A grey business class seat is accented by blue LED lighting on an aircraft.

Adient’s new 737 Ascent business and business-plus shine

Details and Design banner with text on graph paper backgroundPremium 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 front-row business-plus product is pictured here with grey-toned seat cover, and accented by blue LED lighting onboard.

The front-row business-plus product is superior to many first class seats. Image: John Walton

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.

Close up of the Ascent seat in grey-toned material and accented by blue LED lighting on an aircraft.

It’s astonishing to think that this seat is pitched at just 40″. Image: John Walton

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.

Close up photo of the footwell cutaway showing a brown padded surface.

The footwell cutaway is a critical piece of design engineering. Image: John Walton

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.

Pictured here is an aircraft tray table that pulls out and a large IFE screen that swings out.

Pull-out tables and swing-out monitors are a smart choice. Image: John Walton

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 regular Ascent business class seat is pictured with grey material and blue LED lights accenting the scene

The regular second-row-and-back business class seats are themselves excellent. Image: John Walton

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. 

Champagne and champagne glasses are displayed beside the partner dining chair.

Underseat storage below the partner dining chair replaces the overhead bins. Image: John Walton

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.

A good view of the colour, material and finish of this seat. Different lights play off the grey and cream tones of the suite area.

The CMF is particularly notable in the narrowbody context. Image: John Walton

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.

A cabin with no overhead bins in business class helps to highlight the expanse of the business-plus seat, pictured here

Without overhead bins, the business-plus seat is very spacious indeed. Image: John Walton

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.

The monument is pictured in a creamish material and a wood accent feature with a magazine rack

The business-plus monument is a real delight. Image: John Walton

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Featured image credited to John Walton