The Playbook For The Modern Man

Hidden Benefits Of Flying First-Class That Business-Class Travellers Have No Idea About

License to laze.

If flying business-class is like spending the night in an overpriced discotheque (purple lights and all) then flying first-class is like ~vibing~ at a bespoke cocktail bar: still hedonistic, but a little more private.

That’s the stereotype, anyway. But what most people don’t realise is that the retreat-like feels are just the tip of the first-class iceberg.

Anyhow: in a climate where newcomers to the Pointy End Cone Of Trust revel in exposing the indiscretions of business-class stalwarts, it’s no wonder cashed-up flyers are opting for ever more private business-class suites or – better yet – making the jump to first.


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However, even as this happens, fiscal business travellers still mock the first-class heathens who spend tens of thousands of dollars for an extra metre squared between the edge of their bed and the wall of their suite (and to eat a slightly but not significantly better meal than the one they would be served in business-class).

Why? Previously we’d have said Tall Poppy Syndrome. But it has recently come to our attention that there are a number of advantages to flying first-class that you don’t truly appreciate until you actually do it.


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In fact, first-hand observations from our editor-at-large, Luc Wiesman, as well as a recent back and forth we had with British Airways suggests that – despite the vast work of literature to the contrary – flying first is as much of a step up from business as business is a step up from economy.

So, even though there is less of a visible “lie-flat vs. knee-crunching” difference, there are some crucial advantages to flying first-class over business-class that those who have never experienced it (myself included) love to knock.

Today we’re here to rectify this; listing of all the reasons it’s worth it to fly first-class over business-class, particularly internationally.


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It’s less stressful

If the sweaty suit yelling at a flight attendant that he ought to be boarding before the elderly couples and mothers with young children so graciously demonstrated to us recently, flying business-class is no guarantee that you – nor those around you – will keep their cool while travelling.

While business-class spares you some of the indignities of air travel, you’re still left to dwell for hours on your chicken edamame sandwich in the case of a delay, and – shock, horror – occasionally have to board with, not before, economy passengers with medical conditions, or – in the case of Qatar Airways’ A380s – with Economy passengers who have pre-selected one of the economy seats on the plane’s top deck.

If you’re flying first-class, however, this is all a non-issue.

It gives you the chance to network

On first-class, even if your flight is indefinitely delayed, or even you arrive at your destination to find your luggage has been dispatched to The North Pole, you’ll be too busy networking with industry big wigs and being shouted tax-payer-funded drinks by corrupt politicians to have an existential chicken edamame crisis.

It gives you a more streamlined airport experience

Some airlines will send a chauffer, others might send a chopper, but either way, flying first-class culls the boring bits of air travel. For instance, as British Airways recently told us, flying first-class out of London with them gives you exclusive access to the airline’s First Wing, which features a private check-in area leading through to dedicated security lanes, which grant customers direct access to British Airways’ prestigious First Lounges.

It gives you a license to be helpless

As British Airways recently told us, the pre-flight experience of a first-class BA passenger is quite different from the pre-flight experience of a BA business-class passenger (as it is across the vast majority of the world’s top Airlines). Chief among these differences, in our eyes, is your license to be helpless.

How so? Well not only do you get access to Heathrow’s Galleries First Lounge and The Concorde Room, which is exclusive for First customers and provides work and entertainment zones, waiter service dining (before some flights) and a la carte menus with a wide range of champagnes and wines, but you also get a dedicated help desk called You First for any queries regarding Concorde room facilities, Elemis spa treatments or any other travel queries.

It gives you a license to be messy

As we mentioned earlier, with the proliferation of Tweet-happy journalists and impertinent Instagram addicts, first-class flyers, from unicorn startup owners to international diplomats, can sprawl back without being judged for skipping straight to the sports page of their newspapers or for their remarkable ability to sink whisky and salted peanuts.

The entertainment is better

As British Airways recently told us, they are now exclusively trialling a new virtual reality headset where customers travelling on select flights in First from London Heathrow to New York JFK will be able to enjoy a selection of award-winning films, documentaries and travel programmes in 2D, 3D or 360° formats. While this is yet to be rolled out everywhere (and while it is specific to BA), we have noticed everyone from Etihad to Emirates have their own equivalent ‘level up’ entertainment systems for first-class flyers.

It gives you more leisure time

While business-class gives you this too, we’d argue you get an even better night’s sleep (so long as you don’t fall into the Adrian Wooldridge trap) in first-class, which can save you days of jetlag.


Hedonism rewires your brain; in a good way

While the scientific jury is still out on this, studies have shown hedonism can be good for your health and – though we’re hardly psychologists – we’ve found there are few problems that can’t be solved by swilling a punchy single malt at 40,000ft.

The only problem is when you wake up to find your solutions are gibberish. But hey: that’s a problem for another day.

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  • ddsmpret

    I has taken many years before my wife and I were financially able to fly business class.

  • Felice Graziano

    First Class makes most sense on a rush hour train.

    Everybody else is crammed together like sardines in tiny, uncomfortable seats with no legroom between you and the stranger sat opposite (who naturally parks his briefcase in that tiny space between you and him), with most people standing in the aisles, and a cacophony of noise, sneezes & diseases, stifling sweaty heat and general anguish.

    You in First Class? Pah! There’s like you and maybe three other people in the whole damn carriage! All sat miles away from each other, free to stretch and do whatever, because people with money rarely take the train and so First Class is empty.

    During rush hour.

  • akeju ola

    Sure,it is I have never experienced it on British Airways even though I frequent the Business class which is not bad.Qatar airways was generous with me on first class on my way to New Delhi and had a wonderful stop over at its first class lounges, It was classical and couldn’t be described.
    Flying first class is pretty expensive and probably could create a deep hole except you have miles to upgrade. For me I love it but I settle for biz class which is still a step up from economy class

  • J H

    Networking? Are you sure?

    The one reason I love traveling business or first (which happens rarely, by the way) is that I don’t have to worry about making small talk with my seat mates.

    And yes, I realize that comes off as somewhat obnoxious but traveling as much as I do for work I need sometime to disconnect and think.

  • Mike Flook

    My favourite F Class benefit on Emirates… when you want to…order what you want, when you want…not being nourished to a predefined timetable that sometimes makes no sense…I.e. Lunch served immediately after take off on morning flight from DXB -JNB!

  • stan t

    What a bunch of baloney. Most of these perks either don’t exist, are a trivial upgrade from business, or come with business via the right airline alliance… But one thing this list overlooks – many aircraft disembark via the door between business and economy. If you are all the way in the pointy end you might as well be in the back of the plane with regards to how long it takes to get off the plane.

    The *only* way I can see first as worth it is if it’s your honeymoon, you have an apartment on Etihad, and a burning desire to join the mile high club…

  • James

    What’s your beef with Networking? You find most first lounges are combined with Business?

  • J H

    Really? I’m in airport lounges every week and I don’t see much networking going on. I also don’t do or see much networking when I’m in first class.

  • James

    Fair enough. But you could if you wanted, right?

  • J H

    You absolutely could but, as I said, the majority of people I observe in lounges are looking for quiet and don’t want to interact with their fellow travelers.

  • James

    Fair enough

  • onlineo

    Obviously if you are getting a suite you can see where your extra money is going. More space on the plane. Most of the other stuff is incidental. Sure if your business class lie flat bed is too short or too narrow for you to sleep comfortably then you will probably get a larger more comfortable bed. For me this upgrade is like premium economy upgrade. If the upgrade from business to first or economy to premium economy is less than 25% on a long haul then I am interested. If it is more than that then I really am not interested (and it is often double the price)


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