CABIN / SEATS

New materials allow forward-looking airlines to differentiate their cabin interiors

LIFT_new materials_aircraft interiors_a680x289

This article earlier appeared on Future Travel Experience 

By Daniel Baron, Managing Director, LIFT Strategic Design

The aircraft cabin is a universe apart. It is an exotic concoction of wildly expensive hardware, with long development lead times and complex safety requirements, plus ‘soft’ customer experience elements that must be quickly modified to meet changing market demand and/or financial realities. The product is delivered by staff who may have varying levels of polish or enthusiasm.

And, the whole affair is influenced by many different groups both inside and outside the airline: top management, marketing, engineering, finance, operations, unions, airport operators, the government regulatory authority and lobbyists. And, in the social media age, the airline’s image is largely owned and shaped by the public. The “ands” go on and on.

With so many variables influencing brand perception, airlines need to be laser-focused on communicating their brand at every touchpoint, delivering crystal clear differentiation with ruthless consistency.

New materials
Inside the cabin, recently developed and certified materials are allowing airlines to incorporate innovative visual or tactile qualities in fabrics, carpets, curtains (see image above, a collaboration between LIFT and Botany Weaving for micro pleat curtains), seat shells, decorative laminates on walls and partitions and non-textile flooring, plus vastly improved lighting.

Airlines have more ways than ever to better communicate their brand attributes. For example, fabrics whose appearance changes depending on angle of view, seat shells with a silk-like texture, and new thermoplastic materials (KYDEX® sheet shown above), a wood or stone look on lavatory flooring, translucent plastics and mood lighting. Sometimes even the not-very-sexy seatbelt can, in just the right colour, communicate a particular quality or attitude of the brand.

The cabin interior industry has made huge advances in the development of materials that look stunning, can be installed and maintained without breaking the bank, and pass all regulatory requirements. This is truly no small feat. And yet many passengers, particularly in the US, might say “they all look the same to me.”
Read full article »

JetBlue’s new transcontinental A321s to feature private suites and a ‘snack station’

JetBlue Mint_a680x430

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

In order to attract premium yields from business travelers, competition on transcontinental routes between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco is fierce with all major national carriers on the route trying to find their point of difference and fight for the heavy traffic between the three hubs.

New York-based JetBlue is also joining this transcontinental ‘arms race’ with dedicated sub-fleet of 11 brand new A321s. After a sneak peek of the airline’s new A321 cabin a few weeks back when they launched a first video, the airline has shared more details of its new transcontinental premium product, called Mint.

Starting at a mind-bending USD499 one way, JetBlue has managed to surpass our expectations yet again with the fare being yet another reason to fly with the airline. Said JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger in a statement: “Mint is stylish service minus all of the stuffiness often associated with the traditional front-of-the-cabin experience. JetBlue is truly all about serving the underserved, the customer who wants to enjoy first-rate service at an exceptional and affordable fare.”

The Mint seat
JetBlue has invested in both Business and Economy, with the coach section featuring slim-line seats, larger touch-screen TVs, as well as an extra legroom section. The big showpiece though is the ‘Mint’ Business Class product, a first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. The Mint cabin features 16 fully lie-flat beds up to 6′ 8″ (203cm) long with rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration with closing doors.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats as it makes the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller, although we feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight.
Read full article »

Beyond full-flat beds and slim-line seats » How airlines can differentiate the passenger experience ‘up in the air’

Trends in Onboard Hospitality_a680x413

Download this article as pdf »

This article is based on presentations that airlinetrends.com gave earlier this year at the 2013 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg and the recent FTE 2013 ‘Up In The Air’ conference in Las Vegas. 

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with the cabin interior upgrade arms race by introducing bigger and better premium seats in Business and First, and smarter and lighter designs in Economy. Furthermore, the latest cabins are roomier, have improved air quality and feature mood lighting.

At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ elements of the inflight experience, such as  delivering a more personal service, providing passengers with real-time information, creating ‘virtual classes’, etcetera. Here are five ways how airlines can improve the hospitality part of the inflight experience.

1. Personal service 

In the past year, airlines such as Emirates, British Airways, Iberia, KLM and EVA Air have equipped their pursers with tablets. This allows the cabin crew to see which previous trips a passenger has taken with the carrier before and based on this, know their food, wine and seating preferences, and any issues a customer had during their previous travels. This enables crew to offer a more personal and relevant service to frequent flyers.

Obviously, the next step is to connect the crew tablets to the Internet as the availability of aircraft with onboard wifi grows. This will close the customer service loop for airlines, as they will be able to connect with crew and passengers up in the air. For example, iPads used by pursers onboard British Airways’ Business Class-only service between London City Airport and New York’s JFK receive live updates throughout the flight, thanks to the aircraft’s inflight connectivity provided by OnAir. It should be a matter of time before airlines such as Emirates – which already offers connectivity on the majority of its fleet and has equipped its pursers with HP Elitepad devices – will follow.

2. Real-time information

Within the next five to six years it can be fully expected for real-time customer service to be an industry standard. With the rise of passenger smartphone use, in-flight connectivity and airlines’ commitment to mobile technologies and social media, soon customers will be able to evaluate every aspect of their experience in real-time, thus enabling issues to be corrected on the spot.

For example, Delta passengers on domestic flights can use Delta’s smartphone app to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number that they received at the time of baggage check-in. Since Delta has equipped all its domestic aircraft with GoGo’s in-flight Internet passengers can check whether their bag has made it on their flight while being up in the air.
Read full article »

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

Long-haul low-cost carrier Scoot takes a cue from AirAsia X with new quiet zone

ScootInSilence_a680x230

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Singapore Airlines’ budget subsidiary Scoot is the latest airline to embrace a child-free zone, banning children from the front section of its Economy cabin. Launched at the end of August, the new product is called ScootinSilence and takes up rows 21-25, which are located immediately behind the ScootBiz cabin on the long-haul low-cost carrier’s fleet of B777-200ER aircraft.

The cabin has 41 of Scoot’s Super and Stretch extra-legroom seats  (35-inches – four more than economy) and has been declared off-limits to passengers under 12 years, a move which the airline hopes will create a quiet zone.

“ScootinSilence is the perfect option for guests seeking an exclusive cabin, extra legroom and confidence that under 12’s will be seated in another part of the aircraft” said Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson. “No offence to our young guests or those travelling with them”, he added, “you still have the rest of the aircraft to choose from.”

The price for a ScootinSilence seat is an additional SGD18 (USD14) on top of the regular economy fare. A ScootBiz seat costs from SGD99 (USD77) more than an economy seat.

AirAsia X, Malaysia Airlines
This is not the first time an airline has adopted a ban on children in a part of its cabin. In February 2013, rival long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X introduced a ‘Quiet Zone’ on its A330 aircraft, where Economy passengers can travel without being disturbed by kids or chatting passengers. Malaysia Airlines last year also introduced a child-free zone on the upper deck of its A380s in a gesture to businesss passengers travelling on full-fare Economy tickets. The airline also bans kids from its First Class cabins.

Low-cost carrier FlyDubai goes chic with new Business Class cabin

FlyDubai_business_b680x244

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

FlyDubai, the up and coming short and mid-haul carrier from Dubai, has recently given their competitors a run for their money. From early October on, the low-cost airline will be rolling out Business Class seating across their fleet with 3 rows of 2×2 seating to form the front of their planes.  The new ‘soft Italian leather’ seats, similar in offerings to most American First Class seats, will boast a 12.1 inch high-definition touch-screen TV, in seat power and a seat pitch of 42″, perfect for relaxing and browsing the 900 hours of entertainment options.

This isn’t just about the seat, as the pseudo-low-cost carrier will also offer all the traditional benefits, including priority check in, lounges and full 3-course meals on flights over 90 minutes. They also announced that later this year, passengers will be able to relax in FlyDubai’s Business Class lounge ahead of their flight and will have access to priority baggage collection upon arrival at their destination.

Commenting on the launch of the airline’s Business Class services, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of FlyDubai, stated, “We are very pleased to announce the evolution of our passenger offering as we continue to meet the travel needs of our customers. The introduction of Business Class will provide greater choice for our passengers, who will have access to faster check-in services, comfortable and spacious seating and can enjoy a variety of internationally -inspired menus during their journey.”

The airline has just received its first Business Class equipped aircraft and the first route where FlyDubai will deploy its new Business Class will be between Dubai and Kiev on October 8, followed by Male, Istanbul, Mineralyne Vody and Bucharest later this year.
Read full article »

Emirates new ‘Executive A319’ features private jet lounge and First Class suites

Emirates Executive A319_a680x450

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Emirates has always been a luxurious airline, and their First Class is amongst one of the best in the skies, so no surprise that they have decided to include the award winning First Class suite in their new executive jet. Many airlines have taken to providing an executive jet service, from Qatar Airways to Lufthansa, but none have really considered offering something to this level of luxury. Your own private A319 jet will take you wherever you and 18 of your associates want to go.

Dubbed ‘Emirates Executive‘ the new service is the epitome of luxury, and no doubt will have a hefty price tag associated with it, but that price tag includes 10 private First Class suites, a lounge with chairs and a sofa, table and all the executive mod cons you would require, and to top it off, a shower, once only available on the super-giant A380s.

We have always looked at executive jets as a little less luxurious than first class suites, lacking in the privacy or exclusive touches such as personal TVs, AVOD, bedding etc, and finally it seems that the airline has learned that exclusive jets should mean the same, (or if not more) level of quality in the product as their first class suites and this aircraft layout seems to work perfectly. We love the fact the branding of the aircraft is subdued, with just the Emirates logo appearing by the door, and the rest of the airframe with a simple white exterior [video here].

The ten Private Suites are each equipped with sliding privacy doors, fully-flat bed seats, visitor’s seat, personal mini-bar and a 32” screen displaying our award-winning ICE entertainment system. Full Wi-Fi, mobile phone connectivity, and video conferencing are also available throughout your flight. One thing is for sure, we are going to start playing the lottery a lot more now….

JetBlue unveils new ‘transcontinental’ A321 interior featuring private suites

JetBlue_A321 mini suites_a680x371

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

JetBlue, New York’s ‘homegrown airline’ has released on their video channel a sneak peek of what we can expect on their new fleet of A321′s coming out in 2014, which will be flying the transcontinental East Coast – West Coast flights, competing with the likes of American, United, Delta and Virgin America who have all lifted the quality of product for the 5 to 6 hour trek.

The airline has invested in both business and economy, featuring slim-line seats, with larger touch-screen TVs, and still maintaining their extra legroom seating. Whilst this is just an artists impression (more images here), the detail seems fairly accurate, and we can see the headrests will be fairly slim too. Perhaps lowering the comfort of their seats, they can up-sell their amenity packages of pillows and blankets.

The big showpiece here though is the new Business Class product. A first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. 16 private suites in 4 rows, rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration. The Thomson Vantage full flat seats are a similar product to that seen on international carriers such as Delta and Brussels Airlines.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats, however, on the dual seats, you lose out on this feature. Making the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller. We feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight. The inconsistency of the product in business class may also work against the carrier, as someone who flies in the private suite and then is only offered a regular business class seat may decide to decline the purchase and move to a differing carrier. Only time will tell…

Singapore Airlines further upgrades its cabins

SQ_new cabin 2013_a680x324

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Singapore Airlines has been the epitome of luxury for many years now. Many airlines look to the airline, not only for the product they have onboard, but the way that Singapore Airlines effortlessly conveys luxury and sophistication. Singapore Airlines has not failed to deliver on their latest incarnation of products which will replace the current fleets slightly older, but by no means tired cabins. The first aircraft to adopt these new cabins will be the 777-300ER and when it comes into service, the A350. Passengers between Singapore and London will be the first to experience the new seats when they come on line in September.

“The significant investment in our next generation of cabin products reaffirms our commitment to product innovation and leadership, and demonstrates our confidence in the future for premium full-service air travel,” said SIA’s Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Mak Swee Wah. The products seem to be more like luxury train or car, and this is no surprise, as the release is the result of more than two years of working with world-renowned design firms. BMW Group DesignworksUSA assisted with the development of the new First Class, James Park Associates assisted with Business Class and Massive Interactive with the in-flight entertainment system interface.

We take a look at the products a little closer.

First Class
Singapore Airlines’ new First Class seat, features a new fixed-back shell design with curved side panels to provide a clear demarcation of personal space, for added privacy. At 35 inches in width and with an increased bed length from 80 to 82 inches, it is one of the most spacious First Class products in the sky. (But not the most!) Extensive research was conducted to determine how best to increase the comfort of the new First Class seat. An ergonomically sculpted cushion and improved adjustable headrest have been introduced for greater seating comfort, while new features such as a padded headboard for extra support and an additional mattress layer ensure customers enjoy a good rest. The attention to detail here is superb, and shows great research into the seating habits of travellers in such products. We personally love the two types of backing to the seat, depending whether you are configured in bed or seat mode.
Read full article »

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

How new technologies are improving the onboard passenger experience

Technology_Onboard experience_680x445

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The acceleration of wifi installations onboard aircraft around the world, combined with the large number of passengers carrying one or more digital devices, is creating a momentum that sees many of today’s inflight innovations focusing on digital developments.

In this three-part series on how new technologies are improving the onboard passenger experience, we will take a look at some of the major initiaves and innovations that are the result of this convergence. This first article will focus on the implications for seat design, the provision of real-time information to passengers, and opportunities to improve onboard customer service. The second article will highlight the latest in inflight entertainment (both fixed and wireless), followed by onboard ancillary revenue generation and personalization in the last part.

Power ports and storage
The first impact of today’s tech-toting passengers is on cabin ‘hardware’. Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power 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.

Besides creating storage space for personal electronic devices for the more spacious seating arrangements in Business Class, several seat manufacturers are also beginning to incorporate smartly designed spaces in Economy seats where passengers can store their mobile device.

For example, passengers travelling in Economy on Air France’s A380 and select B777-300s can store their cell phone into a small belonging stowage, which is located just below the in-seat USB port to allow for easy recharging of the device. 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.

Meanwhile, startup companies such as SmartTray and SkyCast have come up with simple yet smart tray table designs that feature a built-in groove, or two clips, for holding tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices upright. For example, Canadian budget airline WestJet rents out Android tablets that clip onto the back of the seat tray in a design called TrayVu.
Read full article »

TAM’s new First Class recreates a living room up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

TAM, the ambitious flag carrier of Brazil which earlier this year merged with LAN from Chile to create a Latin American airline giant, has just unveiled new cabin interiors – designed by Priestmangoode – to mark its arrival on the world stage.

Says Priestmangoode Director Luke Hawes: “Our work for TAM is crucial to their brand development, giving them the customer experience they need as they move up to become a major international carrier. The designs we will roll out across their entire fleet will present them as an important international player and give them the tools they need to compete with the world’s other major international carriers.”

Interior redesign
In 2009, TAM hired Priestmangoode to redesign the entire onboard experience – from cabin architecture, seats, galleys and lavatories to staff uniforms, in-flight amenities and the graphic user interface (GUI) of the IFE system. According to TAM Brand Manager Ricardo Cruz, the airline aims “to put TAM on the map” with the new cabin interior program, which is “inspired by everything Brazil has got to offer.” A nice illustration of this is the floor pattern of the bathrooms which is inspired by the famous Copacabana sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro.

Four classes
TAM’s new cabin interior has already made its debut on three new Boeing 777-300ERs delivered to the airline in the past few weeks. The new B777s can seat 368 passengers in 4 classes: First, Business, Space + and Economy.

TAM’s Economy cabin has received a colourful makeover and features rows of seats – manufactured by Weber – in various bright colours that reflect the carrier’s Brazilian origin: lime green, aqua blue and a brighter shade of TAM’s corporate red. TAM will also introduce a new ‘Space +’ product, which offers similar seats as in Economy, but with a larger seat pitch and recline, as well as a different seat colour. Read full article »

Japan Airlines goes private with ‘Sky Suites’ in Business Class

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Declared bankrupt in 2010 after a decade of losses, Japan Airlines (JAL) last week returned to the Tokyo stock exchange in a USD 8.5 billion IPO that followed a government-backed restructuring under which the airline shed more than a third of its jobs, persuaded its unionised pilots and staff to take big pay cuts, slashed pension payouts and retired older fuel-inefficient aircraft.

In the next five years, JAL aims to boost international capacity with 25 percent, as it contends with a shrinking population and new competition from low-cost carriers at home. Similar to local rival All Nippon Airways (ANA), JAL is banking on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner (of which it has received 4 so far, with more than 40 on order) for its expension.

JAL is also seeking to close the service gap with ANA, and – following years of underinvestment – just announced a massive upgrade of its international fleet. Called ‘New Sky’, the upgrade program will revamp seats in all cabins for the first time in 10 years, as well as introduce new catering concepts. JAL’s Business Class, however, is receiving the most extreme makeover.

‘Sky Suites’
Dubbed ‘JAL SKY SUITE’, the new seats will be the first time that JAL is installing full-flat beds in Business Class (even JAL’s new B787s still feature angled lie-flat seats). Says JAL’s VP Marketing Jun Kato, “We felt we were lagging behind other carriers where full-flat seats are standard.”

According to JAL, it wants passengers to “experience comfort and privacy similar to First Class” with its new Business product and the airline is installing an adapted version of B/E Aerospace’s ‘Super First Class’ seat for its Sky Suite. A luxury version of this B/E Aerospace seat is used as First Class seat by several other airlines. Despite a 2-3-2 layout, a staggered configuration allows each passenger to have direct and unobstructed aisle access.
Read full article »

Long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X to offer kids-free ‘Quiet Zone’ onboard

AirAsia X_Quiet Zone_a680x372

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Two recent surveys conducted by TripAdvisor found that 40 percent of U.S. travellers said they would pay extra to sit in a designated quiet section of the plane, while nearly 80 percent of Britons agreed there should be child-free zones on board, and a third of of respondents would pay more for their flight if there were no children on board.

Quiet Zone
Following a controversial decision by Malaysia Airlines to introduce a ‘child-free cabin’ on the upper deck of its new A380 superjumbo (Business and Economy), Malaysia-based long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X has announced it will be launching a so-called ‘Quiet Zone’ on its fleet of Airbus A330s.

Starting in February 2013, the airline will create a “Quiet Zone” in the front section of its widebody aircraft, located between the airline’s Premium Class section and the front galley. Children younger than 12 years old will not be able to book seats in the Quiet Zone, and passengers opting for the zone will be asked to keep noise to a minimum, while there will also be special ambient lighting in the cabin. Passenger will also be among the first to disembark.

The dedicated zone will consist of the first eight rows of the Economy section (rows 7 to 14), and  as the front area already houses the airline’s Premium Class, turning this part of the aircraft into a Quiet Zone will also be appreciated by AirAsia X’s premium passengers.
Read full article »

American Airlines embarks on ambitious upgrade program

By Brian Pillsbury, airlinetrends.com

American Airlines (AA) has lost roughly USD 10 billion over the previous 10 years, with the red ink being compounded by very contentious relationships between management and labor. Whereas US legacy carriers Delta and United have emerged from bankcruptcy protection in recent years with a leaner cost structure, and have merged with respectively Northwest and Continental, AA’s parent company AMR has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – which allows it to cut costs at the airline and return it to profitability – since the end of 2011 only.

AA’s management has also been under heavy pressure from its own employee labor unions and other stakeholders to execute a merger – most notably with US Airways. AA CEO Tom Horton recently said that a decision on the future structure of the airline is expected to be made this fall.

Since AA’s customer satisfaction rates have been below average for years, to put it mildly (although the airline topped United and US Airways in the 2012 JD Power airline ranking), AA is using its current restructuring phase to embark on an ambitious upgrade program designed to give the nearly 80 year-old carrier a much needed facelift.

Fleet modernization
American Airlines made a splash with its announcement in mid-2011 that it would be acquiring up to 460 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft as part of a massive fleet modernization program. Out of this total, American intends to replace its fleet of domestic Boeing 757-200s and MD-80s with approximately 200 A319s, A321s and 737-800s – all with leather seats, Wi-Fi and in-seat inflight entertainment. The new aircraft will be delivered beginning with the A319s in July 2013, followed by the Boeing 737-800s in October 2013 and the A321s in the second quarter of 2014.

American is also retrofitting the cabin interiors, seating and IFE of its entire existing fleet. Designed in partnership with James Park Associates (JPA), the overall design, trim and finish of all aircraft will complement the interior design scheme of the airline’s new Boeing 777-300Ers, which was made public at the end of 2011. Last but not least, American is also reported to be considering a new aircraft livery.

Long-haul fleet upgrades
American Airlines will be the first US airline to operate the Boeing 777-300ER by the end of 2012. The -300ER will become AA’s flagship long-haul aircraft and will boast an impressive array of amenities, including a new First Class and full-flat seats in Business (similar to the seat designed by JPA for Cathay Pacific), as well as a new bar area, galleys and onboard connectivity. Taking design cues from the B787 Dreamliner, AA’s new 777-300ERs will also feature a mood-lit archway at the entrance of the aircraft that creates a feeling of spaciousness.
Read full article »

Asiana’s new First Class Suite features largest personal IFE screen in the sky

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

While Korean Air recently was named 2012′s most innovative airline by airlinetrends.com (full ranking here), South Korea’s other premium full-service carrier – Asiana Airlines – has raised the bar with the launch of its new First Class Suite. Asiana, which was recently named Best Airline in Asia in the 2012 Skytrax ‘Airline of the Year’ ranking, says its ‘OZ First Suite’ (named after the airline’s IATA code) is based on the concept of “hotel suites transplanted in an air carrier.”

Largest IFE screen in the sky
The most eye-catching feature of the new enclosed suites are 32-inch Panasonic high-definition screens – the world’s largest in-flight entertainment screens – which allow passengers to watch movies with a clear view even from a 2-meter distance as their seats are fully reclined. The suites also have touch-sensitive ‘seat function control units’ set up in the armrests for easy control of the seat and adjustment of the mood lighting at different points during the flight (including a ‘star light’ option). A ‘do not disturb’ sign is included in the control unit for more privacy.

Asiana’s new OZ First Suite is also equipped with an individual air ventilation system, a mini-bar and a cabinet for papers and laptops. The two seats located at the center of the cabin feature a seperator which can be lowered, while an ottoman across from the seat allows for a face-to-face meal for the convenience of passengers travelling together.
Read full article »

Malaysia Airlines’ new A380 features kids-free upper deck

By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project

Following Singapore Airlines, Korean Air (June 2011) and China Southern (October 2011), this year two more Asian carriers will add the first Airbus A380 to their fleets, adding capacity, space and subsequently, innovative solutions for their passengers. Singapore Airlines, who took delivery of the aircraft in 2007, now operates a total of 17 superjumbos, which feature the airline’s latest iteration of fully flat Business Class seats as well as individual suites in First Class. Korean Air, meanwhile features an all-business class upper deck, Absolut Vodka branded bars and lounges and an in-flight duty-free shop.

Joining the list of superjumbo carriers this year are Malaysia Airlines (June) and THAI (September), who both are launching their new A380s amidst ambitious restructuring plans.

Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) A380s are configured in a spacious 494-seat layout and feature 8 First Class suites on the lower deck, 66 lie-flat Business Class seats on the upper deck (in a 2:2:2 configuration) and 420 economy seats split between the two floors. The new interiors have been designed by Priestmangoode.

First Class: widest seats in the sky
Indicative of the airline’s clever usage of space on board the A380 as well as its newly-grounded emphasis on luxury, Malaysia’s First Class suites are the widest of any airline’s, measuring 40 inches by 87 inches – 5 inches more than the next-widest, Singapore Airlines – and a 23 inch IFE screen. Additionally, Business Class passengers have the option to order meals through the airline’s ‘Chef On Call’ service – previously only offered to First Class passengers – which “allows travelers to preorder from a substantial menu of gourmet meals.”

Kids-Free Upper Deck
Perhaps the most differentiating factor between Malaysia Airlines’ A380 configuration and others is the airline’s bold decision to implement a ‘kids-free’ space throughout the entire upper deck of the aircraft. The controversial decision was made last year by the airline in order to cater to its anticipated heavy business traveller load on upper deck seats, where all business class seats are located, as well as to make the 70 economy class seats on the upper deck more attractive to the growing number of business travellers who fly in Economy. The implementation followed a similarly controversial ban on babies in MAS’ 747 First Class cabins.
Read full article »