Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, you can be sitting in economy, business or even first class. Usually, (unless you are bumped up to a better cabin for free), the less you pay for your ticket, the further back you sit on an aircraft. For most people in the world, economy is where they’ll end up with minimal leg space, bland food, hard seats that barely recline, and cabin staff that are not always the most pleasant.
However, for those who like to spend a bit more to fly in comfort to their next destination, business and first class is the number one choice. From full-length beds and onboard bars to fine dining, and ultimate service experience, first and business class is a luxurious experience in the sky.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each one to understand how the three main classes differ.
Almost a century ago, economy class on an aircraft was nonexistent. There was one class—the very rich—that could travel from one side of the world to another in large seats, with great service and fresh food. Economy, also known as coach, was only introduced in the late ’50s, and even then, seats were nothing compared to the 70s, where passengers enjoyed an average of 35 inches of legroom, and about an 18-inch seat width. Fast forward to today’s time, economy only offers a seat pitch of about 31 inches and a seat width of about 16.5 inches.
Aside from the limited legroom, there’s the bland food that’s only free on international flights, lack of an amenity kit and poor service. Let’s just say you shouldn’t expect any butlers to come your way.
There’s also the entertainment. Most domestic economy seats don’t offer free shows or movies, and the screen can be small or nonexistent.
Premium economy is definitely a step up from basic—more room for your legs, additional baggage allowance, and in some cases, free food. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t compare to business or first.
When it comes to business class, everything changes. Your seat can recline into a fully-flat bed, five to seven course meals are served, luxurious bedding to sleep in, amenity kit with items to keep you fresh throughout the flight (some airlines provide pajamas), excellent service, large screen with endless entertainment, additional baggage allowance, and UBS and A/C ports to keep your devices charged at all times (there’s no need to share with your seat partner).
Some airlines have taken it even a step further, offering passengers sitting in business class the option to turn their seat into a double bed. This was unheard of in the past, but with increasing customer demands, carriers are starting to compete even more with each other, updating their cabins to meet the rising expectations.
Outside of the comfortable seat, there’s of course, complimentary lounge access at the airport before your flight. Passengers holding a business class ticket can get a free spa service (massage, facial, foot/ hand scrub), can shower, catch up with work, watch a film, or enjoy a five-star meal accompanied with fine wine.
Business class ticket holders also enjoy the benefit of checking several bags in without any charges, going through a designated airport security line that’s quick and easy, and boarding the plane before anyone else.
We must say, once you’ve gone business, you may never go back.
First class—it sounds just as exquisite as it looks. Several award-winning airlines such as Etihad, Emirates and more recently, Singapore have taken the basic first class seat and transformed it into a suite.
Aside from having your own mini-hotel room 30,000 feet above ground, first class also comes with other amenities similar to the ones found in business class—large entertainment screen, seat that extends into a fully-flat double bed, five to seven course meals, top-of-the-line service, high-end bedding, amenity kits (some airlines offer pajamas), showers (on the plane!), ample stowage space and personal in-seat charging ports.
To take it a step further, Qatar, Emirates, Etihad or Royal Jordanian Airlines allow first class passengers to bring up to two Falcons with them on the plane. Yes, you read that right—falcons.
Aside from the airplane features, passengers with a first class ticket also have complimentary access to airport lounges. Some carriers separate their business and first class lounges, so exclusivity is not unheard of. There’s also the option for first class passengers to receive a free chauffeur service from their house, to the airport lounge, and even right up to the airplane. Now that’s a way to feel like royalty.
Just like business class, first class ticket holders also enjoy the benefit of checking several bags in without any charges, going through a designated airport security line that’s quick and easy, and boarding the plane before anyone else.
If there’s one thing we know, first class passengers get the ultimate treatment.