CABIN / SEATS

Mood lighting on Icelandair B757 mimicks the Northern Lights

Icelandair_northern mood lights_680x324Click to watch video

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With mood lighting now being a standard feature on new aircraft, several airlines have also begun retrofitting mood lighting in their older cabins. Furthermore, besides the ‘generic’ approach towards mood lighting – that is, recreating sunset on evening flights and sunrise in the morning – a few airlines have taken a cue from Virgin America’s iconic red and purple cabin lighting – which has been described by some passengers as feeling like entering a flying nightclub – to come up with their signature cabin lighting.

Says Daniel Baron, founder of Tokyo-based founder of Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design, “Airlines should use mood lighting as an integral part of the brand presentation, or as association with origin. As the systems become more sophisticated and available on more aircraft as line-fit items, more meaningful differentiation with the lighting, i.e., not just as a novelty, will become the norm.”

Icelandair
A great example of this approach is Icelandair. In early April of this year, Icelandair – the airline that positions itself as the ideal stopover carrier between Europe and North-America – completed the first aircraft installation of EMTEQ’s full-spectrum mood lighting system onto a B757.

Icelandair plans to instal the system, which is capable of delivering highly customizable scenes with dynamic colors and intensity levels, on 18 B757s.

EMTEQ and Icelandair worked together to develop a custom Northern Lights scene that pulls in shades of blue and green that dance through the cabin (see video).

Commenting on the new mood lighting, Helgi Már Björgvinsson, Icelandair’s SVP for Marketing and Sales, said “Less maintenance and lower fuel consumption was an important case for the upgrade, as well as the desire to create a unique passenger experience and to utilize the lighting for branding purposes.” Read full article »

China Eastern to feature ‘online mall’ and ‘duty free showcase’ on new B777-300ER

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By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines

As ancillary revenues have become a major revenue source for airlines – if not the lifeline for many – airlines are thinking of more ways to derive revenue from all phases of the customer journey. For example, airlines are looking to harness the power of retailing through their in-seat IFEC systems, be it that things are still in a very early stage.

For example, very few airlines today allow passengers to order duty free onboard via the inseat or wireless IFE system. Virgin America and Japan Airlines are among the exceptions, while passengers on Lufthansa’s A321s can now order duty free items inflight via the wireless IFE portal for delivery to their address of choice.

China Eastern
Meanwhile, Shanghai-based China Eastern – China’s second-largest carrier by passenger numbers – is stepping up its efforts to become a global player. The Skyteam-member has just launched a new brand image and livery and will receive its first B777-300 (77W) this month which will be the airline’s new flagship aircraft. For a full report on China Eastern’s new B777-300 see this article on >talkairlines.

Yet, the innovative bits of China Eastern’s new B77W are not the seats (video of the cabin interior here). The airline has come up with some interesting interesting concepts in an effort to increase inflight duty free sales.

In-flight mall
Realizing that the existing print duty free catalogues can no longer satisfy traveller’s purchasing needs, China Eastern decided to create a more diverse, abundant and straightforward shopping system, dubbed the new in-flight mall.

As China Eastern will offer Wi-Fi on its new B77W, the airline collaborated with credit card company China UnionPay and Chinese third-party payment processor Yeepay to come up with an ‘Air-Ground Wireless Transaction Platform’ which allows for real-time processing of onboard payments and solves the transaction risks associated with in-flight duty free. Read full article »

The Past, Present, and Future of Business Class seat design

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This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

So it isn’t often we think ourselves as that awkward L-shaped brick from classic computer game Tetris, but fundamentally that’s how aircraft seat designers see us. Unfortunately-shaped wedges that have to fit neatly into a rectangular shape.

In a constant fight to give airline passengers more space, more comfort and a better quality experience, the war of the seat configuration continues. British Airways’ latest patent application shows that perhaps the ideal future of front of the plane comfort isn’t as clearly cut as we once thought.

The Past
Originally, in 1999 British Airways brought the flat bed concept to the skies with it’s Club World seat. Seen as a quantum leap in Business Class comfort, with space only considered for the super wealthy, who could afford First Class opulence. Since then many carriers have offered similar comfort, but the forward and backward concept took into consideration the ergonomics of the body, offering more space to the wider upper body. This was done by creating interconnecting forward-backward seats that operated as a singular unit, reducing seat costs and increasing space where it was needed – around the shoulders.

The original club world seat was then fairly quickly redesigned, to what we see on BA’s fleet today. The modern seats offer more privacy, more space, and more technological advancement. But the seat concept is sound, even the older seats can still be found on BA’s subsidiary OpenSkies 757 fleet now titled ‘Biz Bed’.

The forward backward concept was new, and whilst open to initial scepticism, proved a success, and was quickly admired by business travellers, who enjoyed the extra comfort, for little extra price, due to the LOPA (the seat’s real estate on the plane) being hardly compromised compared to the big bucket recliners that the rest of the industry enjoyed. Read full article »

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China Airlines’ doubles Business Class galley as ‘sky lounge’ on new B777-300ERs

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Special thanks to Kai-Chin Shih at >talkairlines for providing input for this article.

Airlines operating the A380 superjumbo – such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Korean Air – have been using the relatively large amount of cabin space on this flagship aircraft to feature social areas such as onboard bars and lounges in their premium cabins. The A380 provides 50 percent more floor space compared with the B747, but airlines on average install only 35 percent more seats.

On the B777-300ER – which is replacing the B747-400 as a flagship aircraft – airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’) and Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) have been reimagining how the galley located in the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well, after regular service is over.

‘Sky Lounge’ galley
The latest example of how the galley in the premium cabin can be turned into a social area (on non-US flights where it is prohibited for passengers to stand or group together on board) comes from Taiwan-based China Airlines, which will feature a ‘Sky Lounge’ in the Business Class on its upcoming fleet of B777-300ERs.

Designed by well-known Taiwanese architect Ray Chen – who has been responsible for the design of the flagship store of book chain Eslite in Taipei – the new design of China Airlines’ Business Class cabin aims to give customers a feeling of relaxing in their personal reading space. The texture of persimmon tree grain has been used to decorate the partition walls of the cabin, and the Business seats feature stand-alone reading lamps.

The ‘Sky Lounge’ galley located in the middle of the Business Class cabin of China Airlines B777 (seatmap here) doubles as a self-serve bar and social area. During the flight, passengers can choose to walk up to the lounge to enjoy food and drinks while chatting with other passengers. Read full article »

China Airlines unveils ‘Family Couches’ on its upcoming B777-300ERs

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This article originally appeared on >talkairlines

By Kai-Chin Shih | >talkairlines

China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.

Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.

Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.

10 rows
This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.

Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats are manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than China Airlines’ current Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees, compared to the current 106 degrees and seat pitch is 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch high definition personal screen which uses Panasonic’s new eX3 system.
Read full article »

BA to rightsize its short-haul fleet with slimline seats featuring holders

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Following earlier initiatives by major competitors Lufthansa (168 seats on its A320s) and Air France (178 seats on A320s) to install more slimline seats (from Recaro) on their short-haul aircraft in order to become more competitive with low-cost rivals such as Easyjet (180 seats on A320), British Airways has just unveiled its new short-haul interiors.

On the BA’s existing A320 fleet of more than 40 aircraft, there are various different seats and configurations and at a recent shareholder presentation by BA owner IAG, it revealed that it aims to increase capacity across BA’s Airbus fleet by 6 per cent.

BA executive chairman Keith Williams said: “The short-haul landscape has changed enormously in recent years. To stay competitive and keep offering customers choice, great fares and great service, we are giving our cabins a radical makeover.”

Leather headrests, tablet holder
The new charcoal grey leather seats (manufactured by B/E Aerospace) are slimmer and ergonomically designed to allow BA to squeeze in extra seats for its economy cabins, Euro Traveller. This, says the airline, will allow it to offer more low fares. The new Euro Traveller chairs will have backs designed give more knee space for the customer behind and new eye-level seatback tablet-holders, which are rapidly becoming a standard feature on the latest generation of Economy seats. Read full article »

UK leisure carrier Monarch to install non-reclining seats with tablet holder

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In order to be able to put more seats on aircraft and/or create weight savings, airlines – especially leisure-based carriers – are installing seats on short-haul aircraft that are increasingly more basic.

Non-reclining
UK leisure carrier Monarch, which flies from six UK bases including London Gatwick, is the latest carrier to introduce non-reclining seats across its entire fleet of planes, following earlier rollouts by the likes of Ryanair, Spirit and Jet2.

According to Monarch, the light-weight design – to be rolled out this summer – has been launched after a Skyscanner survey last year revealed that nine in ten travellers wanted reclining seats banned, and voted them one of the most common causes of mid-flight anger.

Monarch’s new seats are supplied by Pitch Aircraft Seating and have been developed in co-operation with Intier Automotive – a division of automotive supplier Magna – and design agency Design Q.

Seat pitch is 28 inches for standard seats onboard Monarch and 34 for extra legroom seats. According to Monarch, there is more ‘living’ space for passengers because of the design and thinner construction, and because they don’t recline the space is not restricted by the seat in front.

Adds Tim Williamson, Director of Customer Experience and Marketing at Monarch, “Customer feedback had [also] rated seat storage as high importance, the new non-reclining plane seats offer more flexibility than traditional ‘pockets’ – and can ‘comfortably’ fit water bottles, jackets and children’s toys.”

Tablet holder
The new seats also include a tablet holder for the technology-savvy holidaymaker, which is still a rare feature on new Economy seats, although seat manufacturers such as Recaro, B/E Aerospace and Zodiac have been coming up with their own inventive design solutions recently. Read full article »

Philippine Airlines introduces ‘layered’ Business Class seat on its A330s

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As Business Class seats that can be turned into full-flat beds have become the industry standard in recent years, airlines have been facing the challenge to determine the best seat layout in order to optimize the valuable real estate onboard.

This has led seat manufacturers to come up with several inventive designs, such as herringbone, staggered, V-shaped and backward/forward-facing configurations [image].

Layered design
French seat manufacturer Sogerma has figured out that it can decrease the default pitch in a full-flat Business Class seat by about 4 inches by including a slight overlap in the foot wells for the two customers in the paired seats on its V-shaped Equinox product line, calling the seat Equinox 3D.

Both are fully flat but the seat on the right is raised above the seat on the left. When moving to the bed position, the window seat moves up to armrest level while the aisle seat moves down to just above the floor.  This design is said to also allow for easy access for the window-side passenger.

Or as aviation journalist Jason Rabinowitz (aka AirlineFlyer) put it when testing the seat at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg: “The seat pair is angled in toward each other, which is nothing new. What is new, however, is that the two seats transform into a layered lie-flat bed. In essence, the feet of one passenger end up resting on a platform on top of the adjacent passenger. This saves a bit of width per seat without compromising comfort, but it sure does look strange. I tried the seat and found it to be comfortable, so this will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.”

Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the launch customer of the Equinox 3D seat (images here and here) when it took delivery of its new Airbus A330-300 last month.

PAL’s A330s accommodate 368 passengers — 18 in Business, 27 in Premium Economy and 323 in Economy, and the airline will operate the aircraft on medium-haul routes between Manila and Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Honolulu. Read full article »

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Smart design: Fixed headrest support on Etihad’s new Economy seats

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At airlinetrends.com we love smart design innovations, especially in the space-constrained Economy cabin. Think Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch (which will also be installed on China Airlines’ upcoming B77-300ERs), as well as the airline’s cleverly designed headrest pillows.

Economy Smart Seats
Lost a bit in the press blitz around Etihad’s new über-premium A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. The so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ (video here) feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping.

The new Economy seats will first appear on Etihad’s A380 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. On the A380, the economy seats will be nearly 19 inches wide and arranged in a 3-4-3 fashion with a 31-32 inch pitch. On Etihad’s Boeing 787 the seats will be configured 3-3-3 with a seat width of 17.2 inches and seat pitch ranging from 31 to 33 inches. Each Economy Smart Seat reclines 6 inches and has adjustable lumbar support.

Etihad Design Consortium
Etihad’s new interiors are the work of the so-called Etihad Design Consortium, which consists of British agencies Acumen Design Associates, Factorydesign and Honour Branding. Acumen has been  responsible for seating for First Class, Business, and Economy, while Factorydesign was assigned passenger experience and interiors elements such as galleys, lavatories and passenger destination zones. Honour Branding was responsible for the coordination of the project and advising Etihad on the innovation process. Read full article »

Beyond First Class: Etihad’s new A380 to feature 3-room ‘The Residence’ suite

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This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Etihad Airways has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘uber premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained butler.

Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy. Yes. That’s 125 square feet of your own private space, and if that wasn’t enough, you still have access to the First Class offerings including the brand new onboard lounge.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Living room, master bedroom, shower
The living room in The Residence is furnished with a two-seat reclining sofa upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, dual marquetry dining tables and a chilled mini-bar. A touchscreen control unit operates the retractable ottoman, the ambient and mood lighting, window shading, adjusts seat position and firmness, and activates the in-seat massage functions.

A door and passageway separate the living room from the master bedroom and the ensuite shower room. The bedroom features a Poltrona Frau upholstered 82 inch long double bed with custom-made mattress, bedside unit, wardrobe, and under-bed stowage for hand luggage (video here). Read full article »

Four Seasons’ uber-premium Boeing 757 takes passengers on round-the-world cruise

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

One of our favourite topics (and recommendation to our airline clients) is that the airline industry should be looking much closer to the hospitality industry for best practices on how to improve the passenger experience.

Airlines that have applied some ‘tricks’ from the hotel sector include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines who welcome passengers in their premium classes with hand-written “Welcome Onboard” cards, while Etihad, Virgin Australia and Virgin America are among the few airlines that refer to their passengers as guests. American Airlines now refers to its premium cabin as a ‘hotel in the sky’, while Delta has partnered with Westin Hotels to let passengers sleep comfortable on Westin’s ‘Heavenly’ range of bedding.

On the ground, a handful hotels have opened their own lounges at airports, be it that for the moment these initiatives can be found at small airports only. For example, Four Seasons Resorts recently opened an airport lounge at Honolulu International Airport to welcome Four Seasons guests enroute to the island of Lanai.

Four Seasons ‘air cruise’
Now Four Seasons is looking to elevate its hospitality brand up in the air. The premium hotel group has unveiled its Four Seasons-branded Boeing 757 which will carry guests on its around-the-world ‘air cruises’.

Four Seasons, which operates 92 hotels and private residences around the world, first began offering its around-the-world trip in 2012 using a non-branded jet that carried 78 travelers. According to Susan Helstab, Four Seasons’ EVP Marketing, “The branded jet was developed to fulfill the wealthy’s wish to explore the world in utmost comfort. Taking our legendary service to the skies is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing in our hotels for more than 50 years.”

Or as Bloomberg summarizes it nicely: “First came the Orient Express train. Then the Queen Mary ocean liner. Now the Four Seasons jet?”
Read full article »

Most interesting seating innovations from the 2014 Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo

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This article originally appeared on Airchive | Images courtesy of Jason Rabinowitz.

By Jason Rabinowitz, AirlineFlyer

Imagine a place where every single aspect of an airplane’s inside was on display and up for sale: From seats to fasteners, plastic mouldings to satellite arrays. Put it all in Hamburg, Germany, spread it out over seven halls, and call it Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014.

Industry firms large and small (and tiny) all brought their newest, latest, and greatest to this year’s show, hoping to capture the interest of airlines in this multi-billion dollar industry. Throughout the show, there were a few main recurring themes that have been the constant theme in the industry for a few years now. As Data Research Manager for Routehappy.com, it was my job to find the most interesting trends.

More seats in economy, less space, few but important innovations
Flying economy in the modern age has gotten to the point where 32″ pitch is a luxury, and 30″ pitch is the new norm. Slimline seats are the new cool, and airlines are gobbling these up faster than vendors can manufacture them. Reduced seat pitch, width, and cushioning are coming to an airplane near you, but it isn’t all bad.

ACRO
Seat manufacturer ACRO has managed to develop a seat with so much space carved out of it around the knees that a configuration of 29″ inches feels more like 32″ to the passenger. That may not sound like much, but it is the difference between being horribly uncomfortable and content for a short flight. The seats come with a positively tiny but super strong tray table which is barely wide enough to support an iPad. ACRO will start delivering these seats to Spirit Airlines for five retrofitted Airbus A319s and new A320 and A321 deliveries in 2015.

Recaro
One of the largest seat manufactures, Recaro, showed us that even the smallest of changes to their seats can have a large impact. We’ve all seen the photo showing various “innovative” ways passengers set up their own entertainment devices in economy, but Recaro has come up with a simple, yet ingenious solution to the problem.
Read full article »

Business Class seats on South African Airways’ new A320s feature small shelf to stow a tablet device

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power sockets and USB ports. A number of airlines and interior suppliers are also looking how to integrate passengers’ own devices with the design of the seat.

For example, Japan Airlines’ new Economy seats (manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz), which made their debut on the airline’s B777-300s in January 2013, have been designed with a a conveniently placed smartphone holder which is also located near the USB port. For more examples on how airlines are coming up with smart seat-PED integration designs, see our ‘Bring Your Own Device’ article [pdf] in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

South African Airways fleet renewal
South African Airways (SAA) has recently unveiled the interior of its new A320 aircraft, which have been designed by aircraft interior designers Priestmangoode and feature seats from seat manufacturer Geven. The new A320s, configured in a 24 Business and 114 Economy setting, boast a modern, sleek South African-themed interior, which will also form the basis of SAA’s future widebody aircraft designs.

A full story on SAA’s new A320s can be found in the March edition of the excellent Aircraft Interiors International magazine.

Integrate your own device
The Geven Comoda seats in SAA’s A320 Business Class have an innovative feature: The back shell has a small shelf to stow a tablet device, with a USB power point that keeps the device powered during the flight, and power plugs in the centre console for power.

Aircraft Interiors International reports that the Geven Comoda business seat has been customized for SAA, with the removable IFE setup saving project time and airline costs, as it cuts down on software issues, cabling and maintenance. Read full article »

Novel Economy seat of just 4 kg to make its debut inflight

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Air New Zealand’s innovative SkyCouch aside, Economy seat development is predominantly aimed at making the seats slimmer and lighter by using new materials and by coming up with smart design improvements. Besides weighing less, slimline seats also allow airlines to increase capacity without significantly affecting passenger comfort.

Meanwhile, ultra low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, Spirit and Allegiant have introduced non-reclinable seats (euphemistically called ‘pre-reclined’) on their narrowbody aircraft. For example, Ryanair aircraft feature non-reclining seats, no seat-back pockets, safety cards stuck on the back of the seats, and life jackets stowed overhead rather than under the seat.

Lighest Economy seat
Combining the use of new materials with a novel design, French start-up seat manufacturer Expliseat at last year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg launched its super-lightweight Titanium seat.

The fixed-back seat – which has been ‘pre-reclined’ by 18 degrees – weighs only 4 kilograms and features a newly designed titanium and composite tube structure, which can be covered either with textile or leather materials. Despite being just two-inches thick, the seat’s “technical textile” is able to absorb shocks from the knees and fists of fellow passengers behind. Furthermore, the number of parts in the seat has been reduced to 30, down from 500 for a conventional seat.

The seat’s tubular structure is made from a combination of carbonfibre and titanium – a material Saada says manufacturers have shied away from on account of its high cost, Expliseat CEO Benjamin Saada told the APEX blog. However, despite being “at the top of the price range”, Saada says the resulting fuel savings of the seat are “so huge” that airlines will recover the high initial outlay within five years.
Read full article »

Qatar Airways to launch Business Class-only service to London Heathrow

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Qatar Airways has announced the launch of a new daily all-premium Business Class service from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow. Mirroring the Business-only product currently run by British Airways from London City Airport to New York JFK, the new service will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and will commence on 15 May 2014.

Qatar Airways will fit an A319 aircraft with an all Business Class, single aisle, 2–2 seating configuration offering 40 seats – slightly larger than the 32 seats on BA’s A318 that operates the LCY – JFK route.

Full-flat bed, big-screen IFE, connectivity
The full-flat seat – similar to the one found in Lufthansa’s new 747-800 cabin, or Delta’s new transcontinental Delta premium product – is configured as pairs of seats, slightly angled away from the aisle, meaning a modicum more privacy, but really only ideal for those travelling in pairs.

A nice touch on the narrowbody A319 is the provision of a big-screen entertainment system with more than 900 movies, TV shows, and video games to choose from, as well as the ability to SMS from the air to those on the ground, enabling people to keep in touch.

Passengers on the Business-only jet also have access to Qatar’s Premium lounge in London Heathrow’s T4 and the airline’s Premium Terminal in Doha.

Qatar Airways currently operates five daily flights to London Heathrow and the additional sixth all Business Class daily service means the airline will step up the frequency on the Doha – London Heathrow route from 35 to 42 weekly services.
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