If flying economy is like spending the night in a dingy dive bar (armrest tussles and all) then flying business-class is like ~vibing~ at an exclusive VIP lounge (purple disco lights included).
That’s the stereotype. But what most people don’t realise, is that the vintage Moët and lie-flat beds are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, for some pointy end passengers, that’s not even why they pay to sit up front.
So – especially in this climate of flight shaming and thriftiness – why is business-class becoming more popular? How do we sleep knowing we are being mocked by (literally) ‘woke’ passengers in economy who arrive at the same place, at the same time, about $5,000 (give or take, depending on the airline and the route) better off?
In an era where it’s cooler to brag about ‘how many steps’ you did on the weekend than it is to recall how many Espresso Martinis you sank, why do statistics show business-class hedonism to be sharply increasing?
As always, the devil is in the detail. And his name is Immanuel Debeer: one of the world’s most prolific frequent flyers, owner of Flight Hacks, and proud business-class hedonist.
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Inspired by losing my business class virginity on Qantas’ recently re-assigned A330, I sought out a more experienced pointy end flyer (Immanuel) to help me transition from budget-backpacker to elitist snob.
The problem was, Immanuel proved my assumption that everyone who flies business-class is worthy of disdain to be false, revealing that it is possible to be a down-to-earth human and also fly business, as well as helping me see there are a number of perks to flying business-class that you don’t truly appreciate until you actually do it.
Aside from Immanuel’s observations, we have also picked the brain of D’Marge editor-at-large Luc Wiesman, who can often be found at the lie-flat end of the plane.
In short, today we bring you all the reasons it’s worth it to fly business-class over economy, particularly internationally, and particularly if it’s a slight financial stretch (if you are rolling in cash, or if you have zero money, it is a no-brainer).
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Hedonism changes your brain for the better
Sure: cigars and cocktails will kill you. But so (eventually) will water and gluten-free bread. Also, studies have shown hedonism can be good for your health, particularly when it doesn’t involve inhaling carcinogenic substances or pummelling your liver. Put simply: business class is your safe space to indulge, where the laws of international aviation (and customs) protect you from doing too much damage, leaving you free to loll in luxury.
And let’s face it: on an international red-eye, even if you make the rare move of trying to get some work done, you will likely have to redo it when you realise that your 40,000ft ‘revelations’ are mostly gibberish. So instead of hunching over your laptop in economy, determined to make use of your stolen sleep, why not hop up the pointy end and arrive refreshed, sharp and well-fed?
It makes it much easier to avoid jetlag
As frequent flyer Immanuel told us, “Apart from the freeflow champagne and better quality food, the main advantage of business-class is that you get a fully-flat bed.” According to him, “This can make a huge difference in terms of your health,” and enables you to, “Hit the ground running.”
“When you can get proper sleep, the effects of jetlag are minimised so whether you need to attend a meeting or have a full day of sightseeing, you will have an advantage over economy passengers.”
It gives you lounge access – no status credits required
Even if you are a non-frequent flyer with zero status credits, if you purchase a business-class ticket you will have lounge access wherever you need it for that journey. And, as Immanuel told us: “Most of those [lounges] on international routes have excellent shower facilities and a-la-carte restaurants to make your transit that much more relaxing.”
“Some airlines even offer ‘dine on demand’ benefits to their premium guests. This means you can eat what you want when you want. This can really help you to adjust your body clock when you’re not forced to eat when the airline would like you to.”
It gives you the chance to meet like-minded people
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In a previous article, we suggested that flying up the pointy end of the plane gives you the chance to be shouted drinks by corrupt politicians and shmooze your way up the corporate ladder. While this was tongue-in-cheek, we believe the core point – there’s never a bad time to sip single malt with potential industry connections – still stands.
However, frequent flyer Immanuel calls bullsh*t on this claim, arguing that those who fly business do so for the anonymity and retreat-like feels – not to network: “Most people in the lounge want to keep to themselves and in business class, the reality is that most people are company men and women who’s employer paid for them to fly in business.”
“It’s not like every seat is taken up by some hot entrepreneur, well on their way to becoming the next Google or Facebook.”
“That said, of course, it’s fine to strike up conversations with other people (and there are plenty of nice and interesting people travelling in any class) as long as you can read social clues and know when your small talk isn’t appreciated,” he added.
It reduces the stress of your airport experience
You might not get a chopper or a chauffer like you do in first-class, but flying business-class culls much of the fat of air travel. Check-in is a red-roped breeze, most lounges have chicken edamame salads (of some variation thereof) to fly for and if there is a delay you wait it out in an adult playpen of delight, not McDonalds.
It gives you a licence to laze
Where else in the modern world can you sit back unmolested by emails, texts and calls (and judgement from your partner), to scoff salted nuts and swill single malt, while watching whatever guilty pleasure you so desire? Essentially: you get to do what you always do on a Friday night, sans judgement.
That’s our take, anyway. Frequent flyer Immanuel, however, told us that for him it’s not so much about “indulging without judgement” but more an appreciation of guaranteed personal space; “In economy you really have to fight for your [area] with those looking to spread their way across three seats. And then there’s the classic armrest battle royale as well: winner takes all.”
It allows you to make a socio-political statement
In a world where Crossfit is now cooler than clubbing, business-class is the hedonist’s last refuge.