Flat Bed Seats: Which Airlines Have Them and Whose are Most Comfortable?

Lie-Flat Seats: Extra Comfort on a Long Flight

Sometimes it's worth it to forego the cheap ticket and treat yourself to some extra comfort – especially when it comes to international flights.

Frequent business travelers agree. A recent poll by the Global Business Travelers Association found that while 84% of first-class and business fliers value safety most when choosing a carrier, 67 percent said that having a seat that fully reclines is also important. These bed-like seats on long-haul flights allow passengers to hit the ground running, instead of spending a day recovering from a sleepless flight.

But not all reclined seats are equal, according to a New York Times article. The airline industry has no standard system for measuring seat width, angle or legroom, which means customers need to trust the airline or rely on reviews by other passengers to get the whole story on how comfortable the seats are. To add to the confusion, terms like "lie-flat seats" and "flat-bed seats" do not mean the same thing.

Translating Seat Terminology
Here's a quick rundown of the three main types of comfort seating offered in first and business classes on international flights:

1) Recliner/Cradle Seat: Much like the chair in your living room, this seat has a legrest/footrest and a back that reclines. The seat goes back as far as 160 degrees from the seat base, according to SeatGuru.com. They're comfortable to sit in for shorter-haul flights, according to customers, but not comfortable to sleep in.


2) Lie-flat Seat: Despite its name, this seat does not actually lie flat. The back and legrest/footrest recline at a slight angle. Some can recline as much as 172 degrees. Customers say that while these seats are very comfortable to sit in, they can be very uncomfortable to sleep in, because you slowly slide off the seat.


3) Flat-bed Seat: This seat reclines to a completely horizontal position. Customers say these are the most comfortable for sleeping.

If you're willing to fork over some extra bucks to sleep in maximum comfort on long-haul flights, then look for flights that offer "flat-bed" seating — as opposed to lie-flat seats.

World's 10 Best Business Class Airline Seats (all with flat-bed seats)

1. Kingfisher Airlines

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Oman Air

4. Qatar Airways

5. British Airways

6. Etihad Airways

7. Swiss

8. Virgin Atlantic

9. Jet Airways

10. Air New Zealand

Source: SkyTrax

Other Airlines That Offer Flat-Bed Seats:

Air Canada (Business Class)

Air China (First Class)

Air France (First Class)

Air New Zealand (Business Class)

Air Tahiti Nui (First Class)

ANA (First Class)

American Airlines (First Class)

Arik Air (Business Class)

Asiana Airlines (First Class)

Bmi British Midland (Business Class)

British Airways (First and Business classes)

Cathay Pacific (First and Business classes)

China Airlines (First Class)

China Eastern (First Class)

Continental (Business Class)

Delta (Business Class)

Emirates (First Class)

Etihad (First and Business classes)

Garuda Indonesia (Business Class – angled life-flat on some aircraft)

Gulf Air (First Class)

Hainan Airlines (Business Class)

Japan Airlines (First Class)

Jet Airways (First and Business classes)

Kenya Airlines (Business Class)

Kingfisher Airlines (Business Class)

Korean Air (First Class)

Malaysia Airlines (First Class)

Oman (First and Business classes)

Qantas Airways (First Class)

Qatar Airways (First and Business classes – angled lie-flat on some aircraft)

Royal Jordanian (Business Class)

Singapore Airlines (First and Business classes – angled life-flat on some aircraft)

South African Airways (Business Class)

Swiss International Air Lines (First Class)

TAM Brazilian (First Class)

Thai Airways (First Class)

United Airlines (First and Business classes)

V Australia (Business Class)

Virgin Atlantic (Business Class)

Airlines That Offer Angled Lie-Flat Seats:

Aer Lingus (Business Class)

Air China (Business Class)

Air France (Business Class)

Air India

Air Mauritius (Business Class)

Alitalia (Business Class)

ANA (Business Class)

American Airlines (Business Class)

Asiana Airlines (Business Class)

Austrian Airlines (Business Class)

Avianca (Business Class)

Brussels Airways (Business Class)

China Airline (Business Class)

China Eastern (Business Class)

China Southern (Business Class)

Dragonair (First Class)

El Al (First Class)

Emirates (Business Class – full flat on some flights)

EVA Air (Business Class)

Finnair (Business Class)

Gulf Air (Business Class)

Hong Kong Airlines (Business Class)

Iberia Airlines (Business Class – full flat on some aircraft)

Japan Airlines (Business Class)

KLM (Business Class)

Korean Air (Business Class – full flat on some aircraft)

LAN (Business Class)

Lufthansa (First and Business classes)

Malaysia Airlines (Business Class)

Northwest Airlines (Business Class)

Pakistan International (Business Class – full flat on some flights)

Philippine Airlines (Business Class)

Qantas Airlines (Business Class)

Royal Brunei Airlines (Business Class)

SAS Scandinavian (Business Class)

Swiss International Air Lines (Business Class)

TAM Brazilian (Business Class)

TAP Air Portugal (Business Class)

Thai Airways (Business Class)

Photos courtesy of Continental and Delta

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