Meet the startups hoping to redefine business class seats | Airlines

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The next time you fly premium, take a minute or two to appreciate the thought and craftmanship that goes into the engineering marvel that is a modern business class seat.

It must combine an elegant design with superb ergonomics and state-of-the art electronics, all while being lightweight and compliant with certification requirements.

Airlines don’t like to take chances. With so many carriers relying on the front of the cabin to turn a profit, the long term financial and marketing implications of choosing the right business class seat are significant.

There’s a race to see which company has the most pleasing business class in the skies. But with the market increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few large manufacturers, some airlines fear lagging behind, sidelined in favor of large operators capable of ordering at scale.

Therefore, it’s unsurprising that some carriers are turning to smaller aircraft seat manufacturers for fresh ideas and shorter lead times.

A number of boutique seat makers have embraced this market opportunity to come up with innovative business class concepts with the potential to set new standards in the industry.

AeroTime spoke to two such companies, namely Italian designer and manufacturer Optimares, and British startup Unum, in order to learn more about their distinctive market approach and what travelers can expect in terms of experience and comfort.

The seat boutique

“We aim to empower the passenger experience through design,” explained Alessandro Braca, CEO of Optimares. “Instead of creating capacity, we create capabilities.”

The Italian firm takes pride in its eclectic mix of customers, which includes the likes of Hawaiian Airlines, the British government’s VIP squadron (operated by Titan Airways on behalf of His Majesty’s Government) and BeOnd, a luxury airline based in the Maldives.

Aware of where the strengths and limitations, Optimares has avoided any thought of vertical integration. Instead, the…

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