Premium business class seats offering direct aisle access for every passenger have been relatively slow to arrive to the narrowbody world. That’s even more true for the business-plus front-row seats that are increasingly becoming a must-have for the aspirational airline.
Enter Adient, with the latest version of its Ascent seat, which it was showing off at the Farnborough Airshow. Combining both a doored herringbone mini-suite in the second row and a spacious front row business-plus suite that features a partner ottoman and all the space you could want in a narrowbody, Adient — and indeed Boeing — have done a remarkable job with this seat on several levels.
The first and most structural is the way that it integrates with the Boeing 737 fuselage, a critical element given that the Boeing narrowbody is several inches narrower than its Airbus A320 family counterparts. This work parallels the work started more than five years ago by LIFT by EnCore in economy, a rare example of trickle-up design and engineering on the aircraft.
Crucial to the seat is the under-ottoman space in the footwell. This is massively expansive in the business-plus first row, obviously, but even on the second row the structural element that allows toes to pass through to the sidewall gains a vital inch or two in terms of bed length and the all-important foot wiggle factor.
The side cutaways too, where the footwell is sculpted away to allow for knee turning, is a benefit all too often lacking even in many new implementations. Both the business and business-plus seat feature pull-back tables, which are arguably the best option for passengers, all things considered.
All in all, business class passengers will be thoroughly happy with the experience even in rows behind the business-first suite. But there, passengers will be blown away by the design and the styling.
The partner seat and electrically operated Champagne bar — a wonderfully whimsical, James Bond kind of touch — is an absolute delight, and feels like a swanky club thanks to to the light feature, chic marble-effect tabletop and the mix of funky angles and curves.
Adient’s colour, material and finish here is absolutely top-notch, and superior to many first class products (even some of the purportedly world-beating recent ones) your author has experienced.
The mixture of light fabric, suede-effect surfaces, faux wood and faux marble combines with the thermoplastics’ shine for a very pleasingly coherent effect, and the wash from the overhead LEDs and feature lighting adds depth and atmosphere to the space.
The cutaway overhead bins give a surprisingly airy feel: taking away the overhead bins in business class can be problematic, owing to the need to stow carry-on items, but the storage space under the partner seat ottoman is ample and spacious.
Cleverly, the front row monument is visibly separated from the actual front row seat, which is almost indistinguishable from the seat behind it.
This separation reduces part count and improves maintenance operations, as well as giving a sense of coherence to the cabin.
Both the seats are spacious, even given that the second row is pitched at 40”, with very decent elbow room when seated and reclined, and enough space even for your amply proportioned author to pretend to snooze happily on a boiling hot day at the Farnborough Airshow.
In the narrowbody competition between Airbus and Boeing, the European airframer’s focus on premium seats had put it at a firm advantage in the premium single-aisle arena.
With this new seat, Boeing looks like it could be back in the narrowbody premium #PaxEx game.
- A premium for business class seats: the narrowbody dilemma
- 2022: the year of new and exciting cabins
- Safran’s Vue from the top in crowded narrowbody herringbone market
- The 14 different kinds of business class seats in 2022
- Adient blends auto and aero for Aspect and Ascent seats
- Adient warmly received for bringing design ethos to premium seating
- Press Release: Adient, Boeing expect to create additional #PaxEx value
Featured image credited to John Walton