Business Class Travel: is it worth the upgrade?
We've all caught a glimpse of the travellers being pampered behind closed curtains at the front of the plane. Many of us have been on the inside of those curtains too, so we know what we’re missing when we’re on the outer.
So, what does it cost to fly business class and is it even worth the upgrade? Self-confessed airline fanatic Shaun Conlon, Travel Manager for Flight Centre Business Travel, shares his insights.
What is business class all about?
If you aren’t familiar with the world of business class, here's a little of what you're missing out on: priority check-in, lounge access, spacious reclining seats that often convert to flat beds, chef-prepared meals and premium drink service.
You might be more used to flying economy or premium economy; well, business class sits a step up. And while it's not quite first-class, that doesn't matter these days, says Shaun: "Fewer airlines have first-class now, with more incorporating business class and upgrading the standard. Airlines are upping their game all the time, with features such as flat beds and enclosed suites becoming the norm in business class.”
What does it cost to fly business class?
There’s a reason we don’t all fly business class, all the time. While it depends on a few things, like when you’re booking, which airline you’re flying with and where you’re off to, flying business class generally costs at least twice as much as economy and can be up to ten times more.
“As a general rule, the closer to travel, the higher the cost. So, booking in advance will usually help to keep this cost down,” says Shaun.
The other option is to use frequent flyer points for all or part of the fare, which is a pretty common practice. Staff can use their rewards points to upgrade an economy ticket to business class, or an international flight can be booked with one leg of the trip in economy and one in business class.
“Businesses should have this built into their travel policy, but there are still things to be aware off, like booking the right type of ticket that allows upgrades. A travel manager who knows the ins and outs of this can help,” says Shaun.
When is business class worth the upgrade?
So, when is it worth paying extra to enjoy the perks of the pointy end of the plane? There are a few things to consider here too, including staff wellbeing and productivity, says Shaun: “Some businesses will book business class for long-haul flights or overnight transits as a standard, to ensure their staff are comfortable while travelling and can arrive refreshed and ready to do business.”
A well-considered travel policy will include these allowances, as well as instances where it's in the best interests of the employee and the business to fly up the front, like a three-day trip to London, says Shaun: “When it’s a short trip with a lot invested in it, it’s going to be important that the employee’s health and wellbeing is a priority, so their productivity is maximised.”
And when isn’t it worth the upgrade?
“If the cost of the fare is more than the potential business value of the trip, like a return business class ticket to Singapore costing $9,000, then you’d have to ask whether it’s worth it,” says Shaun.
Enjoy the perks without the fare
If you’re already a high-status frequent flyer, you might be able to enjoy the perks of business class without the fare, especially for domestic flights. Typical business class features, like priority check-in, security screening and boarding, and lounge access might be available on your top tier frequent flyer membership.
“If you’re flying domestically, like an hour-and-a-half flight from Sydney to Melbourne, it might be worth just getting that economy ticket and enjoying the benefits you have through your rewards program. After all, business class isn’t just about where you sit on the plane; it’s about the whole experience,” says Shaun.
Make the most of business class
Before you go upgrading to business class, you should know that not all airlines or airfares are created equal, says Shaun: “The business class product varies widely between airlines and even within an airline on different aircraft; one experience on a route can be quite different to the next.”
It can be challenging to navigate, especially if you're particular about your airline service, and the last thing you want to kick off your work trip is disappointment. We’d suggest you check in with a Travel Manager from Flight Centre Business Travel first to make the most of your opportunity to fly business class.
Need help booking your business travel?
Our Travel Managers are dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable. When you work with a Flight Centre Business Travel Manager you’re choosing peace of mind.