When considering a business class flight you should do some research beforehand to find out more about the product you’ll be flying. Here are a few tips to help you maximise the business class flight experience…
Know Your Seat and Configuration
These days, business class seats can come in various forms, sizes and configurations. From fully lie-flat seats, angled lie-flat seats, cradle (older-style business class) seats right down to standard economy seats with extra legroom.
Fully lie-flat seats are offered from the likes of Air Canada, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Etihad, Garuda, Iberia, South African Airways, Swiss, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic throughout their long-haul fleets.
Be aware that many other airlines have different business class seating which depends on routes and aircraft – so always do your homework. Air France, for instance, generally has angled flat seats in its business class cabin with the exception of the Boeing 777-300ER. You will only find full lie-flat seats across the fleet in its first class cabins.
Now let’s say you happen to be flying business class with Singapore Airlines from London to Sydney via Singapore. On the London to Singapore leg you will experience the airline’s full flat bed product (1-2-1 config) on its Airbus A380 or Boeing 777-300ER. All well and good.
However when you get on the Singapore-Sydney sector (3,900 miles) you could find yourself on a Boeing 777-200 with the older cradle style seating in business class (2-3-2 regional config with 52″ pitch, 20″ width) – this could be a disappointment to some. On that sector be sure to choose either the A380 or 777-300ER option to maintain the flat bed.
Other airlines which utilise different business class seat products across their fleets are ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines.
Probably the most ideal configuration in business class is the 1-2-1 which gives all passengers aisle access and caters well for both single passengers and couples.
1-2-1 Business Class Configuration
Air Berlin – Airbus A330
Air Canada – Boeing 777*/787
Air France – Boeing 777-300ER
Air New Zealand – Boeing 777/787
Alitalia – Airbus A330*/Boeing 777
American Airlines – Boeing 777
ANA – Boeing 777-300ER*
Asiana – Airbus A380/Boeing 777-200*
Austrian – Boeing 777/767
Brussels Airlines – Airbus A330
Cathay Pacific – Airbus A330*/Boeing 777-300ER/747
Delta Airlines – Airbus A330*/Boeing 747/767*/777
Etihad – Airbus A330/A340/A380/Boeing 777/787
EVA Air – Boeing 777-300ER*
Emirates – Airbus A380
Finnair – Airbus A350/A330*
Garuda – Boeing 777
Japan Airlines – Boeing 767*
Oman Air – Airbus A330
Qatar Airways – Airbus A380/Boeing 787
Singapore Airlines – Airbus A380/Boeing 777*
Swiss – Airbus A340/A330
Thai Airways – Airbus A380/Boeing 777-300ER
Turkish Airlines – Boeing 777-300ER*
Virgin Atlantic – Airbus A330/Boeing 747
* aircraft type also has denser configs, so double check
Once you choose which airline and aircraft you are flying on then check the seating configuration map in detail to decide which are your preferred seats.
For example, you may want to sit in a smaller cabin – say the upper deck of a Boeing 747.
Most airlines allow business class passengers to assign a seat at the time of booking. Air New Zealand, Emirates, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic offer this free of charge. British Airways on the other hand charges £60 for an advanced Club World seat assignment (free for BA Gold members).
Alternatively wait for online check-in – where you can choose a seat for free – but do so as early as possible to get the widest possible seat availability.
Complimentary Chauffeur Service
A number of airlines offer business class ticket holders a free limousine transfer at departure, arrival and also if making a stopover. You will need to book the cars in advance, either online or by telephone, depending on the airline.
Etihad – Business class travellers (revenue and award) get a door-to-door complimentary chauffeur transfer, available at over 25 cities worldwide. Note some special promotional fares may not include the service. Ranges include London Heathrow/Manchester (100 miles), New York JFK /Los Angeles LAX (60 miles), Sydney airport (50km) and anywhere in UAE from Abu Dhabi. Book up to 24 hours in advance.
Emirates – Chauffeur drive service is available for business class passengers (revenue and award) at 70 airports worldwide. Note, tickets must be issued by Emirates or Qantas. Book online at least 48 hours beforehand. Ranges are London LHR/Manchester (70 miles), New York JFK/Los Angeles LAX (60 miles), Sydney (40km), Dubai (all of UAE). Note that the following flights are NOT eligible for the business class chauffeur service for: Buenos Aires-Rio de Janeiro; Australia-New Zealand; Hong Kong flights including Hong Kong-Bangkok.
Qantas – Since becoming a joint-venture partner with Emirates, Qantas has introduced complimentary Chauffeur drive services to business class passengers (revenue and award) booked on Sydney/Melbourne-Dubai-London. The chauffeur is also included on any domestic/trans-Tasman connection to the above. Tickets must be issued by Qantas or Emirates. Book at least 48 hours in advance.
Virgin Atlantic – Offers a free chauffeur driven car service for Upper Class fares in revenue booking classes J/C/D/I at 26 airports worldwide. Award bookings are not valid though you can use 17,500 additional Flying Club miles to book a transfer. Ranges are London/Manchester (75 miles), New York/Los Angeles (75 miles), Johannesburg/Cape Town (55 miles), Dubai (anywhere in UAE).
Virgin Australia – Offers a complimentary limousine service for some business class passengers on international long-haul flights. Eligible fare classes (revenue-only) are J/C/D/I/Z on flights to/from UAE; J/C on flights to/from US. Limo ranges are Australia (60km), US (50 miles) and anywhere in UAE. Book up to 24 hours in advance.
Air Berlin – Due to its partnership with Etihad, Air Berlin offers a complimentary chauffeur transfer to business class travellers on flights between Berlin/Dusseldorf and Abu Dhabi. Can be booked up to 24 hours in advance by phone. Ranges are Berlin (40km), Dusseldorf (60km) and anywhere in UAE.
Arik Air – Offers a chauffeur driven car for ex-UK Premier Business class passengers flying from London to Lagos with an 80km radius around Heathrow.
Oman Air – Offers a Chauffeur Drive service to first and business class passengers in revenue fare classes P/F/J/C/D only. Ranges include London Heathrow (50 miles), Paris/Frankfurt/Munich (50 km) and Muscat (60km). Book at least 48 hours prior to flying.
Note that the likes of British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways do not offer a complimentary limousine transfer for premium passengers.
Before you fly you should seek out some reviews of the airline you are flying. One Mile At a Time has comprehensive trip reports with photos of many business and first class airlines.
On arrival at the airport, business class passengers can use dedicated business check-in desks which should keep waiting time to a minimum. Many airports also have a fast-track security lane for premium passengers.
Find out what your lounge access options are. An airline’s best lounges tend to be at it home airport(s) and at its major hubs.
Some airlines offer spa facilities at their lounges for business class passengers:
British Airways has Elemis Travel Spas at its lounges at London Heathrow (T5) and New York JFK (T7). Club World passengers can get a complimentary 15 minute treatment from an extensive menu – bookable on arrival at the lounge, subject to availability.
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounges at London Gatwick/Heathrow and New York JFK offer free spa and hair treatments for Upper Class passengers.
Etihad offers 15 minute treatments to premium passengers at its Six Senses Spa at its lounges at Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow.
If using an airline lounge spa facility do arrive early to allow enough time.
Note, some airlines such as Air France, Thai, Qantas and Emirates offer complimentary spas only to first class passengers.
Most airlines have priority boarding for premium passengers – so board at your leisure.
Once on board, familiarise yourself with the seat adjustment controls and entertainment system. These days noise-cancelling headphones are standard issue in business clas cabins.
If flying with a major airline you can expect a pretty decent level of service – though try not to overindulge in rich foods, caffeine and alcohol. See our tips on staying healthy on board your flight.
For most business class passengers getting a good sleep is a priority.
Many top airlines offer arrival lounges (particularly at their home airports) where you can freshen up, take a shower and perhaps eat a light snack before leaving the airport.