Flying business class is the best way to start a trip, whether it’s a holiday or a business trip.
If you regularly travel for business you surely know how important it is to maximize your time and to be able to work even during a flight or – if the flight is an overnight one – to get proper rest before a business meeting. And even if you don’t, you can easily gather that a flight in business class is better than one in premium economy (which is only a slight improvement from economy) and a million times better than one in coach – where despite the best efforts of most airlines service is slow, the cabin is crowded and loud and at times quite dirty too.
Yes, business class flights are significantly more expensive – what with the seats that lie flat so that you can actually sleep on your back rather than your neck; the food that actually taste like food and not cardboard or plastic; the drink selections; the Wi-Fi; the large screen and the fabulous service.
But are they worth the price difference?
It depends – really. For short flights, I must admit that I don’t think there is any point in flying business class. But if your flight is 6 hours or more, it’s definitely worth considering.
Continue reading to discover what you must know about flying business class – so that you can decide whether to invest in a pricier ticket option or not.
What You Must Know About Flying Business Class
Are business class flights worth it?
I have briefly addressed this point before. In general, if you are up for paying the (sometimes very high) price difference, flying business class is usually worth it for flights that are 6 hours or longer.
If you are going to the other side of the world for a business meeting that will take place shortly after you land and you need to make sure you are well rested on arrival; if you are unable to sleep unless you lay down; if you are super tall and can’t comfortably fit in the tiny seats in economy class (I can’t sit comfortably there, and I am only 5′ 3″; if you are heading out on your honeymoon; and quite importantly money is not an issue – then, you really should consider paying extra for a flight in business class.
Personally, I am pretty much unable to sleep unless I lay down – I can at most doze off while seated. I also know I regularly get up to use the toilet even during long haul flights (I drink loads to fight dehydration). So, the extra room to move around in the cabin is certainly worth investing for me.
What’s the difference between business class and first class?
Many airlines now only offer business class; but some still have an option to fly first class too.
Flying first class is an even better experience than business class, which starts before the flight with transportation to the airport included in the price of the ticket; with seats nicely enclosed in what is virtually a small bedroom, complete with a large bed. Some airlines even have bathrooms complete with shower for first class passengers.
The only issue is that first class tickets are even more expensive than business class ones.
What’s the difference between business class and premium economy?
Most people will tell you that premium economy is way better than regular economy but I dissent. It just is a slightly better version than regular economy, rather than a cheaper version of business class, and to be honest, I hardly see the point in paying more for it.
Yes, you do have a little bit of extra leg room. Your seats are meant to recline a bit more, but honestly there is hardly any difference – and on top of that, the armrests don’t life so even if nobody is sitting next to you, you can’t lay flat on the seats to sleep. Premium economy passengers are given a basic amenity kit. Meals are served before the one in regular economy (though you usually get the exact same food).
You may as well stick to regular economy for that.
How much do business flights cost?
To make a long story short, flights in business class are expensive – up to ten times more expensive than flights in economy. For example, a flight from New York to Rome in business class can cost you $2600 USD (for a non flexible fare), whereas the same flight in economy can be as cheap as $600 USD.
How to get great business flight deals
Finding good deals for business class flights isn’t easy. Some routes prove to have better deals than others – ie, going from Europe to Los Angeles is much cheaper than to African countries, because there is so much more competition and offer.
Flight search engines
The best deals for business class flights and for flights in general can be found on engines such as Google Flights, Momondo or Skyscanner. If you are flexible with your travel dates, you can play around with the calendar until you find a good deal. You can actually do the same on airlines’ websites.
For flights between Europe and the US, Air France usually has the best offers.
The cheapest business class flights happen to be fare mistakes, which unfortunately aren’t very common. Sites such as Fly4Free regularly post great deals and error fares, so you may want to subscribe to their newsletter or monitor their Facebook page to snatch the deal as soon as it comes – but you have to be quick, because as soon as the airline realizes there’s an error fare circulating, they will amend the mistake and at times won’t honor the mistake fare either.
Frequent flier miles
If you are a frequent flier you surely have signed up for one (or more) loyalty programs and have been earning miles which you should be able to use to upgrade to business class. Keep in mind that whether or not you will be able to upgrade after buying your flights depends on the initial fare you booked (fares such as restricted economy often don’t allow an upgrade) and on your loyalty status – so definitely check the terms and conditions of the fare you are about to buy if you think you may end up looking for an upgrade.
PRO TIP: Sign up for frequent flier programs that have a chunky sign-up bonus. You can also sign up for airline credit cards where as soon as you do you can get a good chunk of miles and you literally get a mile for each dollar spent. Make sure to check the terms and conditions, however, as most of those credit cards are free for the first year but they become quite expensive after that.
GOOD TO KNOW: Prices to upgrade to business class usually drop closer to the date of the flight. If lots of seats are still available in business class, your chances of getting an upgrade for a fraction of its actual price are much higher.
Bidding for an upgrade
Getting an upgrade to fly business class is all a matter of paying, and how much you pay is entirely up to the airline. Some will charge you the entire price difference between economy and business – which can be a matter of thousands of dollars, in some cases. Others will let you bid for an upgrade
Make sure to subscribe to your favorite airlines newsletter as all airlines regularly send out great deals and – if you have already bought your tickets – you may be able to bid for an upgrade. All you have to do in this case is to literally log into the site and say how much you are willing to pay for an upgrade and use your credit card to secure that bid. If it is accepted, the seat is yours.
PRO TIP: Before bidding, make sure to check what the actually price of business seats would be for your flight. Bid around 30 or 20% less and you’ll have higher chances of your bid being accepted.
Ask at the airport
As a last resort, you may want to try to score a cheap upgrade when you are at the airport – upon checking in, or at the gate. Just ask as soon as you arrive whether business class seats are still available, and how much an upgrade would be. The issue with this is that there is absolutely no guarantee you will get a seat, and that it will be actually cheap.
The main perks of flying business class
If you have decided to invest in a business class tickets, here is what you can be looking forward to.
Quicker check-in and security checks
Business class has a separate check-in counter. Since there are many less seats in business class, the line at the check-in is never long and the entire process is much quicker. As a business class passenger, you will also be allowed to check in an extra bag.
Another perk is that you will be able to use a priority security line and, upon landing, your bags will be the first to appear on the belt at baggage claim.
Comfortable seats (that actually recline)
Flying business class means having plenty of comforts on board, that you don’t ever have when flying economy. The main difference between economy class and business class is in the seats and in the space that passengers have. The rows of seats in economy class are very close to each other, and the seats hardly recline. It makes flying very tiresome, especially if – like me – you don’t get much sleep unless you lie down. The only way I can get some sleep in economy class is when the flight is almost empty and I manage to get a row of seats all to myself, so I can lay down.
A business class flight means having fully reclining seats, which are so large that they basically become a small bed. You get a good comforter with it, and a nice pillow – so you are guaranteed proper rest.
PRO TIP: While most airlines now have seats that lie flat and become beds, not all of them do. To check whether a flight and aircraft has seats that lie flat versus seats that deeply recline or angle, you can use Seat Guru.
Once you walk to your seat in the business cabin, you will spot a lovely amenity kit on your seat. This usually includes all the necessary things you need to freshen up during the flight – toothbrush and toothpaste, high quality moisturizer, lip balm, socks and even a pair of slippers, an eye mask and ear plugs, etc.
Lots of room for your carry on
The best bit about flying business class is that you will never have to worry about your carry on and where to place it. There is plenty of space in the overhead compartment, and you will have a small pod in front of your seat where you can place whatever you may need for the duration of the flight, and your shoes too.
The inflight experience in business class is made even better by the fact that WiFi is available on board. It may not be the best speed (after all, you are up in the sky), but it’s enough to do some basic business emailing or to communicate via Facebook messenger or WhatsApp.
In flight entertainment
Long flights can be terribly boring. Some people carry their tablet on board to watch movies, others take a book, crosswords, and what not. I normally rely on in-flight entertainment, and long haul flights are the perfect occasion to catch up on all the latest releases that I may have missed. The main issue when in economy class is that between the small screen and the fact that it’s so close to my face, I can hardly make the most of the movie I am seeing.
This is never the case in business class. Screens are massive; they are nicely distanced from the seat and you also get a set of noise cancelling headphones so that you can properly follow the movie.
Let’s face it. Meals in coach are between edible and plain bad.
The experience when flying business class is entirely different, as you are treated to a proper gourmet meal! Upon boarding, while sipping a juice or mineral water kindly provided by the crew, the on board chef (yes, you read that right!) approaches passengers in business class with a menu and asks them to make a choice between the various main courses available.
By meal time the crew comes by to open up the tray table and set it up and soon comes back with a huge tray packed with appetizers. The main course is actually prepared to order, and the desserts delicious. The wine selection is just as good as the meal.
Access to the business lounge
One of the perks of flying business class is having access to the business lounge. Business lounges are good places to relax in between flights, eat, have a drink, have access to better WiFi than that available throughout the airport, and take a shower and a massage too. Some business lounges are massive and it will take you a while to locate the deposit where you can place your carry on; some are a true work of art in terms of design (Istanbul Turkish Airlines business class lounge is a good example).
Business Class Flights With Turkish Airlines
I have had the pleasure of flying business class with Turkish Airlines several times and I must say it is easily one of my favorite airlines. I flew with them to Nepal, when I went to hike Poon Hill, and the first time I went to Israel, and more recently on a trip to South Africa, when I flew to Cape Town.
Turkish Airlines is one of the best carriers in the world, and I regularly fly with them on medium and long distance flights. The business class experience is nothing short of excellent, with staff that thoroughly pampers customers from the moment they get on board.
Turkish Airlines has excellent customer service. To my surprise, customer service agents are literally always available on Twitter, getting back to passengers within minutes. I send them a private message via Twitter to their profile when I needed to request a special meal, and they got back to me and got my meal right.
This may sound obvious to some, but trust me: it’s not. I don’t even know how many times I ordered a special meal (I am lactose intolerant) and ended up with a vegetarian meal which was obviously packed with cheese. None of this happens on Turkish Airline flights.
The staff is always kind and helpful and ready to listen and solve any problem. From the moment of booking the flights to the check in experience (I have always found personnel with excellent sense of humor and great problem solving skills), from the customer service to the actual experience on board, flying with Turkish Airlines is nothing short of amazing.
And if you can’t afford to fly business class, worry not: even in economy class, Turkish Airlines provides excellent service. The seats are more comfortable than the average seat in economy class with other airlines (trust me, I have tried a fair amount of them!); the staff is kind, welcoming and helpful; and the food is ten times better than the average airline food!
Make sure to check out my posts
- 23 Useful Tips For Long Haul Flights
- The Most Useful Tips For Business Travel
- The Art Of Packing Light: 21 Useful Tips To Travel Light
Legal Disclaimer: I wish to thank Turkish Airlines for providing an upgrade to business class. The fact that I got an upgrade has by no means influenced my opinion.