Philippine Airlines introduces ‘layered’ Business Class seat and wireless-only IFE

Philippine-Airlines_A330_Sogerma-Equinox-3DThis article is re-published with kind permission of “”.

As Business Class seats that can be turned into full-flat beds have become the industry standard in recent years, airlines have been facing the challenge to determine the best seat layout in order to optimize the valuable real estate onboard.

This has led seat manufacturers to come up with several inventive designs, such as herringbone, staggered, V-shaped and backward/forward-facing configurations [image].

Layered design

French seat manufacturer Sogerma has figured out that it can decrease the default pitch in a lie-flat Business Class seat by about 4 inches by including a slight overlap in the foot wells for the two customers in the paired seats on its V-shaped Equinox product line, calling the seat Equinox 3D.

Both are fully flat but the seat on the right is raised above the seat on the left. When moving to the bed position, the window seat moves up to armrest level while the aisle seat moves down to just above the floor.  This design is said to also allow for easy access for the window-side passenger.

Or as aviation journalist Jason Rabinowitz (aka AirlineFlyer) put it when testing the seat at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg: “The seat pair is angled in toward each other, which is nothing new. What is new, however, is that the two seats transform into a layered lie-flat bed. In essence, the feet of one passenger end up resting on a platform on top of the adjacent passenger. This saves a bit of width per seat without compromising comfort, but it sure does look strange. I tried the seat and found it to be comfortable, so this will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.”

Philippine Airlines

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the launch customer of the Equinox 3D seat (images here and here) when it took delivery of its new Airbus A330-300 last month.

PAL’s A330s accommodate 368 passengers — 18 in Business, 27 in Premium Economy and 323 in Economy, and the airline will operate the aircraft on medium-haul routes between Manila and Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Honolulu.


No screens, wireless IFE-only

PAL is also the first full-service carrier to remove all IFE screens from its A330 widebodies, including those in Business Class (images here and here, and offer passengers a wireless-only IFE solution and/or inflight Wi-Fi and GSM connectivity instead. Connecting to the Wi-Fi to use the wireless in-flight entertainment is free — though using it for anything other than that requires a fee (USD5/30 minutes, USD10/hour, USD20/3 hours and USD40/whole trip).

Passengers are advised to bring their own Wi-Fi-capable devices, as without a Wi-Fi-capable device there will be no entertainment on the flight. In the event passengers do not carry their own device, those in Business can borrow one for the duration of the trip, while passengers in Economy can rent a device.

PAL’s wireless IFE solution is provided by OnAir’s Play (renamed to PAL iN AiR), of which the airline is the launch customer. To access the wireless IFE, passengers need to download a dedicated mobile application (available at the Google Play Store for Android and iTunes App Store for iOS) before boarding the plane as downloading it within the plane — and using the dedicated network connection — will incur the inflight Wi-FI fee.