Best new business class seats coming in 2016

A new year is just over the horizon, and with it we'll see more improvements for business travellers perched at the pointy end of the plane.

It's a truism that the best of today's business class beats the previous generation of first class seats from as recently as the early 2000s.

Goosed by the GFC and rising fuel costs, many airlines began to wind back their investment in first class in favour of creating better business class seats and cabins.

So while there's still plenty of luxe being laid on in first class, business class has become the new battleground for high flyers and well-heeled corporate travellers.

Here are five new business class seats you might end up flying next year.

Virgin Australia

Already darting east-west on domestic routes, Virgin's 'The Business' seats will make their international debut from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles in early 2016, the airline says.

(You'll also see them on the airline's Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights, but on that route we'd suggest Etihad's Airbus A380 with its own Business Studio suites and inflight Lobby lounge.)

The wide, comfortable seats convert to fully flat beds and offer direct aisle access to every passenger – two must-haves for any modern long-haul business class.

Virgin's Boeing 777-300ER jets they will trump their domestic Airbus A330 cousins with an even larger 18-inch video screen.

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Overall, these will be the seats to beat on the Sydney-Los Angeles route. They'll easily surpass the Skybed II seats on Qantas's flagship Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The closest competition will be American Airlines' own Boeing 777-300ER business class on new AA flights commencing in late December.

The US airline and Qantas partner has adopted the same seats as flown by Cathay Pacific, but with the added appeal of in-flight Internet in case you need to knock over some work en route.

Cathay Pacific

The Hong Kong carrier will unveil a revamped business class seat in February on board the first of its new Airbus A350 jets.

It's an 'evolution, not revolution' strategy which sees enhancements to the airline's current and highly-regarded business class.

The seat is being shaped by Porsche Design Group, so expect some high-end, automotive-inspired touches to the finished product.

Malaysia Airlines

From April we'll see the first of Malaysia Airlines' new-look business class seats on the airline's Airbus A330 flights to Australia and Asia.

The 'sloping sleepers' of today's A330s will make way for fully flat 76-inch beds with 16-inch video screens, AC and USB power sockets and direct aisle access for most travellers.

And the seats will probably be familiar to many Aussies, as they're built on the same floorpan as the excellent Qantas Business Suite, although with far less customisation.

Air Canada

There will also be a better ride for Vancouver-bound business travellers with the debut of Air Canada's latest business class on flights from Sydney.

From May 17, the Canadian flag-carrier's daily direct service between Sydney and Vancouver will feature an upgraded Boeing 777-200LR jet sporting the same business class as its flagship Boeing 787 fleet.

The pointy end of the plane will get 40 'Executive Pods' – next-generation lie-flat seats arranged in a 1-2-1 layout.

Each seat extends extends to an 80-inch fully flat bed dressed with a 100 per cent cotton duvet.

Creature comforts include an adjustable 'pneumatic cushion' headrest, 18-inch personal entertainment screen, and noise-cancelling headsets.

Qatar Airways

As is often the case, the punchy Gulf carrier looks set to be the wildcard.

Qatar Airways will begin daily flights to its Doha hub, with onwards connections to the UK and Europe, from Sydney on March 1 and Adelaide on May 2.

But some time in 2016, the airline is due to unveil what it calls a 'business class bedroom', which the airline's outspoken CEO Akbar Al Baker says will be comparable to today's first class.

The all-new design will deliver "a double bed at a business class fare", he promises. "We are developing a new seat to which we will have proprietary rights, and one which will be unrivalled."

What improvements would you like to see in the next generation of business class seats?

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