The ultimate in luxurious first-class aircraft cabins: Building | Tech US News


(CNN) – With airlines looking to use the surface space of their first class suites as efficiently as possible, the latest advances to make these ultraswink experiences even more luxurious aren’t about adding more width or length to the suites.

They go up.

A new generation of high-wall supersuites extends to the ceilings of the latest widebody jets, eclipsing previous suites.

The first generation of first class suites with doors was introduced about 15 years ago on the Airbus A380. With the largest commercial airliner ever built came the largest first class seats, and these quickly spread to other aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

In the decade and a half since, most first class seats now have doors.

The main function of the doors is privacy, allowing first class passengers some of the most important luxuries in our always-on world: the opportunity to create their own space to work, relax with a movie on the big screen or enjoy champagne and caviar. private dining room.

At Emirates, high-wall First Class suites offer privacy for dining, sleeping, working and playing.

At Emirates, high-wall First Class suites offer privacy for dining, sleeping, working and playing.

Courtesy of Emirates

Until recently, however, the first-class doors themselves did not extend to the ceiling, but ended at about chest height for most passengers, meaning that crew and other passengers passing by can see inside .

This is by design, as security specifications mean that crew members must be able to see into the suite.

These sets of rules are known as cockpit view requirements and essentially mean that the crew must have a line of sight into the cockpit from their jump seats next to the emergency doors during takeoff and landing. (For those of us not in first class, cabin view requirements are also why the crew has to tie down the curtains before landing, as well as why there are those little letterbox-shaped horizontal hatches in the dividers of bulkheads between cabin classes).

But airlines with high-wall suites are also managing to meet those requirements.


Some suites were higher than others. Etihad’s first class apartments on the A380 were tall but not ceiling-high, although their The Residence suite had an enclosed bedroom separate from the seats that Residence passengers had to use for take-off and landing.

Emirates has a high-wall supersuite category on its Boeing 777 first class.

Emirates has a high-wall supersuite category on its Boeing 777 first class.

Courtesy of Emirates

Emirates was the first airline to introduce the high-wall supersuite category with its latest Boeing 777 First Class suites, which are fully enclosed and allow passengers to customize their experience right down to the color of the accent lighting. Emirates uses closed-circuit television cameras, accessible only live and only by cabin crew, to circumvent those cabin viewing requirements.

The latest airline to join these high-walled supersuites is Lufthansa.

It is working with seat manufacturer Collins Aerospace and design house PriestmanGoode to create its game-changing Allegris First Class Suite. So far, Lufthansa isn’t saying how it manages to meet cabin view requirements, but if there’s only one row of seats, it could be as simple as a set of mirrors that mean the crew can see into the suites when the doors are open. for takeoff and landing.

As with any airline seat, prices vary, but these experiences can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

CNN Travel sat down with Daniel Macinnes, director of PriestmanGoode, to learn more about how these new suites are designed, why airlines choose them, how they fit on the aircraft and how they need to be designed for certification.

A complicated equation

Macinnes says the big question is “how do you not lose the quality of the product with all the certification, all those details? So it was quite a challenge, but quite interesting, to pass the certification, pass EASA, all of that stuff.”

EASA is the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency and, along with the US Federal Aviation Administration, is one of the two main aviation safety regulators in the world. It takes the lead in safety certification for aircraft produced by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Creating Lufthansa’s new supersuite, says Macinnes, “was quite an exciting challenge, because for the first aircraft that goes through, which is an A350, nobody has ever done that before.”

Lufthansa has a new Allegris first class suite with high walls.

Lufthansa has a new Allegris first class suite with high walls.

Courtesy of Priestman Goode

When creating a new seating experience, but especially when pushing the limits of premium cabins like this, there is a lot of interaction between the aircraft manufacturer, the seat manufacturer, the airline and their design partner, or partners.

Lufthansa’s new seat has been developed over five years, a collaboration between the airline’s product expertise and brand teams, Airbus, PriestmanGoode and Collins.

“We did many, many versions of this over those years to see what worked, what heights worked: with their management team, with the product team, building mockups, just seeing how that fed into their excitement,” explains Macinnes.

Adding comfort

During the design process, the team had to make a variety of adjustments, such as removing the overhead bins and adding a cabinet to the door support.

This means that passengers can change in the suite space, without having to head to the bathrooms, into the luxury pajamas provided by the airline and then hang up their clothes.

That makes for a more comfortable and relaxing flight with pajamas made of breathable fabrics, without tight waistbands, and it’s a pure pleasure to put on a new set of pajamas after the hustle and bustle of the airport. It also means your clothes finish the flight fresh, wrinkle-free and ready to wear to your final destination.

The team also made sure that the cabin’s airflow, carefully designed by the plane’s manufacturer to optimize the cabin’s temperature and fresh air, was not interrupted, as well as finding out how far the walls could go before the air conditioning system air conditioning needed. to be redesigned for a fully enclosed suite.

“There’s a little bit of space” at the top of the Lufthansa suite walls, Macinnes says, noting that “we got to a point where it was the sweet spot that everyone was happy with.”

The critical part of the design, explains Macinnes, it’s “that it feels like it’s your own space, instead of… turning it into an open cabin. They wanted that kind of privacy, and you have enough space that you don’t have to really feel like you. You’re kind of closed in. No it’s like a closed business class – you have a lot of space inside it. So even if you sit with the door closed, it feels big, you don’t feel trapped. .”

The future of the first class is very high.

Images of Qantas’ upcoming Airbus A350 first class for non-stop flights from Sydney to New York and London show higher walls than the airline has used before.

The trick, of course, is to make it so that it fits the cabin more perfectly.

Top image: Lufthansa’s new Allegris First Class Suite with high walls. (Courtesy PriestmanGoode)


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