What should you expect from a business class service? Free Wi-Fi? Upgraded drink and snack choices? Bigger TVs? Whatever your particular business class perk is, there’s one thing that the travel community can agree on: We want to lie down.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen numerous airlines adding fully flat beds to their business product. Widebodies have, for long enough, often featured lie flat business class seats, but now we’re seeing them added to narrowbody jets too.
Saudia recently announced they would be overhauling their A320s to equip the business cabin with fully flat beds. Copa Airlines and United have also been investing in flat bed upgrades on their Boeing 737s, something good old JetBlue have been doing for some time.
And now there’s another carrier where you can guarantee being able to take a nap in comfort, and that’s the Dutch airline KLM. As of this month, their final longhaul aircraft has been upgraded to feature fully flat beds in business class.
What to expect from KLM business class
Although KLM does now have fully flat seats in every business class cabin, they don’t have the same product across the fleet. However, some features of their World Business Class product are common no matter which aircraft you’re on, such as:
- 180 degree reclining seats
- 207 cm long flat beds
- Personal IFE system with a 17” screen
- In seat power
- Privacy canopy
Their A330s were the last in the fleet to get the upgrade to lie flat seats, but the final aircraft was upgraded and put back into service this month. That means you can be certain of getting the full benefit of flat bed loveliness wherever you fly long haul.
The KLM business class seat
Probably the best option for the KLM business class seat is to be found on their Dreamliner fleet. These are arranged in reverse herringbone fashion, giving direct aisle access from every location.
The 787-10 has a slightly upgraded version of the seat, designed by Japanese firm Jamco and offering very slightly more bottom space than the 787-9.
The 777s, 747s and A330s all have forward facing seats, using the B/E Aerospace Diamond seats. Designed by Rockwell Collins, it’s a good bog standard business class seat, used by carriers from American Airlines to Qatar to Virgin Australia.
On the 777 and the A330 it’s a 2-2-2 configuration, and the 747 has a 2-2 layout on both decks. Although the trend right now is for herringbone seating, you’re not losing anything in terms of comfort by travelling forward facing. At the end of the day, when you’re sleeping, who cares?
And, of course, if you know where to find the Flying Blue sweet spots, you could enjoy any of these seats on your travels for free!
Time for Air France to catch up?
With their relatively new CEO, Ben Smith, demanding a more joined up merger between KLM and Air France, you would be forgiven for thinking that they’ll be working hard to improve their product too. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Although their 787s and some of their 777s have the new business class product installed, the majority of their fleet do not. That includes their A380s, A330s and a good number of 777s, all of which remain equipped with angled seats in business.
There are no plans to do anything about this any time soon either, which has to be a bit of an embarrassment for Air France. The next round of upgrades is due in late 2020, when some A380s are scheduled for improvements.
Despite KLM having an awesome reputation for food and service, plenty of long haul travellers have avoided choosing them for transatlantic travel. This was due to the risk of being stuck in a recliner for 10 hours or more. Even if they booked onto a flight with lie flat seats, there was always a chance of a last minute equipment swap, and that’s no doubt cost KLM a fair bit of business.
If Air France are going to tackle their problems with profits, it’s clear they need to step up their game.