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First class versus Business class 2103

When booking international flights, it’s tempting to find the dollars and upgrade yourself. The move from Economy to Business Class is one many will tell you is worth it. However the move from Business to First Class can be a much greater commitment. But is the extra cash worth it? I decided to find out when I travelled just before Christmas to Los Angeles First Class, and flew Business Class coming home. On both legs I was with Qantas on the Airbus A380.

At Melbourne airport, the First Class service starts at the doorstop with a separate entry and check in lounge. You’re processed quickly, bags taken away and then escorted by one of the friendly team through customs to the First Class lounge and restaurant.  I arrived in the morning with my travel companions and the chef cooked us a delicious breakfast, complete with champagne. The First Class facility features a day spa offering complementary facials, manicure, pedicure and massage. You should make your appointment the day prior to travel. I booked in for a pedicure. The service and quality was excellent and the pedicure lasted through my two-week trip to New York.

On boarding the A380, I found the seating configuration unusual. You are seated in your own individual suite which is roughly the size of the interior of a standard car. This makes for a very roomy and private space, but if you’re travelling with others, you do feel isolated. I missed sharing the experience with my mother and daughter who accompanied me.

The friendly service, quality of food and wine and general facilities were exceptional. At meal times, there is an opportunity for you to dine with your partner as the suites allow for two people to eat together. The Neil Perry menu had plenty of delicious options and the wine flowed freely including Tattinger champagne. Each course arrives separately and presented perfectly on China plates.

For many people, sleeping during flight is very difficult, but you will have the best chance of achieving some rest on this bed. The staff make-up your flat bed with a soft mattress over the seat and comfortable doona. There seemed to be enough room for most people, however if you’re extra tall, 6’ 4” plus, it might fall a little short.

The entertainment unit includes a large screen and noise cancelling headphones. The amenities kit included Payot products as did the bathrooms.

We arrived in Los Angeles as fresh as is possible after a long flight, and felt we had been thoroughly spoilt.

On our return, we travelled Business Class and initially, I felt this was a better option. I was seated next to my daughter in the mid-section of the plane, so we were able to chat and watch movies together. However as the flight advanced, it was clear that I had been totally indulged in First Class and could clearly see the differences.

The service you experience in First Class has obvious defining factors. The care and proactive attention you receive ensures your every need is met. In Business Class, we needed to catch the attendants on their way through the cabin as they seemed very busy. Another big difference is the presentation of the food. In Business, it was back to the standard airline tray presentation, although the quality of the food remained excellent. The privacy in First Class may have isolated me from our travelling companions, but it also allowed for a relaxing environment. Travelling back on Business Class, I’m reminded of the very public environment of travelling. I can now understand why celebrities travel First Class.

Our flight out of LA left late and we boarded at 2am local time, so the bed was probably the most important factor of our journey. The Business Class bed in the A380 adjusts to be completely flat and the attendants assist you in placing a mattress over your seat for comfort. While this mattress was not as thick as the one offered in First Class, it did the job very well. The seats in Business are narrower than First, but the length was similar. I preferred the Business Class bed as your head and shoulders are resting inside the shell of the seat. This helps to cancel out noise and I slept for eight hours on flight.

On reflection, it is very pleasant to travel First Class and there is a significant difference to your flight experience. However if you are taking an overnight flight and you’re likely to sleep for a significant portion of the flight, the extra cost may be wasted. If you have not travelled First Class, I would try it out for one leg of your next long haul journey. If you’re a frequent flyer, it’s easy to book an upgrade on points. But I warn you – you will be pampered.

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