Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reflections on Business Class

The project I've been working on for the last year and a half is coming to an end, and so, I suspect, are my days of business class flying. I have three more legs to do to get back from Kathmandu to Bucharest, and that, I reckon, will be that.

So, what does business class offer that goes anyway to justifying the price? Well, the short answer to that is very little. This is what you get for your business class ticket:
  1. Access to the business class lounge in the airport(s). This is a nice perk as it tends to be much more peaceful and comfortable, you get free food and drink, and usually free internet access (except in bloody Germany). However, in most places you can usually pay to get into a business lounge even if you don't have a business ticket. And the price is usually around €20. So, given that the markup on the ticket is way more than that, I'd say this doesn't qualify as something really special.
  2. Hot towels. Now this is a perk. The attendants come round with a hot towel at the beginning and end of your journey, and it's a very nice thing to have. (Note: Not applicable on Lufthansa)
  3. More seat room. Often this is a serious amount of room which is extremely good. However, when you fly within Europe, what it tends to be is that they block off the middle seat with a drinks/newspaper table. The seats that turn into full on beds though? Thumbs up.
  4. Better food. This is nice, but really, you don't fly for the dining experience, so I'm questioning how much of a benefit it really is.
  5. Better service. You get more smiles and more use of your name. And probably there is a higher stewardess/passenger ratio. That's about it.
  6. Flowers/perfume/toothpaste etc in the bathroom.
  7. Occasionally, you get a toiletry set. Not bad
  8. You get off first, and can get on whenever you like. A definite benefit.
  9. The check-in queue is shorter. Ditto.
  10. First choice of the magazines and newspapers.

That's really it. It's not a huge amount really. If you're flying a long distance and you can get a reasonable deal on one of the airlines mentioned below, then go for it. But otherwise, you're not missing a massive amount.


Airlines I've used recently that have really good business class stuff:
  • Etihad
  • Singapore
  • Thai
Pretty good, but not in the top league:
  • Emirates
  • Astana
  • Aeroflot
  • Turkish
  • Uzbek
  • Tarom
Utter rubbish
  • Lufthansa
Basically, what I'm saying is that you're not missing much, but it is a better travelling experience. For in-Europe flights it's a joke really. No wonder it's called business class - it just means the only way people will pay for it is if their company does for them.


ursus arctos said...

One other perk that can actually save a considerable amount of time and hassle is a dedicated "Fast Track" security queue, though it depends quite a bit on the airport.

But you're right; it is almost never intrisically "worth" the difference in price, with the exception (for me) of long overnight when one is expected to work at full speed shortly after arrival (in which case the good showers now at many lounges are also extremely useful).

Ian Plenderleith said...

So it doesn't mean you get to do "the business" with a foxy stewardess? Pah, it seems that all those tattered 70s paperbacks I've been picking up from kerbside cardboard boxes have been spinning me wicked lies. In protest, I'm sticking to economy.

ursus arctos said...

That's the difference between Business and First, ian.

Unknown said...

This is a great site. Just found it today! Is it part of the Luxist has the same feel and characteristics?