What’s better for an airline in business class – rate or product?

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Many people collect miles in the modern world of aviation, and I’m happy to say that I’m one of those people. Having scored Cathay Pacific business class seats using (Asia Miles) mileage to London and from Paris to Hong Kong, I’m incredibly happy and excited, and it’s definitely not my only time working with Asia Miles.

a person walking in an airplane

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

Unfortunately, being a newbie to the points world in general, I don’t have an account with more than 4000 points in it. Damn.

When we’re headed to Vancouver next February, we narrowed down our options in business class. We had roundtrip fares Cathay Pacific’s brand new business class for HK$50,800 (there were $31,100 fares that didn’t suit our dates), Air Canada’s business class for $30,800 (though their confirmation scheme was ridiculous), and Korean Air’s business class for $28,000 (they were both great).

a row of seats in an airplane

Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class

As shown above, a logical reason would be to go for Korean Air, which we went with. However, I soon realized that we’d be spending 30+ hours in Korean Air’s older angled flat product. Now, I certainly think that with the rates that wasn’t hindering my choices, but it made me question: are seats or rates important for airlines?

For families after a budget, albeit higher, like us, I think that rates beat seats when it comes to final decisions when it comes to a longhaul business class flight.

Here are my thoughts:

You’re not gonna pay that much for a flight if you don’t have a different currency to pay for it

I believe that in travel, the beauty of it is the destination, and while I value the journey more than most people would, I don’t think it’s worth cashing that much of your money for. For example, we took Cathay Pacific to Auckland last February, and economy definitely wasn’t something that sounded good for eleven hours. But without other non-astronomical choices, it was the best balance between comfort and budget we could get.

a seat on an airplane

Cathay Pacific Airbus A340-300 Economy Class

With my parents more open minded towards connections, I hope that’s not gonna happen again for a while. 😉

Business class is definitely the better call…but a flat surface is really all you need

I agree with many travel writers that when it comes down to experience, first class makes sense. With only cash, there’s no way for us to pay for four seats in first class.

a seat on an airplane

China Eastern Boeing 737-700 First Class (priced accordingly)

However, in my opinion, if you can pay for storage and a flat surface and have good money left, pay for it. More personal space is hard to get on an airplane, but I think it’s worth it.

a light on the side of a seat

Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Office

I don’t think I’ve got around how convenient the business class experience can be than on my outbound Korean Air flight at the last row of business class on an A330 from Hong Kong to Seoul (in fairness, their economy is spacious too, but with about 80 inches of space, I got to notice how much more space I had for my travel necessaries).

a screen on a seat

Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Legroom

a group of people sitting in an airplane

Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

For a short flight I’m not sure, but 11-12 hours into the flight, every square centimeter of space you have starts to count. (Six times less time without a TV.)

a person's legs in a chair

China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Legroom

Learn your ratios

Your call on how much money you’re willing to spend on space. Look at different options. Just remember that “unlimited” is not your answer.

For example, ~$4900 for 6~ hours in an angled lie flat (our Hong Kong to Phuket roundtrip in February) was a good deal.

a seat with purple fabric and a purple pillow

THAI Airbus A330-300 Business Class

Bottom line

When you get business class, never, ever take it for granted. Be thankful you got yourself this far on a plane when half the world doesn’t even get to go further back.

Just don’t not consider it if you’re on a longhaul and willing to get more space.

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