Here are five of the most exciting new business-class offerings to look for—ranked for innovation and comfort—and how to book them with points and miles. Remember always to double-check your flight’s seat map before booking in order to determine whether your plane will have the latest and greatest cabin.
In July, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways Co. announced it had commissioned architect Kengo Kuma and British design firm Acumen to overhaul the business-class cabins on 12 of its Boeing 777-300ERs.
Formally titled “The Room,” the new suites are inspired by traditional multifunctional Japanese living spaces: They come with various wood-toned panels and double-wide, lie-flat seats topped by luxe Nishikawa Sangyo cushions. Sliding doors, like those on Qantas Airways’ Qsuites, make them especially private; in the center section of the 1 – 2 – 1 configuration, you’ll get privacy partitions as well. Bonus: A mobile app allows you to turn your phone into a remote control. (There are plenty of outlets and USB ports to combat battery drain.)
Book it with miles: ANA is a member of Star Alliance, giving you plenty of options. American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to both ANA’s Mileage Club and Air Canada’s Aeroplan. ANA requires round-trip award redemptions, and flights between Japan and Europe cost from 80,000 to 95,000 miles, while those between Japan and North America require from 75,000 to 90,000 in total. Aeroplan requires 75,000 miles each way between Japan and Europe, Canada, and the continental U.S.
British Airways unveiled its new “Club Suite” in March, and it’s being installed on all 18 of the new A350-1000s in the fleet—along with some refitted Boeing 777s. Expect a look that’s reminiscent of Virgin Australia’s and American Airlines’ upper classes (they’re by the same manufacturer) but with slate-gray upholstery and a reverse herringbone layout. More important, these are suites, which means closable doors and privacy screens, as well as sumptuous down bedding from White Co..
Compared to the airline’s old seats, these are far more spacious: Each is up to 27 inches wide with the armrest lowered and reclines to a 79-inch lie-flat bed, with outsized tray tables and 40% more personal storage space. All that will take you from Heathrow to Dubai, New York, or Toronto, with Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston coming soon.
Book it with miles: This will depend on the route you’re trying to book. Flying between New York and London, you could redeem 57,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles or 60,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles each way. American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points both transfer to British Airways’ Executive Club. You will need 50,000 to 60,000 Avios (B.A. miles) each way on this route. Taxes and surcharges can top $600 each way, no matter which kind of miles you redeem.
3. Virgin Atlantic
After dropping hints for months, Virgin Atlantic revealed it would be installing entirely new “Upper Class” seats aboard its order of 12 Airbus A350-1000s, which fly between London Heathrow and New York JFK.
The new seats have doors that slide about halfway shut for privacy and are arranged in a 1 – 2 – 1 pattern, with each seat angled slightly outward, toward the sides of the plane. The palette is also brighter than on the rest of Virgin’s fleet, with splashes of purple, coral, and an off-white cream lending the look some depth.
As for the specs that really matter: These seats are not the widest, at 20 inches, but they’re some of the longest, at up to 82 inches. Control the 18.5-inch high-definition screen with your phone via Bluetooth or head to the Loft, a lounge-style twist on Virgin’s famous in-flight bar, where you can work (martini in hand) at a booth or a standing desk.
Book it with miles: You have two main options: You can spend 86,000 Delta SkyMiles each way, plus $5.60 in airport taxes if departing the U.S., or around $300 in the other direction. By contrast, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club requires just 47,500 miles each way, but with $400 to $700 in taxes and fees. The program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards (like Delta SkyMiles), as well as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards.
4. Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines began flying the first of its 25 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with its newest business-class seats back in July, between Istanbul and Bali, Indonesia. That’s since expanded to include routes to Atlanta, and Washington. By spring 2020, the carrier’s Airbus A350s will be upgraded, too, and additional routes will head to New York, London, Dubai, and Los Angeles.
The cabin consists of 30 pod-like seats spread out in a 1 – 2 – 1 pattern, which is a far cry from the 2 – 2 – 2 and 2 – 3 – 2 arrangements previously on these planes. For the most privacy, opt for even-numbered rows; not every row has the same amount of space separating the seats, due to how they’re angled. Traveling with a companion? The odd-numbered rows may be better.
Despite all those major changes, the seats themselves are the same size as Turkish’s previous versions, at 22 inches wide by 76 inches long. Now, however, they are upholstered in noise-reducing Alcantara microfiber, feature do-not-disturb indicators, and have 18-inch HD touchscreens.
Book it with miles: Thanks to Turkish’s participation in Star Alliance, you can turn to United MileagePlus or Air Canada Aeroplan miles for the best redemption values. Aeroplan charges 57,500 miles each way from the U.S. to Turkey, while United requires 70,000 miles. If traveling round trip, you could also consider redeeming 88,000 ANA Mileage Club miles.
South America’s largest airline is currently in the process of updating its Boeing 777s and 767s with all-new business-class seats to the tune of $400 million. Future Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 orders will also get the new seats, but the airline’s previously delivered 787s and A350s will not.
Passengers on the right side of that coin will find customized versions of Thompson Aero Vantage XL seats similar to those found on such other airlines as Qantas, SAS, and South African Airways. They’re 23 to 24 inches wide and recline to 79-inch b that flight attendants will dress with temperature-regulating mattress pads and full-size pillows. Among the sophisticated style upgrades are textured backboards, granite countertops, and 18-inch HD monitors.
Good luck booking them, though. So far, just five aircraft have the new seats—and they’re not scheduled regularly on any specific routes. (Earn your bragging rights by digging around and checking seat maps.) We’ve recently spotted the upgraded 777s on routes from Sâo Paulo to Madrid and Miami.
Book it with miles: LATAM is a member of Oneworld—at least for now. A recent $2.25 billion deal with Delta means this is sure to change eventually. Until then, use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book awards on the airline. It’ll cost 57,500 miles each way between the U.S. and Brazil, or 87,500 between Brazil and Europe.
Delta’s suites are some of the hottest tickets in the sky—and their continued rollout is making them easier to find. Now, in addition to the fleet’s A350s and Boeing 777s, you’ll find them on new A330-900neos, which fly from Seattle to Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo Narita (starting on Oct. 27).
Book it with miles: The airline has been pricing award tickets for Delta One Suites at exorbitant levels. (We’ve seen redemptions as high as 360,000 miles.) It’s more affordable to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles—a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards—which charges just 60,000 miles each way.
Qantas also has been updating its Airbus A380 superjumbos with its latest business-class design, now officially installed on its Boeing 787-9s and A330s. These planes and subsequent refits will be deployed all around the network, rather than on specific routes, touching down in Singapore, London, and various U.S. gateways. Just focus eagle eyes on that trusty seat map.