Flight delays, cancellations, incidents inside aircraft cabins – travel can be a stressful ordeal, so sometimes it pays to fly in business class. You may still be delayed or sit next to an unruly passenger, but at least you’ll do so in comfort..
Business class travel is making a big comeback post-pandemic. Several airlines are sprucing up existing business class products, and even creating new ones, so it’s a good time to experience traveling in style.
Most business class seats are geared towards couples and honeymooners, but airlines are also now catering to the growing number of solo travelers.
In general, solo business class passengers tend to prefer single seats that have both window views and aisle access. However, you can’t always have that option on shorter flights using smaller aircraft.
So, we’ve rounded up our personal picks for business class trips, whether it’s short or long haul on various airlines and aircraft.
Best in privacy long haul category: Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900
If privacy, comfort and a good sleep are your top priorities when booking a flight, Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 (long haul) is a great choice.
The new long-haul business class seats are extremely spacious and comfortable, with a cushioned headrest / headboard. All seats face forward and have generous privacy panels, so you feel pleasantly enclosed.
The seats are the kind that need to be transformed to lie flat with the help of a flight attendant. Iit seems to be worth the trouble, though, because these types seem more comfortable than those that lie flat with the push of a button.
There are plenty of storage areas in the cubicle that are within reach, so it’s easy to get a feeling of being settled inside your own space. There’s also a mirror next to the entertainment system monitor, which makes it handy for a quick look prior to landing, so it saves you alast-minute trip to the bathroom.
Take note that the Singapore Airlines long haul A350 business class product is extremely different to its A350 medium haul business class seats, which are quite uncomfortable.
On our trip, the service was quick, hurried and lacking in warmth and the food was average. So if you’re not particular about service and food but want a comfortable flight with a lot of space and privacy, this is a great option.
Best in long haul food and service: Etihad Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner
If you want to be wined, dined and entertained during your business class flight, Etihad is always a good option.
Service is very personalized, with cabin crew introducing themselves personally before takeoff, letting you know you can have your meal any time you wish and even helping you in choosing a meal.
Meal options are not only plentiful, but good quality too. From mezze platters to local seafood, everything is cooked well and presented pleasingly.
For those who don’t feel like having a proper large meal, there are lots of light snack options too, such as gourmet sandwiches, ice cream, chips and pastries. Together with the vast selection of movies and TV shows to choose from, business class flights with Etihad can feel like a luxed-up slumber party in the sky.
The seats can be a little snug, but they’re comfortable. One thing to note, though: some seats face backwards, so depending on where you sit, you can have that awkward peripheral front view of the passenger in the parallel seat.
With plenty of things to do (and food to eat!) though, this inconvenience shouldn’t exactly prove to be a deal breaker, anyhow.
Tested by Jean Carmela Lim on an Abu Dhabi – London flight.
Best in food, Inter-Europe category: Lufthansa A320neo
For flights under four hours, which most inter-Europe flights are, business class flights are in smaller, one-aisle aircraft. So, your seats are unlikely to be the highlight, as in the case of this business class Lufthansa flight.
Lufthansa’s business class on short and medium haul flights has pretty much the same seats as economy class, but they always leave the middle seat empty.
However, the real highlight of this flight is the food and drink, which is part of the airline’s program called ‘Heimat’ (that is, ‘“home’ in German) whereby chefs from six German cities have created menus for Lufthansa.
On our flight, fresh red apples of good quality were distributed at the end of the meal. Also handed out were Lufthansa-branded chocolates wrapped in the airline’s traditional and iconic yellow color.
While there’s nothing exceptional about the hard product of this Lufthansa business class flight – ie, the seats – the service and food more than made up for it. The service onboard was excellent and cordial, but at the same time authoritative when necessary.
Best overall comfort, Inter-Europe category: Icelandair business class (Saga Premium) B737-9 MAX & B757
Icelandair’s Saga Premium product is almost identical on the B737-9 MAX and the B757.
The Saga Premium cabin is fitted with eight business class seats in a 2-2 configuration. There is also a proper division of the business class cabin from the economy, not merely with curtains as with most smaller aircraft.
Because most of Icelandair’s inter-Europe flights take less than five hours, its business class seats do not lie flat. However, as the seats are wide and comfortable with a roomy 40’ pitch, it provides a far superior experience than other business class seats currently being offered by many European airlines on a single aisle aircraft.
Even though you have a fellow passenger next to you, there is plenty of space in between, so there are no awkward elbow brushes.
All seats are fitted with a seat-back screen with access to a digital entertainment platform. There’s also fairly fast internet connectivity, which is free for Saga Premium passengers.
Their in-flight meal is well presented and comes in generous portions.
It’s also worth noting that they have a Gin Library that features mostly locally-produced drinks from Iceland.
Definitely plenty of food and drink choices here for a short flight!
Overall, Icelandair’s Saga Premium is an excellent product for mid-haul flights. It provides a great and well-rounded experience which includes comfort, good service, amazing food and impressive entertainment and connectivity options.