Earlier today, Hong Kong Airlines’ Twitter feed treated us to some stunning pictures of their new business class product. First announced back in 2016, this is Hong Kong’s first foray into their new premium level service. Nestling temptingly on the deck of the carriers fifth A350, these luxurious seats are destined to serve the Los Angeles route later this year.
Those who ‘do’ business class fairly regularly will instantly recognise the Hong Kong Airlines business class seat. Yes, it’s a Rockwell Collins Super Diamond seat. Taking their cue from parent company Hainan (and others, including Qatar, American Airlines and Virgin Australia, to name a few) the airline is investing in this super-deluxe product for all their future A350s too.
How much of a step up is this for Hong Kong Airlines business class?
When it comes to business class Hong Kong Airlines are no stranger to high quality. Scoring four stars from Skytrax for both long and short haul business class, their seat comfort, washroom cleanliness and service levels almost pushed them up to five stars.
The older layouts for Hong Kong Airlines business class worked on the 2-2-2 configuration, and many of these are still in service. A320s with business class as well as the older A330-200s will still squish you in next to another flyer, with only an armrest for separation.
However, for a couple of the newer A330-200s and certainly for all the A330-300s, the configuration moves to the more popular 1-2-1 configuration, with seats staggered for more room and privacy. Legroom has been noted as being good in these seats, but storage is limited, and the lie flat beds were definitely of Asian proportions.
Roll around to last October and Hong Kong unveiled their new and improved business class on their A350 jets; a Solstys based system which built in some improvements. Notable tweaks here included multinational AC power outlets, improved in flight entertainment and a good bit more space in the lie flat bed. Operating between Hong Kong and Los Angeles / San Francisco, this was the best Hong Kong Airlines business class seat money could buy… until now.
What to expect from the Super Diamond seat
Not only are we now looking at a privacy centric 1-2-1 configuration, but the herringbone pattern means every passenger gets direct aisle access and more privacy than any other layout.
As well as this, there have been a number of other notable improvements, including:
- Longer beds: The lie flat beds are two inches longer and three wider when fully extended, and we all know that when it comes to sleeping, inches matter.
- Better fabrics: The new seats have luxury leather headrests and soft woven fabric. The duvets are icy grey and super soft, and fluffy pillows have also been added.
- Loads of storage: There’s a tonne of storage, from the two covered panels to an open armrest to a deep footwell and another space in the adjustable armrest.
- Multi-functional tray: The tray table can be used in three different positions; one is stowed under the TV, which makes it practicable as a drinks tray, the others are a lowered position and a higher position when it’s released, giving passengers more comfort and choice.
- Customisable seating: The seat comes with three pre-programmed positions, but you don’t have to stop there. Add more lumbar support, raise leg segments or sit up and down as you please.
- Superfast Wi-Fi: This will be the first Asian aircraft to adopt Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Connectivity systems, meaning passengers can enjoy superfast Ka-band internet in the sky.
Sounds great so far, right? But the best is yet to come.
Probably the biggest change (and undoubtedly the one we’re most excited about) is the upgrade to the in-flight entertainment system. For their new and improved business class Hong Kong Airlines chose to invest in the best of the best; the AVANT IFE system from Thales Group.
Say hello to a 17-inch-high definition display, with super sensitive touch screen technology and a more user-friendly interface. Can’t be bothered to lean forward and prod the screen? Not a problem, with the new ‘air mouse’ controller by your side.
This little gadget offers smartphone like functionality for controlling the content on the TV screen or, if you’re into lying in bed and watching a film, you can watch directly on the mouse. If you’re a bit undecided about what to watch, the system will even help you choose.
Would it help to know that 20 per cent of the passengers have watched Game of Thrones, or that Avengers Infinity War is the most popular film? Probably not, but hey, it’s nice to know.
So, where can you find this Hong Kong Airlines business class seat?
You’re sold, right? We are too, and we’re already planning future trips around the possibility of hopping on the A350 at some point soon. For immediate future, the aircraft will remain in Asia, serving a Bangkok – Hong Kong route while staff familiarise themselves with it.
By the end of October, however, it looks like it will be making a Pacific hop, as it takes up the route between HK and LA. According to Hong Kong Airlines, via Twitter:
“Our new Business Class seat is here! You will start to see it on some of our Los Angeles flights in a couple of weeks.”
All of the five A350s still on order for Hong Kong Airlines will be fitted with the Super Diamond seating, so expect to see this sort of luxury on more routes coming soon. With investments in premium facilities like this, Hong Kong Airlines are clearly gunning for five-star status, and to take on the giants of the cross pacific routes like Cathay.