One of the latest airline fads is to slap a door on a business-class seat and call it a “suite.” Delta Airlines and Qatar Airways have new seats like this. Shanghai Airlines, a subsidiary of Delta partner China Eastern, will soon be installing Thompson Vantage XL+ seats, the Delta Suite seat, on its 787-9s. No doubt others have, or will, follow suit with some kind of “suite” product.
But putting a door on a seat doesn’t make it a suite or ensure a greater level of comfort compared to a seat without a door. Although it lacks some of the bells and whistles of the newer seats and suites, hands down the best business-class seat I’ve flown is on the refitted Singapore Airlines 777-200ER.
Best of My Rest
Delta One Suite
The Delta One Suite on the new A350-900 is very nice but also terribly overhyped. As noted in the review, here, I rank the color scheme and large, bright video screen as the biggest improvements over other Delta One seats. The door on the narrow entrance to the seat did not add much to the overall experience.
Japan Airlines Sky Suite
I found the Japan Airlines Sky Suite, reviewed here, on the 787-9 to be a much better experience compared to the Delta suite even though the Sky Suite has no door. However, the positioning of the window seats, like 2A below, so far from the aisle creates a feeling of privacy and seclusion that is unmatched in any business-class seat, door or no door. Plus the seat comes with three amazing 787 windows.
Qatar Airways A350-900
Before the Qsuite, Qatar Airways’ self-anointed best business-class seat was on its new A350-900 aircraft.
As stated in the review, here, this was a great seat because it was incredibly comfortable, had great storage, and the pleasing cabin color scheme. In 2016, Skytrax ranked this business seat as the best in the world.
American Airlines Super Diamond Seat
The 787-9 is currently the newest addition to the American Airlines long-haul fleet. Business class is outfitted with the BE Aerospace Super Diamond seat.
American has also recently installed these seats on some of its older 777-200s.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER
Cathay Pacific has a very nice seat on the 777-300ER. I reviewed this seat, here. These seats are essentially the same as the business-class seats on American and China Eastern 777-300s reviewed here and here, respectively. The main deficiencies of these seats are a paucity of privacy and secure storage.
Delta 747-400 Upper Deck
The business-class seat on Delta’s 747-400 is the longest-serving seat on this list. In fact, this seat has been around so long it no longer exists. Delta sent the last of its 747s to the boneyard at the end of 2017.
What made this seat special was the cabin. There were only 14 seats in a 1-1 configuration with all seats having windows and direct-aisle access. Delta’s 747 upper deck had the feel of a private jet. It was the best business-class cabin in the sky as I asserted, here and here.
Another item that made these seats one of my favorites was the proximity to the flight deck. Sometimes when I mentioned that I was an aviation enthusiast and private pilot, the crew would offer a brief cockpit tour. At the gate at NRT, one captain even let me sit in his seat. If the other pilot handled steering with the pedals, I think I could pull off a normal takeoff with this bird. Landing would be another story as judging the flare from the pilot’s perch two stories above the ground provides a totally different perspective from what I’m used to in a Cessna 172. Alas, that is immaterial to the seat, and I can only dream.
In spite of their formidable attributes, none of the seats previously mentioned tops an older business-class seat that makes no pretense about being a suite.
The Winner – Singapore Airlines Refitted 777-200ER Business Class!
Singapore Airlines flies three versions of the 777-200ER. The version with the fantastic business-class seats puts 26 of them arranged 1-2-1 in seven rows in one cabin. SeatGuru claims that these seats have 76 inches of pitch and are a whopping 30 inches wide!
The twin seats in the center section are also very nice. There is plenty of elbow room between them.
Very nice you say. But what really makes these seats so great?
First, seat size. These seats are huge, big, enormous. That’s obvious from the photos. Thirty inches of seat width is practically unheard of for business class. Heck. Few first-class seats are more than 26 inches wide. Add a few more inches of pitch and the Singapore 777-200ER seats could easily pass for a very good first-class seat.
Second, but not quite as obvious as seat size, seat comfort. The seat looks extremely comfortable and feels even better. In a word – sumptuous. The feel and comfort was better than even the seats in the enormous Lincoln Continentals my father liked to drive back in the day.
While lacking the overall spaciousness of the Etihad Airways First Class Apartment, arguably one of the top three first-class seats in the air, these seats bear a remarkable resemblance to and are actually .5 inches wider than the seat of the First Class Apartment reviewed here.
Third, these seats have an amazing amount of storage. There is a large open bin (pictured above) on the facing seat back next to the window. There are several compartments and small tray tables in hidden compartments next to the video screen.
A compartment for shoes or a small bag.
Fourth, when the seat is positioned horizontally it actually looks like a bed not just a flat business-class seat. The drawback is the seat back must be manually lowered to create a bed.
Fifth, last but not least, is the world-famous service of the Singapore Airlines FAs. Any flight, no matter how great the seat may be, becomes wearisome if service is bad. Singapore Airlines FAs, like those on many Asian carriers, exude a natural, inherent willingness to ensure that every passenger has an enjoyable flight. FAs on western carriers can say the same things and offer the same service but often that service, if provided, seems somewhat forced.
If you have thoughts about my evaluation of best business class seats or have others to add to the list, please comment below.