The Playbook For The Modern Man

The Biggest Myth People Still Believe About Business Class

Few business class features would be considered ‘luxurious’ back on the ground. So why do we get so excited about them up in the air?

The day I realised my entire perception of business class was wrong began with champagne, toasted sandwiches and a piccolo latte.

So far so Qantas.

However — about two hours into the flight it occurred to me that Business Class is not the playpen of epicurean delights so many believe it to be.

While the ability to lie-flat is a godsend when you compare it to Economy, if you think about business class in non-relative terms, you are essentially (for a long haul flight) paying between $4,000 and $10,000 for a slightly worse bed (and slightly better food) than what you have at home.


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True luxury? Only when you compare it to the Guantanamo like conditions of cattle class.


Before you retort with a dancing gif of Neil Perry (Qantas), Heston Blumenthal (BA), Gordon Ramsay (Singapore Airlines), Luke Mangan (Virgin Australia) or even chef of the century Joel Robuchon (who once worked his magic for Air France) — I’m well aware that the world’s major airlines have all, at some point, contracted cordon bleus to help them curate their menus.

But that doesn’t mean world-renowned chefs are pan-frying your polenta, braising your greens, sauteing your mushrooms or artfully dripping verde on your salsa.

What really happens? They whip up a sumptuous menu — lending their credentials and edamame to what would otherwise be a stock standard chicken salad — and head back to their Michelin Towers without breaking a sweat.

Of course: those that do prepare your food are highly trained. But the dining experience, whilst enjoyable, is not something you would pay more than a couple hundred dollars for back on the ground.

Where does the $3,000 to $9,000 price differential from Economy come from then? Think it’s down to alcohol? Think again; on most decent airlines booze is complimentary across all classes on long haul flights, so you don’t need to fly business to break David Boon’s record for martinis across the Indian Ocean (if you bring your own vermouth to mix with the economy class gin, anyway).


How about prestige then?


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Two points. One: posting your glass of Chardonnay and business class boarding pass is perhaps the most cliche Instagram move since putting a “currently in”  dropped pin in your bio, and two: Pointy End passengers are trusted less and less. As we reported earlier this year, Emirates has banned passengers from pouring their own drinks at the first-class bar and is keeping the $4,500 whisky under lock and key, thanks to some passengers’ naughty behaviour.

How about the entertainment and movies?


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While business class gives you a wide variety of films and TV shows — and a better viewing experience than Economy — when you do the exact same thing at home, settling in for a glass of wine and some Netflix, you would never call it ‘luxury’.

The conclusion? The only truly opulent aspect of business class, in non-relative terms, is the Champagne.

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  • OV Traveller

    Dream on sunshine! Unless you enjoy have your knees around your shoulders, I for one would not forgo a long haul flight in J. Skip the champagne, have storage, decent eating environment, a much better seat……why go on? Enjoy your trip, but know why and what your experience is going to be like. I know and act ( plus book) accordingly. Amen

  • Rex

    Let me know when your house, in addition to providing more space and better food, is also capable of transporting you across the world at about 800 kph.

  • ETH for Indonesiaku

    The products on air, while airborne are considered extras. If you truly a frequent flyer you should know that Business Class products on ground are what most after. Lounge, check-in, extra weights, entering your plane early, compensation during delays, hotel rooms, and many more including some extra service after you landed at your destination.

    On air is not the food, cavier or champagne, but more for extra legroom, and bed. Which does affect your health. Good rest without the blood clot! Sadly, airlines are aware of this and do mark up their product too high since demands are there.

    Clearly this article was written directly with ignorance and from the arse.

  • Eddie Osnard

    The author is saying not to think relative to economy class, but, firstly, where are you going to end up if not there by deciding not to pay for Business, and secondly, compares its features with something even less comparable – home or ground.
    But yes the prices of Business class have become astronomical last 10 years, and I’d gladly hang the owners.

  • J Swan

    Why do you think it’s called business class and not luxury class?

  • yawarbaig

    Totally true. I fly Business Class solely because of the flat bed. I don’t drink alcohol. I eat very little and that too mostly fish. I read on flights, not watch movies. So what’s left? I do appreciate the separate check-in lines but that’s it. Flat bed is good because I have a lower back problem so can’t sit in an economy seat for long hours. Prestige? If your can buy it, it’s not prestige. It’s as simple as that.

  • Geoff Felgate

    Clearly the editor is not that clever. I fly busines class to get 8-10 hours sleep and a few extra’s, thats it. I pay all that money to have a shower in the lounge, enjoy a small amount of food & maybe a beer then board my fight and wake up refreshed and ready for business. Try flying economy for 16 hours and dive into a business day on landing…..NOT!

  • kc1174

    Don’t forget the hot towels!
    Seriously though, premium economy (aka economy from back in the day when seats were comfortable and had pitch) is fine. It always amazes me when people reviewing business (and first) talk about the in flight entertainment. Save a couple of grand and buy an iPad and download a couple of movies.
    The one thing business has that economy doesn’t though is the bed. Depending on the occasion, a night flight and a decent sleep is worth it. A day flight – just sit in economy. I usually fly J out and Y back.

  • panameraman

    This is for his wife or SO to read. Be cheap,man She’ll survive.

  • Flick Lives

    I like the Business Class lounges. I begin my flight well fed and relaxed out of the hubbub of the gates. On overnight flights that lets me get to sleep before getting into Europe from the US. That keeps your first day jet lag much less of a problem. After a long flight in Economy I feel like I have been tortured for 8 hours; in Business Class I feel much better prepared to get to work.

  • HenryatZagan

    With Cathay herringbone seating, no trampling over fellow passengers. As all Cathay long flights, they’re all over night. A good feed before departure, no grog that dehydrates, a few Temazepam and I’m out. What flight?

  • DavidSG

    When you are 196cm tall even the business class seat is a marginal proposition. I have only ever experienced one design (Air NZ) where I could sleep on my side. On all others I have to lie flat on my back, straight as a telegraph pole and wedge both feet into a narrow hole that can barely accommodate one foot. There is literally no wiggle room.

  • Derrick Karner

    Business class centers around the bed. Nothing is cooler than lying down flat while on an airplane. On the ground it’s not a big deal but when you compare it to economy it is night and day. Everything else about business class is about the experience which adds value. The lounge and sitting in a nice chair, table or lounger with a couple of snacks and drinks isn’t worth that much but it does make the trip more enjoyable especially when coupled with premium check in, faster security, priority boarding, priority disembarkation, priority luggage tags. The food and amenity kits are a nice touch. Something to look forward to other than the seat.

    Flying business for most is a special experience that happens at most 2-4 times a year (1-2 round trips). It makes being on a plane for 12 hours actually fun and part of the vacation instead of dread that economy is.

  • Wayne Thompson

    What I like about business class is like a fine restaurant; you feel special and usually treated special. The first time I flew first class on a domestic flight about 20 years, I remember being asked by the FA, “Mr Thompson, would you like the eggs or French toast for breakfast?” I was taken aback. Firstly, I was offered a choice. Secondly I was called by name. I’m like wow, I am special, I like this. Of course I like the free drinks (so I try to schedule flights after 11AM). I like having a meal; it reminds me of the times when all classes received meals even on domestic flights. The perks like priority check-in, priority thru TSA, priority boarding makes the trip less stressful. But depending on where I’m going, is it worth it? Anything over 4 hours I try to book it. But the 9.5 hour flight from HNL to ATL, the lie flat seats were wonderful.

  • Dredgy

    Business class is everything you need when travelling for business and have a meeting – you arrive well rested, well-fed, get through immigration quickly without jet lag etc. Things that many people need. I’ve flown alot of business classes and while it’s a luxury I’ve never thought of it as luxurious. A lot of travellers don’t eat on the plane at all (fill up in lounge so you can sleep through flight) so food and drink is usually not a consideration.

    I’d consider First Class being everything you want, but I’ve only ever flown in First Once.

  • Dredgy

    Business class is cheaper than ever if you look properly. I’ve had a few fares out of Kazakhstan & Madagascar being cheaper than Economy and often on mid-haul flights it’s only marginally more expensive. I flew Brisbane->Shenzhen->Beijing->Shanghai->Brisbane for $1700 (Australian dollars too) last year and the economy was $1000 for the same flights. So $700 difference for 4 flights was just a $175 cost upgrade per flight for a bed, pyjamas and lounge access.

  • RR RR

    Business class pays for the flight. Economy class , does not unless in shorts flights meter drop . (Air asia ) etc. First class is on the way to extinction .

  • Patrick Proctor

    I’ve done that flying ORF to BNE via EWR and YVR in economy. You’re a lightweight.

  • Bobby Galinsky

    You’re paying the extreme extra $ because once you’ve been able to sleep like a human instead of a ferret on a long (or medium) haul flight…you’ll never go back to Economy again. It’s like anything else that is at first a luxe item that becomes a virtual necessity. Then again, much of the actual cost is the subsidized cost of the plane and the fuel. By disintegrating the Mideastern countries that supply oil and taking them over, we could reduce fuel costs by 85%, and a lot of other problems along with it. But I surmise this won’t be a viable option for at least awhile longer…regrettably 🙂

  • Jerry T

    I both agree and disagree – if you have the disposable income – enjoy it, absolutely! If work is paying for it then that’s great too. But for the average Joe upgrade by points but never pay full fare for this. If you’re going on a 2 week holiday spend the thousands difference on a nicer hotel room, take your family on nice dinners and the enjoy local culture and more activities. The 9hr flight should never be the ‘best part’ a holiday.

    I also think there’s a lot to say in terms of entitlement, lack of modesty and the garishness of people flaunting it. Business class brings out the inner primadonna in people. As I always say to co travelers – the worst thing about Qantas FF is other Qantas FFs… you all know what I mean “I’m Qantas Gold, I should get whatever I demand” attitude. Happy in economy, happy in business.

  • Bradley Kyle

    Damn I stumbled across this sight by accident. Looked interesting until I read everyone of the post’s that are on here. Talk about a bunch of entitlement needy snowflakes. Do any of you remember what it was like BEFORE business class was there and the old first class that was nothing more than a wider seat and slightly better food and drink? I thought not. Y’all whiney asses don’t know the true meaning of sacrifice. None of y’all could last on the flights of yesteryear because y’all THINK that you are entitled to this crap. Guess what bitches, your not and none of you “newborns” could handle what or how we had to fly around the world on pre business class and lie flat seats.


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