per square foot of real estate while still offering a flat(ish) product.”

It remains to be seen if this product or a closely related concept will be getting airborne any time soon.

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Featured photo by @AusBT/Twitter.

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