Stelia’s new ‘Opera’ seat has just entered the market, specifically for narrow-body single-aisle cabins. This new “Full Flat, Full Access, Full Privacy” Business Class seat claims it offers the highest standard wide-body comfort on single-aisle.
Now you might be like, ‘hang on, I’ve seen reverse herringbone seats on single-aisle aircraft before, such as American Airlines Transcon product, who placed their existing long-haul business class seat in the front of the cabin as the airlines’ First Class transcon seat. But there’s a problem with that. These long-haul seats are kitted out for widebodies, which actually have less cabin width to place a seat in, in comparison to a narrow body.
That means those American Transcon First class seats have a much wider aisle, waisting space which could be given back to the passenger. While in the past a new seat wouldn’t have been a commercial approach, as the A321 long range (and ultra long range) aircraft are rolling out of the factory, these narrow body aircraft are now garnering the attention of suppliers across the aviation industry.
That’s why Stelia is muscling in on Thompson Aero’s niche single-aisle premium seat offering with what has been dubbed the widest full-flat bed available on single-aisle, with ample foot space for unrivalled sleeping comfort. Realistically the manufacturer has quickly responded to the age old, face in or face out argument that started early 2000s when Virgin brought their longest bed to the skies, albeit it without the traditional window view.
That’s what Thompson Aero opted for, after all, it’s more convenient for passengers and requires less real-estate to have aisle access with aisle-facing seats. However, passenger perception has always opted for a window view, as it provides more privacy and a more natural passenger experience.
Stelia have also tried to appeal to current consumer trends, opting to offer more space, larger TVs and enhanced privacy (although this is something Thompson Aero have also worked on too. Stelia’s opera features an extra-large 20” monitor screen; a fully integrated door; extra stowage capacity through a closed amenity stowage and a laptop stowage zone; and as expected, a large stable meal table, stowed under the cocktail table.
Thierry Kanengieser, VP Cabin Interior, Stelia Aerospace, said: “With ‘Opera’, airlines operating single-aisles on transcontinental routes can offer their customers the outstanding level of comfort they can find on wide-bodies. Combining design and efficiency, this brand new seat is a major step forward for our industry, creating an enhanced passenger experience and high added value for airlines”.
The whole cabin design idea is excellent, although the egress seems a little tight, and therefore not suitable perhaps for larger passengers, and also the seat shells don’t offer for much padding, meaning that any movement from your neighbours could transfer to your own area too. What we can tell as well is that it would be virtually impossible to get from a lie-flat position to exit the seat without bringing the seat to a virtually upright position. But these are small sacrifices to what most passengers will see as an inflight hard product that’s light years ahead of the existing side-by-side or alternating forward facing cabins which still mean passengers have to climb over their neighbour on certain seats.
One thing is for sure, with both Thompson and Stelia offering specialised cabins for narrow-bodied aircraft, these new smaller high performance aircraft will have an upgraded passenger experience, much needed for these high-frequency, leaner routes which will be high yielding, as long as the hard product can match passenger expectations.
The Big Picture