Wed Feb 22, 2017, 07:43 PM

Economy, business and first class seats: what's the difference?

We break down the main differences between economy, business and first class seats so you can see how much bang you get for your buck

(The view to the right. Ever wondered what the left is like?)

It’s fair to say that most of us make do with economy class, also known as coach, standard or, more endearingly “cattle class”. If we’re honest, that’s just how things will be unless we get lucky But it’s not that bad, right? After all, we all end up in the same place, and things have gotten a lot better in recent years. You know, unless you’re stuck on an old aircraft with virtually no leg room, one overhead TV for the whole row and next to a toddler who’s throwing his first of many tantrums. But it’s not that bad … To prove it, we’re going to run through what you get for your money for your typical economy, business, and first class tickets. We’ll even take a look at those premium economy seats that are all the rage. The first and most important thing to remember is that all seat specs and luxuries (or lack thereof), depend on what airline you’re flying with, what airplane you’re on, and if you’re on a short or long-haul flight.


(Kiss your knees goodbye)

Do we need to dwell on economy? Generally speaking, you’ll get a seat, in a plane, that takes you from A to B. That said, there are some differences, the most noticeable of which are seat width and pitch (legroom). Pitch can vary from 28” to 34”, and width from 17” (cozy!), to 33”. While these few inches might not seem like much now, when you’re in that seat for 6+ hours – they matter! Other factors that may vary are power outlets, Wi-Fi, amenity bag, food, in-flight entertainment, type of TV screen and level of service. Some airlines now have their in-flight services built into touch screens. All you have to do is enter your card details, add the food or items you want to your basket, and cabin crew will deliver your purchases directly to your seat.


(A little more legroom and a TV. Worth the extra cash?)

To get things off to a suitably confusing start, premium economy is called different things. While Air Canada calls it Premium Economy, Virgin America calls it Main Cabin Select, British Airways uses the term World Traveller Plus and SAS call it SAS Plus. But it’s all the same thing: economy with some added oomph. And added cost, of course. That said, it’s not anywhere near as much as business class airfares. If you’re lucky, your extra cash will give you a dedicated lounge at the airport, and the seats will be in a different cabin to economy. Usually, you’ll get a wider seat with a greater pitch, larger TV screens, better food (this could be a larger selection, complimentary drinks, etc.), and a greater baggage allowance. While this is the general rule, some airlines go all out. Virgin Atlantic offer a seat width of 21” with a pitch of 38”, power ports, priority boarding and baggage reclaim, choice of meal, dedicated toilet, pre-departure drink and post dinner liqueur, a dedicated amenity kit, and more. Phew. So, is it worth it? Well, it all depends on the route, airline, and whether or not you really think those few extra inches and extra drink or meal will make the difference to your flight.


(Now we’re talking)

They say that if you fly business class once, you’ll never be happy in economy again (This is absolutely, completely true----JR). While it might be hard to easily see the benefits of coughing up for premium economy over economy, the luxuries of business over premium economy are immediately apparent. It is – obviously – a completely different class. Simply put: everything is better. From pre-flight drinks (in real glasses, obvs.), to meals served on real china with proper knives and forks (instead of those toy knock-offs back in economy), you’re spoiled rotten. Full flat-bed seats are the general standard for business class, with seat width going as wide as 34” and pitch all the way to 87”. Some airlines offer a chauffeured pick-up and drop-off service if you live within a certain distance from the airport, and most – if not all – have a dedicated lounge in the airport where you can fill up on free food and drinks – but don’t drink too much … The gigantic A380, Emirates, never one to shy away from excess, has an entire bar on board exclusively for business class passengers. We’re not talking a fold down table in the galley – this is a proper, semi-circular, fully-stocked bar, serving hot and cold snacks and all the cocktails you can manage. What more could you want? Business class is in fact becoming so good, that many airlines have abandoned their first class seats altogether.

(Excerpt, remainder of article at link)

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Reply Economy, business and first class seats: what's the difference? (Original post)
Juan Rico Feb 2017 OP
batcat Feb 2017 #1
Runner Dude Feb 2017 #2
Juan Rico Feb 2017 #3

Response to Juan Rico (Original post)

Wed Feb 22, 2017, 09:02 PM

1. Reminds me of the time my uncle was asked at the airline counter if he wanted a first class...


He asked, "Does first class get there any faster?"

When the clerk replied, "No" he just laughed and said he would take the cheaper ticket.

He did have a sense of humor.

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Response to Juan Rico (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2017, 04:22 AM

2. Meh.

I've flown them all. I'm not trying to impress anyone. Just get me where I'm going and I'll be ok.

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Response to Runner Dude (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 23, 2017, 05:19 AM

3. For domestic flights, I agree....but on a 12-hour long haul, point me to business class.

Presuming I can get an award flight, of course. No way, no how would I pay for it out of pocket.

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