Another one in the personal top ten series – this time featuring long haul business class products. This one was a little tougher than the lounge series, as there wasn’t much to choose between the top 5. I’m well aware there is probably one airline’s position that will cause some discussion, however I hope I will explain my reasoning well enough in my thoughts.
10: British Airways
What Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
What Route: Toronto – London Heathrow
When: January 2015
My Thoughts: Despite the criticism, I still maintain that BA has a decent enough Club World product. Sure, the seat is a little long in the tooth now, however in recent years the airline has taken steps to improve the soft product. Back to the seat, and the ying/yang layout isn’t overly popular as a solo traveller although if you can bag a window seat, once the privacy divider is up, it’s probably one of the more private set-ups out there. Another plus point is that unlike a lot of other airlines seats, there isn’t a tiny cubby hole for your feet when in the flat bed mode. When the new Club World Suite launches on the Airbus A350 in late 2019, I expect the airline will move up in this list as it looks a very good product.
The Video: https://youtu.be/DcF4G5904j0
Further Info: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/travel-classes/business/club-world
9: Turkish Airlines
What Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
What Route: London Heathrow – Istanbul
When: February 2019
My Thoughts: Widely regarded as one of the better airlines out there, I struggled to place them higher on the list for a couple of reasons. First off, the lack of direct aisle access across their entire fleet. There’s no excuse for this in 2019, however much like BA the airline is set to introduce this with their upcoming deliveries of their next generation aircraft. Second of all, it would appear that they only have a set amount of meal options – the menu from my flight in 2019 was almost identical to when I flew them in 2017! From looking on their website, this appears to be the case. The plus side is (or was) the great lounge at Ataturk Airport, which has now closed to passenger traffic. I’m yet to visit the new airport at the time of writing, but I suspect the new lounges will be just as strong.
The Video: https://youtu.be/g9LtvCKfLSg
Further Info: https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-tr/flights/fly-different/business-class/index.html
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-200
What Route: Medellin – Madrid
When: April 2015
My Thoughts: Despite a somewhat stressful booking process (which I won’t discuss here), the flight itself wasn’t too bad. Yes, it was on one of the airlines A330’s which are set up in a 2-2-2 config, however the food and service I received onboard were of a good standard and I managed to get a good nights sleep on board the ten hour flight. As an added gesture, a pack of Colombian coffee was handed out as a gift before arrival. With the Boeing 787 taking over the lions share of long haul routes, and the remaining A330’s being refitted to a 1-2-1 layout, I’m sure the airline continues to hold its place.
The Video: https://youtu.be/PxQeSooAGxM
Further Info: https://www.avianca.com/uk/en/your-booking/improve-your-trip/upgrade-business-class/
7: American Airlines
What Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
What Route: London Heathrow – Dallas
When: December 2015
My Thoughts: Having sampled American Business Class in late 2013 on one of their unrefurbushed 777-200’s I was impressed with their latest product onboard their flagship 777-300ER. In came direct aisle access for all courtesy of the same Zodiac Cirrus seats that are found on board the likes of Cathay Pacific and Finnair. The onboard service was decent enough too with tasty food offerings. There was also a snack bar laid out in the galley for those who felt peckish between courses. Further enhancements have been made since I flew with them in December 2015 to ensure the airline remained competitive with United’s Polaris and Delta One.
The Video: https://youtu.be/kBESs1zsPy4
Further Info: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/experience/seats/flagship-business-international.jsp
6: Qatar Airways
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A350-900
What Route: Oslo – Doha
When: May 2019
My Thoughts: Only sixth for Qatar Airways?! Yes, I’m afraid so. Don’t get me wrong, they offer a very solid product however it’s just too inconsistent. You have one product on the unrefurbushed 777-300ER’s, then you have another on the refurbished A330’s. Add in the B/E Aerospace onboard the 787’s, A380’s and the earlier A350-900’s. And finally the QSuites onboard the A350-1000’s and the refurbished 777-300ER’s, all but two of the 777-200LR’s (at the time of writing) means you have to be somewhat careful when booking as to what you’ll eventually end up with. And that’s just the wide body fleet. Factor in the A320’s, which can operate sectors of up to five hours plus and that’ll be another product for the collection. This inconsistency isn’t reserved for the fleet either. As mentioned in this article, I’ve found the crew to be hit or miss too.
The Video: Coming Soon
Further Info: https://www.qatarairways.com/en-gb/onboard/business-class.html
5: Air Canada
What Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-8
What Route: London Heathrow – Toronto
When: December 2017
My Thoughts: I was left pleasantly surprised with Air Canada. I’d heard they were reasonably good, however I still had my reservations before setting foot onboard. On both the 787 and 777 that I flew on, there was the same B/E Aerospace seat that Qatar Airways features on some of their fleet, but with an added privacy partition fitted to the seat plus a couple of other gadgets featured. Food wise, all the meals I had were pretty tasty and the crew were very warm and welcoming. I should also mention the reasonably new Signature Lounge as Toronto exclusively for their Business Class customers, however I didn’t have time to visit – much to my annoyance! Since I flew with Air Canada in late 2017, the airline has made further enhancements to their product.
The Video: https://youtu.be/X79wodnbIxs
Further Info: https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/fly/onboard/cabin-features/signature-service.html
4: Cathay Pacific
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-300
What Route: Hong Kong – Singapore
When: September 2015
My Thoughts: Sure, the seat may be an off the shelf Zodiac product, but what makes up for that here is the staff and the soft product. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere, onboard Cathay Pacific Business Class you’re assured of two things – to be addressed by name and to be well fed. This has been consistent across the half dozen or so Business Class flights I’ve taken with the airline too. Add the ground product into the equation too, featuring very strong lounges not only in Hong Kong, but also various outstations and you’ll be sure of having a good flight with the airline.
The Video: https://youtu.be/w0mkRpkkGu0
Further Info: https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_GB/travel-information/flying-with-us/flight-classes/business.html
3: Virgin Atlantic
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A340-600
What Route: Sydney – Hong Kong
When: April 2014
My Thoughts:It’s been quite a while since I last sampled Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class product. However I’m fairly confident they still offer a very competitive product at the pointy end of their planes. The reverse herringbone layout of their seats may not be to everyone’s taste, however I personally found it fine, other than the fact you either had to have it in seat mode, or bed mode. Nothing in between. The service on board including the food was extremely tasty, and the onboard bar was definitely a good way to not be in your seat for the duration of your flight. If your’re flying out of the airlines main hub at London Heathrow, you’ll have access to the Upper Class wing which is the airlines private security lane. Once you’ve cleared this, you will then have access to the Clubhouse, which is arguably one of the best lounges at Heathrow, and features in third place on my top ten airline lounges list
The Video: https://youtu.be/4uug1vgZ_5U
Further Info: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/on-the-flight/cabin-and-seats/upper-class-cabin-and-seats.html
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A380
What Route: Dubai – London Heathrow
My Thoughts: Not so long ago, Emirates would have been in first place on this list. Its only when I started really thinking about it did I decide to put Singapore Airlines ahead of them. Its still a very close call though. All of the Emirates lounges I have been in have been great, the bar on the A380 is a welcome distraction on long flights and they’re still the only airline that have provided a chauffeur service to and from each airport I’ve used. The one minor point that lets them down is the consistency with the product. If you’re on an A380, youll be treated to a 1-2-1 cabin layout with a great seat. Where as if you’re on one of the airlines 777’s, I’m afraid it’ll be a 2-3-2 layout. I have flown on an Emirates 777 once, and it was most definitely a sub par experience compared to the flight’s I’ve taken on the airlines’ Airbus A380.
The Video: https://youtu.be/sR6YYct8KFk
Further Info: https://www.emirates.com/uk/english/experience/cabin-features/business-class/a380/
1: Singapore Airlines
What Aircraft Type: Airbus A350-900
What Route: Singapore – Moscow – Stockholm
When: June 2017
My Thoughts: An interesting winner. When I flew Singapore Airlines back in 2017, I was initially left thinking that their top rated business class was an awful lot of hype. Two years on, I couldn’t possibly leave them off my top 10 list, and as I went through the various other airlines, it was a case of “well, they’re better than this airline, so I’ll put SQ above them”. Until it got to the top two. I’ve always rated Emirates very highly, but Singapore beat them purely on the fact their seat is massive compared to what Emirates offer. Whilst their lounge in Singapore was a little dark, and extremely crowded when I visited – basically not what I’d expected at all – it did the job. The food I had on board was all top quality, the onboard staff, while lacking warmth in a few cases were polite and got the job done. Their KrisWorld entertainment system managed something that very few IFE’s manage to do, and that’s give me more than one film that interests me. The one downside from this particular flight though was that despite the 1am departure from Singapore, the crew took an absolute age to complete the service and turn the lights out. One thing of note is the consistency of the product across the fleet – fly longhaul and you’re more or less guaranteed aisle access as both the A380 and 777 fleet is in a 1-2-1 layout. Fly the airline regionally and its a different case, although even the airline’s newly delivered 787’s have all aisle access and a product that looks suitable for longer sectors.
The Video: https://youtu.be/sY3mlDJ8rgk
Further Info: https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/gb/flying-withus/cabins/business-class/
So there we have it. My personal top ten longhaul Business Classes. Whilst there might be a few omissions here and there, or some that wouldn’t make your list, I can obviously only comment on the airlines I’ve actually flown.