Tips for Business Class Air Travel is Growing

There are essentially three classes of airline travel: first, business and economy classes. While first class has been a mainstay of air travel, business class is a more recent phenomenon. The class has become an increasingly more important source of airline profits, particularly to international carriers, as worldwide markets have merged and increased cross market trade.

While business often differs very little from first class, the label is somewhat more palatable for corporations and shareholders for whom the perceived luxury of first class might be considered an unnecessary expense. While shareholders might frown on corporate executives jetting around the world in frivolous luxury on expense accounts, they don’t overestimate the value of sending their representatives to important meetings overseas well-rested and sharp even after a 10-20 hour flight.

After all, it is entirely plausible that having workspace, good meals and the ability to lie down and sleep during a long flight could give a salesman the edge he needs where a multimillion dollar contract hangs in the balance. A typical flight from New York to Tokyo will be in the air about 14 hours. Perhaps the most important business class features is the passenger’s ability to recline his or her seat into a flat or nearly flat sleep position. Anyone who has ever flown coach on one of these marathon flights knows it does not leave you feeling your best mentally or physically.

Business class differs from airline to airline. In fact, many airlines have rebranded it with custom designations to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Here are a few examples:

  • Bangkok Airways “Blue Ribbon Class”
  • China Airlines “Dynasty Class”
  • Bangkok Airways “Blue Ribbon Class”
  • Cyprus Airways “Apollo Class”
  • Japan Airlines “Executive Class Seasons”
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways “Upper Class”

Amenities can differ significantly from airline to airline, but most business class fares offer enhanced food and alcoholic beverage service, streamlined check-in procedures, wider seats, and reclining seats with additional legroom and/or seat pitch. Additional amenities may include use of a private lounge at airport terminals, herringbone seating configuration to give each passenger easy access to an aisle, a large working desk area, private television screens, telephone and internet access.

A variety of airfare classes allows airlines to maximize their profits by catering to the needs of individual travelers. This produces a maximum value which in turn maximizes ticket prices on an individual basis. So while some travelers may enjoy grousing about the ‘snobs’ in first and business classes, it is very probable that by paying a premium for extra space and an alcoholic beverage or two, they make it possible for the economy class traveler to pay a lower fare.

While first class seating seems to be on the decline, it is expected that business class seating will become an increasingly important source of profits for airlines. Modern communications including video conferencing have reduced the need for some business travel, but overall, as the volume of trade and globalization increases, so will the volume of business travel.