I’ve travelled a lot recently, and the last two times I’ve been lucky enough to be “up front”, and have to say, I’ve seen a lot of change over the years, and for Business Class – it’s only for the better. Below, I’ve collected some tips on booking ‘up front’, along with some observations as to how things have changed.
To begin with, there’s been a significant drop in price for Business Class in the last 10 years or so, plus there’s now the Premium Economy Class available on most airlines – a middle ground between comfort and price. Finally, the ability to redeem frequent flier miles earned on credit cards for flights has led more and more of us being able to treat ourselves to comfortable travel.
Flying up front is what air travel used to be before we started to move around the world in mass numbers at the drop of a hat. It’s interesting to think that flying hasn’t really gotten any faster, but the planes now carry more people – as more seats are now featured, and are designed to be more fuel efficient, thereby making air travel cheaper. That said, I strongly feel that anyone who’s never had the opportunity to fly in Business Class, owes it to themselves to try it at least once in their life, the next time a well-deserved vacation presents itself.
Imagine looking forward to long-distance travel, arriving fresh and alert, and ready to enjoy wherever you’re going the second you arrive. Business Class achieves this, and this alone is worth it. The modern Business Class seats now feature all kinds of buttons and settings, allowing you to wiggle into that perfect position, and, best of all, recline to a flat position giving you the closest thing to a bed at 30,000 ft and above. With less people around, there’s more room to maneuver around your seat, and it’s quieter. Attendants bring snacks, collect your menu choices, and freely pour wine, liqueurs and spirits, coffee, and an assortment of teas. Food is a mile above economy. With some room for variation across airlines, there are even some flights which have a trained chef onboard to oversee meal preparation, but in any case, the food is quite good, typically paired with wine.
The main meal is typically followed by a cheese and port wine service, dessert, (think warm home-made brownie with freshly whipped cream) liqueurs, coffee, and tea. Most travellers will be locked into their own movie upon much larger screens than economy class, but I for one, don’t fly for the movies. Your attendants by this point will be ready to help you setup your “bed”, fully reclining your seat, and laying out your duvet while you don your provided pyjamas, eye shades, and ear plugs. I personally love waking up in business class, as it’s often to the smell of fresh coffee and croissants from the galley kitchen. Having pre-ordered your custom breakfast, the hardest decision is whether you change out of your pyjamas before or after you eat. Remembering past travel experiences, and waking up feeling like a human pretzel after a long night trying to get comfortable, Business Class really is worth it.
Now, obviously not every travel opportunity can allow you to fly Business Class, and as such, we’re so lucky to now have Premium Economy Class – something still relatively new. Often around $100 more than economy, you get at least 5 inches more leg room and a few extra inches of additional recline in your seat. Premium Economy varies greatly over airlines, with some being their “old” business class seats (before the ‘lie flat’ pods), with a fully dedicated cabin and staff, top meals, and a great sleep. My experiences with Premium Economy have ranged widely and have both cost me as little as $150, and as much as $1000 more than economy, but in all cases have been worth every penny to arrive feeling great.
1. Book Far in Advance: Many carriers offer deep discounted Business Class fares for those that book months in advance (sometimes close to half the price!).
2. Seat Sales: Have your travel agent or Goway air specialist keep an eye out for seat sales as these happen in Premium Economy and Business Class now – just be ready to jump when the opportunity arises.
3. Upgrades: Some carriers guarantee if you buy a full fare Economy seat, they will upgrade you (please note this is not the normal economy fares we are all used to, but rather the ones that have no restrictions). Feeling lucky? Some carriers will sell Business Class fares and automatically upgrade you to First Class if there’s space!
4. Purchase Upgrades Early: When you check in, (but not the same day as flight), many airlines offer the ability to buy an upgrade at the online check in. I recently flew on a flight that offered an upgrade at $1000 23 hours before flight take-off, but when I went back on to print my boarding pass the same day, it had crept up to $1600!
5. Older Business Class Seats: Airlines that have yet to upgrade their seats to the “lie-flat” pods often have far better prices in Business Class, and the service is still excellent, even though the seats don’t fully recline.