The Consummate Traveler: Surprises in Business-Class Seating

November 20, 2014 Updated: November 20, 2014

When I first began to travel for my job over 15 years ago, one of the most exciting benefits was to travel business class. This has historically meant that the seats were better, the food was more tasty, and most importantly I would not have to squeeze into a middle seat ever again. Well, last week when I flew home from Sao Paulo via Chicago, I learned that business class seating can have a few surprises waiting, depending on what aircraft you are on.

Imagine my shock when I turned the corner after boarding the Boeing 777 plane, only to see that there were four seats crammed into the middle row in the business class section of the cabin. I have not seen anything quite like it before. This meant that there were going to be two passengers who would be very challenged in getting out of their seat during the 10-hour flight once the others had tucked in and spread out for the night.

To add more insult to injury, there were several rows in the first class and business class cabins that were turned in the opposite direction. This meant that one would not only be flying backward but also would be staring directly at the people in the next row (who were faced in the proper direction) throughout the whole flight. The last row in business class was actually facing the entire coach class cabin, which was awkward due to the sheer curtain that separates them. I found this to be such an odd configuration and quite an uncomfortable invasion of privacy.

Before investing your hard-earned money in a business-class ticket for your next trip, my advice is to do a thorough online research of the aircraft-seating chart using websites like or prior to booking your itinerary. The extra cost you may spend to upgrade your seat may be met with shock and surprise if you find yourself in one of these “creatively” laid out floor plans.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels.