Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (July 14, 2014): top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class.
*** For an updated list (including the newest Business Class products), click here ***
Flying Business Class is purely aspirational for most, a lifetime experience for some, and a must for a select few. With Business Class, the journey itself becomes a fun experience: there is no waiting in line or hassling at the airport; you can while away the pre-flight hours in calming airport lounges; you interact with attentive personnel; the onboard gourmet food and wine treats all your senses; lovely amenity kits are collector items; and a comfortable, flat-bed guarantees total relaxation. Frequent flyers often wonder which airlines has the best Business Class product. It’s a personal decision and its often a tough call, but here is my selection of the top 10 best Business Class cabins of 2014.
There is more info (with several trip reports & Youtube clips) below the slideshow compilation. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Business Class cabin in the comments section, or take my poll below!
***Read: top 10 most luxurious First Class suites in the sky ***
Swiss International Air Lines is the pride of the Lufthansa group, which also manages Lufthansa itself, Brussels Airlines, LOT Airlines, and Austrian Airlines. The airline revamped its Business Class a couple of years ago, and it is easy to see why the new product was instantly loved by passengers and copied by many airlines (such as Finnair, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines). The new Swiss Business Class seat has a built-in power outlet that is multi-national when it comes to plug formats, cubbyholes for shoes, and a small countertop to put things on when the tray is not extended. The seat itself turns into a 78-inch/2-meter flatbed that lowers into a space carved out for it in the seat in front (foot space is not generous though). The seat’s integrated massage function will pamper you en route. Food on Swiss is very good, and clearly a step up compared to most other airlines.
- Official website: Swiss International Air Lines.
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in an Airbus A340.
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
While British Airways’ Business Class (dubbed Club World) raised the bar for Business Class worldwide a decade ago with the introduction of the first fully lie-flat seat, it is now outclassed by some of its competitors, especially the Middle East and Asian carriers. So you would not expect British Airways to end up in the top 10 of our most preferred business class cabins in the world, but the truth is it remains one of the best business class products on the transatlantic routes. The innovative “Ying/Yang” seat plan is unique to British Airways: window and middle seats face backwards (and are located in their private suites), while aisle seats face forwards. Especially on the upper cabin of the old Boeing 747’s, you will experience a lot of privacy. Food on British Airway can be a hit or miss, but their afternoon tea concept on long haul flights is very popular.
- Official website: British Airways.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 747-400.
It is pretty fashionable to complain about American carriers, especially about the service they deliver onboard, which – there is no denying it – is inferior to that of their non-American competitors. But the exception to the rule must be the “new” American Airlines, which has introduced a very impressive new Business Class product. American has moved on from it’s painful slide-down-into-a-heap-at-the-end-of-the-flight seats and now offers fully flat, cocoon seats that offer privacy and comfort more than ever before. In fact, it is currently offers best the Business Class seat in the air! The new Business Class is available on all of their new Boeing 777-300ER and (transcontinental) Airbus A321 planes, while their Boeing 777-200ER and 767-300ER planes are currently being retrofitted with a somewhat similar Business Class product. Whilst American isn’t an airline to fly to get the best dining experience, you’ll never have a terrible meal and we love their ice-cream desserts.
- Official website: American Airlines.
- Review: read here my review of American’s Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
Austrian Airlines’ small fleet of Boeing 777 and 767 airplanes recently underwent a revamp of their Business Class product. The new red-blue color scheme makes for a nice cabin, there are comfy blankets and a brilliant Viennese coffee menu on board, and the seats – identical to the ones of Swiss described above – can be adjusted for softness and of course go fully lie-flat, which is great for sleeping. But what really sets Austrian Airlines apart is its onboard food. With the award-winning company DO&CO, Austrian has chosen a partner that creates airline foods using only fresh raw ingredients. DO & CO has succeeded in improving the reputation of in-flight meals by offering exclusively homemade food. On board Austrian’s long-haul Business Class, a qualified chef from Austrian’s catering partner DO & CO accompanies the crew, who takes the passengers’ orders and also serves the freshly prepared meals which are the currently the best you will find in the skies.
- Official website: Austrian Airlines.
- Review: read here my review of Austrian Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-200ER.
The success of Emirates’ Business Class product is very much based on the comfort and space of its Airbus A380 fleet, and that’s why the mega plane is quickly being rolled out on all the major international routes. The window Business Class seats are perfect for solo travellers, while the dual and more intimate seats in the centre of the cabin are perfect for partners travelling together. Mammoth amenity kits, a huge entertainment selection played on the private screen, and a roomy and well-appointed bar on the upper deck makes flying Emirates quite an event, and in addition, the ground service matches the flying experience (e.g. chauffeur service, a gigantic Dubai lounge). Lie-flat Business Class seats are available on all Emirates A380 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft, but unfortunately, Business Class cabins on other aircraft offer only deeply-reclining comfort or spacious sleeperettes.
- Official website: Emirates.
- Review: read here and here my reviews of Emirates’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-200LR.
Air New Zealand has always been an innovative airline that consistently thinks outside the box to better it’s product and reinvent itself. I love their inflight safety videos (see below), but also their wonderful Business Class product. Business Premier cabins feature Air New Zealand’s signature chalk coloured luxurious leather lie-flat bed, complete with an indulgent memory foam mattress, a cosy duvet and two full size pillows. It doesn’t get more comfortable than this! The luxurious 22″ wide leather armchair has a separate ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor’s seat. This is more or less the same seat as the ones offered by Virgin Atlantic, but Air New Zealand beats its English competitor when it comes to food: designed by consultant chefs, the mouth-watering dishes are innovative, featuring the finest New Zealand produce and they can all be enjoyed with a glass or two from the premium New Zealand wine selection.
- Official website: Air New Zealand.
Etihad’s Pearl Business Class product – similar to that of Air Berlin and Iberia’s revamped business classes – may have been around for a couple of years now, but it’s still going strong. Wonderful privacy and clean modern lines really make Etihad’s business class a standout that demanding travellers have come to expect in this day and age. The cabin’s advantages are that seats face forward and have direct aisle access even when all seats are reclined. Each seat is equipped with a personal 15-inch LCD screen with plug and play feature that allows passengers to upload their own games and create personalised music playlists. On the ground facilities for Business Class passengers include chauffered door-to-door service using a fleet of limousine vehicles. In 2015, Etihad will introduce its new Business Class product on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787, and it will be a blast (and probably will make it straight to the number one of this list next year).
- Official website: Etihad Airways.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airway’s Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380.
Cathay Pacific offers a consistent and solid produc when it comes to flying Business Class. Cathay’s new Business Class features a flat-bed that is just over 82 inches or 2 meters long. A bed extension increases its width by 6.5 inches or 16.5 cm to provide additional hip support, while the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side. For sleeping, you may choose to leave your armrest up for more privacy, or down for more space. In fact, Cathay’s business seat is identical to the one installed on American Airlines, Eva Air and Air France, but Cathay deserves to take the top spot for their difference in customer service, impressive lounges, cabin crew training, and award-winning cuisine, whilst ensuring their price point still remains competitive. Keep in mind that Cathay’s new business class product is only available on their Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A330 planes, so plan your travels accordingly.
- Official website: Cathay Pacific.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in a Boeing 777-300.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A350.
The new Business Class product that Qatar Airways introduced on its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners is superb. The space, comfort and luxury on board the new plane raises the bar for all of Qatar’s competitors. Each seat has aisle access and comes with turn down service when you want to take a nap. Did we say that the white-pink tones give the cabin a sexy look? Food quality on Qatar matches the new Business Class product and can easily be compared to that of high-end restaurants. Unfortunately, Qatar Airways does not offer yet the same hardcore Business Class product on all planes of its long-haul fleet: the Dreamliner’s Business Class makes the Boeing 777 Business Class product look a little dated (while it is still outstanding) and simply outclasses the dull Airbus A330 Business Class product (although Qatar Airways is currently retrofitting its Airbus A330 Business Class to match the 777 experience).
- Official website: Qatar Airways.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300.
Singapore Airlines has always been synonymous with lavishing luxury in the skies. And they do not fail to impress. Their Business Class seat is the widest in the world (too wide for comfort, according to some). The unrivalled space between each seat, providing you direct access to the aisle, is a hallmark of the unique 1-2-1 forward facing cabin layout. Featuring a dedicated sleeping surface for added comfort, the seat is designed to accommodate virtually any sleeping position. Introduced in 2013 on their Boeing 777-300ER and designed by JPA, the new Business Class seat is even better (can it be possible) than the previous incarnation of the seat. With Singapore Airlines, you will also enjoy finest restaurant-style setting and culinary service at 30,000 feet. Each menu, specially created by an International Culinary Panel of celebrated chefs from around the globe, is sure to appeal to the discerning epicure within you. Singapore Airlines makes business class look first class.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ A350 Business Class.