I recently fell foul of a business class booking blunder that left me a little less than pleased, but I’m far from the first to make this classic mistake. Here’s how to avoid the same travel troubles.
As ‘All-Business Class’ airlines become increasingly commonplace, we want to keep our readers abreast of all the Business Class Booking Hacks we can. That’s why I felt the need to share this story after I recently fell foul of a classic first-timer’s error while flying at the pointy end of the plane.
Don’t get me wrong, flying business class is always a privilege and always a huge step up from the experience you get in economy, especially as seats become increasingly ‘densified‘ to push up profit margins post-pandemic.
WATCH: Cathay Pacific Announce ‘Aria’ Business Class Upgrade
In my case, the blunder occurred when flying Singapore Airlines first from Sydney, Australia to Singapore and then on the reverse journey a few days later. Before I get into specifics, I want to make clear that I had a stellar experience on both legs of my journey, being hugely impressed with the cabin, amenities, and staff provided by the airline. I’ll update our Singapore Airlines Business Class Review to reflect all of this very soon.
All of this is to say that the blunder was actually a result of my own misplaced expectations and assumptions about the airline’s product, rather than an inherent problem with what was delivered. And I know for a fact that plenty of others have suffered at the hands of their own expectations about what certain airlines deliver based on a lack of research prior to booking.
Take this tweet, for example, from a very unhappy customer flying in SWISS’ business cabin from Hong Kong to Zurich on what is, I believe, a Boeing-777:
Total pain to fly with @FlySWISS ! It's not acceptable that you sell some sits like this! You should give money back and stop cheating around. You are worst than lowcosts. #swiss #swissairline #businessclass #dontflyswiss pic.twitter.com/aaWU3r8sda— E.T. (@JustSayBoh) November 8, 2023
What Went Wrong
In short, the issue is this: within any given airline, their business class product can vary dramatically depending on the size, age, and fitout of the individual plane within their fleet. When I flew out to Singapore, I was on one of their newer A350s, which is fitted out with their stunning new business product featuring fully lie-flat beds, all the latest tech you could ask for, as well as a plethora of storage space.
On my return journey, however, I was on a totally different plane with a different, older Business Class fit-out, something much closer to this A350-900 look, as seen on Seeing The World In Steps. As I said above, this is still a great business-class product tended to by wonderful staff who ensured my every whim was taken care of, but because I had flown the newer fit on my first journey, this was the standard I had come to expect across all of Singapore’s planes, leaving me a little underwhelmed on arrival for the return leg.
How To Avoid Disappointment
I think the real hurdle that I, along with our disgruntled friend on the above SWISS flight have faced, is that airlines understandably want to market their newest, shiniest business class product wherever they can. If you look on our very own website, you’ll see that the latest mention of SWISS features a game-changing business class layout that looks totally different to the one this flyer was greeted with.
The moral of this story is simple and one that is as old as time (or, at least, as old as digital marketing): don’t be fooled by everything you see online. While the new SWISS product is set to be a thing of beauty when it rolls out, and Singapore’s newest business cabin is similarly industry-leading, flyers need to understand that these newest products aren’t always what they’ll be greeted with when boarding their flight.
Research your alines, research their fleet, and research the age of their planes and fit-outs; this is the surefire way to avoid disappointment.