Qantas today unveiled its new AUD$385 million International Business Class, featuring the state-of-the-art sleeper seat, Skybed and a range of other product and service enhancements that have set new standards for business travel.
Qantas Executive General Manager Sales and Marketing, John Borghetti, said Skybed, designed by world-famous Australian industrial designer Marc Newson and developed by USA based manufacturer BE Aerospace in association with Qantas engineering, was the best all round Business Class seat in the sky.
"We undertook extensive market research and worked with an ergonomist to ensure we were delivering what customers told us they wanted," he said.
"The result is definitely a departure from the traditional airline seat. Skybed offers a sleek, contemporary design and a range of innovative features that provide maximum comfort, convenience, and flexibility for customers."
Skybed is 6 feet, 6.5 inches (199.4 cm) long and 23.5 inch (60 cm) wide when fully reclined to 8 degrees. Its features include:
- a fixed cocoon-style seat surround to provide maximum privacy;
- a privacy screen between seats;
- extensive seat adjustment controls to ensure maximum comfort in any position, with additional seat controls inside the cocoon surround;
- cushioned lumbar support;
- a back massage feature;
- a large 10.4 inch (26.4 cm) screen with multi-channel entertainment;
- a PC power outlet that allows laptops to be plugged straight in without the need for adaptor cables;
- a Short Message Service (SMS) accessed via the in-seat telephone handset, with an inflight reply facility that is a world first.
- clever storage options including a shoe cupboard and glove box for spectacles and travel documents; and
- a water bottle holder.
Designer Marc Newson said his challenge as a designer was to create the best in the market.
"Because I spend a lot of time on aircraft, I have had the opportunity to think about improving the cabin environment by combining good design with seat functionality. I wanted to design a seat that was private, high tech and above all comfortable -- creating your own personal space around you," Mr. Newson said.
Marc Newson also designed new aircraft interiors featuring curtains, carpets, pillows and blankets to complement the cabin enhancements.
Mr. Borghetti said the new International Business Class included a range of other product and service initiatives.
"We have recruited 1,200 dedicated First and Business Class Flight Attendants and introduced specialised training for them that focuses on more personalized service," he said.
"We have also introduced a new self-service Business bar, again designed by Marc, that offers a range of premium snacks and beverages, in addition to the regular meal services."
Other enhancements include:
- a new mood lighting system, designed exclusively for Qantas and the first of its kind in the skies;
- new catering options, designed by Australian chef Neil Perry, with healthy and express meal options (see separate release);
- new wines;
- a "silver service" style of meal delivery;
- room-service style breakfast ordering;
- a range of refreshments available throughout the flight and prepared to order;
- premium quality noise cancelling headsets;
- new luxurious amenity kits; and
- distinctive new uniforms, designed by Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey.
The new International Business Class cabin, including Skybed, is being progressively introduced on all three-class Boeing 747-400s from this month. These aircraft operate on routes between Australia and the United Kingdom via Bangkok and Singapore, the USA and Hong Kong.
Qantas expects that International Business Class enhancements, including the Skybed, will be available on U.S. routes by the spring of 2004.
Skybed and the cabin enhancements will be introduced on two-class Boeing 747-400s from the end of 2004. These aircraft fly between Australia and Frankfurt, Paris, South Africa and Singapore, and on the airline's Brisbane-Auckland-Los Angeles route.
The airline's nine new A330-300 aircraft, being delivered from mid-2004, will also offer the new International Business Class cabin.
Mr. Borghetti said First Class customers would also see improvements in food and wine selections, cabin enhancements including new bathrooms and amenities, and new-style sleeper suits.