There are two different types of air travel modes that passengers experience when they head to the airport. The coach experience is the most common form of travel and the one that we are most likely all accustomed to. For the business traveler there exists a higher level of service and comfort known as business class.
Why Should I fly Business Class?
Business class is the pinnacle of air travel and is meant to encompass everything luxurious when flying an airline. That last sentence may seem like a joke but airlines will bend over backwards to ensure that their frequent business fliers are well taken care of. It is estimated that business travelers make up about 60% of the aviation industry which means airlines are willing to fight very hard for their money.
What does this mean for the average business or vacationer traveler willing to pay the extra prices? Quite simply it means that your flight will be more comfortable and you will receive some additional perks that are non-existent in economy class. These can be a lifesaver on longer flights and are all in the eye of the beholder. With great luxury comes an expensive ticket price which means can place that illustrious seat out of reach for some passengers.
What exactly will a business fare provide over economy? Well the answer to that depends on many different variables such as the length of the flight, the plane type, and the airline. For the purpose of this explanation I will use an average transcontinental flight from New York to Los Angeles. The plane is assumed to be a Boeing 757 and the airline will be any of the major carriers.
The first thing a business class passenger will notice is the faster check in process. Business fliers are invited to use a special line at the check in counter. This line is separated from economy passengers and includes perks such as free checked bags. Business fliers will also receive special tags for their bags which ensure that their bags are the first to arrive at the baggage carousel should they decide to use the checked bag service.
After using the express check in line, business passengers may find an expedited line at the security check point. Airlines have been working with the TSA to implement new security lines that offer faster screening for select passengers including business class. Not all airports offer this feature yet but you will find it at most major hubs such as JFK, LAX, and ATL.
Once through security most business travelers head to the airline lounge. This is a private club that offers free internet, free snacks, free drinks, and even showers. It is a place to unwind, relax, and maybe get some business done before the flight. Economy passengers may purchase passes to the club but they are generally expensive as airlines try to curb who can visit to keep them exclusive.
Once it is time to begin boarding, business travelers are able to make their way to the gate and board at any time during the boarding process. They are given the option to board first but the line is kept open throughout in case any are running late. Of course any late comers are able to skip to the head of the line and are never required to wait with the economy passengers.
The first thing everyone notices when getting on a plane is the extra wide business seats, extra leg room, and expanded overhead space. All of this is meant to ensure the passenger is more comfortable throughout the entire flight. Once you’re comfortably seated the flight attendant will come through the cabin offering pre-departure drinks and snacks. All alcohol and food is free in business class so feel free to drink and eat as much as you want. Oh and the food isn’t as bad as everyone would lead you to believe. Just be sure to stay away from the cucumber sandwiches if you’re unfortunate enough to have them as a mid-flight snack.
During the Flight
The actual flight isn’t too different from an economy class experience although there are some subtle and not so subtle differences. One of the nice features that used to be exclusive to first class only was personal televisions placed in the seat back in front of you. These allowed passengers to watch movies, television shows, and even play games throughout the flight. Thankfully for those who fly coach, these sets are being installed in more planes economy class every day.
A second difference would the quality of the food served during the flight. Coach customers will find themselves presented with the basic snack choices and the option to purchase food. Business class passengers will be given a choice of a few different meals. The choices are usually based on a having a meat and vegetarian option. Passengers with special dietary needs should call the airline before the flight so that a special meal can be served instead of the normal options. Airlines are actually very good about accommodating special dietary needs so be sure to call them if you need to avoid any ingredients.
A third thing business class passengers can expect is better all-around service. There is more opportunity for passengers to receive refills on their drinks, additional snacks, and whatever else is desired. This may not seem like a big deal, but it becomes a real perk on longer flights.
During the decent portion of the flight business class passengers will be able to refresh in the lavatory. Some airlines even include a mini refreshment kit that includes things such as a toothbrush, lip balm, lotion, toothpaste, dental floss, and sometimes makeup in order to make the passengers feel better and look their best.
After the Flight
Upon landing, business class passengers will be allowed to exit the plane before economy class. This ensures that these passengers are given the best chance to catch a connecting flight. Early disembarking also allows passengers to get their baggage first and avoid most of the hassles associated with baggage claim.
The final bonus that people can expect will come in the form of frequent flier miles. Some airlines offer double the miles for people who purchase business class seats. This is a great advantage for frequent travelers who are able to build up more free flights faster. Do you have that friend or acquaintance that has more miles than they know what to do with? This is how they got those miles and this is how you can get them too if you fly frequently.
The Final Word
Overall, business class is better than economy class for a number of reasons. It has to be better due to the price passengers pay for this service which can be up to triple the cost of an economy seat. The decision on whether to purchase an economy seat lies with the individual. I think it’s important to figure out how much you travel and what the right distance is to make that ticket price worthwhile. The important thing if you choose business is to enjoy the experience.