VantageDUO: Innovative New Narrow Body Business Class Seat

VantageDUO: Innovative New Narrow Body Business Class Seat

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Popular aircraft seat manufacturer Thompson Aero has unveiled a new business class seat. It’s quite innovative and has potential, though I’m not convinced the market for it is that huge, or that there aren’t also some drawbacks.

Thompson Aero’s new single aisle business class

Thompson Aero has launched VantageDUO, a brand new business class seating concept. Most business class innovation is targeted at the high end of the market, namely long haul flat beds with doors. This, meanwhile, is targeted at a different market. Specifically, it’s intended to be an alternative to your typical regional recliner business class seat, and it’s also specifically designed for narrow body aircraft.

Here are some of the basics of the Thompson Aero VantageDUO seat:

  • Seats are in a 2-2 configuration on narrow body jets, and have 41″ of pitch (for context, domestic first class seats in the United States generally have 36-37″ of pitch)
  • Seats are angled away from the aisle, in order to reduce seat pitch
  • While most seats with a similar footprint feature up to 110 degrees of recline, these seats feature 130 degrees of recline
  • Seats have a fixed shell, so you won’t be reclining into anyone else’s space
  • When reclined, seats have a zero gravity position, “taking pressure off the heart and allowing a stress-free position”
  • Seats can feature 13.3″ personal televisions, AC and USB power outlets, wireless charging, storage pockets for water bottles and tablets, and the ability to have seat numbers written into the seat fabric
  • While window seats don’t have direct aisle access, they have a larger counter space, thanks to the footwell underneath that area

Below are some of the highlighted features of the seats, some pictures, and a video of the product.

Thompson Aero VantageDUO seat features
Thompson Aero VantageDUO cabin rendering
Thompson Aero VantageDUO seat rendering

My take on the Thompson Aero VantageDUO seat

It’s exciting to see a unique new regional business class product, because it’s a market where we don’t see much creativity. For example, Delta recently launched a new first class seat on its Airbus A321neos, and that’s just about the most innovation we’ve seen in this space otherwise (and it’s definitely moderately evolutionary, rather than revolutionary).

Delta A321neo first class cabin

The first question is which airlines would even consider a product like this? Narrow body aircraft are continuing to fly further and further, thanks to planes like the upcoming A321XLR, so there is a need for more comfort. Generally speaking:

  • I wouldn’t expect to see this in domestic first class on US airlines, because US airlines likely wouldn’t be willing to increase seat pitch from 37-38″ to 41″ (the only exception is Alaska, which has more generous pitch)
  • I could see some more premium airlines using this as their regional business class seat; for example, the pitch is comparable to Turkish Airlines’ A321neo and 737 MAX business class, so this seems like a good replacement there
  • In theory this also seems like it could be a good premium economy product for airlines that choose to install that on A321XLRs, but again, the pitch is just a bit too much
Turkish Airlines A321neo business class cabin
Turkish Airlines A321neo business class cabin

Demand for this product aside, would this be a significant passenger experience upgrade? I think the benefits here are obvious, including increased seat recline. However, there are also some potential downsides:

  • The fact that the airline is “saving” space by angling seats away from the aisle also raises concerns about seat width, since there’s only so much usable space without cutting into the aisle
  • Part of the efficiency from this product comes from the use of a footwell, and I haven’t yet seen a picture of what the footwell would look like in this seat; nobody likes having to place their feet in a small footwell
  • While a fixed shell is nice in terms of not intruding into the space of the passenger behind you, it raises more concerns about how spacious this product actually is
  • I feel like the best comparison to this might be Cathay Pacific’s regional business class seat, which also features more recline than standard and a fixed shell; however, I’m not sure I love it, as it kind of feels like being in a dentist’s chair
Cathay Pacific A330 business class cabin
Cathay Pacific A330 business class seat

Bottom line

Thompson Aero has unveiled a new narrow body business class seat, named VantageDUO. The seat will have 41″ of pitch, so it’s quite efficient, and will feature 130 degrees of recline, way more than comparable seats. Many will also appreciate the fixed shell, since it means you won’t have anyone reclining into your space.

While all of that sounds great, presumably this increased recline comes at a cost comfort-wise, and I can’t help but wonder whether this product might just feel a bit claustrophobic. I’m curious to see if any airlines order this product, and I’ll reserve judgment until I’m actually able to try this seat.

What do you make of Thompson Aero’s new VantageDUO concept?

Conversations (22)
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  1. Lawrence Guest

    These don’t look that different from Delta’s 757 Delta One seats

  2. Emily Guest

    Cathy’s fixed shell seats are very uncomfortable, since they lack near to no lumbar support.

  3. DHL Guest

    The aisle passenger definitely will need to get up for the window passenger to get out. It's no worse than the conventional single aisle plane and may be more comfortable due to the recline and leg rest.

  4. Jake Guest

    Exactly how does one exit the window seat- hold onto back of shell, weave thru the angles in pathway and step over the absolutely tiny model’s footrest? Good idea, but don’t see it working on any US airline.

    1. jakrobb New Member

      If you're half as flexible as that absolutely tiny model, it shouldn't be a problem!

  5. Leigh Guest

    As @Mark mentions in the first comment, it looks very heavy and potentially maintenance intense (though Thompson Aero has a solid reputation with its products). It's probably only an initial concept that will be reworked to suit the needs of prospective airline clients.

    As for the affect of angled seating on width, an understandable concern, there are already angled hard-shell 2-2 seats flown on narrow bodies, specifically the B/E Aerospace (now Rockwell Collins) designed...

    As @Mark mentions in the first comment, it looks very heavy and potentially maintenance intense (though Thompson Aero has a solid reputation with its products). It's probably only an initial concept that will be reworked to suit the needs of prospective airline clients.

    As for the affect of angled seating on width, an understandable concern, there are already angled hard-shell 2-2 seats flown on narrow bodies, specifically the B/E Aerospace (now Rockwell Collins) designed lie flat seats that are used on American Airline A321T transcon flights (and I think DL and UA, but I never fly them; and several international airlines), which are perfectly comfortable in terms of width - as it's specifically width that is being referenced in this article and comments, not the pitch.

    Finally, re the zero-gravity design....anyone on the thread remember the old British Airways Club World cradle seats from at least 2 decades ago?? This design seems a narrow-body/short or mid-regional haul equivalent concept.

    Happy travels!:)

  6. Bo Guest

    I am a big fan of a zero gravity position and actually prefer it to full flat in most cases as I haven't found a layflat bed that is comfortable enough to sleep on my side, if I am going to have to sleep on my back, the zero gravity position is most comfortable for me. That being said, the jury is still out on this design as the lack of shoulder space, foot space, storage, and direct aisle access could doom this product.

  7. Raylan Guest

    I don't think it's quite true that domestic F pitch is 36-37". AS has 41" pitch in domestic F and there could very much be a market for these types of seats on many currently operated AS flights. AS operates a number of grueling 6 hr plus flights for which I could imagine these seats making a substantive, positive change.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Raylan -- Totally fair point about Alaska, I updated the post to reflect that.

    2. jetjock64 Guest

      Grueling? You poor thing. . .

  8. Clayton Guest

    It's a pretty good product imo. As for complaints that it lacks direct aisle access for window seats there is clearly a limitation on what can be achieved in a narrow body/ single aisle jet using a 2-2 config.

    If it's used in a regional J or ( US) Transcon setting then personally I could live with that lack of aisle access. I think it would bother me more on an intercontinental flight which...

    It's a pretty good product imo. As for complaints that it lacks direct aisle access for window seats there is clearly a limitation on what can be achieved in a narrow body/ single aisle jet using a 2-2 config.

    If it's used in a regional J or ( US) Transcon setting then personally I could live with that lack of aisle access. I think it would bother me more on an intercontinental flight which I agree would present a possible limiting factor for take up as it's likely, at least partially, aimed at TATC flights on the 321XLR where airlines will either lean into the concept and hope pax aren't too bothered about it or will avoid it as a product precisely because research tells them the % margins for those who say they'd book elsewhere due to it were too narrow

  9. Jordan Member

    This would be a game-changer. The domestic F class recliner seats are unacceptable on flights over 3 hours. The fact that NB's cross the US continent coast to coast with those awful recliner seats is a complete joke.

    This type of seat would at the very least nudge more towards being acceptable. I would take this slightly narrow seat, for more comfort and recline. AA, UA and AS should really place an order now.

  10. RF Guest

    It does look interesting but yes, seat width and foot well size are the concerns.

  11. Christian Guest

    The seat looks uncomfortably narrow but that could just be an optical illusion.

  12. Donna Diamond

    Unimpressed. Premium economy seat masquerading as business class.

  13. Frederik Guest

    I wish somebody could do an innovative economy seat, that is simply as comfortable as the thick economy seats of the 1980s and 1990s were.

    The new economy seats are little better than ironing boards. While the front of the plane has improved, I would argue many premium economy products are more similar to how I found international long haul economy was 30 years ago (and probably similar relative price in real terms too)....

    I wish somebody could do an innovative economy seat, that is simply as comfortable as the thick economy seats of the 1980s and 1990s were.

    The new economy seats are little better than ironing boards. While the front of the plane has improved, I would argue many premium economy products are more similar to how I found international long haul economy was 30 years ago (and probably similar relative price in real terms too).

    The danger is if all the premium seats sell out, as mainline economy seating now is much worse and is usually situated on narrower jets than the old quads.

    1. Brad Guest

      I couldnt agree more ! I have been around long enough to remember the big thick Y class seats. Continental in particular was a comfortable ride in main cabin.

    2. JW Guest

      Man I second that notion too. Y seats should have at least 18" width mandated by law. Too much attention is focused on premium.

  14. S_LEE New Member

    Not innovative at all without direct aisle access..

  15. Dan Guest

    Are these seats similar the ANA domestic premium class seat or the cradle seat?

    1. Dan Guest

      I think JAL domestic first class seats (787 and a350) look similar. I wonder they are the same seats.

  16. Mark Guest

    Looks like it’s geared toward newer airlines in Asia that are going to pick a seat off the shelf and not customize it much.

    This seat also looks heavy in comparison to other similar seats so it could impact performance

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

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jake Guest

Exactly how does one exit the window seat- hold onto back of shell, weave thru the angles in pathway and step over the absolutely tiny model’s footrest? Good idea, but don’t see it working on any US airline.

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JW Guest

Man I second that notion too. Y seats should have at least 18" width mandated by law. Too much attention is focused on premium.

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Raylan -- Totally fair point about Alaska, I updated the post to reflect that.

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