Thursday, 3 January 2013

Flying Backwards - Why does Business Class cost so much?

It's a question I often ask myself - normally when I'm looking for flights and fall over when I see the four-figure cost of going business class.  So, what do you get for the extra nought?

We discovered very early on in our planning, that the a return business class ticket to Perth costs considerably more than a business class around-the-world 29,000 mile trip.  Daft, I thought.  Well, let's get a bargain and go business, said Eddie.  So we did.

Before the trolls come out and condemn us for being frivolous and inconsiderate, we do have another good reason for this - our health.  We're not young any more and it takes us a long time to walk upright after travelling economy.  And, this is a wine trip.  So, here I am in the business class lounge in Terminal 5, where Eddie and I are comparing Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with Sancerre.  (Sancerre winns).

So, back to the question.  What do you get for those extra pounds?  Well, to start with, it took us all of twenty minutes from climbing out of our cab to reaching departures.  You have your own queue, and it doesn't have many people in it.  Then you go through security, again with no queue.  Then you get to your Business Class invitation only lounge, where, instead of the bun fight for a moulded plastic chair, you get to sit in comfort and help yourself to a vast array of food and wine.  The atmosphere is hushed.  No one goes rushing around grabbing food and drink and piling it on their plate saying 'wow - look at all this food and drink, let's tuck in!'  No, it's a bit more refined than that.  Well, it was until I walked in . . .

Another thing you get is a complementary treatment in the elemis spa.  Bearing in mind the above, I chose a power back massage.  This is the one where you kneel on a chair, like this.

You often see these in airports, with some traveller sitting on full display.  But, if you're travelling Business, it happens in a screened cubicle.

Once you've taken your fill of what's on offer, you wander down to your departure gate.  And get on the plane.  No bun fight for a moulded plastic chair here either, you are ushered straight on.  You might wonder why you'd like to rush straight on, when you're going to be on the plane for the next 12 hours or so, and I've often wondered what the advantage was.  Then I saw our seats.

You can stand!  So when you're politely offered a choice of orange juice, wine or champagne, you can stand up and toast the start of your journey after all those months of planning, in your own private little space for two (yes, we had champagne).  When you sit down, you can stretch your legs all the way out and there is still space in front of you.  Seats don't go back, they go forwards, at the touch of a button.  There is no one in front to fling their seat back just as you're about to take a sip of tea, no one to grab your seat and shake your head when they clamber out from behind.  There is no clambering at all - ever.  Oh, and no queue for the loo.

And the food.  Instead of being asked 'chicken or beef?' and having your food thrown at you, your steward gives you a  menu and takes your order.  It arrives on a tray with its own little table cloth.  You get metal knives and forks - your choice of wine from the list is served in a real glass.  It is very civilised - and the whole time you can stretch your legs out and wriggle your toes, gleefully grinning where no one can see you (the atmosphere is hushed in here as well, apart from the two passengers gleefully wriggling their toes and exclaiming - 'look how much room we've got!)

And then it's time to go to sleep.  So you press the button and your chair gently slides all the way forward until it is flat.  And you lie down.  I mean, you really lie down.  And sleep.  OK, it's not as comfy as your own bed, in fact it's a bit like camping, and you may well stay awake just to absorb the novelty of LYING DOWN on a plane, but it's still LYING DOWN.

So, when adding up all this, what do you get for the extra money?  Well, if you take into account the free drink, food, treatments etc, it probably wouldn't fill the gap.  But the one thing that makes the difference, is the fact that you're taking up the space of about three economy seats.  But BA have been clever in their design.  By making half their seats face backwards, they manage to fit more in than they otherwise would (at least that what I worked out with my limited knowledge of geometry).  So, flying backwards is another experience you get.  To be honest, if you're sitting in the middle like us, you really don't notice the difference, apart from take off and landing, but it's still novel.

So, what you're really getting for the extra is -

S P A C E.

Is it worth it?  Well, I'm off the plane now and walking normally . . . .


  1. I shall print this out and place it over my husband's desk so that next time we're having this discussion I can point to it and say, 'See, it would be worth it'.

    Have a great trip, Jackie.

  2. Wow, great report. I always liked travel reports because it is better than other experimental reports.Thanks for such a post. I will keep visiting your site once a week. :)
    Discount Business Class Flights


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