Business class seats are all about being able to lie flat right now. But with most common arrangements, there are compromises to be made. The seat becomes a bed, which brings with it certain levels of discomfort, despite advances in mattress technology and soft product upgrades. Rockwell Collins wants to change all that with an innovative design for a business class seat product that includes a real bed.
What if you want a real ‘bed in the sky’?
British Airways became synonymous with bringing lie flat comfort to premium passengers when it debuted its ‘bed in the sky’ in 1996, pioneering the trend for herringbone seating arrangements. While originally a first class product, the idea has filtered down into business class cabins around the world, letting more people travel comfortably.
But when it comes to real beds, fully sized with rectangular mattresses, this luxury is still the privilege of only the most premium travelers. You’ll find generous beds in Japan Airlines’ first class suite, Etihad’s ‘apartment’ and a handful of other places, but if you’re not flying first, a convertible seat is about the best you can hope for.
But one concept, a winner of a Crystal Cabin Award back in 2018, gives hope that proper beds could actually work in business class. It’s an innovative design from cabin hardware experts Rockwell Collins, and they call it the Valkyrie Bed.
A bed that is not just a seat
Rockwell Collins won the award in the category of ‘Passenger Comfort Hardware’ for its Valkyrie seat concept. On the face of it, it’s a pretty ordinary seat, with plenty of space for business class passengers to stretch out and relax. The beauty of this seat is contained within its versatility and the fact that it is not, as most others are, a seat that becomes a bed.
In regular sitting-up mode, the seat is pretty ordinary. Passengers can sit up for taxi, takeoff and landing, or can recline and use the ottoman to support their feet. There are a number of nice little touches throughout, such as the convenient task lighting and shoe storage, as well as the all-important privacy shroud.
The first indication of the intelligence of this seat is when it comes to mealtimes or time to work. The side panel, while providing additional privacy and storage, converts into an extra seat for the unit. It’s a nice, upright sort of seat, perfectly suited to dining or working at the pull-out table. There’s even a smaller IFE screen that flips out from the main bulkhead, so passengers can carry on with their film while comfortably enjoying their meal.
And when it’s time to sleep, the product gets even smarter. With very little effort required, a full single mattress pulls out from the side of the unit to create a proper rectangular bed. It’s a real mattress and is rolled cleverly into the sidewall when not in use. When extended, it attaches on the aisle side of the pod to create a comfortable, proper bed.
Rockwell Collins won accolade at the awards for the space efficiency and versatility of this seat concept. As of today, no further milestones have been announced regarding taking the project to the next stage. Perhaps this concept heralds the next evolution of the business class product, which has largely stayed the same for a couple of decades now.