airline seats

Snaps from Virgin Atlantic A350 cabin reveal

I was delighted to join Virgin Atlantic earlier this week for a fun A350-cabin interior ‘reveal’ party at the company’s crew training facilities (“The Base”) in Crawley, near London’s Gatwick Airport.

My story detailing posh new features that include upgraded Upper Class suites in the business class cabin and the transformation of the Upper Class bar area into a multi-purpose gathering area called “The Loft” is on SFGate.

But sharing some snaps of the mock-up that was on display during the evening here on Stuck at The Airport.

Upper Class suites on Virgin Atlantic’s A350s will now face the windows. That’s a change from the current layout that has them facing the aisles.
The popular bar area behind the Upper Class cabin will now be “The Loft” – with space for 8 people (3 standing, five seated), power ports and Bluetooth headset ports so groups can watch movies or video programs together.
Premium seats on the Virgin Atlantic A350 planes will have four-way headrests and this nice footrest feature. Photo Harriet Baskas
Fabric-covered economy seats have two USB ports and 6-way headrests. Photo Harriet Baskas

Virgin Atlantic’s first A350 – named Red Velvet – will start flying in August, 2019 between London Heathrow and New York JFK, followed by other services to JFK later in the year.

The carrier has 12 Airbus A350-1000s on order, and plans to have all of them flying by 2012 as a replacement for the airline’s 747s.

Horizon Air seats get upcycled


Need a gift for an aviation geek or just some really nice environmentally responsible gear?

Bags made from old airline seats may do the trick.

When Alaska Airlines decided to replace the seat covers on planes flown by its sister carrier, Horizon Air, sending the old leather to the landfill seemed too wasteful.

Instead, the airline turned to Portland, Ore.-based Looptworks, a company that upcycles unwanted materials into limited edition, hand-made products, for a solution.

Looptworks already makes a Southwest Luv Seat line of bags and accessories that use that the carrier’s old seat leather, as well as a line made from motorcycle jacket leather, so turning 4,000 Horizon Air leather seat covers into useful items wasn’t a big challenge.

Now there’s the Alaska Airlines Carry-On Collection, which includes a wallet ($65), laptop sleeve ($120), tote ($160), crossbody bag ($140) and a messenger bag ($230)

The leather is cleaned and prepped in partnership with an Oregon non-profit that employs and trains adults with disabilities and then is passed on to Northwest craftspeople who do their magic.

Alaska and Southwest aren’t alone in exploring upcycling.

Clothing made from the surplus leather and fabric from Hawaiian Airlines seats was on exhibit recently during Honolulu Fashion Week, there’s a line of bags made from recycled JetBlue crewmember uniforms, and Skyebags makes a wallet and a tote bag from reclaimed Delta Air Line seat leather.

(My story about upcycling old airline seats first appeared on USA TODAY in a slightly different version.)

Seats for seatmates of size


A seat-and-a-half could be the answer for travelers ‘of size’ and those travelings with babies. Courtesy SII Deutschland

The SANTO airline seat – it stands for ‘Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Oversized Passengers’- has been getting quite a bit of attention.

The seat, by SII Deutschland, won an award at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg and is designed to be placed in the back of the airline cabin, where there is often unused space.

Basically, it’s a a seat-and-a-half that, according to the company, “not only offers enough seating space for two grown-ups and a child seat, but also, provides enough width for those who, due to their size, have to accept that traveling in a standard economy seat is not an option.”

Even with an added fee, this seems like a good idea for families traveling with babies and would create an option for ‘seatmates of size,’ who now can either choose (or sometimes be forced) to purchase two seats or take their chances trying to fit into the ever-narrower seats provided.

New seats – and more – for Singapore Airlines

The longer your flight, the more importance you’ll likely place on the size and comfort of your seat and on the entertainment amenities offered to you in-flight.

That’s why Singapore Airlines held a big event today in Singapore to introduce new First, Business and Economy cabin products that will roll out first on eight Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and on other aircraft the airline will take delivery of in the future. If you’re flying on certain flights between London and Singapore (a flight that lasts about 13 hours) starting in September, you’ll get to experience these products right away. In the meantime, here’s a preview:

First Class

Singapore Air First Class

Designers from BMW helped created the airline’s new First Class seats, which are 35 inches wide, with a fixed back shell, extra storage space, a vanity area, a padded headboard, extra mattress layer and a full-flat bed that stretches up to 82 inches. First Class customers on the new B777-300ERs will also receive a gender-specific Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit that includes, among other items, a 30ml bottle of Ferragamo fragrance.

Singapore Air - first class amenit kit

Business Class

Singapore Air Business Class seat

The new Business Class seat has extra storage space, 32 degree recline, a padded headboard cushion and an improved ergonomic seat cushion that converts into a 78-inch full-flat bed. Business Class customers don’t get an amenity kit beyond eyeshades and socks, but there are plenty of useful amenities in the lavatories.

Economy Class

Singapore Air - economy seatback

Economy Class seats are getting a makeover on the new planes as well, with new backrest seat cushions with side bolsters for better back support and an ergonomically sculpted headrest cushion.

In-flight entertainment

Singapore AIR IFE

The new airplanes will arrive with upgraded an KrisWorld in-flight entertainment systems, including video touch-screen handsets and larger LCD screens in all three classes (24 inches in First Class, 18 inches in Business Class and 11.1 in Economy Class).  

Social networking is the new thing here – with a Travel Forum application that will let passengers share travel tips. And in addition to the Berlitz language-learning program and the Culture Quest program that offers tips for doing business in other countries, the airline is adding DK Travel Guides for major cities and Flight Path iXplore, which offers information about points of interest airplanes are flying over.

Best airline seat?

SingaporeAirlines Business Class_Cabin B777-300ER

Whether your flight is short or long — but especially if it’s long — where you sit on the airplane can make all the difference in how much you enjoy the trip. That’s why sites such as SeatGuru and Seatexpert, which evaluate the desirability of every seat on just about every type of commerical aircraft, are so popular, and why so many airlines keep raising the bar — and the price — for the most comfortable seats.

For Bing Travel, I put together a slide show exploring some options – from the best to the worst seats.
You can see the full slide show here, but here’s one of the more intriguing options.

Singapore Airline Double Bed

Can there be “a class beyond first class,” as Singapore Airlines claims to offer? On the airline’s new A380s there are cruise-line-like suites with sliding doors, armchair-style seats, 23-inch wall-mounted LCD screens and stationary drawers with writing supplies. Each suite also has its own full-sized flat bed with pillows and linen by Givenchy. And, in a first for commercial aviation, for couples traveling together, the sleeping areas in the middle seats can be converted to double beds.

Singapore airlines First-Class suite

I’ll be flying on one of these suite-equipped A380s next week and will have a chance to tour – but not stay in -a suite. I’ll be sure to snap some photos – and maybe ask for a piece of stationary – while I’m there.