If you're weighing up whether the investment in Business Class is worth it for your next long-haul flight, it's important to take into account the many benefits that can be overlooked, or not immediately obvious.
Priority at the Airport
It’s unfortunate that most air travel starts with the stress of getting to the airport, finding the right check-in counter and then waiting in a queue (hoping you have timed everything to perfection). An important benefit of Business Class airfares is the time saved by being "fast-tracked" through most of the travel admin and fuss. This can save you hours uncomfortably standing in lines (and reduce pre-departure stress levels).
Starting with the dedicated check-in counter (you may have seen the Air New Zealand Business Premier check-in area at Auckland Airport), priority queues for immigration, security screening and priority boarding at the gate, the "airport process" becomes less of an obstacle. Your Fine Travel Consultant can generally also pre-select your seats (and this is free for Business Class passengers) so you also avoid the seating lottery.
If you are flying Business Class to the UK / Europe with Emirates (or First Class), the pre-boarding benefits go one step further with a chauffeur service from your front door to the airport and home again (terms and conditions do apply).
Lounge Access Before Departure
Airports are rarely described as relaxing places. Trying to find a seat in a busy waiting area at the departure gate or roaming duty free shops is not always welcome after a final hectic week at work or racing around getting everything ready before escaping the New Zealand winter.
Access to a Business Class lounge before departure can give you that opportunity to stop and take stock (or for that final flurry of activity before boarding). If you missed lunch, enjoy a snack. Perhaps the sun is over the yardarm (even if you have to use the excuse that it must be somewhere in the world) and "GnT" is on the cards.
When you reach the "halfway" point on a journey to the UK / Europe, access to a lounge can also give you that opportunity to freshen up (most lounges have showers), catch up on emails (or Facebook...) before boarding again for the final leg of the journey.
Competition for Business Class clients has resulted in many airlines making significant investments in their lounges and offering additional services (Air New Zealand has announced that it is building a new Business Class lounge at Auckland Airport given its current is extremely popular). Thai Airways Business Class clients have access to a complimentary 30 minute massage in the Royal Orchid Spa in Bangkok to unwind before their next flight.
Extensive MEAL OPTIONS AND FLEXIBILITY
May you never hear the words ‘chicken or fish?’ in-flight again. Although our enjoyment of airline food may suffer when our taste buds are at altitude, the benefits of Business Class cuisine extends beyond quality to flexibility and variety.
Select from a far larger menu of delicious meals and variety that caters to specific dietary requirements (such a gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options). Some airlines (such as Qantas) have partnered with celebrity chefs to deliver restaurant-worthy menus.
Qatar Airways offers guests holiday like flexibility with the innovative ‘Dine on Demand’ options, so you can eat when it suits you. Singapore Airlines boasts an unforgettable dining experience with their 'Book the Cook' option, allowing you to choose from a wide selection of meals inspired by their International Culinary Panel.
A Good Flight’s Rest
Although this benefit may seem obvious, the flow on benefits of arriving at your destination properly rested are often under appreciated. Whether you’re travelling to see family for a short period of time (and want to arrive fresh to see the new grandchild) or starting a bucket list holiday with cruises and group tours, making the investment in a lie flat seat can pay dividends. For those travelling with injuries or medical complaints, the lie-flat Business Class option can make all the difference.
The range of Business Class airfares to the UK / Europe means that if arriving rested is more of a focus than the “luxury trappings” you can potentially find an airfare that reflects this. Airlines such China Southern (Business Class seat pictured), Korean Air and Etihad Airways (for the moment) offer low season or Earlybird Business Class flights to the UK / Europe that are consistently thousands of dollars cheaper than their competitors (you may also be interested in our blog: Choosing a Business Class Special - Does ‘Cheaper’ Mean Missing Out.
The perks of flying Business Class don’t end with the in-flight experience. Business Class passengers are in high demand and can often be offered additional enticements. For example, Etihad offers a free 5-star accommodation stopover for Business Class passengers stopping over in Abu Dhabi. Emirates includes a complimentary chauffeur service at selected airports. Be sure to ask about these VIP offers when you’re choosing an airline.
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