You never forget your first time flying business class on an international flight. The champagne, the lie-flat seats, the the VIP treatment – business class is a whole new level when it comes to air travel. Like a kid in a sweet shop, it’s difficult to decide whether you’d rather sleep in your lie-flat bed or sit up and order just about everything from the menu.
But it can also be a little bit daunting if you have no idea what to expect, so here are a few things to know before you book your flights.
Booking Business Class Flights
If you want to fly business class for the first time but can’t justify the price tag, you’ll be pleased to know that there are companies offering unlisted fares that are much more affordable than booking online. SkyClub.com sells cheap business class tickets privately to customers – just give them a call and they’ll usually quote a better fare.
These days the dress code for flying business class tends to be rather relaxed so you can wear pretty much anything, but ‘smart casual’ tends to be the general consensus amongst airlines. If you’ve paid top dollar for a business class ticket it’s unlikely they’d comment on what you’re wearing – just don’t attempt to board the plane barefoot or wearing a T-shirt that displays offensive language.
Airlines like Virgin Atlantic and Emirates offer business class customers a chauffeur driven car service to whisk you to the airport in style. Virgin Atlantic even has its own Upper Class Terminal so you can get from the curbside to the lounge within minutes!
Business class comes with a whole host of perks such as extra luggage allowance, dedicated check-in desks, priority lanes and lounge access, so try to make full use of your time at the airport.
Some airlines have dedicated lounges while others will make use of another airline’s lounge, so check what lounges you have access to.
Inside the lounge you can usually help yourself to drinks and snacks, take a shower, connect to Wi-Fi and even enjoy a full a la carte meal before you board the plane. If you fly business class on British Airways for instance then you can enjoy a free treatment in the Elemis Travel Spa so you’re fully relaxed before heading to the gate.
Once you board the aircraft that’s when things really get exciting. Forget about cramped seats and plastic trays – business class is all about flat-bed seats and proper tableware!
Most international business flights these days have private suite-like pods where you can stretch out and relax. The seats tend to have lots of buttons and little storage spaces, so if you’re not quite sure what everything does, don’t be afraid to ask! Usually a member of cabin crew will come round the cabin before take-off to offer you a glass of champagne or juice and a newspaper.
The amenity kit is always a real treat, and will usually contain things like luxury skincare products, perfume, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste. In business class on Qatar Airways you’re even presented with luxury pyjamas from The White Company so you can get really comfy during the flight.
After take-off you’ll be served a multi-course meal accompanied by a selection of fine wines and spirits. You can indulge in as many things as you like, so the food and drinks will keep on coming. Some airlines will let you dine on demand, while others will have a set meal time.
If you’re travelling on an overnight flight and just want to sleep then you can use the express service where you’ll be served a light meal and a flight attendant will wake you up just before landing.
But if you’ve never flown business class before it’s likely you’ll be too excited to sleep, so you might want to spend the flight watching movies. Forget peering into a tiny screen – in business class you’ll have an ultra-large flat screen TV complete with noise cancelling headphones for your own private cinema-style experience.
On arrival sometimes you’ll have access to an arrivals lounge where you can take a shower or have your clothes pressed before a meeting. As a business class customer your bags will usually come off the plane first and if you’re travelling through a major airport you may have your own priority lane when you get to customs and immigration. It’s always best to check with your particular airline though before you fly.
Flying business class for the first time is such an experience and one that you won’t forget in a hurry. It may be more expensive than an economy ticket but if you can collect air miles or purchase a discounted ticket then it’s truly worth it just for a decent night’s sleep and a memorable journey.