Down To Business: Which Airline Has The Best Business Class?

Cathay Pacific Business Class beds transform to full-flat for maximum comfort and rest.

2.42min read

Published 27 September 2018


It's a great time to be a Business Class passenger. Airlines are investing plenty of time and money in revamping these cabins to make them even more luxurious than ever. All you have to do is sit back (literally) and bask in the plush glory of premium amenities and cushy seats with all sorts of added features. So many new features, in fact, that it can be hard to keep track if you're new to the pointy end of the plane.

Do you know what seat pitch is? What about the difference between an angled lie-flat and flat bed seat? Or are you looking for a private suite? You may expect that Business Class varies between airlines, but did you know domestic and international services can be quite different as well? Taking the mystery out of booking Business Class, here's a look at the different types of available seats:

Jet Star Business Class reclining chairs
Jet Stair Business guests enjoy reclining leather chairs. (Image: Jet Star)

The Recliner

This seat is characterised by a significant pitch and added footrest that allows you to recline with your feet up. It doesn't, however, offer a full recline into a flat position. It is the most popular type of seat for domestic Business Class services as well as international services on some low-cost carriers.

  • Pros: It offers a decent amount of space. The footrest is also a nice touch.
  • Cons: Sleep positions are limited for longer flights.

Available on Jetstar Business Class as well as Qantas and Virgin Australia's Boeing 737 and Embraer E190  domestic services.

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Thai Airways business class seats transform into full-flat beds
Thai Airways Business Class seats are either angled lie-flat or fully flat, depending on the aircraft. (Image: Thai Airways)

The Angle Lie-Flat

The angle lie-flat seat allows passengers to recline to a near 180 degrees, with a foot rest to put your feet up. It differs from the full flat in that there is a slight angle in the seat, sloping down toward the floor of the plane. Many Business Class airlines in the Asia Pacific region feature the angle lie-flat seats.

  • Pros: They are significantly more comfortable when it comes to sitting back and relaxing with plenty of space to stretch out, work or watch a movie while you fly.
  • Cons: The slight angle can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position and some passengers complain of slipping down the seat.

Available on Emirates A330-200s and Boeing 777s, most Thai Airways services,  Qantas A330s and Boeing 747s, and Virgin Australia’s A330 domestic services.

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Cathay Pacific Business Class beds transform to full-flat for maximum comfort and rest.
Cathay Pacific Business Class beds transform to full-flat for maximum comfort and rest. (Image: Cathay Pacific)


Full Flat Bed:

For most passengers the full flat bed is the holy grail of Business Class. This coveted seat offers a complete recline into a 180 degree position that allows passengers to lay in a completely flat position. They are hailed as being especially comfortable for both relaxing and sleeping.

  • Pros: The fully horizontal position allows you to lay completely flat as if in a bed, which is great for sleeping. Many full flat seats also come with a turndown service featuring a mattress, bedding and pyjamas .
  • Cons: If you're not in an aisle seat, you may have to shimmy around a fellow passenger if you want to get up to walk around.

Available on Qantas and Virgin Australia's Airbus A330-200, Virgin’s Boeing and Emirates Boeing 777-300ER and A380, Qantas 747-400ER and A380, Cathay Pacific services and Singapore A350-900, 777-300ER and some A380 services, Air New Zealand’s 777 and 787 long haul services, and Thai Airways A380, 777 and 787 Dreamliner services. 

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Etihad Airways Business Class suite with full-flat bed
Privacy and comfort come first in Etihad's Business Class suites. (Image: Etihad Airways)


Taking Business Class comfort to the next level, some premium airlines are integrating private suites to their cabins. These offer maximum comfort and privacy for passengers with a fully flat bed, workstation and TV screen.

  • Pros: These suites are much more private and almost feel like your own personal hotel room in the skies.
  • Cons: How could there possibly be a con? These are seriously luxurious airplane seats.

Available on Etihad and Qantas A380s and Dreamliners, selected Singapore A380 services and Cathay Pacific long haul services.

For the latest business class airfares, click here.


airlines business class

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