Recently, three of my favourite airlines to fly with just announced updates to their premium class cabin. Though one of them also mentioned new economy class seats.
Singapore Airlines (SQ)
SQ recently released photos and videos of their new cabins in First, Business and Economy class. Though they are only on the Boeing 777-300ER, which means the cabin in the A380s, regional A330s and the long-haul 777-200ERs would remain as it is. I think the 777-300ER serves SIN-ICN-SFO, SIN-DME-IAH, SIN-LHR, SIN-BCN-GRU and maybe a few other routes. The new cabin does look fantastic in photos though they does not seem to be much difference to current products. Still the new refresh in their 777-300ER is probably at the right time with increase in competition from their main rivals.
The new First Class cabin expands the width of the seats from the photos and adds new lighting around the seats. This means there will be more storage underneath the ottoman area. The shell around the seat seems to be finished in a stainless steel finish. The overall look feels very smart and undoubtedly so since it is supposed to be designed alongside BMW Designworks USA. And they will now have Bose QC15 headphones on First Class!
Back in the Business Class cabin, the new seats are designed with James Park Associates and seems to have a more curvaceous shape compared to the current Business Class seats on the long-haul jets. The new addition is 2 pre-set lounging positions that can be chosen through a button. And supposedly more space for your gadgets while travelling.
The interesting part is that Economy class cabin is given new seats too. The new seats will probably have new inflight entertainment controllers and all seats will have an array of plugs for their devices. There is also an option for passengers to close the IFE screen. Though I actually prefer if airlines have more storage space for their Economy Class seats, which is what Cathay Pacific did for their latest Economy Class seats on the 777-300ER.
Cathay Pacific (CX)
CX has launched their new Business Class which was voted as the World’s Best in 2012, and their latest changes would only affect all the First Class cabin. Since they have only one First Class cabin type, it is much simpler. Considering Cathay Pacific places just 6 seats in a 1-1-1 configuration in the 777-300ER, compared to other airlines that tends to have 1-2-1 configuration with 8 seats, they are considered the better hard product with more space and privacy. And the cabin updates would not affect the seating configuration. Instead it will focus on re-upholstering the First Class cabin with leather and adding higher quality mattress pads and new pyjamas from HK-based company ‘PYE’.
All Nippon Airways (NH)
NH recently won the Skytrax’s 5-star rating, and is the only Japanese airline to attain that ranking. On the back of this ‘win’ for them, they are going to improve the premium cabin even further. Over the last 12 months, they have added ‘IPPUDO’ ramen to their light snacks as part of inflight service for First and Business class passengers. Starting from September 1, the airline will offer an upgraded dining experience for flights departing from Japan, and the food is supposedly created in conjunction with ’10 internationally renowned chefs’. I would be interested to know what the changes are since their current dining experience in First Class is the best airline meal I have had so far! There will be better beverage offering too with Suntory’s Hibiki 21-year whisky offered in First, and the 17-year offered in Business. There will also be new sleepwear, comforters, blankets and pillows, all made by Japanese companies. Finally the business class cabin will also offer an amenity kit with stuff from L’Occitane. This makes Singapore Airlines being the only of these 3 that does not offer any amenity kits in Business Class.
As you can see here, the best airlines offer improvements to their cabins and not add more seats or reduce cabin services at the expense of passenger comfort. It is precisely based on these 2 reasons that I continue to support these 3 airlines whenever possible. For a premium, I will not even hesitate to fly with these 3 airlines, even when there are perhaps lower cost airlines available because I know the cabin offerings in these airlines are worth it!