Enjoying good sleep is vital to our physical, mental and emotional health. A comfortable temperature, little or no noise, low lighting, and a meal not too close to bedtime are key ingredients, but they are by no means the exclusive elements for good sleep, particularly when you are 39,000 feet up in the sky.
A board meeting after a Red-eye flight is a huge incentive to getting good rest & relaxation on board. But even without that as a driver, good quality sleep allows us to go about our business feeling relatively normal.
Airlines have done much to create the right ambience for sleep, with mood lighting, fully flat beds, enclosed seats, soft bedding and sleepwear, direct aisle access, more spacious cabin configuration and far more flexible meal times and meal types - to create the time to sleep.
Which aircraft you fly in will also be a factor as new aircraft are much quieter, have more flexible cabin lighting, better quality air and improved sleeping arrangements.
Generally speaking, paying a premium for a Business (or indeed First) Class seat puts travellers in the driving seat in terms of when and how they sleep, aided by the layers of services and soft products both on the ground and in the air to create the right conditions for a good night’s sleep.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best beds & bedding in the sky – Part 1:
Luxury lifestyle brand The White Company provides the bedding and the amenity kit in Club World, the airline’s long-haul Business Class cabin. As part of the Club Suite on board – unveiled in 2019 - a day cushion doubles as a lumbar support, a soft large pillow in a white cotton pillowcase enhances on-board comfort, a super-soft, satin-trimmed woven day blanket tops a luxurious duvet with padded mattress topper to complete bedtime on board BA.
The airline claims noise is kept to a minimum on night flights by eschewing trolleys for meals; instead cabin crew deliver the tray by hand. Similarly, they keep shut-eye to a maximum by asking passengers if they wish to be woken for breakfast.
And, of course, the Club World 200-centimetre (79 inch) fully-flat seat has direct aisle access so you do not have passengers climbing over you to get to the toilet in the middle of the night. Every seat also has a door for enhanced privacy, digital controls to control seat function and good storage which includes a vanity unit and mirror.
Snacks, drinks, and refreshments are available at whim from the Club Kitchen.
The retro-fitting of the Club Suite in the airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft will be complete by the end of 2022.
Arguably, flying Business Class in BA’s Airbus-A350 aircraft is more conducive to sleep, with lower noise levels, high ceilings, ambient lighting, higher levels of humidity and refreshed air.
This Asian carrier also unveiled an enhanced long-haul Business Class product in 2019, which included mattress, slippers, better quality bedding and amenity kits, from luxury sustainable body skincare and homeware brand Bamford.
The soft products make for a comfortable bedtime setting, namely a larger, plush sleeping pillow, 400 thread count 100% cotton embroidered pillowcase, a two-piece piece duvet with 100% cotton, a luxurious mattress topper and premium quality slippers. The amenity kit includes useful eye mask and ear plugs.
Meals are hand delivered by cabin crew, an Express Meal option helps to maximise sleep time as does pre-ordering breakfast, if desired.
These frills enhance the hardware on board, i.e. the fully-flat bed, privacy partitions, adjustable lighting, and the one-click sitting and sleeping settings.
In Cathay’s Airbus-A350 aircraft, for example, the cabins are more spacious, there is less noise, intelligent lighting and better levels of cabin pressure and humidity which help reduce jetlag.
The latest iteration of the JAL Sky Suite, incorporates soft and hard products which make for a comfortable night’s sleep. The fully-flat bed is the anchor, with a seat width of 51-52 centimetres (20 inches) which, when the movable armrests are stowed, extend the width to more like 74 centimetres (29 inches).
The maximum bed length is 198 centimetre (78 inches) although this varies slightly on different aircraft. Expect it on the Boeing 777 and the 787 aircraft.
The cabin itself is configured 1-2-1 which gives aisle access from every seat, and there are movable dividers for added privacy when sleep is the order of the day.
The Doha-based Middle Eastern carrier has won numerous accolades for its innovative QSuites, which offers both aft and forward-facing seats plus and a unique quad configuration. Certain rows convert into double beds and for family travel, other rows can combine four suites to all face in on each other.
Fully flat single and double beds are enhanced with a bespoke turn-down service which sees the arrival of pillows, a quilted mattress, and a plush duvet, as well as sleepwear and slippers from luxury lifestyle brand The White Company.
There is mood lighting and on the A350-1000 aircraft, overhead bins have been removed from the central aisle to give a feeling of open space. There are “Do Not Disturb” buttons to activate too.
Two Italian luxury brands – BRIC and Castello Monte Vibiano – have created luxury amenity kits to keep lips, eyes and skin well hydrated during the flight.
QSuites are fitted on the airline’s new Airbus 350-1000 and numerous A350-900s and many Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200LR aircraft. Many regular travellers say QSuites are a First- Class experience set in a Business Class cabin.
None other than the iconic New York department store Saks Fifth Avenue teamed up with the US carrier to create luxury custom bedding for Polaris customers. There are silky soft duvets, two sizes of pillow, a day blanket and a mattress cushion. In addition, pajamas and slippers are available on request.
The cabin – configured either 1-2-1 or 1-1-1 - features forward-facing fully-flat beds up to 198 centimetre (78 inches) in length and up to 58 centimetres (23 inches) wide, all with direct aisle access.
Powered privacy dividers, illuminated “Do Not Disturb” signs, personal lamps and sleep-themed amenity kits from Sunday Riley - with ear plugs, ergonomic eye mask and premium skincare items - complete the picture.
All new United aircraft have the all-singing, all-dancing Polaris product, namely Boeing 777-300ERs, 787-10s and 787-8s.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our guide to The Best Business Class Beds & Bedding
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