For most of us, traveling by air is a case of getting from A to B, but what about those who like to travel a little more luxuriously? Airlines across the globe offer Business and First Class travel options which far surpass the offerings in Economy. When traveling in both Business and First Class you can expect great service, airport lounge access, priority boarding, comfortable seats and a fine dining experience in the air. So what actually is the difference between the two?
The Difference Between Business and First Class Flights
While flying either Business or First Class will set you back a fair amount in dollars or airmiles, these are undoubtedly the most luxurious way to take to the skies. Although both are designed with maximum comfort and optimum service in mind, there are some big differences between the two. Business Class offers comfortable, full flat-bed seats and ample leg room, as well as restaurant-quality food and attentive service. First Class takes everything up a step, however, with some airlines offering private suites with double beds, expansive menus curated by award-winning chefs and paired with fine wines, and even bathrooms with showers onboard!
As a First or Business Class passenger, you’ll have access to an exclusive lounge offering a comfortable place to await your flight, with complimentary snacks and drinks. The difference between the two comes in the level of quality and amenities available. Business lounges offer a very high standard of facilities and ways to relax before your flight—from self-service buffets and sleeping pods in the Emirates Business Lounge in Dubai, to a pool table, Peloton bikes with a runway view and a cocktail bar at Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse at Heathrow. While the Business Class lounge is a luxurious experience, First Class lounges take it up a notch.
The Lufthansa first class lounge in Frankfurt offers Michelin-starred chefs and a cigar lounge with a whiskey bar. Meanwhile the Royal Orchid Spa found in Thai Airway’s First Class lounge at Bangkok airport offers a range of treatments including a 60-minute massage to all First Class passengers.
When it’s time to board, both Business and First Class passengers have priority over Economy passengers, but First Class passengers are always invited to board first. First Class passengers usually board the plane through a private entrance, where they’ll be greeted by their designated server who will take their coats, offer them complimentary champagne and show them the exclusive First Class menu.
Business class seats are much more spacious than economy, with ample legroom and fully flat beds for that much needed night’s sleep. First Class offers even more privacy than Business Class; some First Class airlines have private suites with a closing doors. In recent years, airlines such as Lufthansa have launched suites for couples featuring a double bed, and in the much-coveted Etihad Residence you’ll have your own living room and shower!
Food & Drink
Let’s talk about food and drink in Business Class vs. First Class. Both classes offer a premium dining experience with a varied menu and wine list. Whilst business class dining is usually considered restaurant quality, the selection and standard of the food and drink available in First Class surpasses it monumentally. Multiple courses (often curated by an award-winning chef) are served to order, paired with a selection of lavish drinks and fine wines. First Class dining often starts in ultimate style with a serving of caviar accompanied by a glass of premium champagne.
As for the added extras, Business and First Class passengers alike can expect to receive amenity kits on board, typically including luxury toiletries, an eye mask and ear plugs to give the journey that little extra bit of comfort. In First Class, passengers can also expect to receive noise-cancelling headphones and airline-branded luxury pyjamas, which they can keep after the flight. As for bedding, the blankets typically provided in business class, although comfortable, are nothing on the luxury duvets that most First Class suites now provide.
The level of service in Business and First Class is exceptional with incredible attention to detail. Business Class passengers will receive a much more attentive service than those in Economy, although they won’t usually have their own dedicated server. First Class passengers can expect a fully personalized experience, with a dedicated flight attendant to cater to their every need. This includes round-the-clock food and drink service as well as transforming the suite into a sleeping haven when it’s time to get some rest.
Pros and Cons of Flying Business Class
Pros of Flying Business Class
The pros of Business Class start at the airport with access to the Business Class lounge which includes complimentary snacks and drinks. Once on board, the food and drinks keep flowing with a multi-course menu and a great wine selection. The seats come with extra legroom and great sleeping options. With priority boarding and baggage handling and allowance also included, Business Class travel is both smooth and easy.
Cons of Flying Business Class
Business Class is significantly pricier than Economy, usually setting you back at least double the cost of a regular ticket price. And, while it’s a very comfortable way to travel, it’s missing some of the more exclusive features of First Class, such as private suites and luxury amenities.
Pros and Cons of Flying First Class
Pros of Flying First Class
Flying First Class is the most luxurious experience you can have on a passenger jet, with options including private suites with double beds and even on-board showers on certain carriers. The exclusive lounge access and gourmet dining options on board make the experience a real extravagance, and the personalized service is the cherry on top! There is no more luxurious a way to travel long-haul than in a First Class Suite.
Cons of Flying First Class
Flying First Class comes at a cost, with overseas trips to Asia or Europe often hitting a five-figure price point. Due to the spaciousness of the First Class Suites, there is limited availability on some routes, so tickets must be booked far in advance to secure the best suite.
Long Story Short...
When choosing to fly in style, it ultimately comes down to your budget. While Business Class is a huge jump from Economy, it doesn’t quite offer the full experience of First Class. Many airlines offer air mile point schemes, so if you’re a frequent flyer with enough points, you too could be wining and fine-dining at 6 miles high!
Written by AC Callahan