GIVING US THE BUSINESS
It’s time to book another business class flight and get to that important meeting you have made several time zones away. Prepping for the meeting is probably the easy part; dealing with the stress of airline travel these days is the hard part. Overbooked flights, long wait lists for upgrades, shrinking seat pitch and widths, smaller airline lounges and crowded airports are just a few of the many stress factors we deal with when traveling to far away destinations.
Finding the best international business class airline that offers the best overall flying experience from the time you leave home to the time you arrive at your destination can help relieve the travel stress and the ability to embark on a more pleasant, seamless and enjoyable long-distance commute. International business travelers desire a simplistic and comfortable mode of travel inclusive of the best business class seat, best airport lounge and the best on-board/in flight amenities.
Choosing the best international airline that offers the best overall business class flying experience from a seat selection perspective may be vastly different depending on whether you are traveling solo or with a partner. Many newer aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, 777 ERs and Airbus A-380/330/350s have several different business class seat layouts to consider.
For example, if you are traveling alone, you want private space and the ability to enter and exit your seat space without climbing over your seat mate or them climbing over you. In this case, look for aircraft with staggered seat layouts in the 1-2-1 configuration. Each aisle seat is one to its own, while the aisles on every other row of two middle seats are accessible from either side. Some of my favorite airlines that boast this option are Singapore Airlines, Asiana, Qatar Airways and Emirates on the A-380 aircraft, Thai Airways onboard the 777ERs and Eithad Airways with their A-380 aircraft.
If your partner is accompanying you, and the desire is to be close enough to one another to have a conversation and still enjoy the personal space during rest, the best layouts are Lufthansa’s 747-8s and Cathay Pacific’s 777ERs, where business class seats are actually angled toward each other, or United’s Polaris business class seats on their new 787 Dreamliners, where the seats are very close together. And kudos to British Airway’s business class seat layout on their A-380 and 747 equipment, where some seats actually face each other.
Need to “prep” for your long-distance business class adventure? Some of the best business class lounges can be found in Dubai with Emirates Business and First-Class lounges. They occupy an entire level at DXB with massive amounts of square footage available for eating, drinking, quiet time, socializing and transitioning from lounge to gate. In fact, you can actually walk out of the lounge to your Emirates gate without having to reenter the main airport.
Other notable business class lounges are Qatar Airways’ al Safwa Lounge in Doha, the Qantas First Class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Lufthansa has upped the ante with their two lounges, one in Frankfurt and one in Munich, and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific has “The Wing” and the Pier First Class lounges where you can experience all the niceties of international comfort.
On longer international business class flights in excess of 12 hours, there really is no way you are going to sleep the whole time, so an in-flight lounge is a wonderful amenity to look for when considering choosing the best business airline. These days, the only aircraft large enough to fit a decent sized in-flight lounge are the Airbus A-380s. Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Korean Airlines utilize the vast space available in the aft section of the upper deck, where you can sit at the bar or on either side of the cabin in nice lounge sofas. In most cases, free flowing libations with a bartender, nibbles and wi-fi can make a very nice way to pass some time. Korean Airlines and Asiana Airlines offer additional smaller business class lounges in the forward sections of the upper decks. Most other aircraft only have areas in the galley or nearby that are smaller and only can hold a few people. The exception is some airlines with the newer 777 ERs, but those lounges have small bars with only a few stools. These in-flight lounges are consistently packed with too many people, and flight attendants have to turn people away.
Most major international airports in the U.S. are far behind offering the updated amenities like the more modern airports overseas do. However, the Yanks are catching up slowly.
If you have the chance to travel through or end your journey at Singapore’s Changi, Seoul’s Incheon, Dubai International or Hong Kong, you have done well in blending the best business class airline, best airport lounge and best in-flight lounge into your long journey.
Brad Dwan is Managing Director for International Energy Sales, Inc. a manufacturer’s representative that represents mid-level manufacturing companies based in the USA, assisting them expand their global businesses.
WORLD’S BEST FOR 2017
United Kingdom-based consultancy Skytrax, which runs an airline and airport review and ranking site, recently compiled this list of the world’s best airline business classes of 2017.
1 Qatar Airways
2 ANA All Nippon Airways
3 Singapore Airlines
4 Etihad Airways
6 Turkish Airlines
7 Garuda Indonesia
8 Cathay Pacific
10 EVA Air
11 Japan Airlines
12 Hainan Airlines
13 Qantas Airways
15 Virgin Australia
16 China Airlines
17 Air France
19 Asiana Airlines
20 Oman Air
How Suite It Is