I Have A New Favorite Business Class Seat

It’s amazing how far business class seats have come over the years. We’ve seen a shift where each cabin has basically been “upgraded” by a level. In other words, the premium economy products we see nowadays are similar to the business class products we saw a decade or two ago, while the business class products we see nowadays are similar to the first class products we saw a decade or two ago (and in many cases even better). Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing many airlines remove first class and add premium economy in its place.

I’ve long said that reverse herringbone seats are my all around favorite business class hard product. Each seat features direct aisle access, the seat itself is quite spacious, and you don’t have a seatmate. As an introvert who likes privacy, it’s pretty tough to beat.

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These reverse herringbone seats can be found on American, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, SriLankan, and several other airlines.

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And I maintain that reverse herringbone business class seats are the most well rounded business class product, in the sense that there are no bad seats — no one is going to feel like they got screwed out of a seat in such a configuration.

Other business class hard products are more variable, where seats are of differing quality. Thanks to that variability, I’ve just found my new all around favorite business class seat.

Last night I flew Oman Air from Frankfurt to Muscat on one of their new 787s. Ironically the product I really wanted to fly was Oman Air’s old business class, which looks a lot more like a first class cabin. I called their new business class product worse, even. For what it’s worth, this is the same new business class product found on Japan Airlines.

But my gosh, was I wrong — the window seats in this business class configuration are the best business class seat I’ve ever experienced.

The business class cabin consists of just 18 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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The four aisle seats in each row are perfectly nice and spacious, though nothing remarkable. They can’t compete with reverse herringbone seats.

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But the window seats are incredible. As you can see in the below picture, the aisle and window seats are somewhat staggered, where the aisle seat is positioned a few inches further back than the window seat.

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There’s a spacious entryway to get into the window seat — there’s no need to climb over the person seated in the aisle seat.

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The seat itself is a good size. It’s not the widest seat in the world, but more than sufficient width (I actually felt it was wider than it looks in the below picture).

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But the amount of personal space was unreal. I felt like I was in a first class suite rather than a business class seat. The ottoman was so far away that my feet couldn’t even reach it in the upright position. And there was so much space under the ottoman that I could store a full sized carry-on there.

A friend joined me on this flight, and he was able to sit on the ottoman facing me with room to spare. What other business class seat has enough room for two people to sit face-to-face?

The seat is also extremely private, as there’s a partition between the aisle and window seats, and the standard position for the partition is up, rather than down.

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The seat also has ample storage. In addition to being able to store things under the ottoman, there are a couple of storage compartments along the center armrest.

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This seat is just so well done. What do I prefer about this seat over a reverse herringbone seat?

  • This seat is much more private, in the sense that no one can see you when you’re sleeping, while you’re somewhat “exposed” in a reverse herringbone seat
  • Reverse herringbone seats have limited space for your feet when sleeping, especially vertically, given that the area for your feet is “under” the console of the seat in front of you; this configuration has unlimited vertical space for your feet
  • In this configuration I could sleep with my knees bent facing in either direction; in many reverse herringbone seats there’s not enough space to do that

Bottom line

The window seats in this product are incredible. Now that I’ve flown Oman Air’s 787 business class I really want to fly Japan Airlines between the US and Japan, given that this is the product they have they have throughout most of their longhaul fleet.

I think it’s important to point out that only a third of the seats (the two window seats in each row of six seats) are this comfortable, though. The other seats are mediocre.

It’s sort of incredible that they sell all these seats at the same price, because the window seats are just that much better. Even if I were traveling with someone, I’d choose two window seats, given that they’re much more spacious and private; the aisle seats feel exposed and confined.

So I’ll continue to say that reverse herringbone is the most “well rounded” business class product, given that all seats are more or less equal. With this configuration, a third of passengers just really luck out.

Anyone else love this style of business class seat as much as I do?

Comments

  1. It just seems bizarre to me that an airline would add business class seats where not everybody is treated equally. It seems you lucked out with window seats!

  2. As I understand it, this is also the same seat on the new Korean Air “Prestige Suite” biz class. I’ve been reading some great reviews on this type of seat.

  3. LOL. These seats are so much like BA club world (yet so much better). The nice thing about these though is that you don’t have to climb over the aisle seats because of the walls. Shows how much a bit of modification can do.

  4. I suppose in those window seats you don’t have to lean forward to look out the window, too! That is my least favorite part about the reverse herringbone seats…

  5. Welcome to the “once you have experienced JAL skysuite you’ll never be the same” club. As I said in a previous comment, the J window seat is much more private than JAL F although F is much more spacious and luxurious overall.

  6. This is why JAL skysuite is my seat of choice going over the pacific when I cannot get JAL F. I haven’t tried the throne biz seat on ANA 787 though so that might change soon.

  7. I think it looks a bit grim! I can see the resemblance to BA Club upstairs on the 747…..obviously you don’t have to do the leaping over your neighbour’s feet palaver. Not great if you are travelling with someone – like your partner when you may want to interact during a long haul flight. The JAL product looks brighter though, but still like one of those huge offices where all you get is a low partition to separate off your fellow workers.

  8. My husband and I love this style of seating on JAL when we travel. My husband and daughter sit on one side and I get to sit with my son on the other side. With the partitions down, we can see what our little ones are up to when they are not staring out the windows. The seats also feel extremely spacious with the partitions down. Otherwise, I have always preferred the staggered style seating when I am traveling alone since I feel a little claustrophobic in the herringbone-style seating and in these seats with the partition up. On JAL, I choose the aisle seats since they just feel more spacious; just a fyi for others who may not like confined spaces such as me.

  9. This past December I flew SFO-HND in JAL’s new Business Class seats. My wife got the window seat and I got the aisle seat. Last September I flew in the new SQ Business Class seats SFO-HKG.
    While I like the JAL seats, I like the SQ seats better because they feel more spacious and luxurious to me, and the SQ service I felt was slightly better.
    No complaints with the JAL seats or service, but I like the new SQ seats better.

  10. Lucky, this is the same type of seat that Korean also use. I think they called it Prestige Suites. Their SEA-ICN flights (among others) already switched to this configuration.

  11. +1 to Jason
    Agree, I prefer SQ’s seats marginally to JAL’s. Although I could be biased since I reside much of the year in SIN and have tremendous loyalty to SQ.

  12. Looks great, looking forward to the full review. Just read on Airliners that Oman Air just paid a record amount for a pair of LHR slots. Once you’ve reviewed each version of the seats I might give them a try out.

  13. Some of my friends prefer this seat on JL over AA old F fwiw. On JL, I think they have this seat in a 2-3-2 on wider planes (777 maybe?) and the middle seat has similar privacy but no windows obviously. I’m looking forward to trying it later this year.

    How does the comfort of the seat compare, my biggest complaints about reverse herringbone are that the seats tend to be very firm (I bring a 1/2″ yoga mat to soften it up), the upright position is uncomfortable (compared to BA CW which has a slight recline that is nice on my back, and I find it to not be ideal for side sleeping with the foot cubby.

    Some of the early BA designs for their next generation CW seat have a similar approach to give all aisle access to everyone, fwiw.

  14. @JC: I would avoid any of the Last Window seats, left or right side bc the last row is “missing” the window by the seat( look at the detailed pictures above in the article ). What a pity 🙁

  15. I too love the reverse herringbone configuration . The nature of the seat design has the torso of passengers sitting side by side away from each other so no awkward interactions!
    I’d love to try this one out though – sounds incredible if you are able to sleep on your side comfortably with knees bent.

  16. Honestly, the seat looks stunning. Nothing else to add, would fly it any day. How was the load on your Oman Air flights?

  17. this looks really good to make lots of people happy. Reverse herringbone are not good for companions traveling together (I know lucky doesn’t like to talk to his friends on flights 🙂 but at the same time they are called “business” class for a reason and the solo business flyer is the priority and brings in the big bucks. This gives privacy in the solo window seats and even the aisle windows, while the center pairs are perfect for companions. I know Ms. ColdAgglutannin has already said no to reverse herringbone seats for our honeymoon, which is difficult when you’re trying to use AA miles to Europe 😉

  18. Does anyone know if the A330 from MUC to Muscat is still old business class?
    Flying Oman Air next week and this excites me even more. Flight back will be this plane 🙂

  19. Great review, as always! These are the same business class seats as Korean Air’s new Prestige Suites, which I had the pleasure of experiencing last month from Seoul to NYC on their 747-8. I had a window seat as well and it definitely is the best business class seat in the sky!

  20. I’m glad you bit the bullet and started checking out all these new products, it sounds like you’re really enjoying the experience!

    I flew this seat on a JL redeye between CGK and NRT and thought it was great.

    However, I still think I prefer AA J on the 77W in rows 3 and 4.
    A minicabin next to F just has a far more private and luxurious feel than this.
    I also found the JL J seat to be lacking in storage (much like BA J)

    The best J I’ve ever flown though is SQ on the 77WN – once again in the minicabin (11A)
    I reviewed it here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/25715528-post2.html

    The seat beats SQ F on the old 777s
    The service was better than F on any airline other than NH, SQ, OZ or JL
    The catering was decent but had no caviar or Krug… but then again neither does EY

  21. I’m in two minds about this. As great as it is to have fantastic window seats, its asking for trouble having some variation in hard product within the one cabin on the same plane. Is it fair to charge for seat selection in a premium cabin purely because some seats are better than others? Shouldn’t there only be a surcharge for these window seats? Otherwise people may be paying 2 x seat selection just ensure they sit together (in the lesser middle seats) just because the window seats are better than the normal seats? That’s really not fair!
    The JL 777s with these seats are basically in a staggered 2-3-2 config and the centre-centre seats, while very private, has dreadful reviews because its extremely claustrophobic (ive heard it described as the ‘prison seat’).

  22. Did flight attendant(s) insist on lowering the partition for each item they served? If so, that is huge annoyance.

  23. Those seats are very claustrophobic. With the partition up they look like a japanese capsule hotel hole.

  24. You asked “What other business class seat has enough room for two people to sit face-to-face?”.

    Simple answer: SQ A380.

  25. Thanks. I’m on Japan Airlines KIX-LAX in a few weeks. Seatguru is showing two versions of the 788 on Japan Airlines – one with “open suite business” and one with “angle lie flat business” (labeled “most common” on seatguru).

    It looks like version 2 with open suit business is the configuration you’re talking about? How do I know for sure if that’s what my plane will have?

  26. For me, it really depends whether I’m travelling alone or with someone. If travelling with someone, we like to have some windows and thus the best business class config for couples or friends or those not travelling alone are the 2-2-2 config seats seen in TK, TN, AF (old), AM, etc.
    However, when travelling alone, I still prefer SQ A380’s version where it’s 1-2-1 in J (prefer this over your beloved reverse herringbone too.) 😉 I’ve flown on the Japan Airlines’ product that has the seat you mentioned on this blog and it is certainly great, though I did feel it a bit claustrophobic especially when compared to SQ A380’s J product.

  27. That’s the B/E Apex suite, right – same as KE 330? I flew it (KE 330) a couple times in November and was really impressed. I opted for an aisle on one flight, and a window on another. The aisle is fine, with adequate storage and acceptable privacy, but the window blows it away. I came away quite impressed from both hard products.

  28. On JAL 777s the config is 2-3-2 (call them AB-CDE-FG), so I’m guessing the the A & G window seats there are slightly narrower.

    I flew in seat C in the front mini cabin and was totally fine and private due to minimal foot traffic. My girlfriend was seated in seat D in the first row of the bigger business cabin and absolutely hated it! Too claustrophobic considering how narrow and confined the space is.

    Much preferred ANA’s seats, actually.

  29. @Ben, So now do you prefer the 787 over the A350? Given your recent trashing of the 787, I’m surprised you could get any sleep with all of the light coming through those dimmable windows without window shades:)

    I’ve had the pleasure of sitting behind these seats on Japan Airlines flights. They look great. The arrangement for aisle access for the window seats is very clever.

    Nevertheless, I’ll take the business-class seat on the upper deck of delta’s 747s over these or any other business-class seat hands down! The seat is reverse herringbone. It is not as wide as the seats on Oman’s 787. But it is eight inches longer so there is no problem with having room for one’s feet. In fact the only problem is being unable to reach the ottoman unless the seat is reclined a lot.
    What seals the deal is the 1×1 configuration on the quiet upper deck with only 14 seats total. Best business ride in the sky. Of course, delta is dumping its 747s.

  30. Had this kind of seat on JAL FRA-NRT and loved it too, even though I only could get the isle seat beside the window seat. Was really jealous of my neighbour…

  31. I would not like to be seated in the aisle seat on the sides. They seem to have no window 🙁

    But why not combining the reverse herringbone on the sides, and this formation in the middle?

  32. Hi Lucky,
    How are you? First of all I’m a huge fan and I’ve learned a ton from you and others like TPG and MMS, but your style of writing is my favorite. I’ve always thought that reverse herringbone is the best business class product out there based on what I’ve read. However, last month I flew Japan Airlines business class from New York to Tokyo on the dreamliner and I flew back to New York from Hong Kong on Cathaty Pacific and I loved Japan Airlines’ seat way more and I was hoping you’d review it one day to see if our opinions matched. It seems that it holds true, you would love JAL’s SKY SUITE

  33. Seems to me I have encountered the reverse herringbone on various Delta flights the last few years (we always fly Delta if possible – since ATL is our best hub flying out of JAX).

    I still have problems sleeping on planes. Is there any plane seat that beats sleeping in a nice king sized bed with luxurious bedding? Next trip is to Madrid – and a couple of hours of catch-up sleep at the hotel post-arrival will compensate for what will probably be a semi-sleepless night crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Robyn

  34. Just flew Korean Air on the 777-300ER in J. These seats look suspiciously similar to the Kosmo 2.0 Suites they have… if so, why are these your favorite and not Korean Air’s?

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