We had an exclusive invitation this week to see the new Qantas A330 business class suites at the Qantas Centre for Service Excellence. The suites are impressive, to be laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration so that everyone has aisle access. This is a major improvement from the Skybed version 1 design previously on A330s which was a 'lie flat' bed on a steep incline. The design is essentially the same alternating cubby hole setup as used by airlines including SWISS, Austrian, Finnair, Brussels Airlines, Delta and Japan Airlines. Qantas have had their signature designer Marc Newson put his spin on the Vantage XL Seat from Thompson Aero Seating with improvements here and there compared to other airlines. The Qantas seats are a touch wider than the other airlines who fit out this design as a 2-2-1 setup.
The major difference with Qantas' layout is the inclusion of a fixed screen in the middle of the 2 seats which adds a lot of additional storage. This seems to be a nod to the single corporate traveller, who is Qantas' main customer base and likely made up the majority of their customer feedback panel. The screen is a pretty major downside for couple travellers who wouldn't be able to converse around this. The reverse herringbone setup on Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Eva Air and AA is also laid out in 1-2-1 fashion but the middle 2 seats feature a retractable privacy screen which provides the perfect solution for all. Whilst this design is impressive I can't help thinking that they should have chosen that seat design instead.
One of Qantas' exclusive features is the harness seat belt which allows travellers to recline before take off up to 7 inches [25 degrees] on international flights and 5 inches [21 degrees] on domestic flights - great for getting a head start on sleep. There is a light along the floor which indicates to cabin crew if you exceed that limit. The domestic seats will have a leather seat and the international is a fabric design, apparently something to do with breathability on longer flights.
The AVOD will be an excellent 16" screen which Qantas will fit out with it's new class-leading system. The amenity kits are Kate Spade and Jack Spade and add a modern and whimsical touch to what can sometimes be a staid corporate Qantas experience. Qantas will introduce a new cotton duvet, mattress, increased pillow size and pyjamas for international flights.
This seat will be progressively rolled out on the A330 fleet with East-West domestic flights beginning from December 2014 and international flights from January 2015.
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