There’s no such thing as standard Business Class or standard First Class anymore. Each airline has their own take on the best Business Class flights or comfort in First Class. Some airlines have even gone as far as combining them into one cabin on international flights. All of this can make it very confusing to know what cabin you’re actually paying for and what’s really worth your money. There are, however several distinct advantages of choosing Business Class before First Class.
Seeing many airlines either only have Business Class or a combined cabin, Business Class passengers are often provided with the same amenities as their First Class peers. Think high end toiletries, eye masks, wide-screen entertainment systems, noise cancelling headphones and even pyjamas.
If you’re flying for work, you’re probably flying on company money, but the cost of a First Class ticket might be over budget. A Business Class ticket however, can usually be justified, particularly if you’re travelling through time zones and need to be fresh for meetings as soon as you touch down.
Despite the steeper price you pay to travel in First Class, you don’t actually earn comparatively more frequent flyer miles than in Business Class – so you not only save money, but you don’t lose out on your loyalty rewards.
All that really matters at airport check-in is that you’re not in the Economy queue – because we all know how slow that one can be! Increasingly airlines, regardless of whether you’re in Business or First Class, will make you share the same priority queue – so it doesn’t matter how much you paid for your ticket. Onboard the aircraft service is improving in Business Class too. While First Class passengers still receive the most doting service, Business Class enjoys the perks of less passengers per flight attendant and more schmoozing than ever before.
Some airlines offer exclusive lounges for First Class passengers and a separate lounge for Business, such as the Qantas First Class lounge at LAX, or Luftansa’s First Class terminals – where passengers are driven to the airplane in a Porsche! Many airlines however, have opted for one lounge for both First and Business Class passengers. This is usually more of a quiet space with good WiFi, decent food and alcohol, showers and some other amenities.
Two decades ago First Class was the epitome of luxury and comfort. Today however, those seats pale in the face of today’s Business Class offerings. British Airways installed the first lay-flat beds in First Class in 1995, yet today you can expect them in Business Class onboard most premium airlines – making a restful night’s sleep more achievable. Privacy has also improved with many seats designed facing their own direction, or at least fitted with privacy screens.
This is the one category where Business and First Class differ the most. Air France serve First Class menus created by Michelin-starred chefs, Singapore Airlines offer caviar and Krug Grande Cuvee before take-off, and a host of other airlines including Qantas, Qatar, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic boast onboard bars where you can mingle with other passengers.
In Business Class, the menus are usually more standard – albeit more refined than in the lower classes. You can expect more top shelf spirits, wine and beer, and chef-designed menus. You might even be able to choose when you eat, with dine on demand services on some airlines like Qatar.
It’s true – only a small number of the world’s airlines still offer First Class. Qantas, Emirates, Etihad and Singapore have both a First and Business Class cabin in some of their aircraft, but most other airlines are sticking to Business Class and Premium Economy, and Virgin Atlantic has gone vague with its flashy Upper Class. Business Class really is the new First Class!
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