Flying first class (or business class as it’s called on some airlines) can be uber expensive with a capital U.  And, I’m not even referring to the mini-stateroom or “pod” experience – just plain old, run-of-the-mill, business class.  But is it worth the skill?  Let’s find out.

I’ve always loved to fly – even had visions of being a flight attendant when I was a teen, but recently, I’ve begun to suffer from mild flight anxiety.  It’s a tragedy of epic proportions, because I love travel and there are so many places I would still like to see!  It’s not so much that I am afraid the plane will crash, it’s more the claustrophobic feeling of being shut in.  I mean, it’s not like I can just tap the pilot on the shoulder and say “excuse me, I need out … NOW!!”

So, I’ve started building a bag of tricks … an arsenal, if you will, of ways to keep this party goin’ for as long as I can.  See my post here 10 Tips to Lessen Flight Anxiety.

Now, business class isn’t the norm for me cuz my budget won’t allow it, but I recently had the opportunity to use up some airline points, so I thought I would go in style.  As I type this, I am 35,000 feet above Lake Tahoe, so here’s the deets.

Leg Room and Spaciousness

Yes … just … yes.  When I first sat down, I had the continual perception that I had not placed my seat back in the upright position, because there was so much space.  I could actually stretch my legs without scrunching them into my carry-on which was stowed under the seat in front of me (see they should have hired me … there’s two bits of lingo right there!).

The seats are larger than in economy class, and I feel like this allows for more of a “sitting on the couch” feel.  I am traveling with my oldest son, and there is a comfortable, companionable distance between us.  I actually feel like I have some personal space rather than feeling like I am in a sardine can.  There is also a sizable side table in the center of the two seats which has amounted to extra space when drinks and food are served.  Each seat is also equipped with a footrest and an adjustable headrest.  Oh, and claustrophobia?  Not too bad!

Hospitality

We were offered juice and water immediately upon being seated and while everyone else was still boarding; a nice touch that could only have been better if it was wine and beer … but it was still nice.  Along with our juice and water, we were given our choice of newspapers to read, and we were treated to ye olde airline classic, a hot towel!  Now, I thought this was a bit cheesy when I saw it coming, but I am surprised to say, it was a treat!  A short-lived one, but a treat nonetheless.

Food and Drinks

Along with the juice and water, we were handed a sheet printed on glossy, hard-stock paper with a salad option, two main courses to choose from and a dessert option, all listed in menu-style fashion.  Airline food, of course, but nice nonetheless given that free meals on airlines have largely been discontinued over the past 10 years.

Is Business Class Really Worth the Money?

Each choice was free of charge and accompanying alcoholic drinks were free too.  Another nice touch was the presentation.  I have a very fond memory of my first airline flight with my Dad when I was just 10 years old, and my Dad’s joy in sharing with me all the fun the airline had to offer at that time.  I still remember the excitement of being served my meal, complete with a fabric napkin, white china dishes and silverware etched with the airline logo.

Is Business Class Really Worth the Money?

Well, my business class flight today did not disappoint, and our meals were served in the very same fashion, and get this, along with everything noted above, a small tablecloth was placed on our tray!  Even the snacks that accompanied our drinks were served in tiny white china dishes and our drinks were in actual glass – wow!

Is Business Class Really Worth the Money?

Electronics

For a small charge, it is possible to get Wifi at our seats, although I believe this is slowly becoming standard in economy as well, so maybe almost not a business class benefit, but still a great advantage.  Also, free earphones are offered, and an individual USB plug for charging electronic devices is available for use at the back of each seat; again something that is now largely available in economy, but still worth mentioning.  Of course, the usual movies and TV offerings that are available in economy are offered in business class, but on a slightly larger seatback screen.

Amenities

Everybody likes personal service, and there is a dedicated flight attendant for business class, and a grand total of 14 seats, so you are pretty well assured that your every concern will be dealt with toute suite, and if nature calls, you are only sharing the seat with 13 others, as there is a dedicated bathroom for all of business class.  I did spy one interloper from economy though!

Boarding and Deplaning the Aircraft

As you would imagine, being so close to the front of the aircraft, boarding and deplaning was a breeze with only a few people in front of us each way, so that is a definite plus especially for those who have connecting flights to catch, or those (like me!) who are just plain impatient to get on with their travel experience.  We’ve landed by the way!

Overall, many of these options may vary from airline to airline, but the question still remains, is business class worth the price?  Well, in our case, probably yes, because we purchased the tickets on a points program, but if that option isn’t available, a business class seat can be more than twice the cost of an economy seat.

There are many factors to consider when deciding to purchase a business class seat including whether or not your journey is long-haul or short-haul, whether you intend to actually do business activities during your flight, or if, like me, you want some additional personal space.  There may also be medical concerns or the need for a meal “on the fly”.  And of course, the big one, does your budget allow it?

The value certainly exists in business class, but In the end, the bottom line is that economy gets you from Point A to Point B just as efficiently as business class, and let’s face it, when sharing your vacation pics, are you bound to say “and this was my seat on the plane, and this was my tray and here’s a picture of our dedicated bathroom”?; probably not!  It is a very personal decision, and for most the choice will be quick and obvious, but it is certainly nice to have the option of business class if the need arises.

Hmmmm … as I sit on my return flight watching the steady stream of people boarding the aircraft while I sit, all organized, carry-on stowed, phone in airplane mode, ready for take-off, enjoying a fresh glass of juice, I can’t help but think, “sucks to be them!”, but then reality comes crashing back to me that on my next flight it will probably suck to be me!