For many who are travelling within Europe from abroad, you may see business class as an expense worth paying for, I mean, when booked in advance onto a European business class flight, the cost can be just two-times the price of an economy ticket.
The problem is, if you are travelling from abroad, European business isn’t what you may think. It’s definitely not the same as Business class in North America or Asia that’s for sure. Its distinctly less comfortable than what you might expect, but is it worth it?
What Is European Business Class
For those of you who haven’t experienced it before, if you asked someone what European business was, for the majority of people at least, they will frame it as an economy seat with the middle seat blocked out and with free food. They technically aren’t wrong.
Some see it as an unwillingness to invest into a proper business class product – but I disagree.
European business is a result of low-cost carriers and the need for flexibility. It is important to remember that the presence and strength of low-cost carriers in Europe are not comparable to those in North America and Asia in large part due to the legal framework that is the European Union.
Put simply, for legacy carriers to compete with low-cost carriers you need to have as many seats as possible to keep costs low. Having a different lie-flat seat in business class effectively works against you as it reduces the number of “cheap” economy seats you can sell.
What’s more is you cannot guarantee the number of business class travellers on a flight. I have been on British Airways flights with 4 rows in business and other times there have been 11 rows – each time the cabin has been full. It would definitely be impractical to fit out a plane with a hard cabin divide on different planes as you would cause a logistic nightmare if there were any operational faults. What happens if you flight out with only 3 people in business and 15 people on the way back. The solution is to have a cabin divide which can be moved as the need arises.
You can start to see why European Business is effectively the same seat as economy as it makes strategic sense if you need to go head-to-head with the likes of Ryan Air & Easy Jet.
On European Business, What Do You Get
European Business affords many of the same benefits as what you would expect for a “normal business class” and below is just a few highlights of what you will get.
You will see below that the cost of the business class ticket really comes down to the unified experience and the simplicity of flying rather than the seat itself.
By now you will have noticed that the European business Class Seat is pretty much the same as an economy seat. The main difference between the cabins is in fact the blocked out middle seat. Its nice to rest your drink on it while you work – don’t get me wrong, I personally see it as an insurance so that no one is next to me.
Some airlines have a few inches of extra pitch in rows 1-12 incase those turn into a business class eat while on some carriers you will see that the seat you actually sit in gets a bit wider to accommodate the arm rest in the middle.
If you really wanted the lie flat experience you may want to consider carriers who operate traditional business class seats in Europe or those who offer 5th freedom flights in Europe.
How Does It Compare With North American & European Business
There is really no comparison.
In the United States, all mainline carriers (Delta, American and United Airlines) offer a semi business class experience on the shorter hops. On the longer transcontinental flights, the airlines offer a business class product that’s comparable to their international products.
In Asia, the story is the same, legacy carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific will ofer a regional variation of a traditional business class product. Notably Singapore Airlines uses the same seat for their regional offering where Turkish Airlines uses it for their long haul route.
Yes – food is complementary and is actually quite good. It’s definitely more refined that what you will get on a North American First or Business class domestic flight. Heck, some will even serve it on decent airline china and with metal cutlery.
Alcohol is usually included and comes with a fully stocked bar.
But with all things, you have to see if a small (3-course meal) is worth the premium you’d pay
Related Article: See what British Airways offers in European Business Class
On Business class flights, you usually get 2 pieces of luggage included. This is a real value proposition because if you are flying with a lot of luggage, the business class ticket can really offset most, if not all the cost, when compared to buying an economy seat with 2 pieces of luggage.
Airport Fast Track
At the airport, you get to use the business class lines to check in those bags. This would be the same as if you were on a long-haul flight. You will usually see the benefit of this if you are at a hub airport where being stuck in a line with passengers checking in on an A380 or B777 may add significant time to your checkin experience.
What’s more is that after you have checked in – you can use the fast track lines to clear security which is a real plus.
Once airside, it’s the general consensus of major carriers to include lounge access. For those who like a pre-flight meal or a pre-flight drink this is an ideal time to get your hands on some premium spirits. At flagship lounges there is real value in taking a breather before the flight – this is something that European carriers excel at when compared to North American carriers.
By itself, the lounge access could be all you need to enjoy the business class ticket! But if you have a financially conscious mentality, well you can really make your money back here.