Europe's best in business class: seats, cabins, meals, lounge and more
Are you flying into, out of or across Europe soon? Then if you’re looking for the best business class flights in the continent, this list is for you.
You might not immediately think of a European airline when searching for business class long-haul flights. However, it’s 2022 and many airlines in Europe have refurbished and upped their business class game.
From lie-flat seats to in-flight meals and airline lounges, we searched for and found the best of Europe’s business class flights.
Lufthansa A350: Repurposed comfort
The new Lufthansa A350 business class seats. Image source: lufthansagroup.com
The business class seats were launched in April 2022, so they are a fairly new product. But that’s not the only reason why Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) A350 business class seats are first on our list. We like that the aircraft is repurposed. Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) new A350 aircraft are actually former Philippine Airlines jets.
While some business class snobs might scoff whenever Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) refers to the business class product as ‘new’, we actually like the idea of repurposing and creating a much better product compared to both Philippine Airlines’ and Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) own business class offering in its older fleet.
The best upgrade that Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) made to this newly-acquired fleet of A350 aircraft was to change the configuration of its business class seats. Current configuration on older aircraft is a 2-2-2 seating, which means not everyone has access to the aisle, which is a hassle for both the window seat passenger and the aisle passenger beside them and a common frustration found in older business class cabins.
Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) plans to use the “new” A350 fleet to strengthen its long-haul operations from Munich, so the new business class cabin has been reconfigured to a 1-2-1 arrangement, which means everybody has access to the aisle. The seat arrangement is also slightly staggered, which gives every passenger that extra sense of privacy.
British Airways Club World Seats: yin and yang
British Airways Club World seats image credit: Jean Lim
Not many people know that British Airways first pioneered the idea of lie-flat seats in first class in 1995, and the so-called reclining “cradle seats” were introduced for business class in 1996.
In 1999, British Airways brought in business class seats that lie flat in a yin-yang layout. It had rear-facing seats next to forward-facing seats, which meant that some passengers faced each other during the flight.
Passengers either love or hate the seating style, but we like the sheer uniqueness of it. It makes conversing easy for couples or colleagues who are traveling together.
There's also the novelty of feeling like you're flying backwards for those in the rear-facing seats.
British Airways Club World seats image credit: Jean Lim
There’s no other airline that has this style of seating arrangement, and we admire British Airways for maintaining this configuration for more than 20 years.
In 2019, however, British Airways decided to upgrade and started rolling out the new Club Suite to replace the Club World seats in business class. It’s more modern with additional bells and whistles, but all seats now face forward, just like any other airline.
Those who still wish to experience the yin-yang business class seats will only have a number of months left to do so because British Airways plans to upgrade all of its fleet’s business class to Club Suite by the end of 2022.
KLM business class: a token to remember
Let’s face it, not all business class flights are a memorable experience. Many airline seats and amenities can start to look and feel the same.
But KLM’s business class passengers are guaranteed to leave the flight with a lasting impression. The airline gives out custom-made Delft Blue Houses (reproductions of traditional houses in Amsterdam) to every business class passenger. And get this, each blue house is filled with Dutch gin.
The best thing about these unique souvenirs is that every October, KLM releases a new house to commemorate its anniversary. One of the most notable houses the airline created was house number 47, a miniature of the Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam.
In 2021, KLM created a miniature of Amsterdam’s iconic Tuschinski Cinema to mark the airline’s 102nd birthday. We can’t wait to see what house KLM has picked for 2022!
Austrian Airlines business class: for the globetrotting foodie
Austrian Airlines business class meal image credit: austrian.com
Austrian Airlines has its business class catering prepared by the Austrian company Do & Co, who also cater other airlines such as Turkish Airlines and Delta.
In 2018, Austrian Airlines won Skytrax’s award for "Best Business Class On-board Catering" and it’s easy to see why.
Firstly, seasonal Austrian ingredients and dishes are used when creating the airline’s business class menu. It is common to see apricots, Martini Gansl (St. Martin's goose) or Wiener Zwiebelrostbraten (Viennese onion roast beef) on the menu.
Secondly, is the meticulous process that the airline goes through to consider a meal “airworthy”. The airline does its meal testing on actual flights so that they know how a dish will taste in the air.
Austrian Airlines also has chefs on board to prepare business class meals such as eggs and steaks in real time above the clouds.
And if you love coffee, you’re in for a treat because you can choose between 10 typical Austrian coffee specialities such as Einspänner, Viennese iced coffee or Melange from a separate coffee menu for the airline’s long-haul flights.
Air France business class Boeing 777-300: a product to look forward to
Air France new business class seats image credit: AirFrance
In September 2022, Air France will unveil its latest business class product on its B777-300 fleet. The airline said that when it was designing the new cabin, it had three ‘Fs’ in mind:
Full Flat- each unit transforms into a flat bed almost two meters long
Full Access - with a 1-2-1 configuration, all passengers have direct access to the aisle
Full Privacy - optimum privacy guaranteed with sliding doors and partitions
For the middle seats, there is also a center panel that can rise up and down, allowing flexibility for those traveling together or solo. While these amenities may seem staple to business class products in Middle Eastern airlines, who are known for their superior business class products, it’s certainly a new and welcome upgrade to Air France, who last spruced up its business cabin in 2016.
The new entertainment system will also feature an anti-glare HDTV, noise-canceling headphones, power outlets and plenty of storage space.
The first of Air France’s B777-300 to take-off with the new business class seats will fly the Paris - New York route.
SWISS business class: a minimalist and plane spotter’s dream
SWISS lounge in Zurich image: SWISS
Flying business class is not just about the flight itself. Most times, an airline’s first and business class lounge is an experience on its own.
SWISS, or Swiss International Air Lines, has nine airline lounges at Zurich Airport (ZRH) and its interiors are the epitome of house and office goals!
There’s a fine line between minimalist and spartan and SWISS has a very cozy but minimalist style that’s conducive to working and feeling relaxed just before a flight.
SWISS lounge in Zurich Image: SWISS
If you have a business or first class flight booked with SWISS departing from Zurich, we urge you to arrive with a few hours to spare so you can enjoy the lounge. Do some work, catch up on reading, or simply relax and enjoy the food.
SWISS lounge Zurich Image: SWISS
And if you are an avid plane spotter or simply an aviation enthusiast, don’t forget to check out the terrace that looks out directly to the runway. There are pairs of Leica binoculars in varying sections of the terrace for use by passengers.
Virgin Atlantic’s The Loft: for the social butterfly
Virgin Atlantic’s The Loft image: virginatlantic.com
Known to keep things sassy but classy, Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class (business class) on selected A350 aircraft can help you foster connections while flying in style.
The Loft is a social space for passengers to hang out, stretch their feet, have a drink or a chat - whether it’s with a traveling companion, or even a fellow passenger they’ve just met.
We like the social aspect that this brings to a business class flight, and if one is traveling for work with colleagues, The Loft can also be a great venue for meetings.
So there you have it, AeroTime’s list of Europe’s best business class seats and products. Have you flown on any of these airlines? We’d love to hear about your experience!
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