You spend hours selecting the perfect oceanfront suite and scope out top dining spots at your destination. Your vacation wardrobe is ready to go, with special outfits and accessories ready to be packed into elegant luggage. You want it all to be just right, and to know that before you arrive and check in to your hotel that your journey will be smooth from start to finish. And flying business class makes your trip just a bit easier.
Each airline has its own name for premium level, with many now combining First Class and Business Class or creating a unique brand such as Delta One and United Polaris. For that reason, it’s important to investigate the details of what is included in the upgraded level. Beyond extra legroom, which is a given, there’s much more that will enhance your trip and begin your vacation in the best way.
On the subject of space, in addition to being able to stretch out your legs, and even lie down (more on that later), there’s room for all the things you want around you. Instead of a skimpy seat pocket, already filled with a magazine and safety card, you have a place for your headphones, book, e-reader, laptop, sweater, iPod, chargers, snacks, and amenities. Feeling organized and having access to what you want is a definite stress reducer.
Even before you board, flying in premium class provides the benefit of a special lounge, many with showers, restaurants, cocktail bars, private rooms, reclining chairs, and even spa services. United’s new Polaris lounge at LAX, for example, includes daybeds, shower suites, and valet service for steaming wrinkled clothes. Separate check-in areas, dedicated security lines, and even direct boarding from the lounge, as offered by Emirates in Dubai, all pamper premium class travelers. It’s enough to make you want to get to the airport early—another way to reduce last minute stress.
You’ll have the opportunity to board before other sections, so you can settle in and stow any carry-on bags with no worries about adequate space. Once in your seat, you’ll be sipping champagne and perusing your entertainment options or menu as you await takeoff.
Your meals will be served with real utensils, china, and glassware, timed when you wish, not when the cart comes by. You’ll be treated to upgraded wine, cocktails, and food, at no extra cost, with menus often created by well-known chefs and sommeliers. Singapore Airlines invites first, business, and suites passengers to “Book the Cook,” that is, select a main course from an expanded menu at least 24 hours before their flight.
On international flights, being able to sleep on a fully flat bed is invaluable. Not only do the hours pass in comfort, but you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to go. Why waste that first day catching up on sleep and working out the kinks that come with sitting for many hours? Most airlines make up their premium class beds with a padded seat cover, comforter, and full-size pillow. Qantas passengers receive soft cotton pajamas along with an amenity kit upon boarding.
Since we mentioned amenity kits, who doesn’t love receiving a little gift and finding convenient sizes of hand cream, lip balm, ear plugs, a dental kit, mouthwash, shaving supplies, comb, or other useful items. Comfy socks, slippers, and sleep masks are usually included in the attractive cosmetic bags. Noise-canceling headphones for use during the flight are ready for you if you didn’t bring your own.
One of the most valuable amenities, albeit an intangible one, is privacy. Premium class configurations vary by airline and aircraft, but most provide separation between lie down beds, and some even have completely separate cabins. Emirates First Class on the A380 aircraft, for example, features total privacy in your own suite, with mini-bar, expanded entertainment, and private shower room. On Singapore Airlines, your private suite comes with an actual bed, not a lie-down seat, and it can be converted to a double for two people traveling together when they book adjoining suites. Qatar Airways, recently voted number one by Skytrax, offers Qsuites, completely enclosed and flexible enough to accommodate families in privacy.
This pampering comes at a price, of course, often several times the cost of economy class, varying based on the route, aircraft, departure time, and airline. The value of enhancing your vacation, reducing stress, and creating a comfortable experience from beginning to end may be worth the expense. Several airlines recognize the importance of a good start, and they arrange chauffeured transportation to the airport. If your airline doesn’t offer that service, consider setting it up on your own. It’s so much more glam than a taxi or Uber, and your luxe holiday will begin the minute you step out of your door.