Hainan Airlines is rolling out a new business class cabin with all aisle access and updates across the entire plane including to the economy class cabin. Hainan Airlines is the only mainland Chinese carrier with five star Skytrax rating and has fallen behind their competition by offering forward facing business class seats in a configuration which requires window passengers to step over passengers in seats C or H. The announcement of the new cabin was never formally announced, but the airline has been previewing the new configuration and seats on social media.
Hainan Airlines Business Class Seat Is Outdated
All aisle access in business class is the new normal. Most airlines currently offer all aisle access or are in the process of updating their fleets. The hard product on Hainan’s 787-8 and 787-9 is actually a step below their older A330s which offer all aisle access. Although Hainan Airlines’ A330s seat is older, the TV is smaller, and the seat is showing their age; the A330 provides a more private flying experience.
I have flown Hainan Airlines Business class twice in the last year and their soft product is top notch. Hainan Airlines food is delicious for airplane food and the service is phenomenal. Hainan even offers chauffeur service for business class customers in many destinations. The only problem with Hainan Airlines is the business class seat.
Hainan’s hard product does not offer a five star flying experience. The seat offers very little personal space for storage and your neighbor is inches away. The seat is great for people traveling as a couple, but horrible for individual fliers who value privacy. Additionally, nothing is worse than having to step over someone when flying business!
The New Business Class Seat in Detail
Some details of the new aircraft configuration has been provided to me by Hainan Airlines. The only official release of information of the business class cabin has been a sneak peek on Twitter and Facebook. I reached out Hainan Airlines and to try to find out more about the new configuration, including details of the seat and new cabins.
The new 787-9 will have 30 business class seats. The current 787-9 also offers 30 business class seat, therefore there will be no loss in number of premium seats. The actual configuration will be “30C+36PY+226Y=292.”
With careful thought and consideration for our passengers comfort, we selected the Cirrus 3 Herringbone seats for our Business Class cabin. Passengers can freely access their seats thanks to a generous 11-inch gap between the aisle and the seat. Each seat can reach a length of 78-inches when fully reclined at 180 degrees. Additionally, the seat’s exterior casing can be extended to suit passengers’ privacy needs. All seats contain a total of four storage spaces so passengers are never more than an arm’s length away from their belongings.
Hainan Business class cabin appears to be getting a walk-up self-serve bar area on the 787-9. There is no additional information about the bar; however, I was told that business class flyers will enjoy an upgrade to their coffee. Hainan Airlines Business Class cabins will come with a state-of-the-art Nespresso Coffee Capsule machine. Business flyers will enjoy a delicious cup of coffee whilst cruising through the clouds. It is unclear if older 787s will get a Nespresso coffee machine.
Hainan Airlines Premium Economy
Hainan has not formally announced a premium economy, but the information I received from Hainan’s media correspondent, Premium Economy is coming! Well kind of….The new 787-9 offers 36 premium economy seats and 226 standard economy seats. Seatmaps are not available, therefore the final configuration is still unknown.
Most airlines with premium economy only have 7 seats across. On Hainan Airlines, premium economy will have 36 seats. The only way to make this work is if Hainan Airlines premium economy is 9 seats across. Meaning, premium economy seats will have similar dimensions to economy, but with more leg room.
Hainan Airlines premium economy will not be premium after all, especially if the seats are 9 across. After pressing for more information about the premium economy, I was told the seats will be a regular economy class seats with extended leg room.
“When considering our Economy Class passengers’ travel needs, we selected light-weight, modern seats for our Economy Class cabins. All seats recline and feature headrests that can be adjusted in four directions, providing the utmost comfort for our passengers. The seats offer a spacious average leg room of 32 inches. Additionally, seats located in the first four rows of the Economy Class cabin are designed with extra leg room and an extended seat pitch of 36 inches.”
Overall, Hainan Airlines Premium economy is a bust. Unless Hainan Airlines does something unique with the soft product, the 36 rows of premium economy will be no different then flying United’s Economy Plus.
All seats throughout the economy class cabin will have 11 inch touchscreen tvs featuring Panasonic eX3 + eXconnect entertainment systems.
New Configuration Route and Final Thoughts
Starting May 10, 2017, the new plane will fly routes within China before it will serve oversea destinations. Their is no details on what route and when this new plane will serve it. I would assume key markets with heavy business travelers such as Chicago or Boston will see this plane before secondary cities such as Las Vegas receive the enhanced aircraft.
Older 787-8 and 787-9 with the other business class seats will not receive this new seat. A spokeswoman from Hainan Airlines told me there is no plans to refurbish the rest of Hainan Airlines fleet. Starting in May, Hainan Airlines long-haul fleet will offer three very different seat options. Buyer beware, examine the seatmap when purchasing tickets to identify the configuration.
All aisle access business class is a huge improvement from Hainan Airlines current 787 configuration. It is disappointing that Hainan does not plan to refresh their entire fleet with the newer and nicer hard product. I am still hopeful that older planes will see this new seat in the future. Yet, with no official announcement, we can only speculate. This is no different the the new premium economy. A new class of service sounds promising, but with few details who knows what will really be available. For now we will sit and wait and hope for the best! Yet either way, the new business class seat looks great!