Why do people travel business class? Or first class for that matter? I am finding out and I have a proposition for regular fliers…
At 32,000 feet above Calcutta, flight MH004 is currently cruising to London Heathrow Terminal 3. The 13-hour flight departed just after 12 noon from Kuala Lumpur.
But this is no ordinary flight for me. This is business class. I am sitting in a spacious seat 40 rows forward from the economy seat that I booked 2 months ago. Seeing as I can’t walk and I can’t bend my leg more than 30 degrees, my insurance company upgraded me to fly home in business class. (Thank you Norwich Union.)
This is my first opportunity to see why people regularly pay up to 8 times the price they need to fly from A to B. At £560 return including taxes, my economy fare seemed like good value. The business class price was £2,672 and the first class price £4,474.
Some of the folks upstairs in first class paid nearly £4,000 more than I. The chap reading the Wall Street Journal in the seat over to my right spent up to £2,112 more. Yet we embarked and will disembark at the same location at roughly the same time.
Are they mad? They have spent pocketfuls of money more than they needed to and have little to show for it afterwards!
No, they are not mad. They just place a high value on the perks of travelling in greater comfort and style. It’s understandable. The perks are all around and the experience is luxurious. Some of them that I have indulged in are:
- Fast-track through security and immigration.
- Spacious and calm business class lounge with complementary drinks, wireless internet and showers.
- Last minute arrival at the plane if you wish.
- Personal attention from cabin-crew members throughout the flight.
- Wide, fully adjustable seats that can turn into an almost flat bed.
- Details galore – electricity to power your laptop; large movie screens; flight bag including toiletries and socks; good food served on real plates; magazines; less noise (and no babies!).
This is a high-quality service. The high life. A charming stewardess brings me a fresh coffee as I type. Of course you would be happy to pay more for these perks. Especially if you are honeymooners; on an important business trip; handicapped (like me); weigh 20 stone; or you just want to experience the best service available. All these extra/extended services and pampering make you feel special.
But is it worth an extra £2,000 to £4,000? Is it good value? Not in my book.
For the last 30 years, I have flown economy class. I love it. I travel frequently and it has enabled me to explore the world easily and inexpensively. I have made good friends from people I have been sitting next to. And I have always arrived in the same place at approximately the same time as the passengers in business and first class.
Plus, what about this? … Compare air travel today to air travel 20 years ago. Today’s economy class is luxurious! If you had had the experience of a 2006 economy traveller but back in 1986, you would have thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Air travel has improved greatly in recent decades and today’s economy class is comfortable and civilised.
So if you are hooked on travelling business class or first class, here is my simple proposition …
Choose economy class for your next trip and then donate your ticket saving to a charity of your choice. If your saving was £1,000, this could:
In 12 hours, you’ve arrived at your destination and you’ve genuinely changed people’s lives. Now that is what I call good value!
If by any chance you should happen to do this, please email me and tell me your story.