Tips and Inspiration Flights Business v Economy: is flying Business class worth it and which airline is best value for money?

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Business v Economy: is flying Business class worth it and which airline is best value for money?

Flying Business class is one of life's luxuries, but how do you know you're getting value for money? Here we've compared the perks of Business class on some of the main long-haul airlines operating in the Middle East, including Etihad and Emirates, to help you decide when to splurge and when to save.

Article first published in July 2017. Prices and information correct at the time of first publication but may be subject to change and/or availability. Always check with the airline before flying.

Is Business class worth it?

It depends what you want from a flight. If you’re taking a night flight but want to arrive well rested, the fully flat beds in Business are just what you need. Or if you’re traveling for a special occasion such as honeymoon or birthday, and need to be on top form when you arrive, then the promise of five-star food and drink, a comfortable seat, large-screen television might be too much for you to refuse!
Read more: Emirates business class – what’s all the fuss about?

How can I find a cheap Business class ticket?

Keep an eye out for airline sales. Bigger carriers often have sales where the prices of Business class tickets are dropped significantly, making it a much more affordable treat. Some of the UAE’s airlines (including Etihad and Emirates) also offer flyers the chance to bid for an upgrade. You can enter the price you’d be prepared to pay to upgrade your ticket and the airline will let you know whether you’ve been successful. Make sure the emails don’t end up in your spam folder though, otherwise you’ll miss the cheap upgrade offer completely!

To help you see which airlines offer the most bang for your buck in Business, we’ve compared some of the most important factors when it comes to comparing Business Class: type of seat, entertainment and onboard WiFi, as well as the food and drink options.

Type of seat Entertainment Food
Emirates 78 inch, fully flat with aisle access 23-inch television with touchscreen controllers plus an HDMi port to stream personal content. Free WiFi Extensive drinks menu, choice of three appetizers and mains, plus a special healthy menu. Served on Royal Doulton china plates
Etihad Fully-flat bed with aisle access on long-haul flights 15.4-inch touch-screen television, noise-canceling headsets, over 140 movies and 350 TV shows. Paid WiFi À la carte menu and onboard sommelier
Jet Airways Sets of two, 40 inch seats on flights within India. Lie-flat beds with aisle access on international flights 15.4-inch touch-screen television showing Bollywood and Hollywood movies, laptop sockets at every seat Food served any time from à la carte on international flights
Oman Air 77.5 inch, fully flat with aisle access Paid WiFi. Movies, television shows, radio and games available Free Oman Air lounge access in Muscat and Bangkok, with food, drinks, business centers, free WiFi, and computers
Cathay Pacific 82 inch, fully flat with aisle access iPhone/iPod dock to stream to television, power supply, USB port, movies, television shows and games Locally-sourced, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, plus a special healthy menu
Turkish Airlines 75 inch, fully flat, not all seats have aisle access More than 300 films and television shows, free WiFi and USB port Welcome drinks on boarding, followed by hors d’oeuvres and soup, then mains. Turkish coffee available throughout the flight
British Airways 72 inch fully flat on international flights, upright seats with 30 inch legroom on European flights 10.4 inch flat-screen television with noise canceling headphones Club World menu with three-course meals and extensive drinks menu, plus Club Kitchen available throughout the flight
Philippine Airlines Seats that recline to a 15 degree angle 15.4 inch television mounted in the seat in front, laptop charging points, USB port and reading lights Filipino, Western and Japanese Kaiseki menus available on board
Gulf Air Flat bed seat, not all have aisle access Internet available on board, plus movies, television shows, and radio Sky Chef available to discuss menus which include popular Western and Middle Eastern dishes
Singapore Airlines 34 inch wide, fully flat with aisle access 15.4 inch television with noise-canceling headphones, WiFi on certain flights Order a “Book the Cook” meal 24 hours in advance to get a dish created by a culinary master

How to get a free upgrade to Business class

There are lots of ways to get a free upgrade, some of them more successful than others. Being loyal to an airline is one of the best, and signing up to their loyalty program is an obvious way to show them your loyalty. The more you fly with them, the more likely you are to be considered a valued customer and be at the front of the queue if ever there’s an upgrade available. To see more tried and tested ways of getting an upgrade, read our article on Insider tips: how to get a free upgrade on your next flight.

Flying Business class is one of the luxuries of travel

How expensive is Business class?

Well, the luxury of having a bed that reclines 180° to make a fully-flat bed is not going to be cheap. But when it comes to value for money, there’s lots of things to consider. Most airports allow guests into their lounges if they pay – and sometimes pay quite a lot – for the privilege. So, consider lounge access as part of the ticket price, and if you get to relax in the hours before your flight, it might be worth it. Also, many airlines offer priority boarding, fast-track security and immigration, extra baggage, and free chauffeur services to and from the airport, even if you have connecting flights and layovers. This takes a lot of the stress of traveling away and might help justify the cost. Here we’ve compared the little extras offered by airlines to see whether the Business class ticket is worth it. We’ve also compared the cost an Economy ticket and Business ticket on a direct flight (unless otherwise stated) using the “Cheapest Month” Skyscanner search option.

Lounge access Extras Cost of Economy v Business
Emirates Free access to 35 Emirates lounges around the world with spas, buffets, business centers and bars. Free access to non-Emirates partner lounges Complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport, Bulgari amenity kits Dubai to New York return: Dh4,072 Economy, Dh17,718 Business
Etihad Free access to 10 Etihad lounges including London, New York and Paris. Plus free access to non-Etihad partner lounges In-seat massage function, chauffeur service and dedicated check-in desk Abu Dhabi to New York return: Dh5,501 Economy, Dh21,769 Business
Jet Airways Free access to 9 airport lounges in India, and 15 globally including Dubai and Abu Dhabi Popcorn served with movies Dubai to New Delhi return: Dh1,281 Economy, Dh3,923 Business
Oman Air Free Oman Air lounge access in Muscat and Bangkok, with food, drinks, business centers, free WiFi, computers Free 15-minute massage in Business Class Muscat lounge, complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport Dubai to Muscat return: Dh989 Economy, Dh3,051 Business
Cathay Pacific Free access to lounges in Hong Kong and elsewhere, with a la carte dining, showers, computers, massage services, private suites and relaxation booths Onboard shoe locker, side cabinet, vanity mirror and Jurlique vanity kit Dubai to Hong Kong return: Dh2,708 Economy, Dh8,381 Business
Turkish Airlines Free access to arrival and departure lounges at İstanbul Atatürk Airport with free WiFi, computers, ironing service, showers, billiards room, and golf simulator Priority for seat selection, Business luggage tags, and late boarding after Economy passengers Dubai to Istanbul return: Dh1,999 Economy, Dh9,884 Business
British Airways Free access to lounges around the world with spa treatments, buffets, bars and business centers Elemis vanity kit and fast-track in certain airports Dubai to London Heathrow return: Dh2,292 Economy, Dh8,850 Business
Philippine Airlines Free access to domestic and international lounges including New York, London, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur Upgrade to Business for a flat fee on the day of flight, prices start at $150 one way (Dh550) Manilla to Sydney return: Dh2,699 Economy, Dh9,240 Business
Gulf Air Falcon Gold lounges in Bahrain, Dubai and London. Accessible 3 to 4 hours before departure Sky Nanny service to help with children available on long-haul flights, 40kg free baggage and priority check-in service Dubai to Amman (non-direct) return: Dh2,600 difference (Dh1,024 Economy, Dh3,624 Business
Singapore Airlines Free access to SilverKris Lounge in  Singapore Changi Airport and 14 other airports around the world Priority security screening and immigration at certain airports around the world including Melbourne, London and Bangkok Dubai to Hong Kong (non-direct) return: Dh1,574 Economy, Dh7,420 Business

Are you a frequent flyer and want to know more travel tips? Read these to become a savvier traveler:

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Air Miles explained – how to earn, spend and make the most of your miles

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6 secrets to find the best cheap flights out there

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