We seem to fly more international business class now, than before I quit my “real” job. In the last 6 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 round up of some of our top business class flights. And, the best part, because I am not really a business traveller, I can spend my time enjoying the business class flights! Not working!
How to Make the Most of the Best Business Class Perks
There is so much more to flying international business class than the flight itself. Sure, for business flyers, the main 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 because we are so different from the business travelers we used to be. Typical business man 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.
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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!
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 7 minutes across the highway overpass, but it is really not that bad of a journey.
Why bother walking 7 minutes and then paying €5, though, when I can arrange for a complimentary Mercedes to pick us up for our early morning flight. was 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.
This is becoming more of a difference between business class and first class fares. It’s becoming less likely that a business class ticket will include chauffeur service. But, 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 with Etihad’s Dublin lounge was pretty amazing. Particularly because we were in Dublin.
We were 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 quiet 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 over a year, a love it. We even use it on short-haul flights in Europe, and even when flying Ryan Air!
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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 mixed experiences 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!
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, 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 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 business class, and only about 15 more people in economy. 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, 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 lounge in Dubai and the Qatar lounge in Doha.
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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 hair dryer. 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.
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
Emirates A380 Business Class
Business Class Flight Route: Upgrading on Emirates is one of the best business class deals out there. 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 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, on the A380. On the Emirates Boeing 777, most of their flights include 2-3-2 configuration. The most unique business class flight perk – the on board bar!
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 Emeritus 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.
Etihad 777-300ER Business Class:
Qatar A330 Business Class
Book a flight with Qatar Air and experience one of the best business class cabins!
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.
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!
Our Business Class Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Review. We’ve also flowing the Qatar Dreamliner in economy class.
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 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 more quite. Book those seats if possible.
Lounge: Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong are consistently changing. We’ve used the new business class lounge, which was nice, but very very business. 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.
Pin It!! Business Class Travel Tips