01 Aug What is the difference between International First and Business Class?
It is the ambition of almost every traveler to fly at the front of the plane at least once in their lives. First class is the mode of travel to which most are attracted, but its steep price tag leads many to settle for business class instead.
Is there a real difference between business and first class on international flights? In most cases, there is – in this article, we’ll break down how each class of passenger experiences the same flight differently.
Check-in and lounges for International First Class vs Business Class
A passenger’s experience with either business or first class begins at the airport.
At check-in, those with business class tickets get their own expedited line, but those flying first class often have exclusive access to a personalized check-in experience that includes no lines, refreshments, and access to their own security and immigration officer. Depending on the airport from which you depart, business and first class might have separate lounges, or they might be combined into one. When the situation is the latter, though, there are marked differences between how a business and a first class lounge is run.
For example, Qatar Airlines offers private sitting areas complete with couches, seats, and a state-of-the-art television, a children’s play area, a video game lounge, a business center, a bar serving complimentary top-shelf alcohol, cooked to order meals, an on-site spa, and more.
In the business class lounge, there is plenty of seating but with no secluded areas. There are stations with free snacks, drinks, and a selection of food from the buffet, but the made-to-order options are of a lower level of quality compared to what is offered to first-class customers.
The Seat Difference between First and Business Class Seats
The next differentiator between business class and first class revolves around your seat.
To be completely honest, the gap between the two fares on this subject has narrowed significantly in recent years, as most business class seats have joined their first class counterparts in being completely lie-flat. That said, there are still a number of notable differences. For one, first class cabins are considerably less crowded than business, leaving plenty of room for generously wide seat pans and all the leg room you could ever need. Additionally, first-class seats have entertainment system screens as wide as 20 inches, while the ones in business can be as small as 12 inches.
The Food in International First Class vs Business Class
Both business and first class have meal services that are a quantum leap above what is served in economy, but a distinction can still be made between what is offered to the two aforementioned groups. The food in business class is comparable to what you would expect in a restaurant, with dishes being served using freshly sourced ingredients. In first class, however, food preparation is held to a world-class standard, and meals are often available at any time. With dishes such as lobster thermidor and prime beef fillet (just two options available through Book the Cook service aboard Singapore Airlines) being just a few examples of five-star meals that are served at 40,000 feet, it is easy to see how the food here is a cut above what business class passengers get.
The Business Class vs First Class service
With the quality of amenities improving drastically in business class over the past decade, the greatest difference between international business and first class comes with the service offered to both groups of passengers. While airline staff are trained to deliver attentive service to both business and first class, there is a greater concentration of attendants in the latter. Furthermore, only the best performing staff get assigned to first class, producing service outcomes that are consistently higher than what is reported in business class.