My good friend Ed from Pizza in Motion recently wrote a story entitled, Here’s Why Most Of What You’ve Heard About Business And First Class Is Rubbish. This post represents my response to him.
Ed takes issues with the fact that some travel bloggers, myself included, will offer a negative business class review.
My fellow bloggers, I love them all. Well, most of them. They tell you how great business class is. And, they also tell you how horrible some business class products are. That’s where I get off the hype bus.
I’m not sure “horrible” is the right word, but it is true that not all business class products are created equally. He continues:
So, what’s my beef with international business and first class? Nothing. I love them all. Pretty much every darn one. I just don’t agree with the people who tell you why you shouldn’t fly a particular business class product. People love to rip British Airways for their inferior layout and poor service. First, there’s nothing wrong with the seat. If you’re exceptionally tall or wide, you might have some trouble with it. News flash, if you’re either of those things you won’t fit comfortably into many business class seats.
I happen to agree with Ed on the British Airways issue…I have no problem with dense business class seating on British Airways or United.
But not all business class products are created equal. My job is to help you evaluate them, so when it comes time for you to book, you will make the most informed choice.
Take American Airlines versus British Airways on, say, a New York to London route. If you are using your American miles, a ticket on either carrier costs the same 57,500 miles. But you’ll only pay $5.60 out-of-pocket on American while you will pay over 100X times that…over $560…for a British Airways flight. And the BA flight also has an inferior business class seat! Whether you are buying your ticket with cash or miles, it seems to me flying on American makes a lot more sense than flying on British Airways.
When I tell you that you should not fly British Airways using miles, it is not because I dislike the product or don’t find it “good enough”. Rather, I just view it as a comparatively poor value.
Here’s another example. In my recent Virgin Atlantic review, I actually found the business class seat terribly uncomfortable. That wasn’t me being a diva, but my back letting me know it didn’t like a seat that did not recline. With so many choices to London, why pay 75,000 miles + over $500 in taxes/fees when there are superior options? And if there were no other options, perhaps it is better to save your miles + money and fly economy class. Not because business is horrible, but because it is not worthwhile.
The point of criticizing a business class product or proclaiming that I won’t waste my miles to fly British Airways is not an absolute judgement, but a relative one rooted in value. Always keep that in mind.
I fully agree with Ed’s final conclusion:
When my fellow bloggers tell you why they just can’t stand a particular airline’s business class, be smart and make your own mind up.
If I was offended by readers disagreeing with me, I’d be in a perpetual state of annoyance…just read the comments for even some of the news stories I cover. My point is never to think for you. But I am uniquely situated to evaluate multiple products and offer consistent feedback on them so that you can make your own choice from a better-informed position.
My own experience and viewpoint is merely a datapoint for you to consider. But I hope that by explaining my methodology and through clear pictures and narrative you can understand why, for example, I would steer you away from business class on Virgin Atlantic or, say, an Air France A380.
Indeed, either product is far better than economy class and even premium economy class. But if you are going to spend cash for a ticket or use your miles, I want you to do so in a smart way.