In an age in which business class seating is becoming better and better, is first class worth the premium over business class?
Of course the answer to this question is highly subjective and depends upon the specific product, but I was intrigued by a recent column by Hayley Skirka of the National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.
Having had the pleasure of flying first class only once, on a short flight from Oman to Dubai, I can attest that the experience was quite something. From the minute I was picked up outside my hotel in a sleek limousine, to the point when the pilot came to personally introduce himself to me as I boarded the plane, I felt truly spoiled.
And therange of food, drinks, toiletries and seemingly endless services I could take advantage of during the flight was quite fantastic, so much so that I found myself wishing the journey had been a little bit longer. That said, now, when I think back to trips I’ve taken when I’ve flown business class, I struggle to recall any major differences between those and that coveted first-class flight.
In business, I still had access to the lounge before my flight and I could board at any time once proceedings began. I was still greeted by name after taking my seat, granted not by the captain, but by the flight purser – it’s not a difference that had much impact on me. I still had a super-comfortable lie-flat bed, complete with blankets and pillows. I was still given a menu filled withmouthwatering dishes that I could order at any time throughout the flight. And I still received an amenity kit chock full of lovely luxury smelly things.
What Makes First Class Worth It
Skirka thinks the differences between first and business class are minimal. I tend to agree but disagree (if that makes any sense). In the grand scheme, certainly the jump from business to first is much smaller than the jump from economy or even premium economy class to business class. At the same time, there can be a noticeable difference in both soft and hard product…I’m talking not just the price of the liquor or the caviar, but bedding, suite width, and personalized service.
And for me, especially when I am spending points, that makes a big difference. The additional points required for first class over business class are not exactly minimal in 2019 with most programs. Yet if I am going to splurge, I’d rather fly once in first class and once in economy class than twice in business class. That’s just me…I love the over-the-top nature of first class. For example, I like a cappuccino onboard, which often is available in first but not business.
And I think Skirka was not paying attention to detail when she flew Emirates First Class and compares it to her business class experiences. Or perhaps those little details like the type of blanket or brand of champagne were simply not important to her.
This post is more an introspection than an argument than the premium for first over business is worth it. It certainly is for me even considering the opportunity costs in miles (or occasionally $)…but I understand the counterpoint.
How about you? Do you think first class is worth the splurge?
image: Singapore Suites