Continental Airlines’ first aircraft with flat-bed businessfirst seats takes to the skies

Continental Airlines’ first aircraft with flat-bed businessfirst seats takes to the skies

Continental Airlines’ (NYSE: CAL) first aircraft with new flat-bed BusinessFirst seats took to the skies Sunday, operating as flight CO98 from Hong Kong to New York/Newark.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777 used on long-haul international routes, is the first aircraft type in Continental’s fleet to receive the new seats. The company will also install the flat-bed seats on its Boeing 757-200 and 767-400 aircraft, and on its Boeing 787 fleet as the aircraft are delivered to Continental.

“We began designing this seat three years ago, involving our customers and numerous other experts to get it just right and I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result,” said Larry Kellner, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Airlines. “This is a great seat and I am excited to see more of them on flights throughout our system.”

Flat-Bed Seat Reclines 180-Degrees

Continental’s new BusinessFirst seats allow customers to lie completely flat, reclining 180-degrees and providing 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) of sleeping space in the fully extended position. Electronic controls enable customers to easily move the seat to an infinite number of adjustments, including lumbar support and fully extended sleep positions. Laptop power, headset and USB plugs are conveniently tucked above the customer’s shoulder and iPod connectivity is also available at the seat. The seats feature 15.4-inch video monitors.

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Perfecting Design Since Fall 2006

Continental’s product marketing team began researching new seat options in the fall of 2006 when planning BusinessFirst service for the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline visited with numerous seat manufacturers worldwide before selecting BE Aerospace, which created five different design concepts. Concurrently, Continental sought feedback from a focus group of BusinessFirst frequent flyers that identified and prioritized key needs of global travelers and worked closely with the airline’s project team and the seat manufacturer to help create the new seat. The important features requested by the focus group were to install a wider seat that could lie completely flat and be easy to operate.

Continental currently operates the Boeing 777 on routes between Newark and Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London/Heathrow, Mumbai, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv and Tokyo, and between Houston and London/Heathrow, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

Continental uses the Boeing 767-400 on routes between Newark and Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva and Honolulu; between Houston and Frankfurt, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Honolulu; and between Guam and Honolulu and Narita.

BusinessFirst on the Boeing 757 is currently offered on routes between Newark and Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Birmingham, Bristol, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hamburg, Lisbon, London/Heathrow, Madrid, Manchester, Oslo, Paris, Shannon and Stockholm.

Continental Airlines is the world’s fifth largest airline. Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 2,400 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 130 domestic and 132 international destinations. Continental is a member of Star Alliance, which provides access to more than 900 additional points in 169 countries via 24 other member airlines. With more than 41,000 employees, Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and together with its regional partners, carries approximately 63 million passengers per year.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Continental consistently earns awards and critical acclaim for both its operation and its corporate culture. For the sixth consecutive year, FORTUNE magazine named Continental the No. 1 World’s Most Admired Airline on its 2009 list of World’s Most Admired Companies. For more company information, go to continental.com.