Nobody does tiered hierarchies like the airline companies do. But more than just vying for your attention the next time you book a holiday or work trip, the top airlines are trying to outdo each other in the Business Class category – where luxury toiletries, pyjamas, chauffeur drivers and pre-drink tipples are just some of the ways they’re personalising the service.
At woman with drive, we’ve compared a variety of airlines and what they’re offering business travellers. After all, if you’re going to splurge on a ticket, you might as well know who is doing it better than the rest.
Image: Qatar Airways
QATAR – leader of the pack
Leading the pack is Qatar’s Qsuite – where movable panels in the centre seats [measuring 56 cm] on business class allow customers to transform the way they travel in the sky – where social settings can be set up with the click of a seat button. This is also ideal at dining time if you prefer to face your travel companion for a more intimate setting. It’s also where you’ll find the first fully lie-flat double bed which is no doubt why they’re voted by Skytrax as the Best Business Class this year and won the category five times in the last six years. A 40cm screen and access to on-board Wi-Fi puts it ahead of its competitors. There’s pure cotton pyjamas, White Company toiletries and moisturiser by Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio for a viva Italia touch.
If you score a business seat on the A330 and 787 Dreamliners you’re in for a treat – but there’s still plenty of A380’s doing the long haul too. Don’t fret too much, they’re in for a seat revamp come mid 2019 which promises to step it up a notch. If you’re on an A380 flight – consider rows 18 to 19 [middle of main cabin as they’re the furthest away from business lavatories and baby bassinettes]. You get your Qantas PJs, an amenities kit [lip balm and eye mask makes a nice touch]. Seats are 78 inches with a 21.5 width in business class – and it becomes a lie down bed for a better night’s sleep too. Neil Perry and his culinary apostles create the menu – while Aussie wine is showcased and don’t forget to take your pretty Kate Spade toiletries bag home too.
According to Kirsten Galliott, the editor of Qantas Magazine, traveling business class makes your holiday all the more special. She’s a frequent flyer and when she’s not busy editing her magazine, you’ll find her in a business class seat bound for Los Angeles, Dubai and Hong Kong.
So what makes Qantas business class so special?
“It’s the whole experience from end to end. On the A380, you feel like you’re in a miniature hotel room,” says Kirsten Galliott.
“From the welcome, Neil Perry’s food and hand-picked wine, the turn-down. The overall service is incredible,” she says.
Image: Singapore Airlines
The new A380 business class seat at Singapore Airlines is a highlight. There are 12 suites that can be turned into a double sleeper [there’s a bassinette nearby for four of them too so they’re ideal for families as well], but if a double bedding situation means you stay close to loved ones, go for it. Add to this an 18-inch touchscreen monitor with noise cancelling headphones, a playlist system that remembers your choices for future flights and centre dividers that span entire length of the seat if you’re seated next to a stranger for more privacy and it’s easy to see why Singapore is a popular choice for frequent travellers. Usually situated at the top of the list for business class, Singapore Airlines came in second place after Qatar for best airline in 2018. We like the ‘Book The Cook’ option – available up to 24 hours before you depart for the best in culinary curated meals.
At Virgin Australia, they call it The Business –a perfect sweetener to whet your travel appetite. On an international long haul to LAX, there’s the newish 1-2-1 layout [37 individual suites] where the seat is 21 inches wide and fully reclinable. They add in some noise cancelling headphones, an amenity kit from Mandarina Duck and pyjamas by Julie Grbac. There’s USB charging for one device, an 18-inch touchscreen for viewing movies and if you want to feel like an A-lister bound for Hollywood, then sit back, drink up and enjoy the menu by chef Luke Mangan [that features 19 different meals that you can pre-order too].
A Business Class ticket gets you a chauffeur ride to the airport with Emirates. And when it comes to boarding, you do so via the lounge straight to your gate too. In the A380 business class cabins, seats are configured side by side – they’re spacious and comfortable and you won’t step over your fellow passenger. The flat bed is 18.5 inches wide and there’s lots of power outlets to get you charged in time for landing. There’s two USB ports, lots of stowage and your own mini bar that comes stocked with water and soft drinks. Add to this some noise cancelling headphones, eye mask, socks, and lights that switch from blue to white for reading.
Image: Etihad Airways
The Business Studios on all Etihad A380 and 787 Dreamliner flights offer more space as well as front and rear facing seats. The seat converts to a fully flat bed suitable for up to 6 foot 8 inches. You have your own aisle access and while they don’t give out PJs here anymore, you can be tempted to purchase some Christian Lacroix sleepwear on-board. The Aqua Di Parma amenities kits ooze Italian style while LUXE City Guides are also found in the mix for cities the airlines fly direct to, including Abu Dhabi, Melbourne, New York, Sao Paulo, Rome and Bangkok. The menu is a la carte for the duration of the flight – you can order Arabic mezze to lemon meringue pies. Hot and cold breakfast options are also available. We love the in-seat massage function and personal lighting to suit your needs. There’s a 15.4 wide inch screen as well. You also get chauffeur service to and from the airport as well as PJs and slippers within the lounge if you’re quick.
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