The airlines that have the best business class seats

Thanks to the job, I do a lot of flying at the pointy end of the plane. This means I not only get to sample the business class of most airlines, but the question I'm most often asked is which airline has the best business class.

For Australians, this answer comes in three parts.

The best domestic business class

It's been seven years since a resurgent Virgin Australia fired the first shot in a transcontinental turf war which saw the former low-cost airline take on Qantas in a fight for the hearts, bums and wallets of business travellers.

The result was a rapid upgrading of the premium experience on Airbus A330 flights between the east and west coasts.

In the end, both Qantas and Virgin Australia adopted world-class seats which have proven good enough to headline each airline's flagship international routes, including Qantas' non-stop Boeing 787 from Perth to London.

Who's the winner?

It's a very close and very subjective call, and each time I settle into those business class seats of either Qantas or Virgin Australia I could easily choose that particular seat for the crown.

In the end, however, my vote goes to Qantas. Its A330 Business Suite – which now also features on the red-tailed Dreamliners and from next year, the mighty Airbus A380 – is elegantly and thoughtfully designed, well-appointed and could pass for first class on some other airlines.

As for the Boeing 737s which are the backbone of both Qantas and Virgin Australia's domestic fleets, it's much of a muchness.

Short trip options

It can be argued that for those quick flights along the 'golden boomerang' route between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, we don't need anything more than those reclining business class seats.


But with the same single-aisle Boeing jets so often featuring on east-west flights, there's no denying that business travellers deserve something better.

For the past 12 months Virgin Australia has been talking up a revolutionary east-west Boeing 737 business class seat internally known as 'the Perth Product'. Could this go as far as a flat bed with direct aisle access, as some overseas airlines have adopted on Boeing 737s and the similarly-sized Airbus A320 family? If so, it'll be another 'game changer' for CEO John Borghetti before steps down at the end of 2019.

The best regional business class

When it comes to jaunts around Asia, several airlines opt for a regional version of business class.

In some cases this is closer to an international-grade premium economy seat, but Singapore Airlines takes the medal for its Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner seat.

Those Dreamliners, and a tranche of Airbus A350-900 jets, have been designated as regional jets to serve routes of up to eight hours from Singapore.

That range puts most Australian cities under its wing, and over the coming years Singapore Airlines will replace all the older Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets flying to Australia with the Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350.

Travellers on those jets will trade Singapore Airlines' old 'sloping sleeper' business class design for what's basically an international-grade business class seat boasting a fully-flat bed, direct access to the aisle for every passenger and extra space to spread out work your during the flight.

The best international business class

For my money, the world's best business class is Qatar Airways' luxurious Qsuite. This is a seat so good that it could make first class obsolete.

Now seen in Aussie skies on the airline's Canberra-Sydney-Doha Boeing 777 service, the Qsuite has a first class-style sliding door which transforms your seat into cosy little crib.

The doors stand 135cm from base to top,: high enough for privacy, but low enough for the crew to peer in and offer assistance without having to open the door.

There's copious space and storage cubbyholes around the seat itself, while the entire product boasts high-quality finishing.

Pushing the envelope

For added wow factor, every second pair of middle seats can become a double bed – providing your seatmate is of a similar mind to you, of course – by sliding down the divider partition.

As if that's not enough, the 21.5 inch HD video screens between each middle row can slide back to open the space right up too create a 'family room' for four passengers.

Rounding it out is Qatar's 'dine on demand' service which lets passengers choose anything from the extensive menu at any time during the flight. Want a breakfast mezze platter served as a light dinner, with a more substantial meal shortly before you land? Done. It's all about letting the business traveller decide what they want to eat, whenever they want to eat it.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

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Have a different perspective? Share your experiences on who has the best business class seats in the comments below.