Business Class is sometimes better than First Class, and sometimes it isn’t, because nothing makes any fucking sense

How the hell are you supposed to know whether an airline class is good or not, when they can’t even name the dumb things correctly?

There used to be economy and first, and for both of those, international was better than domestic. Simple enough. Then business class happened, as a midpoint between the two, and you had three-cabin planes. But then airlines started merging the business and first class cabins, with first class seats more densely packed together, yielding two-cabin planes again.

So now the premium cabin is called BusinessFirst, or Polaris, or DeltaOne, or whatever, but if you’re searching for a ticket, it’s still Business, and there ain’t no First on that plane.

And it gets more complicated: it turns out that people in LA and San Francisco want to go to NYC and Boston more than places in between. (I know, sit down, catch your breath Thus, all the major carriers, and even JetBlue, have better planes and service and classes for some cross-coastal flights than you’d otherwise find when you fly to Duluth or wherever it is that your in-laws hail from. So there are really three flavors of each class: regular domestic, transcontinental, and international.

So you know what we have now? Confusion. You fly United from LA to DC with shitty non-flat recliner seats? That’s First Class. But if you fly from LA to NY with lie-flat seats and nice amenities? Business class. You fly from LA to NY on American, which has a three cabins? Depending on which you bought, Business Class, or First Class, where First is actually better than Business, like it’s supposed to be.

And don’t get me started on econ, which I try to stay out of anyway, because people. There are like at least four kinds of economy. At any given airline, there might be Basic Economy, where you get an economy seat but the gate crew and flight attendants are free to spit on you; regular Economy, with the usual tray table slamming into your belly; Economy Plus, which is the same shitty seat with a little more space in front of you; Premium Economy, which are usually only on international carriers, and have better, larger seats, but not as big as Business Class.

The only way to deal with any of this bullshit is to know what you’re getting before you buy it. You might want to search for both business AND first class tickets to find all options. And when you look at a flight with, say, Google Flights, in any given cabin, it’ll tell you what kind of seat you’re getting.

In Business or First Class, “Standard Recliner” means what it sounds like — bigger, but not flat, and generally indicative of fewer treats (nice blankets or amenity kits or whatever). “Lie-Flat Seats” means what it sounds like, and often comes with extra goodness on coastal routes (e.g. you get the international Polaris Saks-branded blankets and pillows on United, and DeltaOne offers similar). “Angled Lie-Flat” means flat, but not totally horizontal. SeatGuru is also your friend, and you might want to scan the comments, not just the seat map.

And you just need to avoid certain cabins on certain airlines on certain aircraft. United’s business class on their 777-200’s has lie-flats, but it’s 8 seats across with everyone facing each other, so eww. Air France’s A380 business class has lie-flats, but they’re not horizontal. Again, SeatGuru gives you the clues here. If I have any doubts, I’ll Google for a review of a cabin (e.g. “american A321T first class review”) to see whether I should go for it or not.

I’m trying to come up with some pithy conclusion to this post, but it’s not happening, so this is all you get.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *