The Future Of First Class? En-Suite Bedrooms

Despite parting with four- or sometimes five-figure sums to fly in the exclusive first class cabin, premium passengers are still forced to share the bathroom facilities. London-based design firm Factorydesign didn’t think this was right, and set out to create a concept that could change all that in the future. This is En Suite.

En Suite first class bedrooms
First class bedrooms with private lavs? Why isn’t this already available? Photo: Factorydesign

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When sharing a lav is just not acceptable

Coming out of London-based design house Factorydesign, the En Suite concept takes the idea of premium flying and makes it just a little better. Taking inspiration from top-end hotels, the company sought to create a concept that delivers more for the ultra-premium flier; most importantly, their very own loo. Factorydesign explained,

“Currently, with the exception of Etihad’s The Residence, even the most privileged Premium Class travellers are required to share a lav. Can you imagine that being acceptable in any Four Seasons or Shangri-La Hotel?”

No, we cannot, and neither could the designers, who worked within the constraints of the aircraft cabin to develop something that ticked all the first class boxes, and more.

En Suite first class bedrooms
The company designed the suite to fit around existing restrictions and facilities. Photo: Factorydesign

These full-height suites bring passengers an unbeatable level of privacy and comfort. There’s space to dine, to sleep, and to relax and watch movies. Most importantly, there is access to your very own bathroom.

En Suite first class bedrooms
The full-height suites can house a double bed with your own private bathroom. Photo: Factorydesign

The suites work best for couples, with the area opening out into a double bedroom with space to spare. However, Factorydesign has also paid mind to the needs of the solo flier, enabling the suite to be converted into space for two separate travelers. Factorydesign said,

“Through our work in Ultra-First Class and Luxury aircraft cabins, Factorydesign has taken the next step in truly innovating the super-luxury travel offer. Ultimate privacy, ultimate privilege, the ultimate shared space: truly the next advance in luxury commercial travel.”

En Suite first class bedrooms
Suites can convert to be suitable for two solo travelers. Photo: Factorydesign

One of the most interesting aspects of En Suite is its intelligent use of space and facilities. Those bathrooms are located where the first class bathroom would usually live, meaning it would be a relatively easy retrofit for airlines. It strikes a balance between comfort and use of space, allowing four first class suites to be installed in the nose of the plane, which is around the typical number on offer today.

En Suite first class bedrooms
The design would allow for four first class suites in the nose of a widebody aircraft. Photo: Factorydesign

While the suite is nothing more than a paper-based idea right now, it has received some attention. In 2019, it won top prize in the International Yacht and Aviation (IY&A) awards. It’s the second such award for Factorydesign, the first being the inimitable Delta One Suites.

An ultra-first class solution for post-COVID flying?

While the En Suite concept is a couple of years old, it’s possibly even more relevant today than it was in 2019. The impact of the pandemic has shifted the goalposts, and has made passengers place greater value on things like space.

In Inmarsat’s recent research for the Passenger Confidence Tracker, visiting the toilet inflight was deemed to be one of the most significant pain points for passengers. One in four passengers surveyed (28%) said they were not confident in the safety of visiting the airplane toilet.

The Future Of First Class? En-Suite Bedrooms
Passenger confidence on inflight lav visits was shown to be low. Photo: Inmarsat

Safety confidence out of ten averaged just 5.42 for the inflight lav. The only part of flying that scored lower was being around other passengers, at 5.3, while things like taking to cabin crew and going through the airport were scored far higher in terms of passenger confidence.

En Suite first class bedrooms
It’s a design that ticks plenty of post-pandemic boxes. Photo: Factorydesign

While such luxury suites may be well out of reach for most travelers, for the very premium flier, having use of their own bathroom would be incredibly attractive. In an era where sharing space with other people is perceived as undesirable, an innovation like this could prove popular to the ultra-premium flier.