Qantas new A330 Business Suite to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ recline

Qantas_A330_Business Suite_recline_b680x291Images courtesy Australian Business Traveller

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In the past years airlines around the world have been busy installing seats in Business Class that can be turned into fully flat beds, making ‘full flat’ the industry standard. In an effort to further differentiate their premium product, airlines are increasingly coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone, Delta’s partnership with Westin and Aer Lingus’ new Business Class which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations.

Gate-to-gate recline
In an effort to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. The innovation, for which Qantas is awaiting regulatory approval, could let passengers get more than seven hours of shuteye on an Australia to Southeast Asia trip.

As aircraft seats are traditionally locked upright during take-off and landing, when most accidents happen, the innovation would allow Qantas to offer the world’s first seats that let passengers recline in their seat from take-off through to landing.

Key to the break-through product’s safety is an over-the-shoulder belt — much like a car seatbelt — that connects with the usual around-the-waist belt to provide extra restraint during takeoff and landing.

The seats won’t be able to recline less than 25 degrees from the horizontal on international flights and 21 degrees domestically. That’s sufficient to allow the shoulder belt to work, withstanding the 16G forces that can be exerted in a survivable accident. The berths can be switched to fully-flat mode once the plane is in level flight.

Australian Business Traveller reports that the fully lie-flat bed can be partially reclined on take-off and landing, with a mattress will be fitted to the seat before take-off, to help travellers on the relatively short overnight flights from Singapore and Hong Kong begin their snoozing before the plane takes off.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce commented on the new seats: “A key point of difference from all other carriers is that the seat can be in recline and fitted with the mattress from take-off right through to landing. With many Business passengers enjoying a meal in the lounge prior to travelling, this means more time to rest and sleep,” he added. “There’s still a lot of decision makers and organizations that travel business class, even on those shorter sectors, and it’s very important to have the right product for them.”

On a similar note, one business traveller told Bloomberg: “I want to be able to get to sleep as quickly as possible without disturbance, and wake at the last possible minute. If you’re lucky you don’t get much more than four or five hours sleep [on a Sydney to Singapore flight). It’s a nasty flight if you’ve got to go to work the next day.”

‘Business Suites’
In collaboration with Marc Newson, the Thompson Vantage XL seat was developed and customised extensively by Qantas into what the airline calls ‘Business Suites’. The ‘suites’ also offer fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for every Business Class passenger in a 1-2-1 layout. Video and factsheet of the new Qantas A330 Business Class Suite here and here.

Qantas will fly the first reconfigured A330 aircraft on the Sydney – Perth route from late December and the first international route to receive the new product will be its Melbourne – Singapore service from mid-January. The entire fleet of 28 A330s will be refitted by the end of 2016.

For a full review of Qantas’ new Business Suite see Australian Business Traveller.

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