Danny’s point of view:
Whether you should splash out on a business class ticket or not depends on many variable points. On short distances it almost never is worth the price as you will only get an economy seat with a slightly improved service. It’s when you are flying long-haul business class becomes more interesting to consider.
Firstly you should consider whether you want to pay extra for an improved service, because yes, the business class service and experience is much better than your average economy class experience. The price of a business class ticket is about 3-4 times higher than an economy class ticket for the same flight, but you also get the space equivalent to 3-4 economy seats. Don’t forget to compare prices using tools like Google Flights, and try out some different airport combinations. Especially when flying business there can be quite a big difference in price when flying from a different airport in the region, for example our flight to Singapore was about half the price when flying from Amsterdam compared to Brussels.
Service-wise the business class experience starts with a separate check-in counter so you won’t have to queue and wait for your turn after which you usually get access to a dedicated security and Immigration lane so your arrival at the airport will be smooth and swift. As soon as you arrive airside you can access a lounge, a quiet oasis in the otherwise busy airport where you can have a snack and a drink and relax before your flight. When boarding starts you can walk straight on the plane as you have priority, once again no waiting and queueing so you have some time to settle in to your seat while you sip on a pre-departure beverage. If you are a nervous flyer it could be worth the higher price just for the tranquillity of the airport experience so you will be less stressed-out before getting to the plane.
Because the on-board experience can vary enormously you should do some research to look up what the on-board business class is like on the airlines you are considering. For example while we lucked-out on our Cathay Pacific flight with a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration in which all seats have aisle access, other airlines like Lufthansa offer a 2-2-2 configuration in the same cabin width meaning that people in window seats have to climb over their neighbour to get to the aisle. It can be even worse with airlines like British Airways and United Airlines offering a 2-4-2 configuration with very narrow seats and only half of the seats with direct aisle access.
Even though most long-haul business class cabins now have full flat seats, some airlines still offer an angled lie-flat or even just recliner seats, which make quite a difference in your sleeping comfort.
The biggest advantage I experienced was the fact I was able to sleep quite well in business class, something I am usually unable to do in economy, and arrived relatively fresh and rested at my destination. Thereby I didn’t really suffer any jetlag effects and was able to use the rest of the day to explore the destination instead.
But if you want to fly business class to sleep you must consider the flight time, sleeping will only work well if the flight is long enough. On average take-off and the first meal services takes about the first two hours after take-off while lights will go back on and breakfast service started about two hours before landing. Ideally you only have time to sleep uninterrupted in between these services, if your flight is ten hours or longer you should be able to sleep for at least six hours. However on shorter flights, like the transatlantic crossing from the US east coast to Europe taking six to eight hours you often would only be able to sleep a solid two to four hours.
So in my opinion splashing out for business is only worth it if you are doing a really long trip and you are able to find a good fare or fly using miles and points.
Timothy’s point of view:
Is business class worth it? The answer is both yes and no. I’ll make an argument for both.
YES, because you really get a better treatment, you’re taken seriously and you leave the plane well rested. We paid about 1700 euros for the flights, over three times you can find for an economy seat. But you know what? A business seat covers the area of three to four economy seats, you get three to four times more food and drinks, you get a flat bed and you’re taken seriously.
Did I mention you’re taken seriously? Well, you are. It’s a fine feeling to be called by your name, to have access to lounges and to feel as a real adult.
I slept like a baby, or dead queen, as the photo illustrates. I loved the experience and I have no regret whatsoever.
NO, you shouldn’t because the 1200 euros (or more) you spend extra can be spend on something else. An extra trip, or a really nice hotel. 1200 is a lot of money. It really is. And economy nowadays is more than decent.
Also not every business class ‘hard product’ offers the same level of luxury as Cathay Pacific.
So, will I do it again? Maybe, just maybe. The flight must be long enough to be able to sleep well on the bed, the hard product must be good enough and the price bust be right. Believe it or not, 1700 euros was a bargain.
I do realise what we did was very decadent. I won’t do this every year, not even every two years. Only if Danny can find a great price.