The Difference Between Business Class & First Class

Brittany Reed

Class can play a big part in how you fly these days. First class flying is completely different than flying coach/economy, but what about business class? Are the differences that drastic, or is it just a different title to get the most out of the companies who fly their employees around the world? Truthfully, business class costs less than first class, but many times can be just as good.

A Word About Domestic Flights
When flying domestic, you’ll find that most flights use two-cabin planes; first class and economy. International flights use the three-cabin system of first class, business class, and economy. So, on many domestic flights, business class is not an option. First class domestic includes wider seats with more legroom, a meal en route, and free alcoholic beverages.

Business And First Class Internationally
The Difference Between Business Class & First ClassOn an international flight, first class offers seating that converts into full-sized beds that can go completely flat at the touch of a button and include luxury pillows and linens for ultimate comfort. Some airlines include pajamas and amenity kits as well. It seems as though all of the airlines are in competition to see who can provide the best first class experience possible, with personal audio/video units and flat-screen monitors, not to mention showers and on-board apartments.

International business flights are still better than flying economy, with many airlines adding the lie-flat beds as well as audio/video systems for each passenger. And business class will still cost you less than first class, though just as opulent in many areas.

The Rest
Business class is definitely an upgrade from economy class, and in many airlines, is similar to first class. However, there are a few differences that can help you in making the decision when planning your next trip.

  • On the ground. Some first class perks include being driven to your plane in a car and receipt of a complementary spa treatment. Lounges on the ground for first class are impressive for many airlines, especially internationally, while domestic first class lounges are still behind. Business class lounges are typically quieter so you can get some work done or just relax in peace. They offer comfortable seating and free Wi-Fi and snacks, but are not as extravagant as first class.

  • The service. First class service rivals that of a high-class restaurant; personalized and attentive. Service in business is pleasant, but feels more like an assembly line. Many people report feeling as though that staff in first class really pays attention to their needs and asking for an extra cup of coffee during dinner-hour rush isn’t as troublesome as it is in business class.

  • Food and drink. Meals and beverages in both business and first classes are phenomenally far ahead of anything you can get in economy. Business class meals are not only palatable, but restaurant quality. First class, however, employs chefs who will make your meal a true experience. Beverages in both business and first can include everything from champagne to cola, but several airlines also offer an onboard bar in business class so you don’t have to drink alone.

One thing to remember when travelling internationally or domestic, first class or business class, is that services will vary from airline to airline, route to route, and even airplane model to airplane model. The lounges and ground services can vary from city to city, airport to airport. First class on a domestic flight might be a step down from business on an international flight. The best way to know exactly what you’re getting is to do your research and make your choice from there.

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