Let's Talk Business -- Class, that Is!

Jan 18th, 2012, 07:03 PM
  #1  
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Let's Talk Business -- Class, that Is!

Lots of changes to international airlines that include upgraded business class, design changes, some with fully lie-flat "beds"; some added "premium economy". I'm trying to figure out what's out there, what's good, bad, indifferent.

Last trip on business class was on Air New Zealand to London and loved, loved, loved, the little cocoons. So comfortable!

I know Air France has made significant changes, and added premium economy, but was wondering what people thought of the new configurations (like, from LAX to CDG).

Was considering Swiss Air business, but from what I read, the seats are rock hard.

My plan this summer is to fly business, at least TO Europe for my decade birthday in July. I am trying to get somewhere near Montreux to start the trip, and somewhere near Nice to fly out. So . . . could be to Nice, to Zurich, to Geneva.

Interested in non-U.S. airlines, but maybe you can convince me otherwise.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 18th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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Using miles or money? Any frequent flyer program/alliance preferences? Flying straight from the west coast or willing to stop on the east coast or midwest?

One thing to note is that there's a huge difference between long-haul business class - TO Europe, and short-haul/regional business class IN Europe, so connecting flights becomes an issue.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jan 18th, 2012, 09:58 PM
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Hated Swiss Air Business when I last flew them from Zurich to LAX two years ago (Airbus A340-300). Seats were awful, it was impossible to sleep when fully reclined. There was no way to elevate one's legs, so I slid right down the seat.

Entertainment system was awkward, flight attendants unhelpful and aloof.

Vegetarian meals were abysmal. One meal consisted of rice, green beans, carrots and cooked spinach, the other was plain lentils, carrots and more cold vegetables. Completely uninspired.

Swiss Air lost me for good that day.

I loved the Air NZ cocoons too.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 02:27 AM
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airlinequality.com for reviews biz class VERY few 4 star rated quality varies widely cheapoair.com airawards.com 2 great cheaper booking sites. Swiss my least fav lost my bags for 1 month one time no comp FinnAir best deals Air France Emirates if they are going your way Virgin is great. BA rip off fuel surcharges not my fav. AF flats for me if money no object.

Happy Hunting!
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 02:28 AM
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seatguru.com seatexpert.com best seat info.
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 07:11 AM
  #6  
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Gardyloo -- We don't have frequent flyer miles. We look for good deals (if there's such an animal) on business. Our preference is to get out of Dodge from LA directly to Europe, rather than making a stop in the midwest or east coast. Good question. I've found one long flight over the pole, followed by one short flight (say from Paris to Rome or Nice)works better for us in terms of jet lag.

Melnq8 -- that sounds exactly like the review I read about Swiss Air on one of the websites mentioned by qwovadis, so I appreciate you reiterating it here. Getting 'war stories' from members of Fodors is great!
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 08:18 AM
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Well the reason for asking is that your choices of airline, and of prices, becomes much more limited by wanting to go straight from California to Europe; only a handful of carriers do so.

I'd recommend you start by becoming familiar with a couple of websites. The first is ITA: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ . ITA (recently acquired by Google) is the gold standard in finding prices; it's the engine that drives several well-known booking sites like Kayak and Orbitz. You can't make a reservation through ITA but you can see what's out there, do month-long searches, look for premium economy or business-only routes and prices, and much more. If you really want to get serious, spend a little time looking at ITA's "route syntax" so you can specify the number of stops, the carriers, preferred alliances, etc. - it's a very, very powerful tool.

The other site is seatguru (mentioned above) although sometimes seatguru has old or incorrect information. If you really want the lowdown on some airline's seats or service, go to the relevant forum on www.flyertalk.com where you'll get more information than you ever thought you'd need (and you won't.)

For bargains in business class, the key is patience. For the last several years the best prices for business class transatlantic have come up in the peak summer months. Might sound counter-intuitive but it reflects that most purchasers of business class tickets are indeed business people, and the summer holidays (e.g. France in August) see such a fall-off in demand that the airlines mark down the prices big time. You typically don't see these fares until around April or May, sometimes even a little later, so if your timing is flexible that's the key.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jan 19th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Hated Swiss Air Business when I last flew them from Zurich to LAX two years ago (Airbus A340-300). Seats were awful, it was impossible to sleep when fully reclined. There was no way to elevate one's legs, so I slid right down the seat.

Well, Swiss has been replacing their seats with true flat-bed seats, so the seat issue is no longer, as long as you pay attention to what equipment you are flying. The new flat-bed seat seems to get good reviews and is pretty similar to the Delta 767 flat bed, which I have flown and like.

Entertainment system was awkward, flight attendants unhelpful and aloof.

Vegetarian meals were abysmal. One meal consisted of rice, green beans, carrots and cooked spinach, the other was plain lentils, carrots and more cold vegetables. Completely uninspired.


I've actually tended to be impressed with both Swiss's food and service. Perhaps you caught them on a bad day?

I know Air France has made significant changes, and added premium economy, but was wondering what people thought of the new configurations (like, from LAX to CDG).

They actually haven't made major changes to their business class cabins. They still have the sloped-flat seats. Not the best, but not the worst either. Beware their 777s, which have a middle seat in biz. Food tends to be okay, as does the wine and booze. Service is a bit hit or miss, but usually efficient, if not overly welcoming.

For my money, the divide is really down to flat-bed vs not. BA is the big flat-bed player. Virgin has flats, as well as some other carriers with some flats and some non-flats, so you need to be careful. The Delta flats are pretty nice, and you face forward and have aisle access from every seat. US Airways has some flats that are supposedly fantastic. The United flats get mixed reviews, but the old Continental flats are said to be quite nice.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jan 21st, 2012, 02:15 PM
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What bad things do people say about the United flat-bed seats? We flew them (747) to SEAsia and thought they were fantastic, much much better than the seats on ANA on our return.
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Jan 21st, 2012, 02:25 PM
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What bad things do people say about the United flat-bed seats?

Aside from the 2-4-2 layout, the backward-facing seats, and the lack of storage? Nothing. They are decent seats, but they have their legitimate downsides.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #11  
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Any recent experience with KLM business? Last time we went business with KLM was 10 years ago, and it was very comfortable back then. I found a pretty reasonable price for open jaw tickets.

BTW, to everyone who has responded, thank you. The info you are providing is very helpful!
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2012, 05:25 PM
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I like the backward-facing seats. Take-off is a bit odd that way. I think the only nonstop from LAX to Europe is to LHR.

But you could take Air NZ on that route (at least it looks like the website will sell you the ticket).
mrwunrfl is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2012, 05:53 PM
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Who has backward facing seats?
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 01:44 AM
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British Airways and United have backward-facing ones.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 01:46 AM
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And don't know about now, but Southwest had read-facing first row on their older 737s.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:59 AM
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I'm not fond of rear-facing seats, but I found they bothered me less than I had anticipated. Still, when I have a choice, I'll choose front-facing seats.

I do love the new lay-flat seats in United Biz, though I wish there was more storage.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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>>>Lots of changes to international airlines that include upgraded business class, design changes, some with fully lie-flat "beds"; some added "premium economy". I'm trying to figure out what's out there, what's good, bad, indifferent.<<<


Greetings,

The following, not N. America - Europe travel as noted by the OP, but in terms of 'what's good', have been more than satisfied to date with Singapore Airlines' business class offerings (and that in-flight service) with SQ's A380s and B77Ws. A380 J-Class sectors flown for work have been mostly SIN-HKG and SIN-NRT; B77W business trip flights, mostly 'trans-pacs' : SIN-HKG-SFO and SIN-ICN-SFO. (And near-monthly SIN-BKK J-Class business trips, mostly via 'older regional' B777s, and no complaints from me, given duration.)

I've enjoyed flying business class 'upstairs' on the A380. However, the sentimentalist in me will always be partial to SQ's Megatops (B747s). (Not too many years back, SQ operated Megatops between Singapore and Bangkok; first SIA plane I flew business class for work.) In particular, Row 17 on the upper deck. Work/flight schedules permitting, a long March weekend will be spent in Melbourne (flying ex-SIN), getting in one last F-Class Megatop roundtrip for us.

The esteemed Gardyloo has given invaluable information in earlier threads on the intricacies of procuring round the world business class fares at more reasonable amounts. (Wish I could be of assistance in that regard, but almost all my business class working flights are those round trips noted above. Perhaps the Surfergirl (great handle by the way) will find a good RTW tariff flying ex-LAX.

However you fly, have fun. (And should any of you find yourselves in our fine home of Singapore next Lunar New Year, can assure you the past few days - and evenings - have been most festive in sweet SIN.)

Enjoy,

macintosh (robert)


... Singapore Airlines, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
AskOksena is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 05:04 PM
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I have always wanted to go to the area in Asia you describe, Robert, and I did hear that Singapore Airlines is hard to beat, whatever class! Thanks for adding to this thread!
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Jan 24th, 2012, 06:48 PM
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Perhaps the Surfergirl (great handle by the way) will find a good RTW tariff flying ex-LAX...

...I have always wanted to go to the area in Asia you describe, Robert, and I did hear that Singapore Airlines is hard to beat, whatever class!


Well, then Singapore Airlines' own RTW might fill the bill. Only Singapore Airlines flights, but well priced at $5300 plus tax in business class from the US.

Singapore flies from New York to Frankfurt, and obviously from various cities in Europe to SE Asia (duh) and from Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong to LA or SF (or back to NYC.) So with their RTW product you'll have to fly on your own dime across country (depending on whether you travel west-to-east or v.v.) but that's a lot of flying in SQ business class for the money IMO. (They used to offer the same product in first class, but I believe they no longer sell that fare. Read about what you'd be missing here: http://ptn-onboard.blogspot.com/2011...-new-york.html )

Oh, and it is a great handle. I haven't surfed since my 8'6" wood board (actually, more resin than wood due to so many dings) tried to kill me when I was a young lad.
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