5 Airlines Introducing New Business Class Seats In 2019

Filed Under: British Airways, Other Airlines

With 2019 being right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to look at which airlines we can expect to introduce new business class seats in the new year.

We’ve seen a lot of innovation the past couple of years when it comes to premium cabin seating, and off the top of my head I can think of five airlines that are expected to introduce a new business class in 2019.

Here are the products that come to mind, roughly in order of my excitement:

British Airways’ new A350 business class

A couple of decades ago, British Airways had a cutting edge seat. Unfortunately they still have roughly the same seat in business class, with up to eight seats per row.


British Airways’ current business class with eight seats per row

In 2019 they’ll finally be introducing a new business class product.

When will it be introduced? The new seat will first debut on the Airbus A350, the first of which they’ll taking delivery of in July 2019. By the end of 2019, it’s expected that British Airways will have four A350s and two 777s with the new business class seats. The plan is that the entire fleet should have the new seats by 2023.

What do we know about the new product? British Airways is tight-lipped about the new seats, though they have provided some hints. The cabin will feature direct aisle access from every seat, it will feature gate-to-gate entertainment, and it will feature increased privacy and stowage.

Personally I’m expecting it to be a big improvement over what they offer now, but not to be revolutionary.

Virgin Atlantic’s new A350 business class

In 2019 Virgin Atlantic will finally be introducing a new business class seat, replacing their current herringbone seats.


Virgin Atlantic’s current business class

When will it be introduced? The new seat will first debut on the Airbus A350-1000, the first of which they’ll taking delivery of in summer 2019. Virgin Atlantic only has a total of 12 of these planes on order, and as of now they don’t plan on reconfiguring existing planes with these seats.

What do we know about the new product? Not a whole lot, officially. We know the new cabin will be revealed in the first quarter of 2019. Virgin Atlantic’s SVP of Sales and Customer Loyalty has said the following about the seat:

“We’ve seen it, I’ve sat in it, it’s a fantastic seat. What you’ll see is that it’s a next-generation product but it’s incredibly Virgin Atlantic – it’s exactly what you would think Virgin Atlantic is in terms of the look and feel, the design, the feel of the cabin and the warmth of the environment.”

The only clue we have is that we’ve seen the seatmap of the new cabin.

Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to see them adopt the Delta One Suites with doors, given that Delta owns a stake in Virgin Atlantic, and it would also match the seatmap. I could certainly be wrong, though.


Delta One Suite, which I could see Virgin Atlantic adopting

Turkish’s new 787 business class

Turkish Airlines has an exceptional soft product, though an outdated hard product on most of their planes. In 2019 Turkish will finally be introducing a new business class seat.


Turkish’s current 777 business class

When will it be introduced? The airline has 25 Boeing 787-9s and 25 Airbus A350-900s on order, and those will feature the new business class seats. The 787-9 will be joining their fleet first, and it’s expected that will happen around the middle of 2019.

What do we know about the new product? Potentially quite a bit, depending on what source you want to believe.

We know what the seatmap looks like for the new cabin:

Recently there was also a story in Turkish media talking about the new product, which had the below picture, which I’d be willing to bet is in fact the new business class. This looks very similar to Singapore Airlines’ new regional business class.

Is this Turkish’s new 787 business class?

WestJet’s new 787 business class

WestJet has historically been a low cost carrier, but this year they’ll be expanding in an exciting way. Not only will the airline be introducing a “true” business class on domestic and transborder flights, but they’ll also take delivery of Boeing 787s with “true” business class seats.


WestJet’s new 787

When will it be introduced? WestJet will take delivery of their first 787 in early 2019, and starting in February the airline will fly the plane between Calgary and Toronto. Then in late April the airline will start flying the plane on transatlantic flights. I’m already booked on one of these, and can’t wait.

What do we know about the new product? Just about everything. They’ll install reverse herringbone seats, offer dine on demand, etc.


WestJet’s new 787 business class


WestJet’s new 787 business class

Pakistan’s new 777 business class

I flew PIA’s 777 business class from Manchester to New York a couple of years ago, and the flight was… interesting. The airline has been rumored to be getting a new business class product for a long time, though it’s anyone’s guess if it finally happens.


Pakistan’s current 777 business class 

When will it be introduced? Last I heard, PIA had entered into a contract and the plan was for five of their Boeing 777s to be reconfigured with the new seats starting at the end of 2018, with the intent for them to be in service in early 2019. I imagine this remains highly subject to change.

What do we know about the new product? The airline intends to install 24 Stelia Solysts seats on these planes, in a 1-2-1 configuration. These are seats in a staggered configuration, which are hardly cutting edge, but are a huge improvement over the angled (and often broken) seats they currently have. Like I said, it remains to be seen if this actually happens.


Hong Kong Airlines’ A350 business class has similar seats

This one is still a big question mark to me, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it not happen.

Bottom line

We’ve seen a ton of innovation the past couple of years when it comes to premium cabin products, so by comparison 2019 doesn’t look quite as exciting. All of the “new” products we’re seeing are just airlines catching up with the competition, rather than any truly innovative products being introduced, unlike in the past couple of years, where we saw some airlines raise the bar.

However, I’m still very much looking forward to booking flights on the new products of British Airways, Turkish, and Virgin, and already have my flight booked on WestJet.

Are there any new business class products I missed? Which are you most excited about?

Comments

  1. Hi Lucky! You forgot about LATAM 767s new business class seats. Isn’t that also happening in 2019?
    Happy new year!

  2. @ Michael That looks exciting (from the current J seats), although it seems modifying QF seats with LA tones…

  3. Most excited for LATAM. First because I use them quite a bit and second because the current product is god awful.

  4. Lots of rumors about Air New Zealand! They’re going to replace their outdated reverse-herringbone seating at some point.

  5. If BA is 8 seats per row then so is every staggered and herringbone product out there. Draw a line across the cabin and you’ll cut 4 torsos and four sets of legs in any of these configurations. BA would do themselves a huge favour by numbering the forward and rear facing rows alternately, you wonder if they will on the new seats now that the windows and middles will have aisle access.

  6. Virgin’s curent upper class seats could not be any more uncomfortable or narrow than they are now, think sardine can. And, no, I am not particularly large or tall. In the many years I have flown Virgin Upper class the seats have become progressively smaller in order to cram in more passengers. Service, ime, is still excellent, food reasonably good and plane clean. Will continue to fly Virgin because with points we do well on selection of flights and dates out of Miami to London. Virgin passengers also now have access to the new Delta lounge (no more shared service lounge) and departure gate isn’t too far from the lounge. Much improved experience.

  7. SAS gets delivery of its first A350 by the end of 2019, potentially with a new business class seat.

  8. Air New Zealand is almost definitely releasing a new business class product alongside their new fleet announcement an April.

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