Let’s address the time honoured First Class vs. Business Class debate. Those who frequently travel for business have wrestled between whether to book first or business class fares. While the most apparent differences between the two classes lie with price, seats, and service, no specific standards exist within the airline industry as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative to understand whether you are receiving enough value to justify the elevated price of a first-class fare. Here’s our evaluation.
Domestic and Regional
There is a significant difference between domestic and regional first class and international first. For short-haul flights, passengers generally won’t see a tremendous distinction between first and business as the flight duration isn’t long enough, or the aircraft is not large enough to allow for much variation. In addition, many airlines use older aircrafts to service domestic and regional routes. This translates to first and business class having very similar seating, privacy, TV sizes, menus and thus far less value for money on first class fares.
International Business Class
Competition for passengers and new technology has created significant improvements in international business class. Far exceeding the offerings of domestic first class, passengers can relax in luxurious seats that fully convert to lie-flat beds. On the latest Boeing 777 aircraft, a staggered 2-4-2 pod-like configuration allows for enhanced privacy and uninterrupted work or rest. Travellers will also have access to on-demand entertainment on larger TV screens as well as gourmet a la carte menus. Boasting beautifully crafted dishes that incorporate culinary creations from around the world, meals are served by attentive staff and paired with a selection of fine wines. Lastly, those flying with major airlines can make use of a network of business class lounges around the globe. With the combination of both incredible onboard and airport service, international business class travel offers great value for money.
International First Class
The ultimate in travel luxury, the first class experience begins with access to exclusive first-only lounges at major international airports. From showers to spa treatments, passengers can wait to board their flight in a haven of tranquillity. Once on board, personal suites in generous configurations create totally private spaces. With beautiful extra wide seats that transform into soft beds, long-haul flights provide all the luxuries of home. Watch on-demand videos from personalized wide-screen televisions or dine on made to order cuisine, prepared in a state of the art galley. While some airlines are opting for hybrid first/business classes, many are investing substantially to maintain their first class product. The demand for it remains on major European and Asian routes where there is still a market segment willing to pay for first-class fare prices.
The Last Word
As for the ultimate question: Is first class worth it? Our market experts suggest that it often depends on the airline. Generally, those with in-demand first class fares such as Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have created enough of a distinction between their business and first product through additional luxury and higher levels of personalized service so that high prices intersect with value.
How to Incorporate a Holiday into your Next Business Trip
If you have ever felt like you spend more time in the air than on the ground, it might be time to add a little fun to your next business trip. Whether it is a day trip out in the city, an added leg to your journey or bringing along a spouse or friend, there’s a lot of great ways to get more than quality work out of your travel.
Bring a Partner
Travelling for business can be a lonely affair. With impersonal airports and hotel rooms, the warmth of home certainly lacks at times. Consider inviting your significant other, or a friend to come along on your next trip. Even if you have to entertain clients, have meetings, or work in the evenings, you’d be surprised at how much better your trip can be when you experience it with a companion. While you’re working they can book a tour, explore the city, or indulge in a fun activity. Best of all, when you’ve got some spare time, you can go have some fun together.
Extend your Stay
Arriving a few days before or staying a few days after your trip, can enable you to explore the city you’re working in. So often, travellers leave directly after business is wrapped up and miss an opportunity to see incredible new places inexpensively. Book in some “days off” and explore the city. Experience incredible sights and amazing local cuisine, or try something you’ve always wanted to do.
Add a Holiday
Even if the place you’re travelling to for work isn’t very exciting, adding a holiday to somewhere interesting close by can add significant value. Book a regional flight, take a train, or hire a car and travel to a point of interest. With the major travel time already out of the way, this is a fantastic way to enjoy an extra holiday.