Each year, TheDesignAir awards carriers that have considered brand, product and design in their passenger experience. These are the awards for the best airline cabins of 2016.

Best New Business Class 2016

China Airlines A350

China Airlines’ new A350 business class has been voted to be the best New Business Class of 2016. The original cabin was designed by Ray Chen, but the China Airlines design team have added flourishes to act as a point of difference between the A350 and the 777-300ER business class cabins.

Best New First Class 2016

Swiss 777-300ER

TheDesignAir readers have celebrated Swiss new flagship 777-300ER aircraft by giving the title of Best New First Class 2016 to the flag carrier of Switzerland. London-based Priestmangoode has reimagined a First Class cabin that offers a sophisticated, residential feel. The new suites offer 50% more space, enhanced privacy and the industry’s largest 32” video screen.

Best First Class Design 2016


It is not just the brand new First Class lounge in AUH airport that has helped Etihad maintain their position in the rankings this year. As Etihad continues to receive brand-new Dreamliners, the chances of their passengers experiencing the latest first class product are increasing. Etihad’s First Class product has yet to be matched by a competing airline. The airline has invested heavily into a truly bespoke, holistic design that encompasses graphic design, interior design and a signature service standard that Etihad has perfected so well.

Best Premium Economy Design 2016

Cathay Pacific

Another carrier to introduce the A350 in 2016 is Cathay Pacific. They took the opportunity to invest into their premium economy cabin. Designed by Studio F.A. Porsche, the new seats all offer 12.1” personal screens, increased seat pitch, leg rests on every seat and a beautifully designed reading lamp. While the seats may be a fraction narrower than their older 777 counterparts, the ability to lower the arm rest to stretch out will make it easier to find that sweet-spot for sleeping. 

Best Economy Class Design 2016


Etihad‘s economy class has won the best economy class design two years in a row due to the rollout of the Smart seat, as found on the carrier’s A380 aircraft. The entire aircraft, as well as the 787, has been designed to give a residential feel, rather than an aircraft, and toilets, galleys and aisles have been designed to make the space more inviting and open.