The World’s 10 Best Business Class Seats (2021)

The World’s 10 Best Business Class Seats (2021)

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I’m an airline product geek, and every year I like to publish a list of what I consider to be the world’s best first class airlines, best first class lounges, best business class seats, etc. Admittedly coronavirus has greatly impacted the premium products being offered by some airlines, but that’s not going to stop me from keeping tabs on the best products out there.

In this post I wanted to provide an updated ranking of what I consider the world’s best business class seats to be.

Business Class Seats Have Come A Long Way

We’ve seen a significant amount of innovation when it comes to business class seats over the past several 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 suites with doors. 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 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 from at least most seats 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 exceptional 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.

Why You Should Trust OMAAT Seat Rankings

Hopefully I don’t have to explain this to regular OMAAT readers, but I feel like this is worth mentioning for those who aren’t regular readers…

All the time I see media outlets ranking the best business class seats, though typically they’re just going off stock media images and how airlines describe their seats, rather than actual firsthand experience.

While I’m absolutely not saying you need to agree with my rankings, here’s why you should trust OMAAT rankings, in the sense that I’m sharing my honest and informed take here:

  • I pay for all of my own flights, either with cash or miles
  • I don’t let the airlines know that I’m reviewing their products, and go out of my way to remain as anonymous as possible (there are some rare exceptions, which I always disclose)
  • I’ve tried virtually every kind of business class seat out there, and have flown business class literally hundreds of times, so have lots of context for what makes a great seat
  • I don’t have any sort of financial relationship with any airline
  • This is my passion, I’ve been reviewing airlines for 15 years, I’ve written hundreds of flight reviews, and have logged millions of miles

The World’s 10 Best Business Class Seats

Let me now share what I consider to be the world’s best business class seats, counting down from number ten to number one. Just a few final notes, before I do so:

  • 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
  • In situations where only one airline has a seat type, I’ll refer to it by airline, while when it’s a situation where multiple airlines have the same seat, I’ll refer to it by the seat name
  • 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 Wi-Fi out of this equation; this list is about the seat itself

With that out of the way, here we go:

10. Oman Air 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 the carrier’s 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 around 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. It really is a blast from the past, in a good way. Oman Air is in the process of reconfiguring planes to replace these with Apex Suites, though, so the seats won’t be around for long.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on select Oman Air A330s. No other airlines have this product.

Oman Air business class cabin A330
Oman Air business class seat

9. Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

A few years ago Singapore Airlines introduced new cabins on its 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 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. This is a good seat in most regards, I just don’t find it to be especially comfortable for sleeping.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on select Singapore Airlines A380s. No other airlines have this product.

Singapore Airlines business class cabin A380
Singapore Airlines business class seat
Singapore Airlines business class seats

8. Zodiac Aerospace Optima Seat

A few years ago United introduced its new Polaris business class concept, featuring staggered seats. On 777s and 787s, 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.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on all United 777-300ERs and 787-10s, as well as on select 767-300s, 777-200s, and 787-8s. Air France also has these seats on its A350-900s, and plans on installing them on select 777-300ERs. While not quite the same, EL AL has similar seats on 787-9s, and TAP Air Portugal has similar seats on A330-900neos.

United Airlines Polaris business class cabin 767
United Airlines Polaris business class seat
United Airlines Polaris business class seat

7. JetBlue Mint Suites

I’m putting this seat on the list separately from the Vantage XL seat because it’s heavily customized, because of how innovative JetBlue was, and because I think this is fundamentally a different product when on a narrow body plane.

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

The traditional 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, and each seat 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.

I’d note that JetBlue has introduced an all new business class product on its A321LRs, which are used for transatlantic flights. However, I’d argue that the new Mint Suite isn’t a better hard product than the old one, and the Mint Studio doesn’t meet my threshold of there being an average of one of the seats per row (since only two of the 24 business class seats are Studios).

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on select JetBlue A321s. While other airlines have put the same staggered seats on A321s, they haven’t added doors. No other airlines have this product.

JetBlue Mint business class cabin A321
JetBlue Mint business class seat
JetBlue Mint business class seat

6. 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 windows. 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.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on all Etihad 787s (it was also on A380s, but Etihad is retiring those). No other airlines have this product.

Etihad Airways business class cabin 787
Etihad Airways business class seat

5. Vantage XL Seat With Door

Delta debuted its business class suites with doors a few years ago, known as Delta One Suites. Delta uses a modified Vantage XL seat (similar to what you’ll find on Philippine Airlines, 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 a better job could have been done with the finishes, in my opinion.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on all Delta A350-900s and A330-900neos. China Eastern also has these seats on A350-900s and 787-9s, while Shanghai Airlines has these seats on 787-9s.

Delta One business class cabin A350
Delta One business class seat
Delta One business class seat

4. British Airways Club Suites Business Class

British Airways sure made a quantum leap with its business class hard product in 2019, when it went from a product that it had for nearly two decades, to a brand new reverse herringbone seat with a door.

As such the seat isn’t that innovative, in the sense that it’s a standard Collins Aerospace reverse herringbone seat. As a result I won’t otherwise include the seat on the list, since this is just an evolved version of that, and you can find that on Air Canada, American, China Airlines, Qatar AirwaysVirgin Australia, Xiamen Air, and many more airlines.

In general I like reverse herringbone seats because 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.

What makes the seat special is that it has a door, and that sure is a nice feature. You of course don’t have to use the door if you don’t want to, or if you find it to be too claustrophobic.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on all British Airways A350-1000s and 787-10s, and on select 777s, as many planes will be reconfigured with these seats in the coming years. No other airlines have this product.

British Airways Club Suites business class cabin A350
British Airways Club Suites business class seat
British Airways Club Suites business class seat

3. Apex Suites

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.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on Gulf Air (787-9s), Japan Airlines (select 777s and 787s), Korean Air (747-8s, 787-9s, and select 777-300ERs), and Oman Air (select 787s and A330s).

Korean Air business class seats 787
Korean Air business class seat

2. Qatar Airways Qsuites Business Class

Qatar Airways introduced the Qsuite in 2017, and set a new standard for business class at the time. 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.

Qatar Airways has introduced a new business class seat on its 787-9s — while it looks great, I’m guessing it’s not quite to the level of Qsuites. I’m hoping to fly it soon.

Where to find this seat: This seat is available on all Qatar Airways A350-1000s, and on select Qatar Airways A350-900s, 777-200LRs, and 777-300ERs. No other airlines have this product.

Qatar Airways Qsuites business class cabin A350
Qatar Airways Qsuites business class seat
Qatar Airways Qsuites business class seat

1. All Nippon Airways “The Room” Business Class

Seemingly out of nowhere, All Nippon Airways introduced an all new first and business seats in the summer of 2019. This is simply an incredible product — each seat has a door, the suites are massive, and the amount of personal space is unparalleled.

With this seat I really feel like airline products have come full circle, because this business class suite is better than many first class suites out there. I didn’t think anyone could beat the Qsuite, but ANA did

Where to find this seat: This seat is available exclusively on select ANA 777-300ERs, and more 777s are expected to be retrofitted with these seats. No other airlines have this product.

ANA “The Room” business class cabin 777
ANA “The Room” business class seat
ANA “The Room” business class seat

Bottom Line

There you have it, those are what I consider to be the 10 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 being switched around, depending on whether I plan on sleeping the whole flight, am traveling with someone, etc. The only rankings I’m pretty committed to is my top three choices, though I could also see the order being moved around depending on the circumstances.

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

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  1. Jared

    There are pros and cons to every business configuration out there. I am a fit young man with broad shoulders (22-23 inches), so almost every single configuration listed here is cramped and uncomfortable. In that respect, I really like ANA's "The Room."

    I actually prefer the older forward facing business seats. I recently flew in such a configuration on Turkish Airlines and Air India's 787. I still tend to get the best sleep on these...

    There are pros and cons to every business configuration out there. I am a fit young man with broad shoulders (22-23 inches), so almost every single configuration listed here is cramped and uncomfortable. In that respect, I really like ANA's "The Room."

    I actually prefer the older forward facing business seats. I recently flew in such a configuration on Turkish Airlines and Air India's 787. I still tend to get the best sleep on these configurations since they feel spacious and since the feet are not confined. However, as many have reported, these seats are dated and can feel too exposed to some. The Vantage XL is a permutation of this configuration, but with privacy.

    In general, I find that modern business class seats favor privacy more than comfort.

  2. Tom

    Wow, i hated the apex suites. surprised you rated them so high.

    Narrow, boxed in, like a coffin, worse than the old CX herringbone seats.

  3. maestroben1

    A note about ANA: having flown with them recently on their 789, the service was absolutely terrible. Not a single member of staff spoke any (intelligble) English, the food was awful, they constantly took away things we hadn't finished yet (including baby food - blink and it's been cleared), and the lounge in Tokyo was awful - nowhere to lie down and rest, coupled with obsequious, overbearing staff. The hard product may be good, but...

    A note about ANA: having flown with them recently on their 789, the service was absolutely terrible. Not a single member of staff spoke any (intelligble) English, the food was awful, they constantly took away things we hadn't finished yet (including baby food - blink and it's been cleared), and the lounge in Tokyo was awful - nowhere to lie down and rest, coupled with obsequious, overbearing staff. The hard product may be good, but coupled with the soft product they would not be in the top 10.

  4. Vito

    I would love to see a best “special” business seat, like SQ bulkheads, KL 748 upper floor window seats, etc. Which would you guys say it’s the very best of the best if you can choose any J seat in any plane?

  5. Sarah

    Hi Ben
    Do you have a list of airlines which offer first class service and which route?

  6. Indopithecus

    Qatar Airways is great with excellent food, brilliant service, and Q Suites. The problem I found was that the seatbelt is heavy and rests uncomfortably on your chest when you are lying flat to sleep.

  7. Matt

    What is the reason that Q Suites are not installed by other airlines? Is it a licensed product that can only be used by Qatar airways?

  8. Slappy

    After flying many products, I prefer the CX business seat on the 777-300ER, specifically seat 11K with the HUGE footwell space. I move around a lot when sleeping and the large footwell doesn't wake me up when my feet get stuck. I haven't experienced a better sleep in the sky, aside from JAL F on the same aircraft type.

  9. jeffyk99

    I don’t know why Ben praises it, but I think the Apex suites are terrible. I have flown on these seats several times. They are very cramped with little to no storage at all but the worst thing is the privacy. In my opinion the privacy is terrible. Although you have the dividers, if you look at the seats they are right next to each other just slightly staggered. Even if you don’t see the...

    I don’t know why Ben praises it, but I think the Apex suites are terrible. I have flown on these seats several times. They are very cramped with little to no storage at all but the worst thing is the privacy. In my opinion the privacy is terrible. Although you have the dividers, if you look at the seats they are right next to each other just slightly staggered. Even if you don’t see the person sitting next to you you can feel, sense, and hear what is going on with your seat neighbor and can hear you too. And the seat dividers usually have to be down during takeoff and landing which also gives less privacy

  10. Grumpytoad

    For me it's only about footwell space. I can always pad a too thin seat. Doors-I couldn't care less. Are the seats visually attractive? I've never noticed. Individual air nozzles are nice, but not a deal breaker.

    I can't change the size of my ridiculously long and flat feet. Or my 6 ft height.

    I'd pay serious money for any reliable app that would review footwells and give measurements.

  11. Alex D

    Surprised to see that Virgin Atlantic Upper Class A350-1000 did not make the cut. I believe these are made by Safran. This is my favorite way to cross the pond!

  12. crosscourt

    Did not like the Qatar business seat. Felt cramped. The "tunnel" under the tv for your legs to go, narrows and becomes confined and with the table just above, you hit that when moving or turning and i felt the whole seat area was claustrophobic when the seat opened to a bed and especially so when the door was closed. Was not impressed.

    1. AS

      Completely agree. I don’t get the hype around q-suites. The older generation seats were better.

  13. Willem

    Can you please have a short section that compares changes between this list and your previous 2020 list? Something like “ANA Room in 2020 took the top spot from the former #1 of QSuites, Egyptair fell out of the Top 10 entirely from 9th last year, etc)

  14. Alec

    Would be interesting to see the seat dimensions listed here too

  15. Mazz

    Very surprised not to see EVA air here. By far my favorite business class seat and service (food and drink could be better).

  16. miamiorbust

    I understand the logic of grouping many of selections by seat design but personally I'd like to see a return to ranking based on airline with perhaps notations for preferred seat layout. I'd view service as a close second to comfort of bed and service models more closely correlate to airline flown than seat type. May be more so in COVID/post-COVID world than before. Appreciate you putting BA on. Not even sure I 100% agree...

    I understand the logic of grouping many of selections by seat design but personally I'd like to see a return to ranking based on airline with perhaps notations for preferred seat layout. I'd view service as a close second to comfort of bed and service models more closely correlate to airline flown than seat type. May be more so in COVID/post-COVID world than before. Appreciate you putting BA on. Not even sure I 100% agree but simply butting BA on a best of list requires guts.

  17. Aaron

    The Zodiac Aerospace Optima is better than AA's (and other similar) reverse herringbone? Interesting.

    1. Eskimo

      Or just say CX. Since technically it's their design.

      But I agree, because this list isn't comparing apples to apples.

      A few things that bothers me is Separating JetBlue for their Mint suite but yet ignoring the Mint Studio because there are 2 seats instead of 4?

      I think the old Mint is a great product. But it's better only because of the throne seats. Remove throne seats from the equation, even flying as a...

      Or just say CX. Since technically it's their design.

      But I agree, because this list isn't comparing apples to apples.

      A few things that bothers me is Separating JetBlue for their Mint suite but yet ignoring the Mint Studio because there are 2 seats instead of 4?

      I think the old Mint is a great product. But it's better only because of the throne seats. Remove throne seats from the equation, even flying as a pair, I would take AA Zodiac, UA Polaris, or DL suites over the non throne seats all the time. Take the whole cabin into consideration then the old Mint shouldn't make the list.
      I know that #7 isn't referring to the whole Mint cabin just the throne seats. But 4 seats to justify a rank but not 2 from the new Mint?
      "threshold of there being an average of one of the seats per row"
      Umm let's try my math here The old A321 Mint has 4 thrones and 5 rows.
      That's average of 0.8 seats per row.

      Am I missing something here?

      Oh and there is the grouping Vantage XL with doors together but ignoring that the cabin width 330<787<350 are different or the fact that Delta also have ownership in every other airlines that have this seat. Give DL some more credits?

      But hey besides the math it's just different opinions.

    2. UA-NYC

      Yeah - the UA Polaris seat frankly sucks if you aren't at the "true" window seat.

      The angled seats (50% of the capacity) are way too open into the aisle, and the side table is awkwardly behind you.

      Reverse Herringbone just better in every way IMO.

  18. Frederik

    Lucky, the Etihad business seat. And the related found elsewhere part.

    Wasn’t it also found on Air Berlin in this configuration, with 4 of those old A330 200s now operating on Virgin Atlantic routes?

  19. Weymar Osborne

    I wonder if anyone's ever thought of putting a door on Apex Suites in the aisle. Feel like that could immediately elevate it to No. 1

  20. YY

    Why the biz class list is from no.10 to no.1 while the first class list is from 1 to 10?

  21. Super

    Starts off the list with an almost non-existent seat that is soon to be completely non-existent. 10 points for relevance there, lol.

    Not sure what the obsession is with doors on seats. Everyone walking by can still see past and some doors aren't even tall enough to block sitting passengers from seeing past if they're tall enough (JetBlue, looking at you).

    1. Eskimo

      I can't comment on #10, it's his list and still exist.

      The door part is good to have but people are giving way too much credit for it's existence.

      As long as my typical seating doesn't give me the awkward eye contact line of sight to someone else in the cabin, I'm fine with it. Which reverse herringbone seats already solves that. It's not like there is more privacy with doors.

  22. HT

    Can you do a top 10 business/first class seats historically (taking into account discontinued seats)? Obviously, the Residence would likely be number 1, but what about beyond those?

    1. Soltatio

      Oh yes do one of these! Best business or first class seats/service since the start of the new millennium or the best business and first-class seats that have now been discontinued/retired. Would be a great trip down memory lane. (Even South African Airways used to have a first First-Class similar to the old SQ F!)

Featured Comments Load all 27 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Grumpytoad

For me it's only about footwell space. I can always pad a too thin seat. Doors-I couldn't care less. Are the seats visually attractive? I've never noticed. Individual air nozzles are nice, but not a deal breaker. I can't change the size of my ridiculously long and flat feet. Or my 6 ft height. I'd pay serious money for any reliable app that would review footwells and give measurements.

UA-NYC

Yeah - the UA Polaris seat frankly sucks if you aren't at the "true" window seat. The angled seats (50% of the capacity) are way too open into the aisle, and the side table is awkwardly behind you. Reverse Herringbone just better in every way IMO.

Jared

There are pros and cons to every business configuration out there. I am a fit young man with broad shoulders (22-23 inches), so almost every single configuration listed here is cramped and uncomfortable. In that respect, I really like ANA's "The Room." I actually prefer the older forward facing business seats. I recently flew in such a configuration on Turkish Airlines and Air India's 787. I still tend to get the best sleep on these configurations since they feel spacious and since the feet are not confined. However, as many have reported, these seats are dated and can feel too exposed to some. The Vantage XL is a permutation of this configuration, but with privacy. In general, I find that modern business class seats favor privacy more than comfort.

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