The World’s 3 Best Business Class Seats For Solo Travelers

It has been a while since I’ve made a post with what I consider to be the best business class seats. I’ve been doing a lot of business class flying lately, so figured I’d write an updated post. The thing is, there are so many factors to consider when deciding which seat is “best,” so I won’t be providing absolute rankings. Instead I’ll provide context for each recommendation.

In this post I’ll be talking about the best business class seats for solo travelers. Stay tuned, because in a future post I’ll share the best business class seats for couples traveling together.

First I’ll talk about what I consider to be the three best seats out there, depending on the circumstances. Then I’ll give some honorable mentions to other great seats as well.

What Makes A Great Business Class Seat?

Everyone has different preferences, though I’ll share what I think makes for a great business class seat:

  • Not having a seatmate. I don’t sleep with strangers on the ground, and I don’t like doing it in the air either. If I can avoid sitting next to someone on a longhaul flight, then that’s a big win, in my opinion.
  • Lots of privacy. This might sound the same as not having a seatmate, but it’s not. There are plenty of solo seats which feel “exposed,” because there’s not any built in privacy. Similarly, there are plenty of seats with seatmates where you still have full privacy thanks to the presence of shields, barriers, etc.
  • Plenty of room for my feet. While many airlines have fully flat seats in business class nowadays, I find the biggest deficiency to often be the lack of room for my feet. What’s the point of a fully flat surface if you have to squeeze your feet into a tiny cubby where you can’t sleep in a natural position?
  • Easy to use. This might sound silly, but I like seats which are easy to control. I swear some seats are designed by people who have never been on a plane before. Reclining a seat or taking out the tray table shouldn’t be rocket science.
  • Little features. I won’t be covering these in this post, since I’m comparing seats and not airlines. But thick pillows, comfortable blankets, and the existence of personal air vents are very important to me. I’ve sometimes slept better in a crappy seat with a good pillow and blanket than in a good seat with a crappy pillow and blanket.

Hainan-Airlines-Business-Class-787 - 79
Hainan Airlines business class — great bedding, not-so-great bed

With that out of the way…

The World’s 3 Best Business Class Seats

Apex Suite

For years I’ve been saying the reverse herringbone seat is the best out there, though that was probably just because I hadn’t yet flown the Apex Suite. This seat is available on select Korean Air, Japan Airlines, and Oman Air planes, among others.

The cabin features 6-7 seats per row, depending on the aircraft.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 3

The key with this configuration is to select a window seat. The window seats are among the most private and spacious out there. You don’t have to jump over your seatmate, but rather have a separate walkway through which you can enter your seat.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 6

While you’re technically sitting next to someone, there’s a privacy shield between seats, so you’ll never even know you have a seatmate.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 5

The seat is private and spacious, and truly feels like a cocoon. There’s so much space under your ottoman that you can even store a full sized carry-on there.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 12

Reverse Herringbone Seat

This is a common business class configuration offered by many airlines in many forms nowadays, including Air CanadaAir France, American, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qatar AirwaysSriLankan, and many more. They all have minor differences, though overall I think they’re similar enough so they can be lumped into one group without being too unfair.

There’s a lot to love about reverse herringbone seats. Each seat has direct aisle access, and there are only four seats per row. Furthermore, all the seats are roughly equal, so there’s not a huge variance in quality based on where you’re seated.

American-Business-Class

The window seats are angled towards the window, while the center seats are angled towards the center. The seat controls are easy to use, and there’s plenty of counter space.

American-Business-Class-777-03

Your feet go on a fairly spacious ottoman, and the TV swivels out from the seat in front of you.

American-Business-Class-777-05

Best of all, the seat is extremely private, since everyone is sort of facing away from one another.

Singapore Airlines Business Class Seat

Singapore Airlines has long been an innovative airline, and the business class seat they’ve had for about a decade is no exception. On their 777s and A380s, Singapore Airlines has forward facing seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Singapore-Business-Class

If you’re lucky enough to score a bulkhead seat, you’ll find yourself in a seat which is as spacious as most first class seats out there. As a matter of fact, when the seat was first introduced the biggest complaint was that it was too wide — it’s not often that’s a complaint you get on a plane. So they added some extra cushions to the side, so you could get cozier.

Singapore-Business-Class

The catch is that the number of bulkhead seats are limited, and the other seats aren’t quite as spacious. Instead the other seats have a cutout in the seat in front of them. They’re still great, just not as good.

Singapore-Business-Class

Ranking the seats

If I had my choice of any seat on a given plane with the above configuration, my preference would be as follows:

  1. Singapore Airlines Business Class Seat (bulkhead)
  2. Apex Suite (window seat)
  3. Reverse Herringbone Seat (any seat)

Without a choice of seats, I’d rank them as follows:

  1. Reverse Herringbone Seat (all seats are great)
  2. Apex Suite (about a third of the seats are great)
  3. Singapore Airlines Business Class Seat (there are very few bulkhead seats)

Other Seats Worth Mentioning

I’ll be brief here, but I figured I’d provide a few honorable mentions to other configurations.

The Solstys Style Staggered Seat is my other favorite business class product, given how private the “true” window seats are. Furthermore, there’s plenty of room for your feet, which is an issue with many other business class seats.

Iberia-Business-Class-A340 - 1

As far as non-direct aisle access seats go, I quite like the B/E Aerospace Diamond Seat, given that it’s probably the most private seat where you have a seatmate, and also has a decent amount of storage. You can place stuff behind you at your seat, as well as under the TV console in front of you. The downside is that the foot cubby is quite small.

American-Business-Class-A321 - 3

I should also mention that the Thompson Vantage XL Seat seems to be quite good, though I haven’t flown it yet. I’ll be flying SAS soon between Los Angeles and Stockholm, so will report back after I experience this product.

Vantage-XL-Seat

Bottom Line

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding which business class product is “best.” It largely depends on the specific airline, seat assignment, flight, etc. But overall I think the three products mentioned at the top of the post are the absolute best, while there are some other noteworthy seats as well.

It’s incredible the transformation we’ve seen over the years in terms of the quality of business class products. Nowadays many business class seats are better than first class seats were a decade ago.

What’s your favorite business class seat as a solo traveler?

Comments

  1. I have the same preference as you for the top 3 biz seats.
    Personally my top favorite is the reverse herringbone.

  2. A seat that’s good for rest (be it sleeping or lounging, depending on your preference/flight length) is not to be underestimated. I enjoyed an angled-flat seat on SAS (2-2 config, i.e. with a seatmate) a lot more than a lie-flat United seat (2-2-2 config but with privacy). As a tall person, I want to be able to stretch out and not sleep in a fetal position.

  3. Love the odd numbered window seats on Austrian. The throne feel is nice though the foot space can be cramped when laying the seat down.

  4. I agree on Apex and Reverse Herringbone. I can’t comment on Singapore, as I’ve never been close to having a reason to fly that airline due mostly to the cities in the US it flies to relative to where I live.

    I have only been in Apex once, on Korean, and was impressed. I didn’t know it was configured that way so I went with an aisle seat in the middle just to make sure I had aisle access. Was disappointed I didn’t know ahead of time (I think there was an equipment swap) because you’re right, those window seats look fabulous. And Reverse Herringbone…you really can’t go wrong. I’d fly that anytime.

  5. I don’t know about you guys, but I think privacy on flights is overrated. I like an open airy feel more than the cocoon feel.

  6. I like the EY window seat when travelling alone or the middle seats (the ones closer together) when travelling with somebody.

    Singapore is ok but I don’t find it that comfortable for sleeping when you can not get the bulkhead seats.

  7. You’re gonna love the new business class seats on United then. It’ll probably be the best business class seat offered by any US carriers.

  8. Just did LAX-LHR in business on American with my young daughter. For solo, you cant beat it and even traveling together, one in front of the other on the window was fine for the overnight. Service and food left something to be desired, and actually the seat was pretty hard on the back, but overall you have to like the hard product. I prefer more privacy rather than less.

    NZ 1 on the way back, also nice hard product (same as VA I believe) but you are pointed away from the windows (no likey), and forced to interact with folks in your field of view as there are minimal barriers, in fact you are fairly exposed. That was okay however as I had my whole family together and we could all make eye contact. One quirk – seats don’t have unlimited recline to flat, I definitely could have used more. Food and wine was better than AA and service – no comparison. The Air New Zealand crew actually seemed happy that both we and they were on board. And when they make your bed with the pad – way more comfortable than AA.

    If AA could add padding/ make up the bed as with ANZ, and retire the battle-axes on board, that would be an unbeatable product.

  9. I love everything about Singapore except the bed which is cramped for a 6’1 guy and even in the bulkhead you still have to sleep on an angle and you still have to sleep on what felt to me like a thread bare army cot – I had a cold metal bar digging into me all the way from Singapore to Houston. I really scratch my head at people who find it comfortable. And no I’m not obese. Flew around the world on them all bulk head and I loved everything but sleeping was a challenge and really if you can’t sleep xo for table why spend the money? For that reason I’d choose reverse herringbone. Singapore needs to get mattress pads!

  10. Wonder when Lucky will try out the updated version of Singapore’s Business class on some of their 777-300ERs. The finishing seems even better than the older version.

  11. I’ll say that I’m not that big a fan of reverse herringbone any more because of the following reasons:

    * Cushions are usually too firm
    * Not very comfortable for side sleeping or sleeping face down
    * Uncomfortable in the upright position (taxi, takeoff, landing)
    * Airbag style seat belt
    * Not a great view out the window
    * The footrest is too far away for shorter people

    I was actually pleasantly surprised with the reverse facing AA 788 (6L) as it solves a few of my complaints.

    I would list the SQ or Apex seats as best, even if not in the bulkhead row on SQ.

    I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but the other best business class seat is if you get two middle seats to yourself on BA. It’s private and more spacious than any other business class seat) because you get the space of two seats. Not a fair comparison, but if you get a choice of seats…

    Also, I think row 62 or 64, seats A or K on BA’s 747 are very competitive. Again, it’s a limited seat selection of 4 seats out of 52, 70, or 86, but you have 2-3 side bins, extra shoulder space, and a relatively quiet upper deck. I would prefer one of these four seats over any reverse herringbone business class configuration that I’ve tried to date.

  12. Sorry one more thought re: AA and ANZ seats above-

    Jet Blue Mint domestic in the solo “suite” beats both. Upcoming LAX-BOS route is a game changer for us as long as seats stay obtainable around $600-$700. Imagine if that product went to Europe.

  13. Hey lucky, you should take a look at the new SQ business class… Many of the dream liners have them in now and obvi the new a350…

  14. I echo the love for the Jetblue mint ‘suites’. If sleep isn’t your main focus, the amount of ‘desk space’ makes it my favorite (the side ledge is lower than reverse herringbone since it is at armrest height.) Combined with the clever side storage and ample pockets, I think it’s the top product for keeping everything in reach, and the closable door is a neat touch and contributes to the privacy.

    If sleeping, the foot cubby is more restrictive, as is the shoulder room. (It’s not too bad if you keep the seat just above fully-flat, but if you don’t it can feel a bit like a coffin.) That said it blows pretty much every other transcon product out of the water.

  15. I just flew an SQ A380 from LAX to Singapore, Business Class. Definitely the best seat I’ve ever enjoyed. And in two weeks I fly home and will enjoy it even more.

    Cheers,

    Carl

  16. Love BA 747 Upper Deck 64K – totally private, direct aisle access and excellent legroom with no foot cubby! UD feels like a mini cabin too.

  17. “I don’t sleep with strangers on the ground, and I don’t like doing it in the air either.”

    And I, uh, I don’t—absolutely don’t—either. Not unless the stranger is very good looking, anyway. Or at all.

    But so many products don’t give you any privacy. For instance, SQ suites middle seats form a proper double bed only if you combine a suite with your neighbor. But I would never do that with a stranger. Unless the neighbor is good looking. And only if—strictly only under the condition that—SQ has started serving Krug in Suites class. Only then.

  18. ANA’s staggered seats – especially the window seats with the side table near the aisle. Asiana’s “Quadra Smartium” are nearly the same. Super private, maybe a bit short for sleeping.

  19. You’ll enjoy the Thompson Vantage XL Seat. I’ve flown that on the new Qantas A330 and found it to be relatively private, but not as much as CX’s reverse herringbone as you can still see your surroundings quite easily form your seat.

  20. You have presumably not travelled in Scandinavian Airlines new business class. Great comfort in a 1+2+1 configuration in their A 330 A 340.

  21. EY’s new business class on the A380 is a firm number 2, after seats in row 11 of the SQ 77WN.

    The level of privacy is insane. You have table space for both seated and bed modes. There are huge side bins. The finishes are truly luxurious, the seat is made by Poltrona Frau. The food is delicious and varied and the bedding is really comfortable.

    Plenty of pics on my instagram 😉

  22. The Thompson vantage XL seat on SAS is currently my favorite, given how spacious and private those true window seats can be.

  23. Seat 5B and 5J on the Qantas 747. Only one seat, window AND aisle, extra storage – what’s not to love?

  24. Perhaps you have been remiss, Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is still technically business class.

  25. I would take the reverse herringbone layout over that cramped Apex layout any day. How wide is that window seat compartment? 20″ And now hard is it to get to the aisle if the seat is fully flat?

  26. Jo145, I’m looking at seatguru’s map for the Boeing 747-400RR (744) Three Class V2, and the seats you mentioned do appear to be the best in business class on that aircraft but you’re still right on the aisle with absolutely no protection/privacy.

  27. My absolute favorite will be Cathay’s Reverse Herringbone Seat, as both the tray table and entertainment screen could be stowed away without affecting the space when fully lying flat. Air Canada’s Reverse Herringbone is similar, but its tray table and entertainment screen doesn’t fold away into the seat, making my legs not really movable when lying flat, and I couldn’t easily put the comforter on myself…but the storage space for shoes on AC’s seat is larger than CX’s and it did help me a lot with my super bulky boots…

  28. @Danny Liu- Singapore Airlines doesn’t have the Dreamliner (yet). Did you mean the B777?

  29. I flew ANZ to Auckland from LAX last year on the 777, and I actually found that seat very spacious and comfortable. The bedding was superb, and I would choose that over Qantas. I also flew CX J, which was also amazing, on the 777 and the A330. I preferred the 777 because it was wider and felt like the ottoman was less cramped (maybe it was just me) than the A330.

  30. Nice post, no question on the S’pore B-class seat. I flew that a bunch from S’pore to LA direct on the all B-class flight (A320) before they discontinued that flight (too much fuel cost, not enough passengers, etc.) That flight, and the similar one form S’Pore to Newark all B-class plane, was heaven-in-sky as far as I was concerned

  31. My favorite business seats:
    1) Reverse herringbone, which I flew on American and Virgin Australia
    2) Thompson Vantage, especially the throne seats (window seats with the table on the aisle side)
    3) B/E Diamond, especially the center section (both me and my seatmate have aisle access). The divider gives a sense of privacy. However, storage space is noticeably less.

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