As the aviation industry looks toward the future, some new trends are emerging. Business travelers continue to choose video conferencing over filling up business class seats, and upmarket leisure passengers may be filling the gap.
Airlines are betting big on travelers with a taste for luxury, hoping that business travelers will bring along their partners for “blended” or business-leisure, otherwise known as “bleisure” travel. Yet most business class cabins were designed with the goal of privacy as opposed to being able to get cozy with Susan from accounting. That said, a whopping 30% of sex on planes is with strangers, reports suggest.
So, without further ado, let us introduce you to the new generation of business/luxury travel, aka Snuggle Class. This design allows two business class seats to be converted into a double bed better suited to couples…or strangers, if that’s your kind of thing. Are you one of the 15% of flyers who admitted to being members of the mile high club?
Airplane cabin designers viewed Covid as a massive reset button on aviation design. “It shifted priorities for many travelers. More people now long for things that might have seemed less important before the world turned upside down,” says Daniel Baron, director of airline design house LIFT.
Baron maintains that people are looking to savor a slower pace with little luxuries along the way and meaningful experiences on the other side. This applies to both leisure and business travelers. Yes, career is still important, but time with loved ones is proving more important than ever before. The trend to mix business with pleasure lends itself to an uptick in demand in the premium leisure category.
In the swankiest international first class airlines, double beds have been the norm since the mid-2000s, with perhaps the most famous being Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 first class, and later the Etihad Residence one-bedroom suite in the mid-2010s with a small double bed in its own room.
Baron explains that traditionally business class has been synonymous with fixed armrests on both sides of the passenger and multiple stowage spaces. Large movable dividers were also associated with first class, not business. “The industry shifted from ‘give me total privacy’ in business class to ‘give me options’. Airlines have realized that offering the ability to get that close can be a competitive advantage.”
Airlines like Singapore and Qatar are the first to embrace Snuggle Class, and as hybrid travel becomes even more popular, we’re certain airlines like Delta, United, and American will embrace this new cuddle culture, too.