If you’re planning to fork out the extra money to fly premium then you may be wondering whether it’s worth going the whole hog and buying a First Class ticket, or whether you should stick to Business Class on your international flight.
To help you decide, let’s take a look at the main differences between First and Business:
Getting to the airport
Some airlines, like Emirates and Etihad, will offer chauffeur-driven cars for both First Class and Business Class customers, while others will strictly reserve this for First Class customers. The chauffeur-driven car will whisk you from your home to the airport, so you don’t have to worry about taxis or public transport.
First Class may also include a transfer from the terminal to your plane – if you’re flying in First Class with Lufthansa for example, you’ll be driven right onto the tarmac in a limousine or sports car to board your flight.
Business Class lounges will often feature things like comfy seating, a self-service buffet/bar, showers, Wi-fi and business facilities. Standards will vary depending on the airline, so some may also include an a la carte restaurant.
Sometimes an airline will have a joint First and Business Class lounge, while other times they will have a separate First Class lounge for the exclusive use of First Class customers. These lounges tend to be smaller and feel a little more intimate, with better alcohol selections and waiter service. If you’re headed to France on a luxury trip to Paris, Air France even has a menu created by Michelin chef Alain Ducasse inside its Paris First Class Lounge.
Lufthansa has a dedicated First Class wing in Frankfurt, while British Airways is planning to launch a First Wing at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, offering a priority security channel for First Class customers.
On international business class flights you’ll usually get a lie-flat seat, unless you’re flying on a much older aircraft. These seats are usually more like private pods with storage space for personal items, a large entertainment screen and noise cancelling headsets. When you wish to sleep your seat will convert into a fully flat bed complete with duvet and comfy pillow.
In First Class you may get a suite, which tends to be a lot larger and may feature a separate bed. Etihad’s A380 has First Class Apartments featuring leather armchairs and separate bed of 6 feet and 10 inches, plus there’s even space to walk around after closing the privacy doors.
Check-in and service
If you fly in First Class you’ll have the benefit of extra baggage allowance, should you be wishing to travel with extra bags.
In Business Class on British Airways you’ll usually get a baggage allowance of 2 bags weighing 32kg each, while in First Class you’ll get an allowance of 3 bags weighing 32kg each. Both First and Business Class tickets tend to come with priority check-in, baggage and security, however with First Class you get the true VIP treatment.
Singapore Airlines has a First Class check-in reception at Changi Airport, with a private entrance from the lounge that leads you directly to immigration. Just like in a top-class hotel, you’ll be greeted by a porter when you arrive, who will unload your bags and assist you to the elegant check-in facility.
In truth, while First Class is more luxurious and opulent, Business Class still provides everything you’ll ever need. Champagne, lie-flat seats, large entertainment screens and fine dining are just some of the things you’ll be able to experience in the Business Class cabin. Airlines such as Qatar Airways have actually chosen to cut back on First Class in favour of Business Class, simply because it’s a much more viable option financially. Fewer people will choose to fly First Class, so instead they’ve decided to make their Business Class more like a middle ground between Business and First.
Bottom line – if you have the cash (or miles) to spend and want to live the James Bond lifestyle in First Class, then do – it’s definitely an experience of a lifetime. But if you’re on more of a budget then Business Class is more than adequate and will have you reaching your destination feeling pampered and relaxed.