New business

Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand set to launch new business class seats

As travel experiences a post-pandemic rebound, airlines are preparing for the boom times ahead.

From interior business class recliners to suites designed for the world’s longest flights, here are three seats that are sure to stand out.

Air New Zealand 787 Business Premier Luxury

We’ve known for some time now that Air New Zealand has launched a brand new Boeing 787 Business Class at its secret ‘Hangar 96’ skunkworks in Auckland.

We suspected a drastic change from the current slanted sleeper pods circa 2005.

And Executive Traveler was the first to announce plans to top the business class cabin with four “business plus” suites in the front row, resulting in a more upscale “mini-first class” travel experience and probably more expensive – and a perfect fit for the Star Alliance member nonstop rides between Auckland and New York, Chicago and Houston.

This was confirmed on March 30 when the US Department of Transportation accidentally released a set of documents filed by carrier Kiwi.

Row 1 of the Boeing 787-9s will feature four oversized Business Premier Luxe suites with sliding privacy doors; behind these, a redesigned Business Premier cabin bristling with every modern comfort.

The airline’s filing with the DoT called for final approval “no later than April 29, 2022, so it can proceed with certification and installation.”

The big question now is whether Business Premier Luxe and Business Premier seats will debut on Air New Zealand’s inaugural Auckland-New York flight on September 17.

Qantas A350 Sunrise Business Suites Project

Speaking of non-stop New York, we expect Qantas to soon lift the curtain on its Airbus A350 business class suites for its own Project Sunrise marathon flights.

Although the Sydney-New York and Sydney-London A350s won’t take off until the end of 2025, Qantas has already introduced the A350’s First Class Private Suites, and a reveal of the A350 Business Class Suites will not is not far.

Early clues to Qantas’ A350 business class from diagrams shared by Qantas suggest we may only see seats adjacent to the aisle that have a sliding door.

Executive Traveler also understands that the A350 business class seats will not come from Thompson Aerospace, which supplied the first generation business suites for Qantas’ Airbus A330s, A380s and Boeing 787s – and it wouldn’t surprise us if Qantas rolls out a new seat concept which is yet to be officially launched.

(For what it’s worth, Qantas also has new domestic business class seats up its sleeve for the upcoming Airbus A220 and A321XLR, which will gradually replace its regional Boeing 717s and Boeing 737s from late 2023.)

Virgin Australia 737 MAX Business Class

Virgin Australia also has new business class seats on the radar, and you may already seated in them.

As part of the countdown to the February 2023 arrival of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, Virgin has evaluated new business and economy seats installed on two Boeing 737-800s that have been actively criss-crossing Virgin’s domestic network for the past six months.

Although these recliners are a more sensible evolution than a radical revolution, there is no doubt that their improved comfort or sensible features such as leg and foot rests, AC and USB outlets, an integrated holder for tablets and smartphones as well as a usefully spacious storage area.

“Our customers love them, and our crew love them too,” said Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO of Virgin Australia Group. Executive Travelerwhile not letting it slip away if – as we strongly expect – these seats pass the test and will find their way into the 737 MAX fleet.