What is it like to fly business class?

If you’ve been flying economy class most of your life, you could be wondering what flying business class is actually like. The price difference can be anywhere between $50 up to $3,000 more between economy and business, and is upgrading to business class really worth it?

You may also be wondering how business class differs between airlines, because no two airlines are the same. This not only applies to business class amenities offered, but rules and regulations as well – for example, the Delta business class dress code can differ from Emirates’.

So when answering what it’s really like to fly business class, there are a lot of variables to consider, and we’re going to explore them.

Business class: Short-haul versus Long-haul flights

For starters, business class may differ only slightly from economy class on domestic flights, with a bit of nicer seating and amenities – the differences become a lot more apparent on international flights.

Because domestic flights are typically much shorter, a business class upgrade may really only offer more comfortable seating on a short-haul flight. A gourmet meal wouldn’t make much sense on a 2-hour flight, so even though you’re in business class, expect soft drinks and snacks.

On long-haul flights, however, business class will provide you with a menu of fancier food choices, especially compared to economy class. International long-haul flights that exceed 7 hours or more will typically provide 2 meals during the flight. Of course, this is all contextual, and based on the airline itself. Some airlines are obviously higher rated than others, and you can check out some rankings, like this list of the top ten airlines for in-flight meals.

Business class amenity kits

Most airlines provide upgraded amenity kits to business class customers, which are typically stocked with a handful of “useful” items for the flight. Emirates’ business class amenity kit, for example, provides flyers with things like Gilette shaving cream and razors, Bvlgari lotions, and other name-brand toiletries. American Airlines’ amenity kit come in a pouch designed by leather accessory company This Is Ground, and includes skincare products from Allies of Skin.

Just like the in-flight meals, not all amenity kits are the same (or equal). But the amenity kits are really just a nice little “thank you” from the airline, what matters the most are the actual in-flight amenities. And again, all airlines are a little bit different, but let’s examine some of the unique business class amenities from popular airlines.

Emirates: Direct boarding from a private lounge that offers free wifi and an unlimited buffet. On the flight you have a personal minibar next to your seat, 4,500 channels of entertainment, and an on-board bar and lounge where you can order cocktails.

Singapore Airlines: SA offers a unique “Book the Cook” feature to business and first class customers. You can choose your in-flight meal 6 months in advance, and your main meal 24 hours before departure, from a pretty huge menu of over 70 meals.

Qatar Airways: Qatar Airways has been ranked as having the best business class in the world by numerous travel reviews, as you can expect things like a personal 17-inch LCD screen, on-demand meals served in multiple courses, seats that recline into flat beds, and more.

So is flying business class worth it?

Flying business class over economy will always be “worth it”, it’s just important to have realistic expectations. As we mentioned, short-haul flights won’t be as luxurious as long-haul flights, and you should research the exact amenities offered by different airlines, so you can figure which one offers business class features you’d enjoy the most.

Overall though, flying business class is a luxurious experience, and worth it if you’d like to upgrade over economy class, but not break the bank with first class.