Where are the business class seats?

Old May 9th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Where are the business class seats?

Just read the article from Fodor's resident tipster about business class passengers being the rudest ones on the plane (according to replies from flight attendants). I was wondering, are there special seats assigned for business class passengers? How do FAs recognize business class passengers?
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Old May 9th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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dwoodliff, you must either be flying one-class airlines like Southwest or one-class aircraft, like regional jets. Most major carriers have first class and/or business class seating in the front section of the aircraft with wider seats, more legroom and more in the way of food & beverage service. The people aren't necessarily traveling on business, but that is where you will find "business class".
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Old May 9th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Actually, I almost always fly on American, but since I've never flown on business, I always wondered if certain seats were reserved for business class passengers. Are you saying that business class seating is in first class? My daughter's employer sent her to a convention in Virginia a couple of years ago, and I'm sure she would have mentioned it if she had gotten to sit in first class. I don't mean to sound dumb, but I guess that's what I am in this case. Are business class seats more expensive than economy or coach class? Are those the higher-priced refundable tickets? Please enlighten me.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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Yes, the seats are more expensive and they are often refundable because they are frequently purchased on short-notice. Some airlines routinely upgrade full-fare customers and/or elite level frequent flyers into first/business class on a space-available basis. The term "business class" probably has more to do with marketing than anything else. "First Class" sounds a little excessive, while "Business Class" has a little more staid and prudent ring to it. (You might not think labeling it differently makes much difference, but who tries to sell "diet beer"?)
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Old May 9th, 2004, 05:28 PM
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Let's slow down and take a look of what kind of services airlines are providing (both US domestic and international).

On domestic flights, you usually find only two classes of services (except on certain California-NYC route). So, you have Economy and First class. On a narrow body plane, instead of 3-3, you have 2-2 seating with more legroom. Perhaps some food service vs none for economy.

On international routes, there used to be just two classes of service, Economy and First, just like domestic. However, from about 20 years ago, many airlines start offering 3 classes of service on international routes. Their first class seats become more and more elaborate, with totally flat seats, private suites, etc... and the fares can be about 20x that of economy. [For example, AA's F class fare JFK-LHR is about US$12,000]

Since there's such a difference in price and service, business class fits in the middle. They are usually MORE COMFORTABLE and have more room than domestic first class. An unrestricted business fare to Europe is about $4,000.

In recent years, some airlines start offering a 4th class of service between economy and business. For example, Taiwans' EVA and British Airways have 4 classes of seats and service on their 747s. And United also have a cabin called "Economy Plus", which has the same seats, but increased legroom on their 747-400s. But United don't sell those seats as a seperate class. Instead, they are reserved for those travellers with high FF status, or are paying high-fare class instead of discounted ones.

Anyways, I still don't quite understand the original question. "Business Class" or "First Class" refers to a service, a wider seat. It's not the same as "full fare" or "unrestricted fare", which refers to the type of tickets one purchase for economy class. Very few people pay the full fare for economy (Y class), as that's basically the same as the price of domestic First Class already. And if you pay a full Y fare, most airlines will upgrade you to first anyways.

I hope I'm making things clearer.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 05:32 PM
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Also, some larger aircraft (747, 777, 767, A330) will occasionally be configured with a business class section, the seats will be larger than coach, but not as big as a seperate 1st class section. When I flew on Alitalia last summer from Athens to Rome, they had a 1st, business and coach section on an MD-80. Lucky for me they flew it as a two class flight so I flew in the business seats on a coach fare. Lucky me
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Old May 9th, 2004, 06:24 PM
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Oh forget to add that while some US airlines still offer 3 classes of service on some of the flights, some are 2-class only, even on international routes. For example, on international routes (757, 767 or 777), there is coach, and there is "BusinessFirst". It's basically a business class service, but with seats slightly bigger than most US competitors'. On a 777, seating is 2-2-2, compared to other airlines' 2-3-2 in their business section. AND THEY ARE WAY BETTER THAN DOMESTIC FIRST. Simiarly, their 767 is 2-1-2, instead of 2-2-2.

So, if you fly a route with multiple types of planes, it really pays to know what type of plane the airline is offering. For example, CO's IAH-EWR route is flown on all kinds of planes, but one roundtrip (flight 50/51) is an international 777, and another (40/41) is an 767-400. The fare and meal are domestic first class, but the seats are way better. Makes a huge difference if you book this flight.

And, there are other variations too. For example, Virgin Atlantic basically has a three class service. However, they are equivalent to the economy, economy+ and business classes of other airlines; and don't have a true "first" class products.

Or like MikeJ's experience in Europe. They do things differently there. For example, on some flights, their business class really has the same seats as coach, but with better meal service and no middle seat.

Etc...
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Old May 9th, 2004, 08:41 PM
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I agree that Business Class is not the same as "full fare" or "unrestricted fare", but as a practical matter, many carriers are upgrading holders of these tickets to Business/First class on domestic flights. Where that is the case, people aren't necessarily buying them with the intention of sitting in coach/economy class seats anymore, as they did in the past. This obviously varies by carrier, but it is catching on with several now.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 04:06 AM
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Although I am not exactly sure, I supposed that the F/A's recognize business travelers by their carrying briefcases, laptop computers, or other business gear and/or wearing jackets, neckties, or other business wear.

In addition, frequent fliers and elite/medallion/gold/premier fliers tend to be business travelers since people don't tend to have so much leisure time to travel frequently otherwise. And apparently it is the elite etc. travelers whom the tipster si referring to also.

I supposed this is in the realm of profiling which may reflect unfairly upon some people.

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Old May 10th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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Also, when outside the US, the planes are typically sold as Coach and Business class. Interestingly, although the US calls it "First" when there are only two classes, "Business" on most overseas carriers is much nicer than our "First".
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Old May 10th, 2004, 07:23 AM
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Some here are making it more complicated than it probably is regarding 2-class flights. Every airline I fly blocks out a section of seats in the forward section of coach for "premier" passengers. In United it's formally named "Economy Plus" and there are physical differences, but you know where those seats are on any seating chart because you can't book them on line.

Anyone who is eligible to book those seats, to my mind, probably qualifies as a "business class" passenger for the purposes of that survey, and yes, I've watched them and their luckier counterparts in 3-class flights in the B.C. section, and they do tend to behave "Over-Entitled" (as I heard a student say the other day), treating the FAs as servants.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:46 AM
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Most airlines open up the "premier" economy sections, as well as bulkhead/exit-row seats, a day or so before departure, including UA's domestic flights. [Not sure about their international routes.]

Nowadays, all you need to do is use online check-in the first moment it's available. Some airlines set that at 24 hours prior to departure, some 30 hours. Do that, and you can get "pretend" to be a business traveller.

For example, I flew on CO's 737-500 recently on a roundtrip IAH-PHL on a FF reward ticket (i.e. bottom of priorities) ON A PLEASURE TRIP. Yet, I can get an exit row seat that has no seat in front of me, and therefore 62" pitch instead of 31", full recline, and luckily nobody beside me (even though the flights were about 85% full). All I did was to get up a little early, checked-in online, and printed my boarding pass. And I'm definitely NOT a business class person, and I never travel for business reason.

Or like my parents. They only buy the cheapest deep-discount economy tickets. But they fly enough to get a "gold elite" status with CO. They almost always get free domestic upgrades, and can reserve front rows on economy on international. Both of them have been retired for years, and neither has flown on business trip (except perhaps once for my dad, years ago).
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