The World’s 9 Best Business Class Seats [2019]

Filed Under: Advice

We’ve seen a significant amount of innovation when it comes to business class seats over the past couple of years, with some of the world’s best business class seats having only recently been introduced.

However, it’s worth acknowledging that this is part of a larger trend, as over the past 20 years we’ve seen business class seats go from recliners, to angled flat seats, to flat beds, to seats with direct aisle access, to even more over-the-top cabins. In many ways, the premium economy cabins being introduced nowadays aren’t that different than business class 20+ years ago.

Given the amount of innovation we’ve seen, I wanted to share an updated post with what I consider to be the world’s nine best business class seats.

What makes a great business class seat?

My ranking will be subjective, since not everyone is looking for the same thing when flying, and I think creating a formula for ranking these seats would minimize the perspective I can provide, having tried all of these products myself.

Some people love direct aisle access from every seat. Others don’t, since they love to sit next to their travel companion. Some people love seats with doors. Others hate them. The list goes on and on.

What goes into my decision as to what I consider to be the world’s best business class seats? A fully flat bed with direct aisle access is a given to make this list, though here’s what I’m looking for beyond that:

  • A comfortable sleeping surface — First and foremost, business class is about the bed, so a comfortable sleeping surface is the single most important factor. Part of that is lots of space for my feet, since some airlines seem to be developing elaborate seats with small footwells.
  • The ability to maximize privacy — This is something I personally care about, though I know others don’t. Given the choice I’ll always take a seat that offers more privacy over one that doesn’t — I find it awkward to sleep next to strangers on the ground, and the same applies in the air.
  • Attention to detail with the design — Often I wonder if the person who designed a particular business class seat has ever actually been in business class before, because the design doesn’t have great attention to detail. I’m talking about where buttons are located, how good the lighting is, how easy it is to use the tray table, and more.
  • Different seating configurations for different occasions — Everyone travels with a different purpose, so it’s important that seats are customizable depending on whether you’re traveling alone, with a companion, or with your family. It’s great to have a lot of privacy, but truly great airlines have designed their cabins in such a way that you can choose whether you want to sit alone, or next to someone else.
  • Beautiful finishes — While the substance of a seat is most important to me, there’s also something to be said for a cabin that’s stylish.
  • Individual air nozzles — This is something I won’t be able to cover too thoroughly here, since in some cases I’ll be talking about seats that are used by many airlines. However, for any airline product folks reading this, individual air nozzles make a huge difference in terms of being able to sleep comfortably, given how warm cabins are often kept.

A few more notes

Before I get into the ranking, I want to note a few more things (long time readers will know some of these, though I want to be thorough):

  • I’ve flown every single product I’m ranking
  • I don’t have any financial relationship with any airline, and paid for the tickets on all these airlines on my own, whether in cash or with miles
  • Some of the seats I list are only available on one airline, while others are available on dozens of airlines, so I’m only going to be listing each type of seat once, even if there are minor variances
  • One general struggle I have with these rankings is deciding which seat in a configuration to judge (for example, Singapore Airlines’ bulkhead business class seats are phenomenal, while the rest of the seats aren’t nearly as good); so I’ll be judging seat variations only if at least an average of one seat in each row has the comfort that wins it the ranking
  • I’m leaving service, food, drinks, entertainment, and wifi out of this equation; this is all about the seat itself

The world’s nine best business class seats

Without further ado, here are what I consider to be the world’s best business class seats, counting down from number nine to number one:

9. Oman Air’s old business class

Most of the products on this list will be cutting edge business class seats, so this will be the only seat on the list that has been around for over a decade. Oman Air is one of my favorite airlines, and some of their planes have outdated but incredibly spacious business class seats. They’re in a 1-2-1 configuration, and remind me of what first class used to be like on many airlines about a decade ago.

The technology and privacy of the seats isn’t cutting edge, but the comfort, storage, and spaciousness can rival just about any new seat today.

This product is available on select Oman Air A330s. Unfortunately the airline is in the process of retrofitting these planes with Apex Suites (which are also on the list), so I’ll be sad to see these seats disappear.

8. Singapore Airlines’ A380 business class

Just over a year ago Singapore Airlines introduced new cabins on their A380s. In business class, the new seat is a mild improvement over the old one. On the plus side, the cabin is beautiful, the seats are spacious, there’s plenty of privacy (even though the seats don’t have doors), and the seat controls and functions are well designed. Furthermore, for couples traveling together, all the pairs of center seats can turn into a double bed.

The problem? The sleeping surface is hard, and you need to sleep at a strange angle. So this is a good seat in most regards, I just don’t find it to be especially comfortable for sleeping.

This product is available on select Singapore Airlines A380s.

7. United Airlines Polaris

A couple of years ago United introduced their new Polaris business class concept, featuring staggered seats. Every other row has “true” window seats, which are quite private, and every other row also has “honeymoon” seats in the center section. These seats are comfortable and functionally designed. However, they’re not especially spacious, and I find the footwell to be a bit on the tight side.

This product is available on all United Boeing 777-300ERs and 787-10s, and select 767-300s and 777-200s.

For what it’s worth EL AL has a similar seat on their 787s, and TAP Air Portugal has a similar seat on their A330-900neos.

6. JetBlue Mint Suites

JetBlue deserves credit for introducing the first business class seat with a door. It’s amazing that a low cost carrier with narrowbody aircraft that didn’t traditionally even have a premium cabin was the first airline to introduce this.

The JetBlue Mint cabin is in a staggered configuration, and every other row features Mint Suites, which are available on a first come, first served basis. The cabin is well designed, has a door, and features ample storage. The main downside to the seat is that the footwell (where you place your feet when sleeping) is pretty tight.

This product is available on all Mint configured Airbus A321 aircraft.

5. Etihad Airways Business Studio

Etihad’s newest business class seat is a modified staggered configuration, with seats alternating between being closer to the aisle and closer to the window. When traveling alone I love the “true” window seats, while many people traveling with a companion like the “honeymoon” seats in the middle of the cabin.

What sets Etihad’s Business Studio apart from other staggered configurations? The finishes are stylish, the seat functions are thoughtfully designed, the seat is spacious, and there’s a good amount of privacy.

This product is available on all Etihad 787s and A380s.

4. Reverse herringbone seat (B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat)

Nowadays there are dozens of airlines with reverse herringbone seats. While each airline customizes their own finishes, there are two most popular types of seats — you have B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats, and you have the Zodiac Cirrus seats. Personally I slightly prefer the B/E Aerospace version of the seat, as it has more storage and I prefer the seat controls.

What do I like about reverse herringbone seats? Each seat is virtually identical, so there are no bad seats. The seats have plenty of privacy, the window seats face the windows, and the seats are comfortable regardless of whether you’re relaxing or sleeping. The downside is that these seats aren’t ideal when traveling with someone, since even the center seats are quite private.

This product (the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat) is available on many airlines, including Air Canada, American, China Airlines, QatarVirgin Australia, Xiamen Air, and many more.

3. Delta One Suite

Delta debuted their business class suites with doors just over a year ago. Delta uses a modified Vantage XL seat (similar to what you’ll find on Qantas, RwandAir, and SAS, for example)

The Vantage XL seat isn’t otherwise on the list because I consider this to be an evolved version of it, except they added a door. The configuration is staggered, and the seats are private, spacious, and mostly well designed.

However, I do think the seat is a bit rough around the edges — the window seats lack storage, the door doesn’t quite close the whole way, the doors themselves are pretty low, and they’re difficult to open. This is a very good product, but they dropped the ball on the finishes, in my opinion.

This product is available on all Delta A350s, and will soon be available on A330-900neos and 777s.

2. Apex Suite

When you look at Apex Suites you may initially think that they’re just average business class seats, as they don’t look that impressive. For example, on a 787, Apex Suites will be in a 2-2-2 configuration. What makes these seats superior is the window seats, as they feature an incredible amount of privacy and personal space. The window seats have a private walkway leading to the seat, and you can raise or lower the partition between seats for full privacy.

For many other business class seats, you have to sleep with your feet in a small footwell, while in an Apex Suite you have an unlimited amount of space for your feet. The other nice thing is that if you’re traveling with someone you can select an aisle and a window seat and sit next to one another, though you won’t have the same level of privacy in the aisle seat.

Apex Suites are available on Japan Airlines (select 777s and select 787s), Korean Air (select 777s, 747-8s, and 787s), Oman Air (select A330s and 787s), and Gulf Air (787s).

1. Qatar Airways Qsuites

Finally the world’s best business class seat. Qatar Airways introduced the Qsuite in 2017, and it’s simply unrivaled. Just about everything about it is incredible — it’s private (it features a door), it’s spacious, it’s stylish, it has plenty of storage, and everything is thoughtfully designed.

What really seals the deal is how customizable these suites are. You can choose a window seat for full privacy, you can choose a double bed in the center section, or if you’re traveling as a group of four, you can even reserve a “quad” and create a huge suite.

Qsuites are available on select 777s and A350s.

Bottom line

There you have it, those are what I consider to be the nine best business class seats. As you can see, in some cases these seats are specific to one airline, while in other cases many airlines have the same seats.

These rankings are highly subjective, and on a given day I could see the order of some of them reversing for me, depending on whether I plan on sleeping the whole flight, am traveling with someone, etc. The only rankings that I’m 100% committed to is Qatar Airways Qsuites being number one, and Apex Suites being number two.

What do you think the world’s best business class seats are? How does your list compare to mine?

Comments
  1. If you put in the Vantage XL seat (not the modified DL seat with doors), would that still rank above a reverse herringbone?

  2. i largely agree bare your #1 choice i find the qsuite s tad overhyped, the seat is not that wide and imho a case of style of substance give me a apex suite any day over the qsuite.

  3. The new LH Business Class seat, the one that enabled LH to “achieve” 5-Star-rating, is not in your Top 10?

    Oh wait, the post is called “The World’s 9 Best Business Class Seats [2019]”

  4. Having just flown Philippine Airlines new A350 business class from Manila to London, it is surely now up there in the top 10-15. Excellent experience all round with Vantage XL seat, excellent bedding, and even better service. Sadly back to BA Club World next week 🙁

  5. You and everyone else keep on talking about how great the Apex Suite is… but is there anyone else out there who sees it and thinks, “that doesn’t look enjoyable at all?”

    Or is it just me haha

  6. Solid list that I think is pretty spot on.

    Lucky, if you include service/food in your criteria, which business class ranks overall #1 on your list?

  7. Great article!. Thanks for the insights as they will be very useful.

    And a note to @Morgan. A lot of us here haven’t been reading the blog for years just waiting to find something to criticize so this article is very helpful to us.

  8. For all the criticism of United’s new Polaris hard product seat – I’ve flown it a few times and then also flew Swiss (777) and Lufthansa (new Biz)….and of those three, Polaris seat is WAY more comfortable. Swiss Biz feels like a concrete slab and the “air cushion” is BS. These were all flights from SFO to Europe.

    Interesting that only SQ & UA made this list out of all the Star Alliance carriers.

  9. I really like the Etihad business studio seat. Especially if you get a window on the A380, you’ve got loads of privacy and storage.

    Mint suites are also fantastic, though I find the non-suite seats are better for sleeping as the footwell is larger and shoulder room is far wider too (the armrests retract giving you a wider bed). Still hard to beat the massive storage and usable space they come with.

  10. Hi Lucky,

    You may wish to update the article to reflect that Gulf Air has Apex suites on their 787s, and which are gorgeous by the way.

    Thanks.

  11. I fly KE in a few weeks. Is a 777 from SEA to ICN. I can’t tell from the seat map if its Apex suites or not. I would like to chose a window if it is, but I am solo so want a middle isle otherwise. Any ideas how I can find out?

  12. @Lucky I just do not get this obsession with the air nozzles. First thing I do on a plane is shut them off. Planes are too cold. (To each his or her own.) Frankly, they would be worthwhile if they had a heating function.

    Storage is very important though. Mattress pads are also important as they can truly enhance a seat when in the lie-flat position.

  13. Scott,

    I think you might get Prestige Suites on your flight SEA to ICN.
    Google Flights say it’s lie flat seat, and expert flyer says 2-2-2 configuration.
    However this video on YouTube may help clarify further what to expect.

  14. The Apex Suite is a good thing. I flew 1st on JAL and looked at the business class offerings and was pleased with the aisle access for all business class seats. None to pleased with a business class offering without aisle access.

  15. Damn. Haven’t flown a single one of those seats. Only business class I’ve flown is Emirates A380, which I thought was phenomenal all around. The seat fits all your criteria too, if I remember correctly. Why didn’t it make the cut?

  16. @Jay – Because the EK A380 seat is just ok. It’s a fine seat but isnt that cutting edge and while EK did some really nice updates with it the seat itself isn’t as good as the ones above. They have really good service though so that’s why there business class is good. Having my first long haul business class flight on the EK A380, I used to think the same. But I recently flew Qsuite and the seat itself can’t compare (though service can).

  17. My take:
    – I prefer the reverse herringbone seat used by e.g. EVA and AA B777, where you can stow away the screen. Much more comfortable for sleeping and reading.
    – Both Ethiad studio and Q Suites have backward facing chairs, which I really dislike. If you want to fly forward-facing you can’t sit by the window or with someone else. I’ve also found both products to feel a bit constrained.
    – I haven’t flown the new Delta One suites, but I’ve talked with a few that have, and they all say that the suites feel very tight. I have however flown quite a lot in Vantage XL seats (on SAS) and while they’re lightyears ahead of Vantage seats, I don’t really enjoy them.
    – Singapore airlines seat is waaaaaaay too firm and forces a super weird sleeping position.
    – Polaris is okay but feels very tight.

    My personal favorites are:
    1. Reverse herringbone found on e.g. EVA (the other type, not the one listed in your post)
    2. Apex Suite
    3. Turkish (if you’re travelling with someone, like I always do)
    4. Q Suites, mainly due to the nice finishes and the novely of the door
    5. The reverse herringbone seat found on e.g. AC, QR (listed in the post)

    As a final note, I sort of, sometimes like LH’s seat if you’re in the first row and travelling with someone. Sure, it’s tight and not exactly cutting edge, but I’m somehow able to sleep really well with their new-ish, thick-ish madress.

  18. @Nevsky~ I have never flown on any airline where I consider it too cold, or even approaching cold! There is an optimum temperature for the body to sleep, around 19C. Any warmer you won’t sleep well, if at all. I have been on some airlines where the temperature is so high I felt physically ill. Crew will lower the temperature if you complain (from the F cabin preferably) and ask for a few degrees reduction. It is in their interests to see a cabin full of slumbering passengers, not making demands on their time! (Let me know which airlines you consider too cold; sound great!)

  19. To all of you haters this is Lucky’s list stating his personal preferences based on observation! It does not have to match your own preferences to be right. This matter is subjective based on individual needs.

  20. Can we get an article or list of the widest seats with the biggest surface area and foot area tested by a 6 foot 250lb man? That last q suite picture looks terrible! How can anyone that isn’t thin with a small shoulder width be comfortable in that? I always wanted to try q suites but I’m not so sure anymore…. There’s too much hype about design and storage. Just give me a huge comfortable bed, cold ambient temperatures and some food. I flew swiss business a couple of times recently and I felt like i was in a coffin and the heat was unbearable as there were no nozzles. Turning wad practically impossible. No amount of excellent service and grilled steaks can make up for a tiny seat

  21. The United Polaris and TAP/El Al seats are different seats. Polaris are Zodiac Optima seats and TAP/El Al use Recaro CL6710. They are different designs with different layouts and staggers, with the Optima being slightly denser overall.

  22. Peter
    your comment about Lufthansa business seats is mystifying. I recently flew on their A350 transatlantic to Frankfurt. What an useless dreadful seat, narrow, angled, hard as nails and absolutely no privacy at all….its like being laid out on a butchers slab! The worst experience you could imagine.

  23. Lucky,
    All airlines have some of their planes equipped with the latest seats. How one can find out what seats his booked flight will have?
    Jack Y

  24. Silly question maybe, but why doesn’t the Delta door close all the way? Is there a good reason for this as it otherwise looks like a huge design flaw.

  25. Thanks, Lucky. Somebody will always disagree with specific rankings; however, at a minimum, you have assembled a list of the best seats currently out there. Just a few hours ago, I returned home from a round-the-world trip that included 8 aircraft on 5 airlines, all in biz class (DEN-NRT-AKL-ZQN-SYD-DOH-BCN-MUC-DEN). I am a bit of an avgeek, but my own international travels are somewhat limited, so I purposely chose this indirect itinerary to sample the most possible airlines, aircraft, and lounges. Qatar’s Qsuites on the 777-300ER easily lived up to the hype, and this is hands down the best product out there. In particular, I appreciate that the cabin configuration is easily adaptable to different types of travelers. I was traveling solo, so the private window seat was great for me. If I were traveling with the wife and kids, the quad seats in the center would be perfect. For couples, the quad seats can be FULLY separated into 2×2 seating, and the two seats on one side of the quad actually form a full size bed. (That just screams “mile high club!”) With several airlines offering great business class seats, I am perplexed by those airlines that choose an inferior product. It seems as if the designers are completely unaware of what the competition is offering. For example, Air New Zealand’s 787 has the crappiest biz class seats I have ever seen. They have achieved that magical combination of claustrophobia with a complete lack of privacy, and then threw in some very mediocre food and horrible drink service (ketchup and vodka does not make a bloody Mary!). Seats and cabin designs are not chosen haphazardly. It is just mind-boggling to think that a design committee at NZ looked at the current configuration and decided “Yes! This is the way to go!” It would have been very simple to just look at the highest rated airlines, and emulate the seat and configuration that best conformed to their cost and density parameters. Finally, I understand that United has become everybody’s favorite whipping boy, but my flight from DEN-NRT was excellent. Aside from the Qsuites, this was the best leg of my journey. Even without Polaris seats, United’s 787-8 was superior to the NZ 787-9, QR A350-900, and LH A350-900. Not only was the United seat better, but United was also superior in food, service, and amenities. This is contrary to everything I have read online, but that was my personal experience. (On an aside, I am fully convinced that SkyTrax is a pay-to-play scheme, and their airline ratings are COMPLETELY meaningless.)

  26. For a macro list like this you have to group all the reverse herringbone seats together, but there are so many flavors of reverse herringbone that they could use their own ranking chart. I find the seat used on Cathay, for example, to be much better than the same seat on AA 777-300’s because Cathay has a larger footwell.

  27. I wouldnt even have included Singapore given how ridiculous it is u have to angle ur whole body to sleep lol.

    Mint should be higher up than Delta i think.

    I wish Apex Suite was a standard everywhere!

  28. @Scott

    I fly SEA-ICN a couple of times a year, and it’s always been the Apex seats.

    @Nevsky

    The reason to have an individual air nozzle is that in public it is extremely easy to warm up (use a blanket), but frowned upon to remove your outerwear in order to cool off. At some point you run out of clothes to remove, and that’s where an air nozzle is nice to have.

  29. Interesting analysis but would you really put Singapore Airlines anywhere in the top 10?

    Since 2006 they have used their own customised seats which have a couple of very serious flaws. No version including the newest actually has a leg rest that rises above 45 degrees making it useless. Every version of this seat is too hard as a seat and in any of them if you want to put your feet up you have to sit at an angle with your legs unsupported by the useless leg rest. I also regard the newest version which is far more densly packed than its predecessors so enclosed as to be claustrophobic.

    The AVOD is above average, in seat power is no better than anyone else has and the soft product is dumbed down compared to five years ago. Service is rigid and inflexible – same patterns of service as twenty years ago and any warmth Singapore girl had is now gone or very well hidden.

    They are not in my top twenty let alone top ten – and I’m a Lifetime PPS member.

  30. I will have 4 Qatar flights coming up soon. 3 are in Qsuites I think and the final is in an older 330.

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