Have you ever wondered about the distinction between a first class and business class flight experience, and whether the price difference is worth it? It all comes down to looking at the differences among the four key components to air travel: the lounge experience, the seat, the food and beverages, and the amenities.
The experience within an airport lounge will likely differ dramatically, depending on whether you are visiting a business class or first-class lounge. Both offer buffets and well-stocked bars, but the similarity ends there. Business class lounges accommodate a larger number of travelers, as passengers with frequent flyer upper-tier status or a lounge membership are able to take advantage of the lounge, in addition to those holding business class tickets. First class lounges are much more exclusive; visitors will experience the personalized service that can be available to a select group.
When evaluating seats, experts rely on two measures: the width (size of the seat) and the pitch (distance between your seat and the seat in front of you). Widely available data comparing seat offerings across airlines indicates that 91% of first class seats provide either lie flat or suite-style seats, in comparison to just 57% of business class seats. On a long flight, your ability to actually sleep comfortably can be worth every penny extra charged for the premium first-class seat.
Food and Drinks
Here, too, the first class experience soars above that of a business class seat. Although the meals served in business class are significantly better than those served (or, often, not served) in economy seating, the experience pales in comparison to the first-class meal experience, where chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants plan menus and well-known sommeliers select the wines.
In-Flight Service & Amenities
Above and beyond the basics of flight travel (where you wait, where you sit, and what you eat), the amenities kits provided by the airlines for its premium ticket holders is another area that differs significantly between first and business classes. While business class kits are usually chock full of useful items, such as sleep masks sleep masks and a variety of toiletries, the “swag bags” offered in first class take the experience to a new level. They provide brand name perfume and cologne, lip balms, shoe horns and polishes, travel mirrors and even pajamas and robes for passengers on overnight flights.