Has anyone ever traveled first class on a flight?

306024

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Had an upgrade to First once with BA returning from the States. Very well looked after as there were only two of us in there, although the other individual was one of life’s more eccentric types!

Having got to a stage in life where comfort is worth paying for I‘d always go business for long haul flights, but would rather spend the difference between business and first on a good hotel when I get there.

Never have done, but thinking about it for a couple of LH trips in the next couple of years.

Generally speaking, is it ‘cheaper’ to upgrade through Avios / similar than to pay up front? I don’t
have membership of any frequent flyer scheme.

Also, what times of year are good for good business / upper / first flights to North America or Hong
Kong?

Hong Kong? My favourite place in the world to visit but I‘d check the weather first before the flight. Been there when it is so humid your shirt is drenched within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel. Flown BA and Cathay business on other occasions and both were excellent. Miss the approach to Kai Tak though!
 
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RJ

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Virgin (never knowingly under self-promoted) Atlantic Upper Class is a business class product, despite their inferences. Up until the latest embodiments, their seat was (and still is on older aircraft) the same as the Air New Zealand business class seat, which they call Business Premier.

[....]

The full list of longhaul airlines operating First Class on selected services at the moment is, I think:

Air China
Air France
Air India
All Nippon Airways
American Airlines (Entitled Flagship First to differentiate from domestic)
Bamboo Airways
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines
El Al
Emirates
Etihad Airways
Garuda Indonesia
Japan Airlines
Korean AirKuwait Airways
Lufthansa
Oman Aviation
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Saudia
Shanghai Airlines
Singapore Airlines
SWISS
TAAG Angola Airlines
Thai Airways
XiamenAir

Apologies if I have missed any, but assuming that the above is exhaustive, then any other airline's 'top' product is a version of Business Class, rather than First Class.

Agreed about Virgin, the hard product is definitely a business class cabin. I'm not a massive fan of the seating to be honest due to the lack of privacy and facing away from the windows. The privacy isn't as much as an issue if you can get the row of seats that face the back of the next row, but people tend to reserve those seats first. That said, Upper Class does come with some extra frills. The chauffeur service and the bar on board aren't typical business class offerings. The Clubhouse is at the higher end of business class lounges. The ping pong machine is a bit of fun!

In certain places people love to hate BA, but I genuinely like Club World. I've always managed to reserve a seat that has unshared access to the aisle. Never once had any comfort issue on any of British Airways' fleet - I've done Club World in a 777, A380, the Babybus and upstairs in a 747.

I tend to avoid any business cabin that has seats that are angled towards the window. I have moderately long legs but I find the cubby hole footrest doesn't always have enough room, resulting in my ankle resting against the side. The bending of the foot is not comfortable and that alone is enough to encourage me to find a flight with no such space restriction. Seatguru plays a pivotal role in which flights I go for.

Kuwait Airways - heard good things about their F offering!
 
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nlogax

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I tend to avoid any business cabin that has seats that are angled towards the window.

Isn't this the style of the new CW seats on BA A350 and 787s? I've seen a couple of reviews and am not convinced it's an improvement over the existing product tbh. Not that most of us are flying at the moment.
 

Ploughman

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Nearest I have been to First was on a test flight on Concorde so no cabin staff or freebies.
Circuits and bumps at Boscombe Down in about 1980 then a blast over the bay of Biscay.

AS for Cheap or Z Class flying, How about flying steerage in a a Herc for 18 hours?
 

RJ

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Had an upgrade to First once with BA returning from the States. Very well looked after as there were only two of us in there, although the other individual was one of life’s more eccentric types!

Having got to a stage in life where comfort is worth paying for I‘d always go business for long haul flights, but would rather spend the difference between business and first on a good hotel when I get there.



Hong Kong? My favourite place in the world to visit but I‘d check the weather first before the flight. Been there when it is so humid your shirt is drenched within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel. Flown BA and Cathay business on other occasions and both were excellent. Miss the approach to Kai Tak though!

The problem with flying in business is that you get used to it. I've been teaching people the ropes of the game over the last few years so they can experience Business and First and encourage them to really savour the excitement of flying regardless of what class they are in.

Hong Kong is amazing - had the time of my life out there. I've been in March and November. Neither in the height of summer nor monsoon season, I'd describe the climate as pleasantly hot both times.

Never have done, but thinking about it for a couple of LH trips in the next couple of years.

Generally speaking, is it ‘cheaper’ to upgrade through Avios / similar than to pay up front? I don’t
have membership of any frequent flyer scheme.

Also, what times of year are good for good business / upper / first flights to North America or Hong
Kong?

If you can get a few dozen thousand Avios together then it's worth looking into. Fortunately flying isn't the only way to generate this currency - other opportunities for earning are available. For the last umpteen years you could get Avios from shopping at Tesco and converting your Clubcard points. Sadly this avenue is closing, after the 18th it won't be possible to do this. This article on how to earn is worth a read - https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/boost-avios-points/

Upgrading a cash ticket with them is generally a good use of them, but there are rules around which tickets can be upgraded and I think you can only upgrade one class.

Isn't this the style of the new CW seats on BA A350 and 787s? I've seen a couple of reviews and am not convinced it's an improvement over the existing product tbh. Not that most of us are flying at the moment.

If so, I really hope they've designed it without the footrest problems.
 
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iainbhx

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Flown international First Class on Lufthansa, Thai, Singapore and Swiss over the years, usually as miles upgrades from Business Class but a couple of times as paid for first.

Lufthansa - the First Class Terminal at Frankfurt is superb, the in the air product is a little weaker and I have had one dreadful flight with them (MUC-HKG, FRA-SIN, FRA-YVR)
Thai - Not really worth it, although it does sort out the queues at BKK, the Royal First lounge is fairly poor, they try the hardest in the air and they are generous with the Dom. (LHR-BKK)
Singapore Airlines - the Suites on the A380 were marvellous, best First Class Food in the air, the Private Room is very, very good. Best overall. (LHR-SIN-MEL, SIN-SYD)
Swiss - a very solid product, the First Class Lounge at ZRH is small but very nice, it has a better feel than business class but its hard to justify it. (ZRH-JFK)

Will probably book SQ First one more time to see the brother when I retire in 9 years, if it still exists.
 
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RJ

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Depends how tall you are. Noel Philips' fairly blunt review last year has not sold me on the changes.


Thanks for that. He's slightly taller than me and his comments around 7:50 are what I was hoping not to hear. I get that the angled seat layout allows for more seats overall and direct aisle access for all, but if it causes discomfort then I'll avoid that particular accommodation. I'd sooner take an exit row seat in economy than a suite that causes foot pain. For that particular route, Club Europe would do me fine - a lie flat bed is an unnecessary luxury for a 2 hour flight with a catering service. That aside, the rest of it looks nice. I quite like the cosy nature of these type of seats and the privacy factor is certainly there.
 

Ianno87

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The problem with flying in business is that you get used to it.

I find doing it once or twice makes you *really* appreciate the extras.

Hong Kong is amazing - had the time of my life out there. I've been in March and November. Neither in the height of summer nor monsoon season, I'd describe the climate as pleasantly hot both times.

Hong Kong seconded here too. Amazing city.
 

route101

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Never, always Y class! I guess quite a few fly longhaul for Business trips. guess you have to be fairly senior to do that?

I've flown CDG to LHR on Air France 787 and was seated in economy plus cabin!

Some of the business class seating layouts look awful , herringbone layout with seats facing inwards to the aisle and other passengers.
 

EssexGonzo

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Yes, several times. Absolutely not *worth* the money unless you have som much money that the difference between £500 and £5000 is negligible.

My own view is - for many, flying a class above the great unwashed is an ego boost, validation that they’ve made it. The fripperies that come with 1st are not worth the cash - it’s the status validation that so many seek and get through being seen to not to have to sit with everyone else which makes it worth it to those who need that validation.

However, premium economy and business can be worth it but for one reason only - space. I’m 6’2” tall, so space is the ultimate luxury on a plane, in a car or even in my own home. I will pay for space comfort. I won’t pay for a face flannel, status or being seen to be special.

So no, 1st class is absolutely not worth it. To me. But it is to those that need the validation.

And.....I feel the same about short haul business class. It’s for those that feel they’re a cut above and want to show others that they’re “special”. The lounge, the wet flannel, the free food - it’s just not worth it. There is rarely more space in short haul business nowadays and the food you can buy before the flight is far better quality and value. But obviously, if you need your ego massaging then, well.........
 

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lf you've never gone Business before, or you consider going Business a real treat, then l'd recommend doing that as it's normally significantly cheaper.

(l'm talking about long haul with decent airlines here, rather than just shorthaul flights where Business is little different).
 

RJ

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Yes, several times. Absolutely not *worth* the money unless you have som much money that the difference between £500 and £5000 is negligible.

My own view is - for many, flying a class above the great unwashed is an ego boost, validation that they’ve made it. The fripperies that come with 1st are not worth the cash - it’s the status validation that so many seek and get through being seen to not to have to sit with everyone else which makes it worth it to those who need that validation.

However, premium economy and business can be worth it but for one reason only - space. I’m 6’2” tall, so space is the ultimate luxury on a plane, in a car or even in my own home. I will pay for space comfort. I won’t pay for a face flannel, status or being seen to be special.

So no, 1st class is absolutely not worth it. To me. But it is to those that need the validation.

And.....I feel the same about short haul business class. It’s for those that feel they’re a cut above and want to show others that they’re “special”. The lounge, the wet flannel, the free food - it’s just not worth it. There is rarely more space in short haul business nowadays and the food you can buy before the flight is far better quality and value. But obviously, if you need your ego massaging then, well.........

I don't think it's anything to do with validation.

Quite a lot of people who fly frequently for work are not time rich. Sometimes having access to priority security and boarding, an area to rest, somewhere to grab a meal, somewhere to sit over a drink with clients, space to hang garments and work on board and so on more than pays for itself. These comforts turn something that's quite stressful if you do it regularly to something bearable.

People flying first class put a value on the experience and the privacy. When I look around in first, I don't see the type of people you think are travelling there. Many seem humble and focused on their own business. Others do it for a honeymoon or once in a lifetime holiday. Sometimes there are exceptions, but I don't think people who choose to travel in first should be subject to generalised scorn for it.
 
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Jimini

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Agreed on the above. Like I said upthread, work picks the bill up for me (they’ll authorise upper class travel vs coach) if it’s >10 hours, but trust me when I say that long haul business travel really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As an example, heading to HK for work for the week completely denies you the preceding weekend as you have to be at the airport by late afternoon Saturday (so leaving home not long after midday), flying 12 hours and losing eight hours time difference in the process, landing evening time on the Sunday, then going to the office at 8AM on the Monday morning when your body clock is convinced it’s midnight and all it wants to do is crash and burn. That’s where the business / upper / first class thing comes in — with a flat bed on the way there you’ve got a fighting chance of getting some decent sleep so you’re fresh at the start of the working week.

Flying west is of course easier as you go in to the time zones and you can force yourself to stay awake. Going east it’s a nightmare!
 

nlogax

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And.....I feel the same about short haul business class. It’s for those that feel they’re a cut above and want to show others that they’re “special”. The lounge, the wet flannel, the free food - it’s just not worth it. There is rarely more space in short haul business nowadays and the food you can buy before the flight is far better quality and value. But obviously, if you need your ego massaging then, well.........

I used to work for a firm that would send us business class by default for all flights, including short haul. Sitting up front for a 45 minute hop to Amsterdam was utterly pointless but at the same time I was in my early twenties and it felt like a massive and posh novelty.

Leap forward a couple of decades to the current day and I will happily do short haul business class if the prices are right, purely because it's a hunt for tier points especially since early 2020 when long haul flight opportunities suddenly became very rare.
 

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I will happily do short haul business class if the prices are right, purely because it's a hunt for tier points especially since early 2020 when long haul flight opportunities suddenly became very rare.
Exactly that here as well.
 

AndrewP

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I have flown business with a number of airlines and first with Emirates and they are all very good but don't forget that there is a huge variation between what each airline's product is and my view is that business is the sweet spot with good service and comfort and a price that is sensible. I couldn't justify paying the extra for first especially when many business classes are getting better all the time.

My recommendation is to look at the individual airline and flight so see what both the hard and soft products are before deciding on both class and if the airline is right.

My preferences are Emirates and BA
 

takno

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I would say that for any overnight flight my preference is for the cheapest fully flat (with a willingness to pay a hundred quid or so more for nice service, a half-decent meal and a more comfortable bed). For day flights I'll pay a about 25 quid an hour for decent legroom, a tenner an hour for more width, and probably a couple of hundred quid for good food, service and nicer seat.

Basically first very rarely comes into the equation, but paying 2-2.5x for business class isn't too much of an issue.

TBH I'm really bored with flying, and have no real interest in seeing any more of North America, so beyond one trip a year, employers can basically make me comfortable or I'm not going.
 

GRALISTAIR

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Having got to a stage in life where comfort is worth paying for I‘d always go business for long haul flights, but would rather spend the difference between business and first on a good hotel when I get there.
This is my thought exactly. Most Business Class (or whatever they are marketed as) these days are very good indeed. Delta call theirs Delta One - but on certain routes is an A350 with a suite and privacy door as well as the lie flat bed. Only fly true First (much rarer these days as airlines don't do it as much as has been stated already) if someone else is paying. I tend to use my miles/points for family.
 

packermac

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As someone who was a manager at BA, most of the time if it was a longhaul flight. But of course that was only if there were empty seats, (I have done many business trips in economy or even on jump seats, both flight deck and cabin, before flight deck access was banned post 9/11. Even had a colleague who ended up doing Bangkok to LHR in the crew bunks in the tail, and apparently spent most of the flight throwing up as it was so rough).
BA like many premium airlines F Class product was excellent, although it on most carriers is now being eaten into by upgraded Business Class products. I have read the latest Club World Seat and IFE offering is viewed to be better than the First offering. No experience of it as I gave up flying even for holidays, when I retired.
First Class really only works on a B747 where the galleys and lavs are behind you, otherwise you usually end up with, galley noise.
I also found the duvets far too hot on the First Class and only used them once on a really cold flight.
I spent much of may career in Procurement buying the interiors of aircraft, so I admit my views may be influenced by the effort we had in getting some of these products certified.
Concorde was certainly not F Class from a seat perspective, although the food and drink was, really just a supersonic BAC111 with good food and exciting take off and landing.
I also found I slept better on a BA F Class seat, even before fully flat than I did in a hotel on a business trip, even to the point that once a crew member told me she thought I may have died as I had not moved for 5 hours.
 

TravelDream

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My recommendation is to look at the individual airline and flight so see what both the hard and soft products are before deciding on both class and if the airline is right.

My preferences are Emirates and BA

You've managed to pick two of the worst business class hard products in the sky. The Emirates 777 is in 2-3-2 format which is uncomfortable when other airlines offer 1-2-1 on the same aircraft. Their A380 business is nice though. The last time I flew BA in business was in the 747 (gone now of course). Cramped and awkward would be my description. I didn't enjoy eating looking at a complete stranger as you are forced to do. Their new A350 business seat looks very nice though. I guess it really depends which aircraft you fly. I would be mightily pis**d if I'd paid big money as got a middle seat on an EK 777.

If you want a Middle Eastern airline, Qatar's business class (QSuites) is simply amazing and leagues ahead of anything on Emirates. It's not on all of their aircraft, but their 787 and their old 777 seats aren't bad either. I prefer the service on Qatar to Emirates too, but they are very similar. East/ South East Asian carriers tend to be very good as well and I would choose them over a European airline if I had the choice. I'm thinking Singapore, Cathay, ANA, JAL and similar.

I guess it's buyer beware as usual. Also be aware that airlines can change aircraft at the last minute and won't give compensation for a poorer seat than normal.
 

route101

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Surprising number of people on here who fly long haul for business. What is it generally for? Meetings?
 

raetiamann

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For work and pleasure. General rule of thumb-
Up to 4 hours Economy
4-7 hours premium economy
Over 7 hours Business class.
 

jfollows

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Surprising number of people on here who fly long haul for business. What is it generally for? Meetings?
Lots of reasons.
I lived and worked in Boulder, Colorado 1989-1992, then Raleigh, NC 1998-2000, so plenty of business trips.
2000-2008 I planned and implemented large scientific "supercomputer" installations in the UK. The IBM lead site was Poughkeepsie, NY, so I went there multiple times.
The last time I went there the expenses "police" complained and made it difficult. The informal chat I had in someone's office during my visit subsequently saved the day when the implementation went wrong - something undocumented happened and I'd learned about it through an informal chat, recognised it and fixed it.
However it became clear that the expenses "police" were on the rise and would win, so soon after I resigned and got a better job. In which I had an annual trip to the USA to attend "Supercomputing" (a conference which moves around the USA every year) for a number of years - Pittsburgh, Seattle, Austin, New Orleans.
Nothing glamorous, but necessary to do my job. Many others will say the same I'm sure. One minor benefit was the accumulation of miles/points enabling upgrades sometimes.
 
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takno

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Surprising number of people on here who fly long haul for business. What is it generally for? Meetings?
Don't do it anymore, but yes it was a combination of conferences, showing my face at sponsor events and mostly meetings. Pretty much the cost of setting up a US-focused company and running it from the UK.
 

JohnMcL7

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I've flown first class for business as my company had a policy for long haul it had to be first class and I was very impressed with the upgrade and did think if I could get a reasonable deal it's how I'd choose to fly on a personal holiday. With other issues occurring then covid I've not been able to really consider any personal flights but honestly I don't think I'd pay the extra and prefer a few hours of inconvenience for the reasonable chunk of money saved which I can find a better use for.

I'd echo the comments about business travel not being much fun and the first class probably being more valuable as a result of that, after a long trip it's pretty much straight to work and then after an intensive few days it's straight back again whereas even fairly busy holidays allow more time to relax.
 

RJ

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Surprising number of people on here who fly long haul for business. What is it generally for? Meetings?

Meetings, sales, negotiations, presentations. Some people work on 10 or 11 figure deals for companies and a premium class travel perk can be used as part of a package to attract people. There are mixed views on people who demand it and "rich" companies that won't offer it, but it happens nonetheless.

If I was going on a long haul flight to buy product supplies for 50p a unit that sell here for 1000x as much, I'd probably want to travel in a premium cabin.
 
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heenan73

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I've travelled first class to Australia several times, mostly on Thai or Qantas, and once in economy (all except one were paid for by my employer at the time).

In most cases, economy was heaving and first class was less than half full, with marvellous service, so much space, a 'bed' and a relaxing atmosphere. On the other hand, you can pay what you like and you'll still get very tired, and still get jet lag. And first class is exorbitantly expensive.

Unless you are offered a real bargain, and you really cannot sleep at all in an economy seat, I doubt it's worth the extra. Just take a Kindle, some puzzles and hope for decent movies. But if you can get someone to lean on the boss to authorise first class for you, go for it - worked for me.
 

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