Champagne? Check. Amenity kits? Check. Plush bedding and fine linens? Check. Check.
What can a premium cabin product do to differentiate itself when it has already ticked the boxes for the usual luxuries? The answer is the addition of a privacy door to turn a seat into a suite.
It’s a feature no longer reserved only for first class, as 2017 has so far introduced two new business class door “suites” – Qatar Airways’ “Qsuite” and Delta’s “Delta One” – and yet the first class cabins that have spent the last few years ahead of the trend have refined their door designs to reflect increased passenger desire for such privacy.
It was, in fact, a door-equipped seat that took home the 2017 Crystal Cabin Award for best cabin concept.
“suite” emerged victorious owing to a range of factors, including improved ergonomics and — you guessed it — the consideration for personal privacy, even in business class, with the addition of doors.
“Delta’s premium product is the first business class cabin to feature a sliding door on every suite, providing each customer a private, residential-feeling space with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced inflight entertainment system and premium trim and finishes,” boasted the airline at the time. “Delta is not only the first airline to introduce an all-suite business class product, but has redefined the way the industry provides customers with a sense of space and privacy. ”
These are the premium airline cabins currently equipped with privacy doors:
Of the 16 total seats to the Mint cabins on the airline’s Airbus A321s, only four are so-called “thrones”, single seats with table space and personal storage on either side instead of seatmates. They cost no more, no less than any of the other seats in the Mint cabin, but are first-come, first-serve on the seat map.
Sliding partitions close the seat off from the aisle and, for travelers especially desiring of their beauty sleep on one of JetBlue’s transcontinental or Caribbean routes that feature Mint, the additional privacy may mean all the difference for quality of both sleep and overall comfort.
— 🎑 Mike Doughty (@Mike_Doughty_) December 25, 2014
Delta Air lines “Delta One”
What differentiates a seat from a suite in this usage is the inclusion of a door for each of the 32 seats on Delta’s Airbus A350.
The first of the airline’s A350s, of which they have ordered a total of 32, began regularly scheduled flights on 30 October between Detroit and Tokyo-Narita. The suites will be retrofitted on Delta’s entire Boeing 777 fleet starting in 2018.
Qatar Airways “Qsuite”
CEO Akbar Al-Baker had, since 2015, promised a “super business class” designed to more than show up competitors, but bring elements of first class to the business class traveler. The result is the “Qsuite,” unveiled in March during ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair.
Sliding partitions allow for paired seats to communicate in groups of two or four, but it was the sliding doors for every seat which truly drew attention.
Singapore Airlines “Suites”
The Suites of Singapore Airlines’ highest cabin class effectively ignited a frenzy for luxury, lay-flat beds in enclosed suites on airplanes when they premiered on the airline’s Airbus A380 in 2007.
A decade hasn’t tempered the excitement of sliding shut the substantial doors, and Singapore has absolutely kept doors for its newly revealed update to Suites, only updating their look and shape to fit with the clean, fresh design of the suite interiors.
Etihad Airways “The Apartment” and “The Residence”:
The fretwork that decorates Etihad’s highest cabins on its Airbus A380 aircraft may be subtle destination marketing, but it’s also hiding a practical function. The pierced design allows for the sliding double doors of first class suites – dubbed “Apartments,” and the single, uber-first-class “Residence” – to provide cabin crew with a way to covertly peak on passengers, naturlly in the name of safety and security.
The briefest glimpse through the fretwork panels can confirm to the crew that all is well, without the need to disturb the peace of the passenger within.
Emirates First Class
Burl wood and brass. There’s not much else to say about the First Class suites of Emirates since the airline is due to reveal entirely new designs for its Boeing 777-300ERs next week.
Air France “La Premiere”
An honorable mention in the door category goes to Air France, whose four First Class suites on its Boeing 777-300ERs are outfitted for ultimate privacy not with doors, but with ceiling-to-floor curtains which can be drawn along the aisle side of the seats.