Once you fly flat, you never go back

(Image source: Flatseats.com)

Last week I wrote a column about getting your money’s worth in business class for BBC.com— it ended up being one of the most popular posts on site, so I thought I’d share it with TICKET readers.

The peice focused on the three different types of business class seat flying around out there: true lie-flat, slanted lie-flat and “cradle” or recliner. (The goal is to find the true lie-flat seat, now the industry standard.)

Flying true-lie-flat from Atlanta is a mixed bag.

If you are flying to London, you are in luck: All British Airways flights around the world, including those on ATL-London Heathrow nonstops offer true lie-flat business class. All nonstop Delta flights between the US and London Heathrow offer true lie-flat seats, too (primarily on Boeing 767’s).

From ATL, Delta also offers true lie-flat seats on Boeing 777 flights to Sydney, Dubai, Tokyo and Johannesburg.

Regrettably, all those shiny, newly painted Delta 747’s still sport Northwest’s slanted lie-flat sleeper seat.

Delta has said that its goal is 100% true lie-flat, and it’s posted a page on its web site charting progress. Right now it stands at about 25%, with 42 of its 144 long-haul aircraft outfitted with true lie-flat seats.

To Europe from ATL, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa all offer slanted lie-flat seats on their nonstops for the time being.

Korean Air's true lie-flat Prestige Sleeper

For those flying to Asia from ATL, Korean Air has offered both true  lie-flat and slanted lie-flat. But for now thru March 2012, all 10x flights per week from Atlanta use the the older, slanted lie-flat “Prestige Plus” seats. You can log onto Korean Air’s website and find out which flights have which seats. There’s a green banner in the middle right of the home page that says “My Reservation, Route Map, Boarding Pass” etc.  If you continue to click on the right arrow, you’ll find “New Aircraft” that will tell you which flights have what equipment. If getting true lie-flat and your SkyMiles (KAL is SkyTeam partner) are important, you can fly from ATL up to Washington Dulles or out to Los Angeles or Seattle and catch a KAL flight with true lie-flat “Prestige Sleeper” seats.

Here’s a post from last year showing the four different types of Business Elite seats you’ll find on Delta. Which ones have you tried?

What’s been your experience finding and flying on lie-flat business class seats from Atlanta and other US cities? On Delta, which lie-flat seat do you prefer, the one on the 767 or the one on the 777? Why? Please leave your comments below!



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  • mike

    I will still have to settle for the free lie flat that exists in coach when three or more seats are open in the middle. I have done that many times and I prefer it to the slanted lie flat or recliners of business class even with the occasion seat belt digging into my side. True lie flat is the only really comfortable way that I can sleep and I am glad that Delta is committed to 100 percent lie flat in the outside chance I get an upgrade due to oversold coach.

  • M_Howard

    Delta is woefully behind in making this change. While I think the most comical airline attempt at selling ‘customer-centric’ business class seats has to be American (see their You-Tube and AA.com videos), Delta just isn’t competitive in the international market. I’m an international marketing manager who flies 400,000 miles internationally each year, and can tell you that Delta is close to the bottom when I’m picking my flights. The most recent announcement that ‘30% of their fleet’ is equipped with true lie-flat beds’ is ridiculously slow. There are **WAY** too many recliner-style seats still in the fleet. I can handle slanted beds, but I will not pay thousands for a trumped-up domestic first-class seat when I can fly on United and get **at minimum** a slanted business class seat, if not their wonderful flat-bed seat. Nevertheless, domestic Delta can’t be beat. Too bad you lose all my high-ticket business.

  • Charmaine ortega

    I flew to Jberg last year and loved the lie flat bed seats. The down comforter was just the right weight and the pillows were flexible enough to fit everyone’s needs. I was advised well to choose the left (or right) rearmost seat because there is a little extra storage on the right side (or left) of the seat. It is close to the exit but the light in the galley is still far enough behind to not be a bother.
    I am flying to Sydney tomorrow on this same configuration. I say SPEND on the comfort, especially for a 15 hour flight!!!

  • Howard

    Recently flew from Miami to Frankfurt in Business Class on a Lufthansa A-380. The seats are slanted lie-flat and are not very comfortable. I can’t stand having my feet lower then my body. There are 95 seats in the Business Class cabin—makes one feel cramped and crowded. Prefer the British Airways & Air Canada lie-flats.

  • Chris

    submitted via email from reader RB:
    I just returned from London, having the flat-bed going and the cradle seat returning.

    Clearly, the 777 configuration is superior to the other two. While not what I call spacious, it is very private and adequately comfortable (for the price you pay, it should be). You can get a good 6-8 hours of sleep easily if you can sleep on a plane since these planes are only used on the very long flights.

    The flight to London is relatively short and there is no way you can get an adequate night of sleep unless you go to bed immediately, and skip breakfast. Even then, the maximum amount of sleep you can get is about 6 hours. On the flight to Heathrow, I found the seats, although flat-bed, considerably less comfortable on the 767 than they were on the 777. In fact, I found the seats claustrophobic, especially if you the “window” seat. The very clever design allows them to pack more people onto the plane, but comfort is sacrificed.

    I took a cradle seat flight home from Gatwick. The flight is essentially all daytime, so I didn’t mind the 2-2-2 configuration and no flatbed. The seats are less claustrophobic, probably a little wider, and you really have more useable leg room. Since I did not get to travel at night, it really didn’t make a difference not having a flatbed.

    Incidentally, one other member of my team flew from NY to Heathrow. Delta had to sub in a 767 with cradle seating. By the time my colleague arrived in London, he had received a $300 credit from Delta, apologizing for the last minute substitution of equipment.

  • Scott Woelfel

    Last year I flew from Atlanta through Toronto to Beijing just to get Air Canada’s true lie flat seat. On the return I slept for an astonishing eight hours straight, a feat I have never managed before even on the longest flights. I highly recommend Air Canada’s service.