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

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ANA's staggered business-class seat on the Dreamliner

ANA’s staggered business-class seat on the Dreamliner

Having flown facing the rear of the cabin for the first time recently (on United), I confess that it’s a feeling quite unlike sitting backwards in a railroad car.  After a while, you don’t really notice it except when you look out and see the wing facing the “wrong” direction.

Staggered Fully Lie-Flat Seat

There are several variations of staggered fully lie-flat seats.  One is where the seats alternate and most but not all passengers have direct aisle access.  Swiss’ long-haul business-class cabin is a good example of this.  Another is that middle or window seats have a small entryway to the seat that allows the occupant to go back and forth without having to climb over the person on the aisle. Yet a third is when the seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration (or 1-1 on a narrow-body plane or upper deck).

These seats may be found in several configurations including an alternating pattern of 1-2-1/2-2-1 (Swiss) and 2-3-2 (ANA) as well as the aforementioned 1-2-1/1-1 offered by Delta on its Boeing 767-300 and -400 aircraft.


Air Canada's herringbone business-class seats

Air Canada’s herringbone business-class seats


Fully Lie-Flat Herringbone

Herringbone seats are an innovative way of making the most of the space.  Simply put, the seats face into the cabin and are, depending on the width of the aircraft, in three or four columns, giving rise to a variety of configurations ranging from 1-1 to 1-1-1, to 1-2-1.

This design may be found in multiple airlines including Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin’s patented seats fold forwards so the bed is actually on the padded back of the seat, or the seat reclines backwards in normal fashion similar to other lie-flat seats.

The airline’s latest innovation in this area is on narrow-body planes: a staggered herringbone in which the seats in the center are in a cross-hatch versus the “V” shape that Virgin has had since its earlier suite debuted in 2003.  Because the seats don’t extend as much into the aisle, the airline has been able to fit one more seat per row on its planes.

Click here to continue to Page 7Private Bedrooms in the Sky, Flagship Suites, and Reverse Herringbone Seats

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