At the Aircraft Interiors Expo, it’s striking how much space is given over to new business class seats. After all, on many routes, business class is where airlines make their money. Direct aisle access, where every passenger can make their way to the aisle without climbing over anyone else, is now a must.
But in the latest and greatest in business class, though, it’s all about the doors.
The trend is being steered by wins at the Crystal Cabin Awards — in many ways the Oscars of the passenger experience industry, hosted by the Hamburg Aviation cluster. Last year, the gong was taken home by the Thompson Vantage XL+-based Delta One Suite, and this year by the Rockwell Collins Qatar Airways Qsuite.
Both are excellent products. But some of these newer suite solutions are more elegant than others. Several products literally bolt a door onto the outside of existing seats, which at least has some simplicity as an approach.
But Zodiac Aerospace’s SkyLOUNGE suite product has a slide-out fabric screen that feels very attractive.
Rockwell Collins’ Elements seats, which are the evolution of its wildly successful Super Diamond, provide cushioned, leather-clad doors that feel both luxuriously automotive and category-shatteringly premium.
When will we see these in the sky? Many airlines are keen, but seatmakers, airframers and carriers will want to customise — and need to certify — what we’ve seen at AIX.
John Walton reporting from Aircraft Interiors Expo.