Travel in Class
When it comes to air travel most people go for the cheapest flight ticket.
But what if we had the chance/money to upgrade? Which class should we go for then?
Airlines offer a wide range of classes: Premium First, First, Business First, Business or Business Light class. Premium Economy, Economy, Tourist. And we haven’t even mentioned the likes of Business Class on a Discount airline!
Fancy names but what do they really mean, what’s the difference between them?
One would assume that Economy class is about the same everywhere: you get a fairly uncomfortable, pre-assigned seat, something to eat and drink, a few magazines in the seat pocket and maybe some in-flight entertainment. But that’s far from the truth! What you get depends on the airline and even on the route!
When Qatar Air was launched, their Economy class was spot on! They were the world’s first 5-star airline and their service truly deserved the title, even on Economy! The entire experience, starting from their staff, the plane, including the food and those handy toiletry pouches they served, the way they served it, showcased quality. Qatar’s Economy class, with those fairly spacious seats, small gestures like activity packs for kids or complimentary wifi connection can easily compete with some other, higher classes.
Or back in the days, Royal Dutch KLM also served you (and I really mean serve) with great food on China plates with proper silverware even on their Economy class. As a kid, I loved their small toys and colouring books.
In the last couple of years, the Korean Asiana Airlines’ Economy class has been selected as the best in the segment. They also offer (paid for) phone and e-mail services, personal monitors for entertainment, and facilities for babies and less abled passengers. And just so you know, they also serve some of the best Korean in-flight meals, including yeongyangssambap and bibimbap!
On the opposite side, some airlines have massively cut back on what they offer:
My recent astonishment is that United does not provide complimentary food or drinks on domestic American flights’ Economy class, not even if it is a 9-hour flight from the mid-Pacific to the Atlantic Coast!
British Airways can be old and gloomy too, even in Business class, especially en route to America. (Is this a trend with American destinations?) Their first class from/to Singapore, however, is a whole different story with wide, completely flat beds with bed sheets, pillow and duvet covers, pj’s and slippers.
Talking of Singapore, I seem to recall that all Middle and Far Eastern airlines tend to get higher ratings in the annual race for the World Airline Awards: Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Etihad are the leaders in 2016 as well with traditional Eastern hospitality and luxury overall.
First and Business Class
Now let’s see what do we – usually – get on First or Business class:
Prior to boarding: access to the departure lounge to enjoy some light meals, drinks, Internet access and shower facilities before boarding the plane, right after the crew.
More comfortable seats: usually fully flat (2-3-2) seats/beds with privacy panel, and if you are really lucky (or just one of the #richkidsofinstagram), your own space with walls! Business and First class seats are generally in the front of the plane, which somewhat reduces the noise and some say, even the turbulence, though I am not sure about this…
After you settled in your seat, you get to enjoy a glass of champagne till you wait for take off. And it’s not long before you are served a 3-6 course of high(er) quality, restaurant-like meal of your choice, with a selection of wines and spirits. Table cloth and silverware included. Your server might wear white gloves, too.
During flight: a wide range of in-flight entertainment, including the latest movie hits, light snacks, quality sleeping time (the most important of all), a whole pack of beauty products to make you feel in Heaven and a SHOWER (it is not a standard item, so check before flying!)
After flight: after Fast Tracking through border control, you can enjoy another refreshing shower before starting your busy day. Read the newspapers till you wait for your pick up, or (in some cases) your complimentary limousine service.
Back to Qatar again, their First class menu lists celebrity chefs’ signature dishes (presented on luxurious table linen and modern cutlery, in case you were pondering), Giorgio Armani amenity kits, designer PJs, Frette linen and duvet, all in your spacious private space.
The below video by TheRichest.com shows the most luxurious First class airlines, to make our life a bit easier when it comes to choosing our First class ticket.
Unfortunately, not all airlines are quite like Qatar Air, there are some (even big names!) that fall behind and the word “serving” does not mean a lot to them. Their staff is short and abrupt in their communication and generally unfriendly. (Guys, forget about those tall, young and beautiful stewardesses, too) You do not get pillows and goody bags with disposable toothbrushes, in some cases, you even have to pay for your drinks!
But generally, it’s not all that terrible.
Did you know…
that higher class tickets sometimes are cheaper than the lower class fares? Especially if you are travelling off peak – in September, on the 24th or the 31st December. In some cases, if you buy a Business class ticket, you get a free upgrade to First.
Whether the Armani earplugs are your thing or not, do your research before booking your flight!
Short haul, one-way tickets in Europe are often cheaper than a train ticket to the same destination. Air Asia, a discount airline flies one of the newest fleet in the world. And they do economy flights from London to Bangkok with no stopover. Worth checking!
There are theories around when to buy the best-priced tickets – apparently, Wednesday nights are generally a good time – which I cannot confirm or deny, but I know that using comparison sites like momondo.com make the hunt a lot easier.
Either way, start looking early and – here’s the trick – always clear the cookies by deleting your browser’s web cache memory before you commit to buy. You can thank me later.