In LATAM's business class cabin two seats are next to each other to create a honeymoon effect. The seats are all brown with red headrests.

Getting the honeymoon seat right for premium leisure travel

Details and Design banner with text on graph paper backgroundOne of the most notable changes to the passenger airline as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic — and the societal changes that it continues to have on us all — is the growth of premium leisure travel and blended, business-leisure (or “bleisure”) travel. Within the premium leisure space, airlines, designers and seatmakers are all seeking to meet this demand, which was in much more of a nascent stage pre-pandemic.

The demand drivers are multiple. One set revolves around a plain increase in the number of passengers travelling for pleasure rather than for business. Some of this in 2022 and 2023 is pent-up leisure demand, but some is an acceleration of previous trends like the growth in older travellers buying up to premium classes for comfort.

Another set of demand drivers is the blended business-leisure trip. This might be the “working from (not my) home” driver, where remote or part-remote workers decide to work their normal hours from somewhere that isn’t home. It might be adding on a few days to a business trip, or bringing a partner and perhaps kids along on a trip that’s nominally business.

All of this drives growth in couples and families travelling in premium cabins — cabins that were originally designed for solo road warriors, with structural design since the début of direct aisle access seats in the early 2000s focussing on individual, private pods. No longer were all passengers next to each other facing forwards, and the tradeoff of a chat with your other half or a kiss goodnight didn’t feel like a hardship in the days of very businessy business travellers.

In the years since, one kind of seat has been beneficial for couple and family premium leisure travellers: honeymoon seats, those immediately next to each other, usually in a staggered layout where the seats in the centre section alternate between two seats immediately next to each other in the middle in one row (“honeymoon”), and two seats immediately next to the aisle in the next row (the tongue-in-cheek “divorce”).

Condor's business class seats are dark blue with three white striped on the headrest and a white pillow set on top. This centre two seats are honeymoon-style.

Condor has opted for a honeymoon-style layout on its A330neo, allowing couples to enjoy a flight together. Screenshot: Condor

Early examples of this included the 2000 and 2006 British Airways Club World full flat bed, where the centre pairs were immediately next to each other, and then the late 2000s Stelia Solstys stagger, seen first on airlines including Etihad and Asiana, where Solstys was rather marvellously branded as OZ Quadra Smartium

Neither offered the much-mooted double beds in business class, along the lines of the full proper double beds introduced with Singapore Suites first class on the A380 around the same time, but it did mean that you could kiss your partner or kid goodnight as you went to bed, and enjoy chatting to your sweetheart or keeping the kids entertained during the flight.

Quest honeymoon seats in a fully flat position while displayed on a show floor.

Jamco’s Quest “honeymoon” seats feature a double bed option. Image: John Walton

Times have moved on since the late 2000s, however, and while some airlines have continued their herringbone push, others have installed staggered seats that are all “singleton” seats, with aisle-adjacent and non-aisle-adjacent seats in the middle section staggered in alternating rows.


For family leisure travellers, this is a challenge. Putting a smaller child in a business class seat on their own, where parents are buckled into a seat across a bulkhead, is less than ideal, leading to some parents of younger kids choosing to max out at premium economy until the little one is old enough to be fully self-entertaining.

In recent years, some airlines and seat designers have been innovating here, with the biggest step being the 2017 introduction of the Qatar Airways Qsuite, specifically designed to be a family zone. 

Jamco’s Spread Your Wings herringbone concept, too, is designed from ground up as a “waist-up double”, with the herringbone seats in the centre pair facing the aisle and the centre divider retracting below bed height. Other “hybrid herringbone” layouts, where the centre seats face the aisle and the window seats face the aisle, have also arrived. 

Two red aircraft seats are in full flat position to create a double bed of sorts.

Jamco’s Spread Your Wings reimagines the early inward-facing herringbone for a double bed product. Image: John Walton

And some seats feel more accidentally honeymoon: TAP Air Portugal’s Recaro CL6710s are nearly there, with the centre divider and armrests almost retracting all the way, for example.

Two grey seats are angled towards each other on the TAP A330neo to create a semi honeymoon form of seating. Both have green pillows on top of them.

TAP’s A330neos offer a kind of “semi-honeymoon” that doesn’t create a fully flat surface, but which is still lovely for proximity to your travelling partner. Image: John Walton

As premium leisure travel grows, seatmakers and airlines will need to keep focussing on both the hard product and soft product to make the honeymoon passenger experience really feel like “couple time” or “family time”: serving drinks and meals at the same time even despite different aisles, thinking about how dividers retract, solving the issue of joint movie watching, and more. It’s a fascinating challenge, and one that the industry will reap real benefits from meeting.

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Featured image credited to LATAM/Priestmangoode