US Airways Announces an Impressive New International Business Class Seat

US Airways announced this morning that they will be rolling out a nicer, more attractive version of the business class seat that was rumored to be coming back in June. Let’s be honest. You don’t think of luxury product innovation when you think of US Airways, but they appear to have really come through on this one.

The new seat is called the Envoy Suite, and it will first go on the A330-200s that just started coming into the fleet recently. This makes sense because those are the ones deployed on the longest-haul flights to places like Tel Aviv and, eventually, Tokyo. By Fall of 2010, the existing A330-200s will be refitted with the new seat, designed by SICMA, and all future deliveries will have it as well.

New US Airways Business Class Seat

The seat itself is in a reverse herringbone style with a 1-2-1 layout. So instead of your back against the wall looking toward the aisle like in a herringbone, your back is against the aisle looking toward the window or middle. So if you’re sitting in the window, it provides a fantastic view. If you’re sitting in the middle (what you see in the photo above), there still seems to be enough blocking so that you don’t have to deal with the person next to you.

Now that picture above doesn’t look completely flat to me, but according to US Airways, the seat will go down into a 6’4″ or 6’8″ 180 degree flat bed depending upon which seat you have in the cabin. The seat width is 20.5″ with the armrests up, but when they go down, the width is 25″ for sleeping.

I asked about storage since that is a big problem with many business class seats, and this one doesn’t look much better. There is a bunch of room under the ottoman when you’re in flight, but I believe that won’t be allowed to be used during takeoff and landing. So you’ll need your bin space on this one. I have confirmed that storage underneath the seat will be allowed during takeoff and landing. That’s great.

I was particularly interested in the weight of this seat. My understanding is that the herringbone design is very heavy, because it requires pallets to be secured properly. I have been told, however, that this seat does not require pallets and will only weigh 20 to 30 pounds more than the existing seat.

There are also all the standard amenities. Yes, there is a 110V power outlet, a USB port, and a 12.1″ screen with audio/video on demand. Sounds very good, so why is US Airways doing this? Good question. They’re going to have to lose seats on this plane, because the reverse herringbone takes up more space than the current seats. My guess is that if you think about US Airways and their traffic mix, this may actually make sense.

How many of those business class seats is US Airways selling today? My guess is that there are an overwhelming number of upgrades there. So even though there will be fewer seats going forward, they will probably be able to sell them since they are now competitive on the world stage. That’s really the only reason I can imagine that this would make sense for US Airways to do.

When will we get to see this on the rest of the international fleet? Well you’ll never see it on the 767s. Those will be retired soon enough. The A330-300s, however, will get a new seat but not exactly this one. Apparently it doesn’t quite fit perfectly on the A330 so some tweaking will be required. Once they figure that out, they’ll announce it.

It’s a very big step forward for US Airways, and it should certainly make flying the airline internationally a much nicer experience.

See a video and interactive demo on the new seat

Edited 9/18 @ 327p to change info about storage space

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27 Comments on "US Airways Announces an Impressive New International Business Class Seat"

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David SF eastbay
Member

Looks like something you would lay back on at the Dentist office. Where’s the spit bowl?

Trent880
Guest

Requires pallets to be secured properly? Cargo pallets? Or are the seats loaded as pallets?

Rob
Guest

Glad to see US finally stepping up their game. Hopefully we’ll see some of this rub off elsewhere in the airline (although I highly doubt it).

It also looks to be a lot like the new Delta 767 business class seats, except that the controls look to be located in a more convenient position for when you are lying down or in a reclined state.

Erik
Guest

I think you might be right about US Air not selling a lot of business class seats. I’ve gotten upgraded automatically on my last few flights (one in May and one coming up on Sunday) and was able to bring a friend up with me on a reasonably crowded Friday afternoon flight.

MS
Guest

Dissapointing really. Take a good look. Seat width 20.5 is the about the typical Y/C seat width Ther up and down arm rest really has nothing to do with providing additional width for you when you are in the reclined position, your width restriction is still 20.5. Seat looks very uncomfortable and uninviting. Their loosing seats, decreasing passanger comfort with a narrow seat and the flat beds comfort looks marginal at best. Really looks like a better design and more thought would have produced a better solution. US Airways does seem to be behind the curve on their seating.

Steve
Guest

The seats are very comfortable and I really enjoy them over anyone else’s seats except Emirates. They are much better than first class and business class on both AA and BA. Good job USAirways

Oussama Salah
Guest
It is refreshing to see a US carrier going for a new and complex business seat. A case of too little too late. if anything, the current crisis has shown us how fickle the darlings (FC and BC passengers) of the Legacy airlines are.All the expenses in certification, installation, maintenance and of course the branding went down the drain as the recession took hold. This left almost 40% of an aircraft practically unmodifiable in terms of seating configurations and arrangements. Legacy airlines have to rethink their First and Business strategies, while the rewards were great when times were good the… Read more »
Nate
Guest

So these will work in the A330-200 but NOT the -300??? (( user scratches head ))

Trent880
Guest

MS

20.5″ is about 2″+ wider than your average Y seat. And coincidentally 2″ wider than EK’s J seat on their A380;-).

Julian
Guest
Why do they need a different seat for the 330-300. Both are 330 models so the cabin width is exactly the same. Overall US shrinks the premium cabin once again, their standard M.O. I’m willing to bet they shrank the cabin just enough to cover paid business as their standard view is that elites are cabin filler and seats should not be added to acoomodate them. Delta went out of its way to find a product that added more room and minimally reduced the quantity of seats. 767 24 to 18 333 42 to 30 to ?, They might add… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Julian wrote:

Overall US shrinks the premium cabin once again, their standard M.O.
I’m willing to bet they shrank the cabin just enough to cover paid business as their standard view is that elites are cabin filler and seats should not be added to acoomodate them.

Why shouldn’t they sell these seats? Giving it away as an upgrade devalues the price premium for this seat, and makes it harder to sell..

Nick Barnard
Member

The other thing I think is really interesting is that they put “A Star Alliance Partner” at the end of the video. Perhaps they’re actually going to be part of the Alliance, than just nominally hanging around in it?

Ciara Negron
Guest

I’m not a huge fan of US Airways, but i’ll be interested at what this plane will look like with these new seats! It would be a huge step up from what they’ve got right now! Thanks for the update!

Stephen
Guest
Cranky fyi, herringbone seats I’m familiar with don’t have the storage issue you mention for two reasons. 1.) On takeoff/landing/upright position, you can always throw things behind your seat. I put my laptop and stuff there I reach back and use it immediately after takeoff. 2.) There is tons of overhead space, period. All premium cabins (long-haul) have less a problem due to less pax/overhead bin ratio. But I’ve found the herringbone design even more convenient for some reason, it seems like every time I fly I get an overhead bin to myself. This is at least my experience on… Read more »
Brendan
Guest

(@ Trent880:

A lot of these suites are attached to what is sort of like a floorboard for the seat. Another way to look at it would be to equate it to attaching the seat to a piece of plywood and then bolting the plywood to the floor. That “second floorboard” (pallet) then attaches to the seat tracks in the actual aircraft structure. It’s used to spread the load and ensure crashworthiness.

250k flier
Guest
Brett, you allowed yourself to drinl the US Airways PR Kool-Aid. Take another look at the seat. See something missing — like an adjustable headrest? You get that on AA, UA, VS and others. As noted, the seat width is narrow. CO’s seats will be up to 25″ wide, plus up to 2″ more if you lower the arm rest. Even though you can lower the arm rest on the US seat, it doesn’t look like that will be practical for extra “sleeping width.” Also, the US video screen will be measurably smaller than what you find on UA with… Read more »
frank
Guest

@ 250k flier:

Interesting, because on their 777, I found this:

BusinessFirst Class: 55.0″ pitch 22.0″ width

50 Lie-flat seats with 170 degrees of recline More Info

Economy Class: 31.0″ 17.9″ 235 seats with 5″ recline

http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Continental_Airlines/Continental_Airlines_Boeing_777-200_B.php

And, on the 767-200 TO EUROPE:
This is an international configured plane for flights to both Europe and Asia, but it is also used domestically on occasion. Economy seats A and L have limited underseat space due to the entertainment equipment.

BusinessFirst Class: 55.0″ Pitch 21.0″ width

25 Standard seats with lumbar supports and foot rests More Info
Economy Class: 32.0″ 17.9″ 149 seats

trackback
[…] Cranky Flier recently covered US Airways’s launch of its new Business Class “seat”, called the Envoy Suite. It is seat/bed/office/personal space all rolled into one, and is firmly in the mould of the “pod” format so beloved of legacy carriers these days. This one is covered in power sockets, USBs, lights, buttons and everything else for the networked-up exec who just can’t switch off. Ever. In fact US Airways’s blurb on their site places “work” ahead of “relaxation” in order of priority and perceived appeal. You’re not even supposed to be able to talk to the person sat next… Read more »
250k flier
Guest

@ frank:
That’s CO’s current “BusinessFirst” product. I was referencing what CO plans with its new lie-flat seats.

250k flier
Guest
@ CF: Brett, I fly around 250,000 miles a year. I’m not a particularly tall guy, in fact, I may even be a tad shorter than average. Nonetheless, I find that adjustable headrests make a difference in improving comfort. US is cutting corners in the one area it should be investing. As I said, US is not leading. It doesn’t even do a good job of playing catch-up. US will end up wondering why it doesn’t get more premium cabin business, why it has to discount, why it’s still giving away upgrades. The airline is, at best, second-rate. It should… Read more »
Dragonheartxp
Guest

I’ll be flying to Germany on Monday Sept. 28,09 and if I have one of these seats then I’ll write a review.

Ron
Guest
Yesterday I flew on the single plane with the new Envoy Suite, PHL–TLV. I was in coach and they were boarding and deplaning through the 2nd door so I didn’t really get to walk through the cabin, I just got a little peek from behind as I was getting off. I spoke to a flight attendant who confirmed this was the only plane with the new product, and the second plane wasn’t due for another month or two. Since a daily PHL–TLV requires more than one plane, they must be operating at least every other flight with the old configuration… Read more »
Bill Atkins
Guest

Flew on the new seat last week – it is very nice indeed. Like a small version of the BA First seat if you have the single window seat. The center pairs are nice, too, though could use a privacy screen. Only drawback I could see is that the table is tiny. Good storage and flat area. Quality of fit and finish very good. Only 20 seats in the cabin now, so US should be able to sell them at apremium rather than giving them away as upgrades.

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