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

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Recliners have moved into premium-economy class, such as in this case on LOT's Dreamliner

Recliners have moved into premium-economy class, such as in this case on LOT’s Dreamliner


Angled Lie-Flat Seats

Angled lie-flat seats, which are still quite prevalent, are ones that fold into a bed at an angle to the floor.  The angle may vary based on the seat design and some cause passengers to slide downward while sleeping. Some angled lie-flats are not really flat but almost flat.  Angled lie-flats come in multiple configurations such as 2-2-2 and 2-3-2.

American’s 777-200s, which are slated to get fully lie-flat seats in business, currently offer a 2-3-2 configuration, Lufthansa’s A380s have them in business in a 2-2-2 configuration as does Air France’s business class on the same plane.

Similar to recliners, since there are always window and aisle seats, as well as some middle seats, in such configurations many do not have direct aisle access.

For daytime flights where little sleep is planned, they are typically quite comfortable for working and dining.

United's backwards-facing lie-flat seats on a 777

United’s backwards-facing lie-flat seats on a 777


Fully Lie-Flat Seats

Fully lie-flat seats, sometimes referred to as horizontal lie-flat, are now considered the must-have seat for international first- and business-class cabins and this is the direction in which the airline industry is going.

There are, however, multiple variations on a theme, in terms of what direction the seats face (there are more than two possible answers here): the amount of privacy afforded, whether every seat has direct-aisle access, and of course, the features and amenities built into the seat.

Fully lie-flat seats are much preferred for most flights because being able to lie horizontally, rather than at an angle, is a more natural position and relieves pressure on the body, allowing for a better night’s sleep. It’s also easier for people to sleep on their sides or even stomachs if preferred, something that may be uncomfortable on angled lie-flat seats.

Indeed, fully lie-flat beds are no longer just for international flights.  They are becoming a competitive weapon in the premium transcontinental market, a market defined in the U.S. by flights linking New York with San Francisco and Los Angeles, the latter being one of the most competitive markets in the country.

Click here to continue to Page 5Transcons Go Lie-Flat, Seats to Play Footsie With, and Lie-Flat Variants

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