When flyDubai launched its 737 MAX 8 fleet the target was longer haul markets. Flat beds up front were a key part of delivering that premium product. The company’s latest 737 MAX 8, however, comes with HAECO Eclipse seats up front, signaling a transition in the company’s fleet plans.
The Eclipse seat offers a slightly staggered layout, increasing passenger privacy. It also offers unique storage and passenger amenity options. But it is decidedly not flat beds.
The headphones hook, for example, is uncommon in comparable offerings from other vendors. The in-seat reading light is also uncommon for comparable seats.
The embedded IFE screen is more typical, but the flyDubai version appears very large. Adjacent to the screen appears to be a phone holder and USB-C charging point, though those details are not certain.
The seats also have a small beverage shelf and storage area under the screen, according to images the company shared on LinkedIn in advance of the introduction.
HAECO positions the product as a hybrid between business class and premium economy. For a single-aisle aircraft it represents an opportunity to improve the passenger experience while not detracting from cabin space utilization.
Indeed, HAECO suggests Eclipse can improve on-board space usage by 14%. The flyDubai version offers 12 business class seats and 162 in economy, comparable to the non-MAX 737-800 layout. The more premium version of the MAX 8 layout offers 10 flat beds and 156 economy seats.
The new seats also offer a unique storage option for crew bags, according to HAECO. This helps preserve overhead bin space for passengers.
The equipped aircraft appears to be A6-FMT, the newest MAX to join the company’s operations. Its inaugural service was to Tirana, Albania over the weekend. From there it served Entebbe, Uganda, a relatively long 5.5 hour route for flyDubai.
This week the new configuration is scheduled to serve Tel Aviv (Monday & Tuesday outbound from Dubai), Tirana (Wednesday and Friday), Tehran (Thursday), and Budapest (Saturday and Sunday).
For the next few weeks after the initial tour the plane appears to focus on Tirana. Tel Aviv may rejoin the rotation in mid-December. Because it is the same seating layout as the 737-800 the older planes could swap in if necessary due to mechanical or other delays.
The seat, introduced to the market in 2019, was previously expected to fly last year. Pandemic-related delays are hardly surprising.
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