(CNN) – After a long, golden sunset of being installed on fewer and fewer aircraft, the retirement of older aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic means that when air travel resumes, international first class will be almost a thing of the past.
Its replacement is a new generation of superbusiness minisuits, more spacious than regular business class, and with a privacy door to create your own space, but without the over-the-top luxuries of first class.
Less $600 bottles of champagne, but tickets at business class prices.
So what is superbusiness? At its core it’s a top-notch business class seat that folds completely flat like a bed, with no neighbors to climb on top of, with a superior business class service and, most importantly, privacy doors to close. which give you a minisuite experience.
“The rapid design evolution of the minisuit shows how serious airlines are about delivering better sleep with increased privacy, better work space and more storage,” explains Daniel Baron, managing director of Tokyo-based studio Lyft Aero Design. Airlines and seatmakers to build cabins.
Baron highlights that these superbusiness minisuits “make sense for an airline because a tangible raise of the bar is typically associated with increased revenue, loyalty, or both. Even if competitors take the plunge for a similar product Respond, it could be about two years for market disruption. Of competitive advantage due to the lead time for development and installation.”
In fact, the unique and unprecedented luxury of privacy in the air, being able to shut itself off from the rest of the cabin and the rest of the world, while enjoying a glass of Dom Pérignon or Krug Champagne, only arrived in first class in 2007.
These were Singapore Airlines’ first Airbus A380s, which for years had been a byword for airline luxury, and in fact the carrier is now aboard its refurbished A380 in its second-generation suite.
Other airlines – Emirates, Etihad, Asiana, Korean Air, China Eastern, Swiss, Garuda, ANA, and more – added first class products with doors to form suites, but the idea was reserved for first class until That the QSuite of Qatar Airways did not come. At the scene in 2017.
QSuite is unique to Qatar Airways, but a growing number of airlines offer or plan to offer superbusiness seats from Delta to China Eastern, JetBlue to British Airways, Shanghai Airlines to Aeroflot, the latest Air China.
“The seat of an aircraft is a complex puzzle of engineering, ergonomics, aesthetics, weight control, cost control, supply chain management, and the challenges that lie ahead,” says Lyft’s Daniel Baron.
“It takes a lot of time and energy to fix this in the context of ever-changing market demands. To make it work, look gorgeous, stay affordable, deliver on time and stay relevant while losing weight without compromising on durability No small achievement.”
Air China has picked up the latest minisuit from German seatmaker Recaro – yes, the same Recaro that makes motor racing seats. It’s called, a bit unimaginatively, the CL6720, and it’s an update to the CL6710 seat you might find on the latest planes from TAP Air Portugal or El Al.
Like a good modern business class, it reclines on a completely flat bed and thanks to the seating arrangement each passenger has direct access to the aisle. It has wireless charging, a massive inflight entertainment monitor and 4K video capability, multiple storage options, and space to work, eat, and play. But the really different part is the door, which gently slides backwards to take you away from the cabin.
The doors aren’t full cabin height – the only seat to completely close you off from the rest of the cabin is Emirates’ newest first class suite. There, they had to install special CCTV cameras to pass security tests, as flight attendants must be able to see passengers at all times during takeoff and landing.
But when you’re seated in the takeoff and landing position, the doors of the SuperBusiness minisuits rise to shoulder level, and all have to be kept open for landing in case you have to flee quickly in an emergency.
But as soon as you move your seat into an armchair, Z-bed, or flat position, your head sinks below the door line, making it feel taller than it is, without being claustrophobic.
“In the new ‘coexistence with Covid’,” says Baron, “the privacy provided by a one-door cocoon is bound to transition from a ‘good option if we can afford it’ to a ‘minimum standard’ .
“And as minisuits become increasingly luxurious, the next puzzle will be the relevance — return on investment — of a dedicated long-range first-class product.”
This would be especially true as minisuits look and feel increasingly luxurious. Gone are the days of the beige-on-tan-on-acru-on-eggshell-on-magnolia original plastic, as travelers wanted something a little more unique.
Alina Coppola of London-based TrendWorks, which specializes in consumer trends and cabin experience for aviation, understands what travelers want in their superbusiness minisuits.
“We have seen a dramatic reduction in business travel, yet the need to escape for leisure and travel to see family and friends,” Coppola says.
“Consumers have ‘managed without’ during the pandemic, so when we return to normal activities – as well as travel – we look for comfort, attention to detail in build quality, and good functionality.”
Coppola explains that the opulent luxury of first class that now feels like a belle era for aviation is being replaced with less desire. “Extra is gone. Privacy and the ability to modify my location are paramount now.”