We seem to fly more international business class travel now, than before I quit my “real” job. In the last seven years, we’ve flown some of the top business class products on the market. And we’ve learned how to make the most of a business class flight. In this post, we share our top 10 business class travel tips and offer a roundup of some of our top business class flight reviews. And, the best part, because I am not really a business traveler, I can spend my time enjoying the business class flights! Not working!
Our business class tips focus not only on tips for flying business class but also includes what airlines have a great business class product. Because once you learn how to travel in business class you’ll never want to stop traveling in business class. You’ll be researching all of the business class tricks and traveling hacking opportunities to make sure you can fly business class as much as possible.
How to Make the Most of the Best Business Class Perks
I can’t even remember my first time flying business class, but I do remember my first time in business class in a premier product. I remember the excitement, but I really remember that the business class flight experience actually starts on the ground. There is so much more to flying business class than the flight itself. Sure, for business flyers, the main business class perks are being more comfortable and the ability to work. But, for leisure travelers, the best business class airlines provide services and experiences in the air that might rival those in your destination.
Another reason why we like to make the most of our business class tickets is that we are so different from the business class travelers we used to be. A typical businessman knows their next business or first class flight is just around the corner. For us, we never know when we will be flying business class again.
Learn how to earn loads of miles to travel on business class with Cracking the Code to Travel Hacking
We almost always book our flights with points and miles, which we accumulated over the years through our miles-related credit cards. I know this is a lot easier for Americans than for others. I know for Europeans it is much more difficult to play the travel hacking game. (If you are Kiwi, check out this guide to travel hacking in New Zealand.) Travel hacking is a method for collecting miles and points for serious travelers. It’s one of the best ways to earn a business class trip. If you want to be a business class traveler but don’t have an expense account, this is how to do it. It’s one of the most important business class tricks.
Here are our top business travel tips:
Tip 1: Book the Free Chauffeur Service
It’s getting increasingly more difficult to find this business class travel perk. But, if your business class ticket includes an airport pick up and drop off, book it! It’s starting the business class traveling experience as early as possible.
The first time we used this business class travel perk was when flying Etihad business class from Dublin. We were visiting family in Limerick and took the bus from Limerick to Dublin. The bus drops off at the Red Cow stop, where we spent the night before our business class flight at the Ibis Dublin. The hotel is on an express bus line that costs €5 per person and takes about 15 minutes. We would need to walk about seven minutes across the highway overpass, but it is really not that bad of a journey.
Why bother walking seven minutes and then paying €5, though, when I can arrange for a complimentary Mercedes to pick us up for our early morning flight. We were able to book the car on the website. They sent me a text to confirm, and sure enough, our driver was there to meet us in the lobby – he was even early.
We’ve also used this business class travel perk in Bologna and Bangkok with our Emirates business class fare. Bangkok was particularly enjoyable as they drove us home to our apartment. The best of our Emirates chauffer service tips is to just ensure you book it ahead of time.
Flying Business Class Pro Tip:
Check the airline’s website to see if this is a perk. If so, book it well ahead of time. This is a perk that is getting more difficult to find for business class. It’s becoming more of a distinction between business class and first class fares. It is still offered for some first class tickets. This is also more likely to be a perk for the Middle East airlines.
Tip 2: Enjoy a Hot Meal at the Business Class Lounge
I have had the privilege of experiencing first and business class lounges around the world. Some of which are very nice (Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong), and others are pretty shabby (Air China in Taipei). What we experienced at Etihad’s Dublin lounge was pretty amazing. Particularly because we were in Dublin.
We were the first business flyers to arrive for our morning flight. We were asked if we wanted to sit in the dining room to order a hot, fresh breakfast from an a la carte menu. Yes, please! A fresh cappuccino, fresh squeezed orange juice, and crepes made to order. I was so impressed. I am accustomed to buffet style snacks and treats, but having a menu to order fresh food was quite enjoyable, particularly sitting alongside the floor to ceiling windows with a view of the runway (Eric liked that).
It’s also possible to order from an a la carte menu at the Qatar Airways lounge in Doha. This is another distinction between business class vs. first class with Cathay Pacific as well. The Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge in Hong Kong includes a lovely full-service dining room.
Even if you are not traveling business class with the airline, it’s still possible to get into a business class lounge. Priority Pass offers access to over 1200 lounges in 130 countries. We’ve had access to these lounges for a few years now, and we love it! We even use it on short-haul flights in Europe, and even when flying Ryan Air!
Receive 10% off the first year of Priority Pass lounge membership
Tip 3: Use Priority Boarding to Business Class Flight Seats
I love boarding early, even when sitting in economy. I want to get my seat arranged. To make sure I get my luggage in the overhead bin. And I like to people watch while the rest of the plane boards.
One of the perks of flying business class is being able to board early. I would rather be sipping champagne in my business class seat and checking out my amenity kit than hanging in the airport. Etihad has provided us a mixed experience on this front, with a rather poor performance during a past flight through Abu Dhabi, and again at Dublin airport. We were asked to wait on the side while they started to board economy, which was a little strange. Someone became bothered enough to insist we be allowed to board. I swear it was not me. When flying the Emirates A380, though, there is exclusive boarding from the lounge to the flight. There is no need to exit the lounge into the terminal! It’s one of the best business class travel lounges and the best perks of business class on Emirates!
Tip 4: Enjoy Pre-flight Amenities and a Little Extra Service
Would you like a magazine? A glass of water? A glass of mint lime juice? Some pink champagne? Perhaps a refill of that champagne? Yes Please! The best business class flights offer all of these!
I love having this time to get settled, to check out the seat, the amenity kit, the entertainment options, and more. Generally, the flight crew also offers the menu and allow you to select your meal before take off, tell them when you would like it, and order your drinks. With Etihad, they even had the forethought to ask if I would like to switch from white wine during my appetizer to red wine during the meal. Because what is business class really if it is not all about the special services!
Tip 5: Enjoy In-Flight Amenities
Obviously flying international business class is loaded with business class in-flight amenities. A business class airplane cabin can include noise-canceling headphones, nicer pillows, down comforters, fancy socks, and amenity kits, sometimes with some decent swag. I enjoy the more attentive flight attendants and also appreciate shorter bathroom lines. There are loads more little benefits to flying business class, ranging from unlimited alcohol and food, the ability to charge your electronic devices during the flight, free newspapers and magazines, and more.
And, on the Emirates A380 – there is even a bar on board! Now, that’s one of the best perks of booking business class seats!
Tip 6: Priority Access at Immigration and Security
On one of our Etihad business class flights, from Amman to Abu Dhabi, our flight was pretty empty. In fact, there was only one more person in the business class cabin and only about 15 more people in economy class. Despite this, they pulled up a business class bus to whisk us off to the terminal, while the economy passengers waited. Having been on the other side of the curtain more often than not, I find this to be a little excessive. But it is one of the Etihad business class perks I guess.
But, I do enjoy priority immigration lines, which we have occasionally seen. More common is the ability to jump the line at security, which is just something I became accustomed to with my United status before leaving the law. Now, it is often a treat. I hate waiting in security.
If you are not sure whether the airline offers this perk, definitely ask. On some airlines, including Thai Airways business class flying into Bangkok, they will give you a voucher for priority immigration. It’s totally worth it!
Tip 7: Look For Lounge Access During a Long Layover
When flying a crazy long-haul flight it is often nice to experience the business class lounge. Although Etihad’s lounge in Dublin is lovely, their lounge in Abu Dhabi is often crowded and warm (Etihad has recently been in the process of renovating their Abu Dhabi lounges). The food is good, though, and there is free top shelf alcohol. It is the extra special amenities that are offered that truly enhance the experience.
If we have an itinerary with an unavoidable long layover, I am more inclined to eat the cost to upgrade to business class. Some of the nicest lounges we’ve experienced are the Emirates business class lounge in Dubai and the Qatar business class lounge in Doha.
Receive 10% off 1,000 business lounges with Priority Pass
Tip 8: Free Massage Treatment in the Business Class Lounge
Similar to the chauffeur service, I have often seen spa services offered at business class lounges. We experienced this for the first time during a lengthy layover in Abu Dhabi. I figured I had the time to make the most of a business class flight, so why not. After grabbing a snack and checking email, I booked a free mini foot massage. It was only 15 minutes, but it was well worth it. My feet ended up being a bit oily from the massage, but no worries. I was able to remedy that quickly.
Tip 9: Free Showers in the Business Class Lounge
We had a several hour layover between two seven-hour flights on our trip from Dublin to Kuala Lumpur. In this case, it was such a pleasure to take a shower in the lounge. I think there is something so decadent about showering at an airport, particularly at the Etihad business class lounge. I had a private bathroom, an enormous rain shower, hot water, fresh towels, soap, shampoo, and even a hairdryer. I felt like a whole new woman.
Tip 10: Sleep in the Best Business Class Seats
This is probably the most obvious perk of business class flights, but one I still struggle with. The main benefit to flying business class is the ability to stretch out and sleep, and to arrive fresh in your destination, apparently ready to work, or head to business meetings. I for one, though, tend not to sleep as much as most people on these flights. Instead, I am trying to make the most of a business class flight – I eat loads of food, drink lots of champagne, and watch a mess of movies. I want to take advantage of the experience.
Tips for Flying Business Class on Top Airlines
Now that we’ve rounded up the top business class travel tips, we can walk through some pros and cons of some of the best business class service out there. We’ve flown each of the Middle East Three airlines (Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates) and other international airlines. They each tend to offer more than the typical American business class experience on the legacy carriers. And, in many cases, the business class flight cost is even less on international carriers than the American legacy carriers. The non-American airlines also allow one-way business class flights more often.
Business Class Flights Reviews
When it comes to wondering what to expect in business class, the experience really depends on the airline. Most business class flight experience is similar, but there are some business class perks on certain airlines that stand out. International business class travel differs from domestic business class, but also can differ based on the airline and the configuration of the business class plane. For example, the Emirates business class products differ a lot depending on whether you are flying business class on the A380 or the B777.
One of the top benefits of business class flights are the seats. If you are concerned about how to sleep in business class, the seat can make a big difference. The Lufthansa A380 seat is very different from the Emirates A380 business class seat. When asking which is the best business class experience, the seat makes all the difference.
Lufthansa A380 Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: We flew Lufthansa Airbus A380 business class from Beijing to Frankfurt.
Seats: Even on the A380, we found the Lufthansa business class seats to be particularly narrow. The seats are 2-2-2, and the two seats angle towards each other. We got to play footsie with each other the entire way.
Unique Business Class Benefits: This was our first A380 experience. The food was passable. The service, though, was very good. And friendly. But, that was because of one particular flight attendant. This was the first flight where I saw a window in the business class bathroom.
Lounge: We used the Beijing Airport business class lounge for Star Alliance members. It is a fine lounge, but nothing special. I enjoy that they have dim sum. But, wifi is difficult to access.
Our Business Class Review: Lufthansa A380 Business Class Review
Lufthansa Business Class A380 – How to Travel Business Class
Emirates A380 Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: Upgrading on Emirates is one of the best business class deals out there. It’s one of our top Emirate business class tips. Whereas many airlines give some outrageous last-minute prices to upgrade to business class, Emirates offers similar prices for their business flights one month out, one week out, and even day of. We’ve flown them from Lyon to Bangkok and Bologna to Bangkok, both on great business class offers. Both flights had layovers in Dubai. We flew the Emirates Boeing 777-300 ER. Emirates flies 6 to 7 times a day to Bangkok, most of the flights are on the Emirates A380. Some of the flights are so empty they seem like an all business class airline.
Seats: There is a big difference between business and first class on Emirates. The Emirates business class flight seats are rather flashy, with lots of gold. But, we didn’t spend much time in our seats.
Unique Business Class Benefits: The Emirates business class product is one of the top on the market, particularly on the Emirates A380. On the Emirates Boeing 777, most of their flights include 2-3-2 configuration. Our top Emirates business class tips involve this configuration. Choose your seats when booking so you can avoid the middle seat. The most unique business class flight perk – the onboard bar! Overall, our best business class travel experience has been on the Emirates A380.
Lounge: The Emirates A380 lounge is really something special. Once inside, there is no reason to leave. Boarding is direct from the lounge. There are about a dozen different places to eat and drink. And, there are plenty of showers.
Our Business Class Review: Emirates Business Class A380 Review. We did not do a review of the Emirates 777 business class. It was fine. But, they offer a 2-3-2 configuration. Make sure to secure a seat ahead of time to avoid a middle seat in business class.
Etihad Airways Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: We flew Etihad business class Dublin to Abu Dhabi on the Boeing 777-300ER.
Seats: The Etihad 777 business class seats are nice, in a 1-2-1 configuration. Eric even fit comfortably lying down.
Unique Business Class Benefits: I find the Etihad business class menu to offer some of the best food options. Along with Qatar, the Middle East airlines offer some of the most consistent menu options.
Lounge: The Etihad lounges in Abu Dhabi we experienced when we flew were not great. But they have been renovating. The Dublin lounge is surprisingly nice.
Our Business Class Review: Etihad 777 Business Class Review, plus our issues when flying Etihad business class on a Jet Airways flight. The Jet Airways issue is an important one to learn about – Jet Airways is the farthest thing from a business class plane.
Etihad 777-300ER Business Class:
Qatar A330 Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: We flew Qatar business class from Milan to Doha, and continued onto Mumbai. We flew the first flight on the Qatar A330-200 business class. The second flight, we flew on the Qatar A330-300ER.
Seats: The seats were a 2-2-2 configuration, but were not lie flat on the A330-200. This makes them far from the best business class seats.
Unique Business Class Benefits: Along with Etihad, I find the food on Qatar to be quite good. The service was good as well, a lot better than when we flew economy on the Qatar Dreamliner. The business class amenity kit is one of my favorites, with Giorgio Armani products, including perfume and cologne. They provide different amenities for men and women.
Lounge: The Qatar business class lounge in Doha is one of the nicest lounges we’ve ever been in!
Cathay Pacific Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: We flew Cathay Pacific business class from Chicago to Hong Kong, well worth it for the 15-hour flight! Although, Cathay first class is better.
Seats: There is a big difference between business vs. first class on Cathay Pacific. The business class seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration. But, there are 53 seats in the business class cabin, which felt huge! When flying first class, there were 6 seats, so the first class service was a lot more personalized.
Unique Business Class Benefits: There is a small business class cabin with only 2 rows of seats. It’s a lot quieter. Book those seats if possible. They are the best business class seats on the plane. It’s how to travel business class – in a small cabin!
Lounge: Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong are consistently changing. We’ve used the new business class lounge, which was nice but very very busy. They have multiple lounges in Hong Kong. In Chicago, we had access to the British Airways lounge in the international terminal. It was sub-par at best.
FAQs – Business Class Tips – Travelling Business Class
In addition to all of the tips for flying business class above, we answer some of the typical questions people ask us about flying business class. If you have any other questions about business class tips that we don’t answer, ask in the comment below.
- How much food can you order in business class? One might think it is unlimited, and certainly, it’s almost impossible to go hungry. But, even the best business class products are limited to how much food is on board. We’ve noticed that it is not often you are able to order a second starter or entree, but there are always snacks. One of the best business class experiences was on Cathay Pacific where we ordered a freshly made burger as a mid-flight snack.
- Are drinks free in business class? Normally, yes. There are certain Middle East airlines that don’t serve alcohol at all. But generally, drinks are free in business class, even on domestic flights. One of the best business class perks is the Champagne before take off. It always makes me feel so glamorous. Business class drinks are often of a higher quality than in economy, both for liquor and for wine.
- What are the benefits of flying business class? What are the best business class perks? Most of the benefits of flying business class are listed above, but business class air travel really depends on the airline. Some airlines are just better than others, as discussed above. Some offer the best business class flights (like the Middle East Airlines) whereas others just offer typical travel in business class (like some of the American airlines).
- What is sleeping in business class like? Obviously, it is easier to sleep in business class than economy. But when it comes to how to sleep in business class, my number one tip is not to drink too much. I know for first-time business class travellers this might be a tough order, and it’s one I don’t often follow myself. But if sleep in your number one goal, then drink less. My second tip is to bring earplugs just in case the airline doesn’t offer them. This is the hardest of the business class travel tips for Eric to follow. When he is flying business class he never wants to sleep. For him, there is no sleeping in business class.
- Which is better, Etihad or Emirates business class? We are asked this question a lot. If the Emirates A380 is an option, it’s the best option for how to travel in business class. The Emirates business class lounge is also amazing. I think between the two, I would choose the Emirates business class.
Pin It!! Business Class Travel Tips & Traveling Business Class
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.