Business Class Travel Vs Economy - Is it Worth the Extra Money?

Very often clients ask us: What is the difference between economy and business class? Is it worth the price difference? In this article we will try to explain the (big) differences between traveling in coach and business class and describe the different amenities on different airlines.

No matter which airline, the basic differences are the same. In business class a passenger will enjoy a wider seat, a bigger seat pitch (leg room), electric seat controls and a bigger recline than a coach seat. These will vary between airlines and even between aircraft types of the same airline. For example, while Philippine airlines offers a seat recline of only sixty degrees, British Airway offers a flat bed seat.

Descriptions of business class seats can be confusing. A lie flat seat is not a flat bed for example. As a rule, a lie flat seat is a seat that can become flat but is on an angle. Among the Airlines that offer this kind of seat are: Eva air, Malaysian airlines, Lufthansa, and Swiss. A flat bed is as the name suggests a seat that becomes flat and horizontal. Airlines that offer this type of seat are British Airways, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, and Air New Zealand among others. Some websites offer descriptions of the seats available on the different aircraft types by airline name.

The seating arrangement in the business class cabin is also different among airlines. On a British Airways business class cabin (also called Club world) the seating is arranged Head-to-toe, while Air Canada Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific have a "herringbone" arrangement. The layout is such that each seat has direct aisle access. This can be an advantage for single travelers but an inconvenience to couples traveling together as there are no two adjacent seats. Seating maps are usually available on the airlines website. Free Advance seating is usually available.

Beyond the actual seat in business class, a passenger will enjoy a variety of extra services and amenities. The staff to passenger ratio is increased. Meals will be served on China with silverware accompanied by glassware. A larger variety of cocktails and drinks are served and usually a snack menu will be offered. Also available: larger personal TV screens with more viewing options, Laptop Power Ports and Amenity kits including socks, eye masks and toiletries. The washrooms might also be equipped with upscale toiletries.

For some passengers an important advantage in purchasing business class tickets is the priority in boarding and luggage. The luggage will be processed faster a fact that can be very important for business people in a hurry. The access to business class lounges is also a nice perk. The lounges usually offer free drinks, snacks and internet access. Some airlines serve full meals. An Arrival lounge might also be available permitting business travelers to refresh themselves before meetings. These lounges very often will offer a pressing service and showers.

A business class airline ticket will cost at least double than an economy class one. Is it worth the money? It all depends on the flight length, your personal budget and physical condition. If you can afford it or if even better, the ticket will be reimbursed by another company you will not regret it. Your flight will be comfortable and maybe even enjoyable. Bon Voyage!

Sivan Rehan,
Travel consultant, Imperial American Express Travel,
Montreal Canada

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