THE world’s leading airlines are increasingly cutting back on first class space in favor of more business class and premium economy seats.
The old norm in long-haul travel – in which aircraft were configured with first, business and economy – is morphing into a choice between business class, premium economy and economy on numerous routes. In many ways, premium economy has become the new business class and business class the new first.
With this trend, the quality of business class products has increased dramatically, blurring the lines between business and first. But competition is fierce, and airlines are constantly trying to find new ways to attract the lucrative business-traveler market. As travel for work is now a staple of many work environments, passengers are becoming more discerning in what they want out of the Business Class experience and where they are willing to put their business.
Here are some Business Class essentials for the modern-day traveler:
The option to eat when you want to
Gone are the days of the assembly line meal cart experience, with the inevitable “chicken or fish?” option – well, for most airlines at least.
Having the freedom to plan your meals around your schedule is a huge benefit to many business travelers, especially as a light meal, rather than heavy forced feeding, can actually help with jet lag.
A number of airlines are now operating a dine-on-demand service that allows passengers to decide when they want to eat, and provides a wide range of options. Etihad even has a Food and Beverage Manager to guide you through the menu options and recommend accompanying drinks for your meal.
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a never-ending queue when you’ve got places to be and work to get finished. Even with the rise of digital check-in, the dreaded counter is still necessary if you have luggage.
While most airlines have exclusive check-in desks for business travelers, many are not necessarily manned by a representative of the company and are outsourced to agents who work for a number of airlines. This can sometimes leave you lacking the personal tough and create a bottleneck if many flights are scheduled at similar times.
This requirement has been implemented almost across the board on business travel these days. But a seat that reclines to a completely flat position is an absolute essential to avoid disrupted sleep and aching limbs by the end of the flight.
It’s worth doing a little research before you fly to ensure the airline provides this. And airlines need to make sure they are keeping up with the times and replacing any old seats with the more comfortable version.
Singapore Airlines has been voted Best Business Class Seats by Skytrax, and the brand new Business Class cabin on the A380 show others how it should be done.
Privacy and aisle access
Direct aisle access is becoming more prevalent in Business Class. The days of clumsily struggling over another passenger to stand up are hopefully dying out. The freedom to come and go as you please without disrupting anyone makes the entire experience a lot more comfortable.
After making the decision to become a two-class airline, Qatar Airways invested heavily in their new QSuite Business Class that launched this year. The new configuration gives passengers full privacy in their own suites while also giving the flexibility to adapt the arrangement to suit communal groups – and everyone gets easy aisle access.
An absolute essential for business travelers these days. While switching off and downing tools may be a nice break for some, for others it’s not a reality. Hours stuck on a plane can be a prime time to get some work done with no distractions. For this Wi-fi is a must.