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We’ve previously talked about Finnish carrier Finnair because of the continuing upgrade of its business class to (frosty blue) lie-flat seats and our first-hand experience of the latest product to and from Asia.
During a recent trip, we were able to see just how big a difference the upgrade is going to make once complete, spending one overnight flight in the newest seat and one in the very, very old one you see above. And despite the solid progress of phasing out the remaining angled lie-flat seats (more on that in a second), we expect this particular seat to be around for a while, as three of the airline’s oldest Airbus A340s will not be upgraded at all, remaining in the fleet until replaced by Airbus A350s, arriving from 2015 onwards.
We’ve seen saddle seats, in-flight couches, and those side-slip seat things, and yet there’s still room for more unique and interesting takes on the airline seating situation. This week we caught wind of another company’s take on the next big thing in seating surfaces, and this time it’s all about customization.
Seymourpowell is the organization behind this new idea, and their plan is to bring their idea—called Morph—to the friendly skies. Basically instead of just taking a one-size-fits-all approach to the airline seating system, these new seats can change things up right on the fly.
If you’re looking for a wider seat that’s not a problem, as the seat can shift, shake, and shape to exactly what you’re looking for. The thought is that the airlines would be pretty interested in something like this, as with customization comes the opportunity to charge passengers for the convenience of doing so.
It’s been a little bit of time since we first heard about the Side-Slip Seat, but now it looks as though the latest idea in airplane seating design is making the rounds once again. We’ve got a few more details and some additional renderings, since Molon Labe Designs sincerely hopes this will be the next great thing in airplane seating.
The basic premise behind this new design is that the aisle seat can slide over the middle seat, with the goal that the aisle of the airplane gets a little bit roomier during the boarding process. Faster boarding means quicker turnaround time for the airlines, and as a result that might just lead to more cash in their bank accounts.
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Another week, another new business class seat. This time, it's Finnair's turn to dazzle passengers with a fully horizontal comfy chair. Pair this new seat with their Marimekko design and revamped premium menus and things are a-changing at Finnair.
So the seats aren't exactly new since a few of them already sport some butt-prints on three of the carrier's Airbus 330s. Eventually they will be added to the entire fleet of long-haul planes A340 and, eventually, A350to make a consistent product for passengers. And, just like many other European business class upgrades, this one comes with aisle access for (almost) everyone.
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Last summer we spread the news about Qantas refurbishing the cabins of its aging Boeing 767 fleet. Most particularly, some flashy new black leather seats in the domestic business class cabin were coming in and, only recently, we booked a flight (Brisbane-Sydney) to try them out.
First impressions of the cabin were good. By today's standards, this plane is old and a little sprucing up to modernize it was much needed. The seats are merely reupholstered, but it really didn't matter to us since it was a short flight. Back in August, we thought the airline was adding an über-luxurious wood grain arm-rest. Instead we found this was also upholstered in a tan leather. Although that was a little bit of a let-down, it was still nicer than before.
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We are right in the middle of the holiday travel season, so we’ve got some advice for you when it comes to picking your airline seats. It’s not just for travel over the next few weeks, but a trick for all year long. We imagine that it’ll only get worse as airlines continue to hold back—and charge for—premium seats like aisles, windows, exit rows, and pretty much everything else.
So you booked your ticket and all went well, but when it’s time to select a seat you only have the option of picking a middle seat. Here’s the tip—don’t pick a middle seat—and leave your seat selection unassigned. First of all, there’s always the possibility that better seats will pop up closer to departure. You never know who will cancel or who will change their plans, so keep an eye out for better up in the air opportunities.
Once again it’s time to talk about improving the design of airline seating. We’ve seen mezzanine seating, face-to-face options, and of course everyone’s favorite—the saddle seat. The newest kid on the block is some kind of sliding seat, and obviously the designers think that it’s the best thing to happen to airliners since the jet engine. We’re intrigued, but we’re not sure we’re ready to bank our retirement on the idea.
The new design is more about improving the boarding process rather than the seating process. Everyone knows that boarding is often a challenge as passengers push, shove, and generally misbehave all with the goal of stuffing an oversized suitcase into an undersized space. The slider seat would allow the aisle seat to slide over on top of the middle seat, and this would allow a little extra room to jockey for position during the boarding process.
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In what seems like a never ending tennis game between two airlines never refusing to give up on the competition, Qantas has announced plans to overhaul their cabins to create a refreshed and modern look for their fleet of Boeing 767s, just after Virgin Australia's big news.
This all comes just after plans to roll-out aircraft-wide in-flight iPads and Q-Streaming for every passenger regardless of cabin. The refreshed cabins are just one part of the Red Roo's plan to reinvent how domestic flyers view travel in Australia.
While both cabins will see a contemporary design in seats and fabrics, the business class cabins will be the only ones to get cushy, black leather seating. Each biz seat will also sport (what looks like) a wood-finish armrest to add a bit of that burlwood-on-your-dashboard luxury to the skies.
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It seems like everyone wants a little more space nowadays, and airlines are certainly aware that passengers are willing to pay for it. Carriers like Virgin America, United, Delta, and JetBlue all have different flavors of their extra legroom seats, and now there’s one more airline looking to help you stretch out a little bit.
WestJet is looking for more profit (and to lure more business travelers away from Air Canada), so they’re now offering up their own version of premium economy seating for those willing to pay for the privilege. Planes are heading into the hangar starting this month, as four rows of seats will now be enjoying around 36 inches of pitch.
WestJet is upgrading and updating their entire fleet of Boeing 737s, so this is going to be quite the undertaking; however, they obviously feel that moving and shifting all the seats is more than worth it.
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Some big news from down under comes in the form of refurbished aircraft cabins. Don't tune out just yet, because it really is huge news, especially if a trip anywhere down under is in your future.
After paying some attention to the big birds, Virgin has now decided it's also time to update their domestic wide body aircraft. Both Airbus A330 business and economy cabins will be getting some love, so all passengers will travel in renewed comfort.
Poor, poor Air Australia. First, we were very excited for a new airline down under called Strategic Airlines, and then back in November, they not only changed their name, but changed their service model. From a full-service airline meant to compete with the big dogs of the Aussie airline industry, to a budget airline primarily targeting leisure destinations around the region.
Then came February, when the airline took planeloads of people to their destinations and then called it quits, stranding passengers in foreign cities.
Since Air Australia went into the Australian equivalent of bankruptcy, the administrators were left with the trappings of an entire airline on their hands. Since the bosses of the airline ran up bills totaling around $85 million dollars, the new owners had to recoup that cash. The obvious thing to do is to pull apart planes and sell off all assets of the former carrier. And we mean everything!
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The holiday travel season is just around the corner, so if you haven’t made those reservations to visit the family, now’s the time to do so. The fun doesn’t stop there, as once you pay a premium for flying the Wednesday before Thanksgiving you have to select a seat. We went over some of our favorite tips last year, but here’s five more that might help you survive this year’s season:
· Watch Those Seating Maps:
If your worst nightmare is being stuck in a middle seat in the very last row, then you need to know about your airline’s frequent flyer policies even if you aren’t one yourself. Most major carriers start bumping their favorite flyers up to the front days in advance—sometimes up to five days before takeoff—so you need to start checking the available seats when these upgrades are processed. If an aisle seat opens up near the front thanks to an upgrade for someone else, it can become yours. Persistence is key here, so remember to check early and often. It worked for us last week!
More tips and hints after the break...