Business Class vs Economy: What’s the Difference?

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So, you’ve decided to take a trip. Congratulations! Whether you’re jetting off to an exotic island or exploring a new city in the U.S., one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is how to get there. And if you’re like most people, you’ll probably be weighing the pros and cons of flying business class vs economy.

But really … what’s the difference? Is it worth spending the extra money to upgrade? In this post, we’ll break down exactly what you can expect when flying business class. so that you can make a more informed decision.

What are the benefits of flying business class?

Most travelers agree that business class flights offer a lot of advantages. Here are some of the most common benefits:

1. Priority check-in

business class priority check-in mat and sign at an airport

You’ll begin to notice the difference between economy and business class as soon as you arrive at the airport. Airlines have a priority check-in counter specially reserved for people who are flying business class. This means you’ll be able to avoid the long lines at regular check-in – and drop off your bags more easily.

In addition, business class passengers are more likely to be upgraded to first class if there’s a free seat available.

2. Additional baggage allowance

Many airlines these days make you pay extra to check a bag. But if you’re flying business class, you’ll usually be allowed to check one or two bags for free. This can come in especially handy if you’re carrying heavy items or if you’re just not in the mood to schlep your bags through the airport during a layover.

3. Faster airport security checks

Another perk of flying business class is that you’ll often get to go through a special, expedited security line. This means you won’t have to wait in the long, snaking lines at regular security – and you can get to your gate much faster.

4. Access to the Business Class lounge

airport business class lounge sign

One of the best things about flying business class is that you’ll usually have access to the airline’s business class lounge. This is a special, exclusive area of the airport where you can relax in a nice, cushy chair and read a book, get some work done, or enjoy a free meal or a drink before your flight. Some airport lounges also offer alcoholic drinks at no additional charge.

5. Priority boarding at the gate

Business and First Class passengers are usually given priority boarding, which means you won’t have to wait in line to get on the plane. And once you’re on board, you’ll get first access to the overhead bins and be able to settle into your seat quickly and easily.

6. More comfortable seats

reclining first-class seat illuminated after dark

One of the biggest complaints about flying is the uncomfortable seating. And let’s face it – economy seats are not known for being spacious or comfortable. They’re often cramped, with little to no room for your arms and legs.

The standard U.S. airline seat nowadays is 17 inches wide, with between 30-32 inches of legroom. In business class, however, you can expect more space and comfort so you can kick back and relax on your flight. Business class seats offer more legroom, recline further, and have adjustable headrests and footrests, all of which help you sleep better, avoid back pain, and reduce jet lag.

ⓘ TIP: If legroom is important to you, check this website to see how your preferred airline compares.

7. More in-flight amenities

When you’re flying business class, you can expect more than just a seat and a meal. Many airlines offer in-flight amenities such as noise-canceling headphones, blankets, and pillows, amenity kits with skincare products, a mask and socks, and even pajamas.

You’ll also generally get a bigger screen and more inflight entertainment in business class vs. economy.

8. Better meals

Another difference that you’ll notice is the food. In business class, you can expect a meal that’s more substantial and better quality than what you’d get in economy. Not to mention, the presentation is usually much nicer as well. And if you’re flying with a premium airline, you might even be able to order from a special menu designed by a celebrity chef.

9. Free drinks

When you’re flying business class, you’ll usually be given a complimentary drink before takeoff. And once the plane is in the air, you can order as many alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as you want – free of charge.

10. More attentive service

flight attendant serving a man a drink on a plane

One of the intangibles about flying business class is the higher level of service you’ll receive from the flight attendants. They’re there to take care of your every need and make sure you have a comfortable flight.

11. First to leave the aircraft

When you’re flying business class, you’ll be one of the first people to leave the aircraft at your destination. This is especially helpful if you have a tight connection and need to get to your next gate as quickly as possible.

12. First luggage on the carousel at arrivals

When you land, your bags will be given priority at baggage claim. This means your luggage will be one of the first bags to be unloaded and come out on the carousel, so you can get out of the airport and on your way as quickly as possible.

13. Faster mileage accrual

If you’re a member of an airline’s loyalty program, you’ll usually earn mileage points much faster when you fly business class. This can be beneficial if you’re trying to earn a free flight or achieve elite status.

Tips for flying business class

empty airplane cabin illuminated for nighttime

 To ensure that your experience in business class leaves only pleasant impressions, prepare for your flight in advance and remember a few tips:

  • Familiarize yourself in detail with the seating arrangements on your flight before you buy your ticket. Of course, any seat in business class is 100% comfortable for you, but often even within the same cabin seating can vary. For example, on many airlines, business class seats in the odd rows offer more space and privacy than in the paired rows. Likewise, window seats are better for those traveling on their own, and middle row seats are better for those traveling with a friend or loved one.
  • Arrive early at the airport so that you can relax in the VIP lounge before boarding. All business class passengers have access to the luxury lounges with free food and drinks, but many ticket agents fail to mention this wonderful perk. So next time you’re flying business class, be sure to take advantage of this great benefit!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a flight attendant for advice on how your seat functions. Many business class seats have secret features that are hard to see at a glance. Our favorite is a hidden button that makes it possible to lift the arm next to the window (extra room, anyone?). Some features may not be apparent, so ask for a tour and enjoy all the features your seat has to offer.
  • Don’t waste extra time waiting in lines. First-time travelers may be surprised to learn that there’s an express check-in desk for business and first-class passengers. This convenient option helps save you time that would be much better spent in the business class lounge. The same principle of business class passenger priority applies to boarding and disembarking, so don’t be afraid to ask airport staff what services are available to you.
  • Would you like orange juice or a glass of white wine? Ask the flight attendant. Not sure how to order dinner? Ask the flight attendant. Ready for bed but missing your p.j.’s and sleep mask? Ask the flight attendant. The cardinal rule of business class is to feel free to ask what you want to know. Crew members will appreciate your questions because they want to offer you the best service. So just ask and your flight will be that much more enjoyable.

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Final thoughts about flying business class vs. economy

We hope our article has helped you understand the differences between business class and economy. As you can see, business class is a significant step up from economy in terms of both comfort and service. If you have the opportunity to fly business class, we say go for it! The experience is worth every penny.

However, if business class tickets are outside of your budget, don’t worry – you can still enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable flight in economy. Perhaps next time you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the services and amenities that are available to you, flying business class!

Frequently Asked Questions about flying business class

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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