Back in 2018, Airbus unveiled a stunning first class concept that hasn’t, as yet, made it onto any planes. The Day & Night concept brings together a spacious living area, designed for sitting, dining and working, with a private, secluded sleeping space shut off from the rest of the world. Let’s take a look around.
First class lifestyle
The first class cabin is the one place on aircraft that airlines really get to go wild with their ideas. The spacious cabin commands eye-wateringly high fares, and as such, carriers like to pour their heart and soul into making a product that sets them apart from the competition.
Airbus recognized this, and in 2018 unveiled a concept it calls ‘Day & Night’, designing the space to be more like a micro-apartment than a seat on an aircraft. The two-zone concept was created with the A380 and A350 in mind, with a goal to give travelers a more ‘at home’ experience in the first class space.
Airbus Interiors Services set out to separate daytime activities from the cozy comforts of the night. For the day, passengers can sit by the window in a spacious and comfortable seat, complete with a dining or working table and a personal screen.
Those traveling with a companion can have the partition removed from the area, creating a table for two with a window view that looks incredibly private jet-esque. Without the constraints of requiring a seat that folds into a bed, designers would be free to really go to town on the passenger seating here, although Airbus has suggested a couple of swiveling bucket-style chairs.
Separated by an aisle, the night area has a full-length bed suitable to accommodate up to six foot six inches of human. Again, because it doesn’t need to turn into a seat for portions of the journey, the bed can have a real mattress and trump some other first class products for comfort.
Inside the night area, the walls are insulated from noise and there’s plenty of space for storage. Naturally, both areas have generous IFE screens, and plenty of additional space for airlines to really make them their own.
In terms of space, the suite has a floor space of 3.4 square meters, which is actually smaller than many of the first class suites on the A380 already. However, the interesting layout has given the suite a greater feeling of space, and more separation between living and sleeping than most other first class products.
When will we see this on aircraft?
When Airbus released the concept, it intended to take around 18 months to two years to bring it to market. That was three years ago, so where is it today?
While the concept is interesting to see, the interest in first class has significantly waned in recent years. For example, in 2008, British Airways flew 560,000 first class seats. By 2018, that was down to just 450,000. Since then, the demise of first has been accelerated, not least by COVID, as airlines grounded their largest aircraft to cope with the slump in demand.
While Airbus designed the Day & Night suite for both the A380 and A350, few airlines are putting first on the A350. British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Emirates have all declined the option of a first class cabin in favor of a better business class. Malaysia Airlines tried first, but later rebranded it ‘business suites’, and China Eastern went for an ‘Air Living Room’ which is basically a slightly larger business product.
With the A380 rapidly declining from fleets and first not popular on the A350, there are few opportunities for Airbus to sell this concept left. Perhaps, in time, we’ll see renewed interest in the highest end premium cabin, but for now, it seems Day & Night has been put on ice.