The 2014 Guide to Lie-Flat Seats in First and Business Class

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Staggered seats on Swiss

Staggered seats on Swiss



Three years ago, I started to analyze the ratio of fully lie-flat seats in business- and first-class to angled lie-flat and reclining seats.  Back then, only 33% of the seats I encountered were fully lie-flat, namely those on Continental (now part of United) and Swiss.

Last year, over a similar 12-month period, I found myself in fully lie-flat seats 64% of the time, and it was 83% when examining the last six months of that period.

Looking back over the most recent 12 months, the fully-lie flat seat percentage was up to 82%.

Only flights on (now-retired) American Airlines 767-200s and one trip on a KLM 747 Combi were on recliners and I did not encounter any angled lie-flats over this period of time.

KLM's recliners on the 747 Combi

KLM’s recliners on the 747 Combi

Over the past 12 months, I also flew on planes with seats in configurations that I had never encountered before.  I’ve flown sideways and backwards and found both types to be very comfortable.


With an eye towards keeping it simple, we’ve broken down business- and first-class seats into four broad categories: recliner seats, angled lie-flats, fully lie-flat seats, and fully lie-flat suites.

Recliner Seats

Recliner seats, which at least for international first and business class are going the way of the dodo bird, mostly resemble first-class seats from decades past as well as the Barcalounger-type lounging chairs made popular in movies (Slaughterhouse-Five) and television shows (Frasier).  Depending on the airline, aircraft, and cabin, you’ll find them in a variety of configurations.  American’s outgoing 767-200s have them in first in a 2-1-2 configuration and in business as 2-2-2.  LOT Polish Airlines has state-of-the-art recliners in its premium-economy section on its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.  Since there are typically window and aisle seats in such configurations, many do not have direct aisle access.

Click here to continue to Page 4Types of Lie-Flat Seats and Private Bedroom Suites

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