New Narrow Body Business Class Seat Features Doors & Direct Aisle Access

Filed Under: Misc.

STELIA Aerospace, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus, has today unveiled a new business class seat that I expect will become quite popular within a few years.

STELIA Aerospace OPERA business class seat

STELIA Aerospace’s new business class seat is called “OPERA,” and it’s specifically designed for single aisle aircraft. This new product features fully flat seats, direct aisle access, and doors at every seat, and it’s claimed that this will offer wide body comfort on narrow body planes.

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

Here are a few of the highlights of the seat:

  • The widest fully flat bed available on a single aisle jet, with plenty of foot space
  • A 20″ personal entertainment monitor
  • Increased privacy with a fully integrated door
  • Extra stowage capacity, including a closed amenity stowage and a laptop stowage zone
  • A large and stable meal table, stowed under the cocktail table
  • Adjustable armrests and ambient light
  • The seat has a simplified design for weight and cost optimization, as well as easy installation and wiring of screens

Video & pictures of Airbus’ new business class seat

Here’s a video of the new STELIA Aerospace OPERA product:

Here are some additional pictures:

STELIA Aerospace OPERA cabin

STELIA Aerospace OPERA cabin

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

STELIA Aerospace OPERA seat

The cabin looks gorgeous, but am I the only one a bit amused by these pictures?

  • Those don’t look like your average business class passengers šŸ˜‰
  • Spraying yourself with perfume in an aircraft cabin is generally frowned down upon (you might as well be clipping your nails)

Expect this seat to be popular on the Airbus A321XLR

It’s no coincidence that an Airbus-owned seat manufacturer is introducing a product like this. In mid-2019 Airbus unveiled the A321XLR, which will be a game changer for airlines.

This modified A321 will be the longest range narrow body jet yet, as it will be capable of flying up to 5,400 miles nonstop (that’s potentially about a 10-hour flight). This will enable airlines to operate all kinds of long and thin routes, though understandably there has been some concern about what this means for the passenger experience.

At least in business class, this seat should offer about as good of an experience as you could hope for on a single aisle jet.

Airbus’ new A321XLR

My take on this new business class seat

When I first saw this seat I thought to myself “well this just kind of looks like your standard reverse herringbone seat with a door.” In other words, it looks a lot like British Airways’ new Club Suite, with is a modified Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat.

British Airways’ A350 Club Suites

Or to compare it to another narrow body product, it’s like a modified version of American’s A321T first class, except it features a door.

American’s A321T first class

The more I think about it, the more I like this seat, at least based on what we know so far. I feel like:

  • The seat looks beautifully designed, with good attention to detail (for example, I love the laptop storage), and it does look like there’s quite a bit of space for your feet, which is a problem in other types of reverse herringbone seats
  • The actual entryway and space around the shoulders looks quite tight, but unfortunately that’s to be expected as we see more and more airlines introduce suites with doors in business class

Is this the best single aisle business class product yet?

The only other semi-compelling business class we’ve seen introduced specifically for single aisle planes is the Thompson Aero VantageSolo seat.

While that product could potentially feature doors, arguably it’s a step backwards in the evolution of business class. The seats are herringbone rather than reverse herringbone, as they face the aisle.

Thompson Aero VantageSolo seat

Thompson Aero VantageSolo seat

Based on the pictures and what we know, I’d absolutely pick the OPERA seat over the VantageSolo seat.

Bottom line

STELIA Aerospace has unveiled its new OPERA business class product, designed specifically for single aisle aircraft (presumably with a particular focus on the A321XLR).

I’d say this is probably about as good as it will get for business class on a narrow body plane, as this product offers fully flat beds with direct aisle access and doors. Furthermore, unlike the VantageSolo configuration, these seats are reverse herringbone (facing the windows) rather than herringbone (facing the aisle).

What do you make of this new single aisle business class seat?

  1. Could this be JetBlue’s new mint seat? Curious timing with this public announcement and B6’s first LR rolling off the assembly line as we speak.

  2. It seems to me that the final frontier for single-aisle business class could be 2 x 2 Apex Suites with doors rather than these cramped configurations that limit shoulder and foot space.

  3. Why would a herringbone be worse on a narrow body? With a door a herringbone would enable your head to be closer to the fuselage / window, further away from all the people cramming the plane while boarding, allows easier access to exit the seat to the aisle, and prevents your head being near the aisle as passengers move to the galley. Narrow body business class will cause you to rethink what works best for seat design.

  4. Looks nice, but from my experience with BA Club Suites, the seat in reality feels more cramped than on pictures and this seat already looks tighter than Club Suites.

  5. Magic space – there is no such thing. These seats are meant to maximize the use of space by narrowing the aisle width. That, by definition means these seats have to be offset at a greater angle to the fuselage. That, by definition means the entry is gonna be narrower. It is what it is.

    JBR’s suggestion is interesting tho. Is there enough width to do Apex suites in a 2 x 2 config on a narrow body?

  6. @AK- Korean Air has 2 x 2 Apex Suites (albeit without doors) on the upper deck of their 747-8, which I believe has a similar cabin width to that of a 737. And the cabin of a A321 is about 5 inches wider than a 737, so it seems possible to me at least in theory provided the doors and walls of the suites are pretty thin.

  7. I honestly don’t understand the fascination/ obsession with doors.

    Just another thing that can and will break and make the seat in-op.

  8. I’ve only ever seen the Thompson seat (business class facing outwards) on a Cathay Pacific widebody flight between Hong Kong and Manila. It was a strange experience. And quite narrow. This was in January 2012 as I recall.

  9. For better and for worse, I think this space is where we’re going to see a lot of innovation in the coming years. It will be interesting to see what type of “enhancements” carry through to delivery on a wide scale.

  10. Small question (to anybody, really…) ā€“ do you think the etiquette changes when you have a door in business class? No, the doors aren’t tall enough that it’s acceptable to change in your seat, but I’m thinking nail clipping, spraying perfume, etc.

  11. Doors, schmoors. No rational person cares about doors. Only creeps do. Whatever you’re doing in there with your door shut, STOP IT, and save it for the privacy of your home.

  12. Iā€™d fly it but if I had to choose between the AA 321T First Class design without the doors and this one, Iā€™d take the AA option. This one looks tight and Iā€™d rather have extra space than a door.

  13. Can someone explain what the doors are supposed to help with? I absolutely love my private space as in e.g. a private sleeper compartment in a night train. But these low doors don’t really seem to provide much privacy at all.

  14. Great news ! Many thanks !
    Key question, since I’m not ‘wide’ but long (i.e. 6’7″ skinny guy) …:
    How LONG are these flat bed seats ?

  15. @Alvin – I saw the photo of the woman spraying herself with perfume and immediately felt a migraine coming on. For me, no seat provides enough etiquette for perfume – and I’m not even going to think about nail clipping!!

  16. Is a door really necessary on a reverse herringbone design, when the door is barely above waist level?

    Also, why do they need a new seat for a narrow body? Even the narrower B737 has an interior cabin width that is more than half of the B787, so whatever seat that can be fitted on the B787 in 1-2-1 config can be fitted on a B737 in 1-1 config. Am I missing something?

  17. @Jeff, because there are still some of us that actually like to face the window for viewing. Watching earth from 35,000 feet is still a wonder and not to me. Those who immediately close the shades a la coffin are a mystery to me.

  18. Can anyone say @virginaustralia ? They need to do something one the east west where they are only using 737ā€™s …

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *