Executive Traveller exclusive
Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 777 business class seat is not a favourite of high flyers.
Although the airline itself enjoys a stellar reputation for service, including meals prepared by the airline’s signature Flying Chefs, the lie-flat seats themselves remain in a dated 2-3-2 layout, which offers great legroom but at the expense of zero privacy plus the dreaded ‘middle seat’.
But that’s set to change, with the Star Alliance member planning to upgrade its 777s to a business class seat offering not only direct aisle access but “full privacy” for every passenger.
Turkish Airlines Chairman Ahmet Bolat revealed those plans to Executive Traveller as he visited Melbourne, one of the two cities vying to be Turkish Airlines’ first Australian destination from December 2023.
While the Australian flights will rely on a Boeing 787-9, which has the same modern business class as its Airbus A350 stablemate, the Boeing 777-300ER remains the long-range workhorse of the Istanbul-based carrier.
And not only will the 777s finally get a seat worthy of that flagship status, it will be an all-new design created for and exclusive to Turkish Airlines by the carrier’s Turkish Cabin Interior arm.
“We’re going upgrade our 777s with our own business class seats,” Bolat tells Executive Traveller.
“(TCI) produces seats for us and also for the world,” with some models available as standard fit-out through the Boeing catalogue, “(and) we are working on certifying one of the seats for business class on the 777.”
Bespoke business class
However, Bolat indicated the new seat won’t follow the familiar conventional 1-2-1 layout, with the airline aiming to keep its 777 business class cabin in what’s called a ‘high-density’ configuration which maximises the number of premium pews.
“I want to use the full space in the aircraft,” he explained, but “the current seats available in the market reduces our 49 seats to 42 seats” in the 777’s business class cabin. That’s the reason we are pushing our own seat.”
“There are not many seat companies in the world, so you are really bound to what they have available,” whereas this bespoke business class creation will be unique to Turkish Airlines.
One model for Turkish Airlines’ new 777 business class seat could be along the same lines as the ‘Apex suite’ flown by the likes of Japan Airlines.
This retains a 2-3-2 layout but with additional spacing between each row, giving passengers seated away from the aisle have a direct path behind or in front of another passenger, without crossing into their personal space.
Designed and manufactured in Turkey, the next-gen 777 business class seat is expected to boast all the mod cons from sliding “full privacy” doors to wireless device charging and super-sized video screens.
While Bolat didn’t detail when the new seats would debut or how long the refit would take across the 33-strong Boeing 777 fleet, he indicated the same business class seat may also appear on Turkish Airlines’ planned ultra-long range fleet of 10-15 Airbus A350ULR or Boeing 777X jets which would eventually connect Istanbul non-stop to the likes of Sydney, Melbourne, Santiago and Bueno Aires.
But those globe-striding flights won’t take wing until the end of this decade at the earliest. “It’s five years if it’s the A350, if it’s the 777 it’ll take seven years to mature,” Bolat predicts.