Inside the new “snuggle” class double beds. | Tech US News

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(CNN) – As the aviation industry looks to a future with more video conferencing and fewer business travelers occupying business class seats, it is turning to luxury leisure passengers to fill the void.

Airlines expect more business travelers to bring their partners for “mixed” or leisure — “bleisure” — trips. However, most business class cabins were designed with privacy in mind rather than being able to snuggle up next to Pat from accounting.

Enter a new generation of design that allows you to convert two business class seats into a double bed more suitable for couples.

“Covid was an epic reset button,” explains Daniel Baron, cabin designer and managing director of airline design house LIFT Aero Design in Tokyo. “It has changed the priorities of many travelers. Now more people crave things that might have seemed less important before the world was turned upside down.

“They want a slightly slower pace, with amenities along the way and meaningful experiences on the other side. Ditto for business travelers. Yes, the race is still important, but you don’t have to sacrifice time with your loved ones. The trend of mix business. with pleasure lends itself to increased demand in the premium leisure category.”

In ultra-chic international first class, double beds have been the norm since the mid-2000s, perhaps most famously in Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380 first class, and later the one-bedroom Etihad Residence suite in the mid-decade of 2010, with a small double bed in its own room.

“Traditionally,” says Baron, “in business class there was an expectation of wide fixed armrests on both sides of the passenger, with multiple stowage spaces. Large movable dividers were also associated with first class, not business.

“At the end of the day, it’s about delivering an experience that drives repeat business and positive word of mouth. The industry has moved from ‘give me total privacy’ in business class to ‘give me options.’ Airlines have realized that offering the ability to getting close like that can be a competitive advantage.”

There is something truly delicious about curling up with your arms around your special someone while the soft hum of the aircraft lulls you to sleep.

The beds in the business

The magic that turns a fully walled suite into a double bed revolves around two hubs: first, the center section of seats between the two aisles of wide-body aircraft, and second, the center divider between the two premium seats in that center section ( either in one row only, in all other rows or in the entire cabin).

In practice, the flight attendants retract the wall below the level of the bed, add a mattress pad and bed linen, and you have a first-class double bed.

And now, the double bed is coming to the business, although the design and logistics are more complicated because the passengers have less space than in the first, although, of course, still a ton more than in economy.

On the bright side, though, very few airlines charge extra for couples to choose the double bed over regular business class seats, so keep an eye on those seat maps. As a rough guide, business class these days is four to six times the price of economy.

The modern type of business class seats cleverly overlaps with the passenger in front to provide direct aisle access to all passengers without needing the space of first class.

They usually do this through the gimmick that a passenger’s side table is also the footwell where the feet of the passenger behind go into bed mode, either through a staggered configuration or with the seats reclined in a herringbone pattern.

So do some of the airlines that offer double beds in business class.

Singapore Airlines offers a double bed option in seats on board its fully refitted Airbus A380 fleet. All center pairs in this design have the option to drop the divider to waist height, but the front row seats in each section are the best: these (seats 11D+F, 91D+F and 96D+F) no No you have the center divider so you are not limited to hugs above the waist.

Qatar Airways offers double beds as part of its QSuite product, which appears on some of its Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft, where in the center sections the seats move from being together in the middle of a row to being side by side. to the corridor in another. Airlines and business class regulars refer to this as the “honeymoon/divorce” layout.

However, if you look at the seat map, you quickly realize that these “honeymoon” seats may only account for about a quarter of all seats in the cabin. This is often not enough for an airline looking to push its premium leisure market.

Qatar Airways’ business suites on its Boeing 787 are a completely different type of seat, where the center sections are angled towards the aisle. This means that the passengers in these are shoulder to shoulder between the center divider. Then when the center divider retracts, there’s a rather suitable heart-shaped section where you can kiss your sweetheart goodnight.

Think of these as a rather modest above-the-waist snuggle class, if you will.

More and more airlines and seat manufacturers are focusing on this type of business class double bed when choosing and making new seats.

And there’s more to come, says Daniel Baron of LIFT Aero Design: “Of course, the next chapter is honeymoon suites on long-haul narrowbody aircraft.”

Top image: Business class on a Singapore Airlines A380R features a double bed option. (Singapore Airlines)

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