Worst Premium Longhaul Products: Don’t Let These Airlines Screw You Over

Over the past decade we’ve seen the standard for longhaul flying transition from angled-flat and herringbone seats to reverse herringbone flat beds. A month ago I listed a ranking of my favourite business class hard products flying today. Asia is a joy to fly in and out of when in first or business class, since there’s so much competition between a range of different airlines.

However, as the entire industry moves and develops itself, there are some routes that are just stuck behind the times. Most of the time, this is due to structural development, when they need to keep their old planes on certain routes due to their new planes not being rolled out at a quick enough pace. At other times, this is simply due to the logistics of the flight working out when an airline operates a route with an inferior product, where the airline doesn’t feel a need to improve its product on the route due to low yields or excess demand.

img_5322Business class in this cabin for 11 hours? No thank you

I thought it’d be fun to point out some of these routes so you guys know which ones to avoid. First of all, this isn’t a list of the worst business class products out there (I’ve heard unanimously bad things about British Airways’ hard product, so you’ll expect a consistently bad experience no matter what – they’re not on the list). I’m focusing on airlines that have done a lot to invest in and advertise a good premium product, but still operate certain flights with an older or inferior product that isn’t half as comfortable. In other words, I’m focusing on airlines with inconsistent premium products, and specifically, I’m exposing the anomalies.

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RANKED: The Best Business Class Seats In 2018

Over the course of the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to sample every single “generic” business class configurations there is out there. By “generic”, I’m talking about business class configurations that a number of airlines operate. I’m effectively ruling out specific custom-made configurations, such as Qatar Airways’ QSuites, Delta’s Delta One Suites, British Airways’ weird forwards-backwards configuration, etc.. I plan to try those out soon, though for now I thought it would be fun to visit a quick ranking of all the business class seats we’ve flown here at YTHK so far.

(For the record, based on reviews alone I’d predict that QSuites and Delta One Suites are both ahead of the competition compared to all of the products listed below. Here’s to hoping I can prove that sometime soon.)

While economy class is all about the price these days, there is lots of competition for the best business class seat out there

I figured I’d start from the worst and move on up. So here we go:

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How To Know Which First/Business Class Product You’re Getting On Korean Air

This should be particularly useful for those of us in Hong Kong flying to Seoul in a Korean Air premium cabin, as I’m sure Korean Air has a “never fly the same aircraft type with the same flight number twice” policy on each of their four daily flights between these two cities. 😉

Korean Air has one of the most poorly designed airline websites I’ve had the pleasure of using. It’s easy to actually (dummy) book and access flights, though there’s a buffer time upon selecting each seat upon seat selection (you have to wait 8-10 seconds after you select each seat, so you better not misclick), you can’t “cross-reference” cabins (pull up economy and business class fares at the same time), a lot of the time you can’t check-in online because of issues with Korean Air’s website with verifying non-Korean credit cards, and mobile boarding passes rarely work during check-in.

It’s a shame, because the onboard experience is exceedingly pleasant, and in quite a few cases, competitive – especially in economy.

However, there’s one benefit to Korean Air’s website – it’s very easy to identify which product you’ll be getting (provided there isn’t an equipment swap). The issue is that no one seems to know – I’ve seen so many complaints, even from so-called “travel experts”, when flying Korean Air that they had no idea which product they were getting. I decided I’d write about that in a separate post.

So, here’s how you know which premium product you’re going to be flying on a Korean Air flight:

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A Guide To Virgin Atlantic’s 787 Premium Class

Virgin Atlantic has an exclusively longhaul network, and they have more 787s than any other aircraft in their fleet. The airline is known for their excellent branding game – people want to fly them because they’re a “cool”, “hip” brand, despite not having the best onboard product (though their business class lounge at Heathrow is hands down my favourite in the world). I’ve had the chance to fly them quite a few times in premium economy on the 787, which they’ve recently begun marketing as “Premium” class, since they wanted the product to be considered a separate league from economy.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic’s 787 premium economy hard product isn’t industry leading, there are many special touches to the product that allows the experience to differ from other premium economy experiences. This guide to Virgin Atlantic’s 787 premium economy will explain some of these touches, as well as what you should expect from Virgin Atlantic premium economy in general.

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A Guide To Qatar Airways’ Business Class (787, A380, A350)

When we review flights at Young Travelers of Hong Kong, we attempt to center each review around each specific flight. For that reason, last year we introduced guides, where we’d introduce the product as a whole based on our cumulative experience, as well as other experiences that we’ve read from trusted sources. In this post, I’ll be giving my version of a comprehensive guide to Qatar Airways’ reverse herringbone (A350, A380, 787) and leased A350 business class product.

Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Doha Airport

I haven’t flown Qatar’s A330 or A340 (which has a similar configuration to Lufthansa’s A380 business class, though with different finishings and slight structural differences), their old 777 business class (different finishings but otherwise similar to their leased A350) or their brand new 777 QSuites, so I’ll leave them out of this guide. If I do fly them in the future (which is likely, since Qatar will switch to flying their older 777s from Hong Kong for both frequencies later this year), I’ll write a separate guide about these products.

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A Quick Guide To Planespotting At Hong Kong Airport

While I’m more of an airline product guru, I take passion in aircraft and aerodynamics as well. I won’t be able to tell you nearly as much as Jason will, though it fascinates me, and the prospect of flying in a tube 38,000 feet above the ground is one of the reasons I love flying. Planespotting is also fascinating for that reason, and I’ve been a few times – however, I think that my experience yesterday has brought back some tips that some planespotters in Hong Kong might need.

Where I planespot at Hong Kong Airport

I figured I’d give a few tips, as I know that some of you reading might be interested in planespotting as well.

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A Guide to Swiss’ 777 Business Class

Swiss has long offered one of Europe’s business class products, but as people become more open to connections, Swiss is gaining prominence on the map. I’ve heard that their first class product is divine, but it’s been nearly impossible to attain on miles, so you’re pretty much limited to business class if you want to travel on Swiss in a premium cabin (which is pretty attainable on miles, though my parents paid cash for all flights I’ve had on them). Swiss is also in the process of replacing their aged A340 product with their newer 777 product, so their newer product will soon serve as the backbone of their longhaul business class fleet.

IMG_0053Swiss Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

I’ve had the pleasure of flying Swiss between Hong Kong and Zurich multiple times, and it’s one of the better business class products that I’ve seen thus far. I believe I’m familiar enough with their business class product to put together a comprehensive guide on what you should expect when you book Swiss’ 777 (and soon, their A340) in business class.

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A Guide to Korean Air’s (Older) International Business Class

Over the years, Korean Air’s reputation has risen quite a bit. I’ve had the pleasure of flying Korean Air on shorthaul and longhaul flights, though haven’t had a chance to sample their newest cabin product. Nevertheless, I feel like it’s safe to say that Korean Air is a fine choice – unless you can score their newest 777-300ER or 747-8 business class product, which seems top notch, I don’t think they have one of the world’s best hard products, and some of their amenities could be lacking, though I do enjoy all of my flights on them.

Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

I decided I’d quickly throw together a guide on Korean Air’s business class, as there’s no denying that the popularity of the product is increasing.

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A Guide to Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class

If there’s anything that this blog has been all about, it’s been the argument that Jason and I have been having regards Cathay Pacific regional business class. I’ve tried a few different business class products that I certainly find to be even worse, and I’ll try to keep a neutral stance, but there’s no denying that it’s a crap product. 😉

img_2538Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class

In all honesty, I’ve been giving the product a pretty hard time, and most business travelers don’t have much flexibility on which flight they can take, especially when there’s only one flight a day and it’s operated by a regional cabin. So I’ve decided it would be good to compile a quick guide on how the product is, and the perks you’ll get compared to if you’re seated in economy (apart from not getting cramped into a 3-4-3 configuration).

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Everything You Need To Know About Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

I recently had the opportunity to fly from Hong Kong to New York in Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of everything you need to know about Cathay’s Premium Economy product.

IMG_0112Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

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