China Eastern took another step forwards in the last week of 2019 with the introduction of a new retro-fitted business class cabin on some of its narrow body aircraft. Reflecting the increasing demand for air travel in China and the increasing competitive approach to offering a world-class product, the airline opted to remove its previous recliner seats and replace them with almost-fully flat beds.
The first to feature the new seats is a 737 which previously had 12 seats across three rows, which has been replaced by two rows, totalling eight seats.
The design language is similar to the Factorydesign interiors for the airline’s A350 business class cabin, which creates a more standardised experience from wide-body to regional. For these 737s the angle lie-flat seats should be adequate for years to come as they wouldn’t be used on routes much longer than 5 hours or so.
What is baffling to us sadly, is the rear seat shell, which seems unfinished in our opinion, and features the smallest of TV screens which is almost laughable, as they seem to appear like an afterthought. While weight and cost is always a factor, the difference in selecting these screens and a larger widescreen option couldn’t have been a million miles away.
By opting for a smaller screen and positioning the passenger further away due to the increased seat pitch actually means the perceived viewing size of the screen is smaller than those in economy class seats.
That said, these seats should be seen as another step forward for a carrier who is trying to do the right thing, and continuing to invest in the passenger experience, shaking off the perceptions of a Chinese carrier that is still stuck a decade-or-so behind the rest of the world.