The annual Business Traveller Airline Survey gives you the information you need to choose the best airline, class and seat for your journey and budget
1 AIRCRAFT TYPE AND CLASS We have arranged the survey by aircraft type to allow you to compare products across the whole fleet in each class. We have also highlighted those planes that are new to the fleet so you know where to find the most cutting-edge in-flight experiences. 2 SEAT CONFIGURATION This is the way seats are arranged throughout the plane. The layout is important to know as some airlines are squeezing more seats into their twin-aisle jets by configuring them 3-4-3 as opposed to 3-3-3, for example, meaning you have less space. 3 SEAT PITCH This is the distance between seats, measured from a fixed point on one seat to the same point on the one in front. The measurement differs between airlines, but it indicates how much legroom you will get. This is especially important in economy and premium economy, but when it comes to fully-flat seats in business and first, there tends to be so much space that this measurement becomes irrelevant. 4 SEAT WIDTH Airlines obtain the seat width either by measuring the cushion, the distance between the armrests or from the outside of one armrest to the outside of the other. 5 BED LENGTH A measurement for fully-flat seats only. This is when the pitch becomes redundant – the length of your bed is what matters. Last year, a business class product was launched with the world’s first double bed (Qatar Airways). 6 SEAT RECLINE This can be measured from either a horizontal, a 90-degree or take-off position, and is indicated in either degrees or inches. 7 SEAT TYPE This mainly depends on a seat’s recline. We have identified five main types: standard (ST), cradle-style (CS), fixed shell (FS), angled lie-flat (AF) and fully-flat (FF). 8 SEAT-BACK SCREEN AND SIZE Most airlines have installed personal seatback screens in every cabin but some still have overhead screens or provide tablets. The survey provides screen dimensions. 9 AUDIO-VIDEO ON-DEMAND AVOD in-flight entertainment (IFE) – the ability to stop, start, rewind and pause movies, music and TV shows – is a musthave feature across all cabin classes. It has largely replaced the old-fashioned system of playing a selection of movies on a loop. Live TV is also making an appearance on some airlines. 10 POWER SOURCE Many planes have in-seat power, be it through UK, EU, US/Japanese (Japan), South African (SA), USB or universal (UNI) sockets. Many carriers are now either allowing passengers to connect inflight to the internet through GPRS (charged via network providers at international roaming rates) or, more commonly, by installing onboard wifi. Often you have to pay but sometimes it’s free.
WHY NO MARK OUT OF TEN?
WE FLY ON DOZENS of different aircraft and airlines each year, in different cabin classes, and on different routes – so why couldn’t we have awarded a mark out of ten?
There are a number of reasons but, most significantly, it’s because the results would have been so subjective as to be useless. The size you are makes a difference to everything – how much legroom you have, the comfort of the seat width and the length of the bed.
It also affects the way you respond to the recline of the seat, particularly in business class – some passengers can sleep on angled lie-flat seats, while others need a fully-flat bed to get a good night’s rest. It depends so much on personal shape and preference. For this reason, we have simply presented you with the figures to let you make up your own mind.
WHO’S THE BEST?
THAT’S FOR YOU TO DECIDE – but we are here to help. If you want deeper insights into the onboard experience (from the service to the food, the entertainment and the amenity kits), you’ll find flight reviews from the Business
Traveller editorial team at businesstraveller. com/tried-and-tested. We also publish a wide array of airport lounge reviews so you can get a sense of the end-to-end journey.
YOU CAN SHARE YOUR STORIES, opinions and advice with fellow flyers on our online forum at businesstraveller.com/forum. If you have any feedback on this year’s survey, send us an email at talk[email protected]nesstraveller.com.