Perks of flying in comfort


THE HIGH LIFE: A first-class cabin on Qatar Airways’s A380 fleet; (below) business-class
travel on Emirates; and (bottom) a business-class lounge
THE HIGH LIFE: A first-class cabin on Qatar Airways’s A380 fleet; (below) business-class travel on Emirates; and (bottom) a business-class lounge

by HOWARD ROBIN WHAT PASSENGERS CAN EXPECT IN BUSINESS AND FIRST CLASS IMAGINE a pilot welcoming you aboard with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, your flight time today is six hours in first class, nine hours in busi­ness and 12 hours in economy.” You would think he has lost his marbles and head for the exit? Slow down… especially if you’re reclin­ing up front in first. Psychologists have long noted how passengers’ perception of flight duration depends entirely on the relative comfort or discomfort of their surround­ings, with first-class passengers subjectively feeling their flight passes quickest. So what exactly do passengers get in first class and business? How do they compare? Do they suffi­ciently alleviate the tedium and discomfort of a long flight to make it worthwhile paying the extra? First-class and business-class air travel are much more expensive than economy. For a long-haul, round trip costing £750-£1,500 in economy, busi­ness passengers can expect to pay between £3,000 and £3,750, and first-class passengers more than £7,500. That said, frequent flyer schemes mean trav­ellers can upgrade business or economy tickets to first class by clocking up air miles, while some carri­ers offer last-minute upgrades to first class depend­ing on space availability. Ben Schlappig, a consultant and travel blogger at onemileatatime.com, who flies around 400,000 miles a year, mainly in first or business class, has noticed a dramatic improvement in business class over recent years, while the availability of first class has become more limited. “Overall we’re seeing more airlines eliminating first class and instead installing great business-class service, given that the market for first class is pretty limited,” he says. “Nowadays business-class seats are better than first class used to be. Meanwhile, some of the first-class seats we see nowadays have out-of-this-world products like double beds, show­ers or even apartments in the…

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