I just landed from a long-haul Lufthansa flight with their upgraded business class seats. When I went business last time, it was already pretty good, but they had the “old” style seats, so the person in front of you could still come a bit “in your face”. But now coming back from the US, they had the newer electronic cocoon-style seats and it was excellent as it totally exceeded my expectations – which is always the customer experience you want to go for.
There was this control panel which you used to control every aspect of your environment, including the seat and media center. You can see that in the top part of it (here on the left) there is the mini-model of the actual seat that you can twist and turn in all directions, plus there were “presets” for “work/dine”, “relax” and “sleep”.
The media center was fixed to the seat in front of you and the “wall” was solid, meaning that even if the front dude reclined to flat bed, your media center would still remain in place. The only thing about the mediacenter was that it didn’t seem to have enough processing power at times, as some movies and audio were “cutting” at times.
The seat was truly comfortable and besides reclining into “relax” position, you could actually make it a fully flat bed. So you could really get some proper sleep there, which usually hasn’t been the case for me previously on aircraft, unless I have been truly worn out. I was travelling with a colleague who got some five hours of good sleep as we travelled back into Europe through the night.
One more thing not shown on these images is that the table was so big that with a bit of juggling you could use an actual computer mouse with it. I don’t know about others, but I’m most productive with the good old classic rodent, all those trackpoints and trackballs don’t really cut it for me as I go over the desk with mouse at pretty high speeds and need high precision, which I can’t get with the mobile pointers.
Plus another improvement was that in the old seats the laptop charger was inside the seat near your butt, so if you needed to juggle with several adapters like me, you were like sitting on a pile of adapters which took away most of the business seat fun. In the new cocoon seat, the laptop plug was in the centre console between the two passengers so it didn’t disturb anybody. All good improvements.
I must say it’s popular to diss large airlines for their crappy service, but I’ve had only good experience with Lufthansa. The only sucky thing there is that on their 747 transatlantic economy class there is actually much less legroom than in European flights, so you need to be in a more uncomfortable position for a longer time. But in Europe and in business, it’s totally cool.