Low Cost Carrier Comfort On 13 Hour+ Flights

787 sunset approach-0629

There has been talk of flights between Hawaii and Europe for years, and the latest news of Norwegian Airlines and Oslo airport being in discussions with Honolulu is nothing surprising, as it is a market that is terribly underserved. We know all too well as we make the trip every 10 months or so. But the question still remains, does a 13-hour flight in low-cost conditions appeal to a large enough market to sustain a city pair such as Oslo-Honolulu? With luxurious cabin comfort such as a Middle Eastern Carrier or that of a legacy carrier, the flight would pass quickly enough, especially with our recent experience of Emirates’ A380 16.5 hour business class flight between LAX and DXB.

Low cost carriers have experimented with premium cabins over the years, and with Scoot, Jetstar, Norwegian and Air Asia X all offering a premium cabin, we take a closer look at what these cabins have to offer and how they match up against an ultra-long haul trip.

Jetstar Business Class

Jetstar_Economy

Australian based Jetstar offers a ‘Jetstar Business Cabin’ which is basically a traditional ‘premium economy seat’ with 38 inch seat pitch and 20 inch seat width on both their A330 and 787 cabins in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration. The seats offer a deep recline, a fold out footrest and their IFE is supplied utilising a hand held entertainment device with noise reducing headset. Being an alternative ‘business class’ cabin to their parent carrier Qantas, the airline has stepped up their offering, with lounge access to Qantas lounges at their destinations, amenity and comfort kits, which include pillows, blankets and the standard dental kit, eye mask, socks, moisturiser etc.

As for dining, expect a complimentary 3 course meal, premium wines and alcoholic drinks on the long haul flights. Other nifty perks include Qantas frequent flyer miles, priority boarding and extra luggage allowances.

Our long-haul low cost verdict
A comfortable seat, and great for medium-long haul day flights, but can be uncomfortable to grab some shut-eye. The extra perks make the carrier a great alternative to premium economy on other legacy airlines, offering above and beyond carriers such as Virgin and BA with access to Qantas lounges but isn’t up to the long-haul ‘business class’ monicker that Jetstar uses.
8/10

ScootBiz

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Scoot, the long-haul, low cost carrier of Singapore Airlines with their all 777 fleet, offer a premium cabin at the front of the aircraft, called ‘ScootBiz’ as well as a standard economy section with increased legroom called ‘ScootInSilence’. The ScootBiz seat offers a standard premium economy seat pitch of 38 inches and a 2 x 4 x 2 seat plan with 22 inch seat width. Whilst the middle seats in the section of 4 becoming the least popular, the seat pairs either side of the aisle are travellers favourites. The seats, like Jetstar, offer a deep recline of 8 inches, and supporting foot rests. The tray tables come from the fixed arm rests.

Scoot also offer a 3 course meal for passengers in the premium cabin, along with inflight content that can be streamed free of charge to your own laptop or personal tablet (don’t forget to download the apps first!), and if you run out of juice, the premium cabin gets access to their limited tablets available onboard. You will also have access to more luggage allowance and priority boarding and on overnight flights, a comfort kit.

Our long-haul low cost verdict
An affordable option. Currently the carrier only has flights around 6-9 hours in duration, so the cabin is perfectly suited for these medium-long haul jaunts. The lack of user friendly IFE, lounges, and other perks make this a bare bones product, but the seat comfort is comparable to most low cost carrier premium cabins.
7/10

Norwegian

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So if Norwegian actually starts the Honolulu flights, they will operate the longest route of any long haul low cost carriers. They already offer some of the longest, with Norway to Bangkok and London Gatwick to Vegas and Los Angeles on their schedule with their 787s. The carrier when they first started using the 787 had a few launch issues, as the reliability wasn’t up to scratch, but all those hiccups have seemingly been ironed out. The seats are also some of the best in the skies for this category of airline.

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The seats, in a 2 x 3 x 2 configuration, might not be the widest of all the seats in the skies, at only 19 inches, but they offer a mammoth 46 inches of seat pitch, which allows for a deep recline and also leg rest with extendable foot rest too. Tray tables fold out from the armrests as well as fold out touch screen IFE entertainment screens. Not only that, but this airline offers wifi on all of its flights to offer added and unlimited entertainment on your own device. The airline offers a special premium menu in this cabin, as well as drinks and a modern fresh cabin with mood lighting.

Our long-haul low cost verdict
This airline is an entertainment paradise, the seats are functional, and better at helping passengers get some shut-eye. Even though in its infancy the whole product is streamlined, efficient and friendly (and decked out in a funky uniform.) We also love the fact the carrier offers wifi and touchscreen entertainment onboard.
8.5/10

AirAsia X

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Air Asia X was one of the original low cost long haul carriers, utilising A340s between on their 13 hour London Stansted to Kuala Lumpur route that was discontinued a few years ago. The premium cabin offers a fully lie flat bed, and the only true ‘business class’ concept on a long haul low cost carrier. Just two rows of 2 x 2 x 2 seating offers a small and intimate 12 seat cabin, which is all about seat comfort on long haul trips. The seats are 20 inch wide, offering 60 inch seat pitch and a bed length of 77 inches.

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Whilst the seats are angled lie-flat, which aren’t the best for sleep compared to main-line carriers fully flat business class seats, the seats are way better than their competitors. Mix this with high quality service, basic ‘combo meals’ , free pillows and blankets and comfort kits (available for a small fee), passengers will feel like they are getting exceptional value for their money and can pick and choose how much of a premium experience they want. Sadly, there is no wifi onboard, nor free entertainment, which is available in the form of a personal media player.

Our long-haul low cost verdict
This is a carrier perfect for those wanting a good rest on the flight, but those looking for entertainment will find the carrier doesn’t quite hit the mark. The carrier is growing in Asia, but don’t offer any really long long-haul flights anymore.
8/10

Summary

In our look at the current offerings, no carrier has managed to match the real business class product that people have come to expect of long haul carriers. (There are some carriers, such as La Compagnie, who offer long haul comfort on city pairs but we haven’t included the carrier in this list as they don’t offer any other routes, so is a limited boutique product.) Companies, that went bust a few years ago, such as SilverJet, EOS, and MaxJet all offered comparable business class products, at low cost prices, but sadly, couldn’t make the business model work at the time.

For a 13-hour-long flight, low cost carriers premium cabins would stand up against the premium economy cabins of their legacy competitors, but due to the perks offered by the latter, such as air miles, frequent flyer benefits and increased schedules, the choice may not be as clear cut as just basing the decision on price.

hawaiian

The good news out of all of this, perhaps, is that there has been talks of one of our favourites Hawaiian Airlines offering a premium flatbed product on their new aircraft (although this isn’t confirmed), as well as the carrier looking into direct flights to Europe. Perhaps, soon our obligatory stop off on the US West Coast won’t be our only option anymore!

2 comments

  1. John

    Agree, the AA business class product on Thai AA is perfect for the 5-6 hour flights they do to Seoul and Tokyo/Osaka.

  2. Thanks foг sɦaring such a good thinking, ρost iѕ pleasant, thats ԝhy i hɑvе read it entirely

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