Even if you have flown in a business class before, you may never have flown in proper, international first-class and may be wondering if the extra points or cash is worth it. If you are looking to use your points and miles for a premium cabin seat, you might want to find out what are the differences between the two classes.
First Class vs Business Class: How They Differ?
There is no doubt that the comparison will differ from one airline to another. Some airlines, like Qatar Airways, have a business class product so good that it is better than other airlines’ first class. It also differs by route, that is, you will likely have a better experience regardless of the class if departing from the airline’s hub rather than at an outstation as the airline has more control over the passenger experience at its home airport. For instance, the airline might operate its own lounge at a hub while relying on a third party lounge at an outstation.
Now that more and more airlines are doing away with first class, first class cabins are becoming harder to find compared to business class. This means that you will need to put in more effort to scout out the routes where first class cabins will be flown. However, finding availability for award seats is rather much harder, since first class cabins are becoming smaller and smaller.
For instance, in recent analysis, it is seen that both Emirates and Singapore downsized their first class cabins, and that that trend is just going to continue. Meanwhile, business class seats are often much easier to find and book on average.
Generally, you are going to have more spacious seats that are more comfortable in the first class than in business class. Sometimes, the seats are in suites that are fully enclosed with sliding doors. But, at other times, they are just wider seats with more legroom and more space to put your belongings and relax. It is very common for business class seats to have a more confining footwell and that is one of the big differences between the classes. It is just much easier to find a comfortable position in a first class seat versus a business class seat on average.
Another difference is that first class seats may have more storage space or compartments and usually come with bigger and more sturdy tray tables for you to eat or get your work done. The TVs are usually bigger with higher quality in first class as well although the in-flight entertainment options might be the same as those offered in business class.
First class cabins appear to be more elegant and have a much more intimate feel to them due to their smaller size. For example, if you are flying on a business class cabin for Cathay Pacific on the A350, it may appear nice, but you will also notice that it has a much higher concentration of seats that gives the cabin a much more cramped feeling.
Other airlines, like Singapore, Etihad and Emirates Airlines have a first class cabin that is vastly different from the business class cabin, in terms of its elegance.
Usually, there are separate lines for first class and business class check in. Both of these lines are very short compared to the economy check-in lines, though sometimes business class will have a slightly longer line than first class.
If you are flying first class out of a hub for that airline, you might be able to experience a dedicated first class check-in area where you can relax in some comfortable seats, while a staff takes care of your check-in. Some business class products have these areas, too, such as the Air New Zealand check-in experience at Auckland (AKL). know more about check-ins for flights all over U.S.
Both business and first class passengers will receive priority check-in, tagged luggage and boarding. There may be slightly shorter queues in these priority lanes for first class passengers owing to the much smaller cabin than business class, though, there is rarely a wait in either. This differs from airline to airline, but you will usually receive two checked bags as a business class passenger and three checked bags as a first-class passenger. Technically, first class luggage at your destination should arrive on the luggage belts first, though in practice, all priority-tagged bags may be delivered at the same time. First class passengers will be the first to walk off the aircraft, and business class passengers after them.
You would usually expect to be the first to board a first class before business class. However, there may be a number of flights that may just call for boarding for both first class and business class passengers at the same time. So, priority boarding is not always a perk for first class over business class.
Also, when de-boarding the plane, first class passengers often get to exit the aircraft first. Though this would completely depend on the layout of the aircraft, and as such, it may happen that both business class and first class might exit at the same time.
Typically, you will get to enjoy more privacy flying in a first class cabin than in business class due to the layout of the cabin and the design of the seats. With fully enclosed suites, like those on Emirates and Etihad, you can have complete privacy. However, other airlines, like Qatar Airways first class or British Airways first class have a more open layout and there is little privacy.
Nowadays, you will find many business class seats also have privacy shields, which help add an additional element of privacy. The main issue with business class seats is that some business class cabins are still in configurations that don’t provide a lot of privacy. So, as long as you can avoid those, the gap in privacy between first class and business class will probably offer a better experience.
A major difference between first class and business class is that you can usually find more comfort in first class cabins. The reason is the bedding and pillows are slightly upgraded, and there is just more space to work with, especially legroom.
Another difference is that for first class, you can often expect to get full amenities, which include high quality pyjamas, along with slippers. Some airlines, such as EVA, Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic will also offer amenities, like pyjamas to business class passengers.
8. Amenity Kits
Usually, the amenity kits are more equipped in first class than in business class. For example, you may get a more fancy designer amenity bag that is filled with high quality moisturizers and creams. Although you may rarely use any of the items in a first class amenity kit, but sometimes, you may find that some items can be worth keeping.
On the other hand, amenity kits offered to business class passengers are usually a bit more basic offering. For example, the items may include socks, eye masks, lip balm, and maybe a couple of other items as well.
9. In-flight Lounges and Bars
Both first class and business class passengers often share the same bar and lounge. In fact, a lot of on-board bars are closer to the business class cabins and are actually easier for them to access. There are, however, some cabins like in Korean Air and Emirates that have an exclusive first class bar that are not available to business class passengers. These are usually much smaller areas and are not nearly the same type of hang-out areas as the other bars.
So, if you are limited to the business class main bar, you are usually not missing out on that much.
10. In-flight Services
In-flight services in first class is usually a step-up from business class. This is because the flight attendants are more attentive and do more of the little things right, like refer to you by your name and offer customizable options for dining and drinks. Also, they will sometimes go out of their way to make sure that you have an unforgettable flight experience.
The in-flight dining experience differs between first class and business class. In first class, the menu provided is usually more expansive and the food is a bit more gourmet and arrives with better presentation. Also, you can often customize your dining, but some airlines, like Singapore Airlines, allow you to also customize your dining as well.
Another major difference between the first class and business class is that you often can get caviar in first class, but you will rarely get that in business class.
Both first class and business class cabins offer complimentary drinks, but in first class, you often get served premium champagnes, wines and spirits that are not always offered in business class. However, some airlines do allow business class passengers to partake in some premium beverages. Airlines such as EVA Air and even Qatar Airways allow you to order Krug champagne if you ask for it at the business class bar and lounge.
13. Airport Lounges
Many of the best airlines have separate lounges for business class and first class passengers. For instance, British Airways provides first class passengers access to The Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5 (LHR) where passengers can enjoy Champagne and à la carte meals before their flight. Business class passengers, on the other hand, may sometimes expect to find a buffet with soup and some sloppy vegetable curry. Again, it all depends on the airline.
Sometimes, the first class and business class lounges are combined, for example, the Emirates lounge in Milan and the Qatar premium lounge in Paris. These can still be high quality lounges, but they probably won’t floor you with what they have to offer.
14. Chauffeur Service
Some first class tickets may also include special chauffeur service, for example, like one that is offered with Lufthansa. However, some airlines will also offer chauffeur services to business class passengers, such as Etihad and Emirates. If both business class and first class allow for chauffeur service, the chauffeur service might become more premium for first class passengers.
Some of these chauffeur services may offer pick-up from a pretty wide radius from the airport, and they can be a great way to save and make your way to the airport stress-free.
As you would expect, the price of a first class cabin ticket will certainly be more expensive than a business class ticket. The difference in the ticket price also largely depends on routes, which can sometimes be substantial. The standard prices will differ for different airlines’ routes, but sometimes, you can find first class fares for pretty cheap, and not costing that much more than business class fares.
Another difference in the price between the first class and business class is the miles and points, which can be dramatic in some cases, but in others, it can be quite small. The price in miles and points for certain routes will differ with different loyalty programs. While the mileage requirements can vary a lot, typically the taxes and fees are either the same or very close to the same for award redemptions. Also Check, how to get cheap flight tickets using google flights.
There is a meaningful difference between the first class and business class cabins in flights. Now, whether the above-mentioned differences would justify the price is a completely different question.
However, taking into consideration the miles and points standpoint, you may find that the difference is quite enough to justify the increase in price, especially when you are not dealing with exorbitant miles and points prices.