Know your airline seat for international travel

February 19, 2014 |

If you’re flying business class for an international flight, you might want to learn a bit about the nuances in seats, which can make a very big difference in your experience, especially if you have trouble sleeping.

The problem is, it can be difficult to know what type of seats you’re getting. Not only do they vary by airline, but they also depend on the specific aircraft from your carrier. The first thing to do is to know whether you’re flying on an Airbus A330-300, for example, or a Boeing 757-200. Most airlines list somewhere on their site the exact specifications for their seats, including the width, bed length and pitch of business class seats. They will also indicate – often with a visual – whether the seats recline or lie flat, for example.

Here are the types of seats generally available if you’re flying business class:

Recliner seats

These are often called cradle seats as well as sleeper seats. They recline as far as 160 degrees, are similar to a reclining armchair and sometimes have a footrest. However, they’re probably only ideal for shorter business travel – such as during domestic flights – when you might be working rather than trying to sleep.

Angle lie-flat seats

When fully reclined, these seats are slightly angled and do not recline completely to 180 degrees. Some recline as much as 172 degrees, though it varies by jet. While some people find them comfortable and sufficient for long-haul business flights, others suggest that they are not conducive to sleeping because they slowly slide off the seat.

Flat-bed seats

Flat-bed seats are often cited as the creme de la creme of seating for long business flights. They are said to be both comfortable for seating and sleeping, and can lie perfectly flat at a 180-degree angle. Some airlines even offer flat-bed seats as suites, and they have a fully flat bed, TV, work station and other amenities, and offer some level of privacy.