Everybody is putting doors in business class. Delta and Qatar have it. British Airways and Etihad are rolling it out. American has committed to it. United is looking at options for which seat with doors to choose as a replacement for Polaris. These are just a few.
And yet occasionally readers question why doors are necessary in business class, going so far as to suggest doors make a seat feel claustrophobic. It’s a more expensive value proposition for airlines. Why has everyone seemingly jumped off this cliff?
Lucky at One Mile at a Time explains the value of doors in business class.
[T]he two biggest luxuries in business class are personal space and privacy. There are limits to how much “real estate” will be allocated to each seat, and therefore airlines are focused on more efficient configurations that create the feeling of having more space.
…[P]rivacy means the ability to minimize the extent to which you’re disturbed by others.
New Business Class Seats, Credit: Air France
This is absolutely correct. In an open business (or first) class configuration I’ll choose the bulkhead row if possible, unless I know that the galley placement on the aircraft will lead to excess noise. That’s because I won’t see anyone behind me and the cabin will feel smaller, as though it’s only one row.
When there are two business cabins, one small and one larger, I’ll choose the mini-cabin. You won’t find yourself in a sea of people.
First world problems too be sure, you’re in a cabin with far fewer people than economy regardless, but small cabins with fewer people around me (whether it’s real or an illusion) leave me far more relaxed. Flying long haul in old British Airways business class, surrounded by people that you climb over, leaves me more worn out at the end of the flight.
Doors help to create a cocoon. They cordon off personal space and leave you less likely to see the people around you. To be sure many of those doors are half-height, and some first class products provide greater privacy as cabin crew walk down the aisle. But the point of the exercise isn’t to give you so much privacy that no one can see you so you can do you-know-what. Instead it can be as much about your own perception of the cabin around you – what you see and do not see – as about who sees you.
In addition there’s the actual privacy benefit, that when you’re sleeping other passengers aren’t looking at you. That doesn’t bother me so much, but it does make many readers uncomfortable, especially women.
Finally, I agree with the points that Lucky makes that,
- You’ll be somewhat shielded by lights and entertainment screens in other seats
- You’re not going to get bumped by passengers and crew as they pass down the aisle
British Airways Business Class
Fundamentally doors are a choice. If you don’t care for them, keep yours open. If you want it closed, close it. Offering doors in business class lets passengers better custom tailor their experience. Most people close their doors.