A travel blog focusing on travelling, not on the traveller.
While short plane rides can be endured in almost any conditions, long-haul flights can become a real nightmare especially during night time and when crossing many time zones… If you want to arrive refreshed and ready for efficient sightseeing, chose your carrier and travel class carefully.
Having had an outdated business class product for long, KLM finally caught up other main airlines with lie-flat seats and fresh-looking business cabin (on selected aircrafts).
Their Dreamliner’s reverse herringbone configuration is great for privacy (+ direct aisle access from every seat!), but not that nice when travelling with a companion (where BA’s “yin yang” configuration is perfect). KLM’s use of beautiful dutch Delft Blue pottery for tableware is a nice touch. You also get a miniature porcelain house at the end of the flight as a souvenir (which is in fact a small bottle of liquor, and quite tricky to open…). I found the crew very friendly (especially in comparison with TK). Food wasn’t the best I’ve had on long-haul business class, but totally decent. During service try their signature Flying Dutchman drink (great as an aperitif!). Access to self-service drinks during flight could be improved (it was easier to use economy class’ self-service bar than finding an attendant to ask for a glass of water… ). One big minus was the non-functioning wi-fi (both ways). I’m totally ok with the fact there isn’t wi-fi on a plane, but if you decide to offer this feature you have to make it work properly.
Whereas I wouldn’t pay for KLM’s old business class, the new one is worth the extra money on long flights. It’s funny though how fast long-haul business class products are evolving. Lie-flat seats haven’t been around for that many years and some airlines (I mean Delta and Qatar Airways) have already announced the upgrade of their business class cabin with suites (previously found only in Middle Eastern carrier’s first class)…! Let’s see how far this evolution will go.
British Airways international business class (also known as Club World) may be the world’s best business class product ifyou are travelling with a partner. The forward facing/rear facing seat combos are very convenient to chat with the person seating next to you, like on a comfy tête-à-tête serpentine sofa. When travelling alone and looking for privacy, those plastic privacy dividers between seats won’t be that efficient though. Staring directly at a stranger’s face when the divider is open (as during service, take-off, taxi and landing) can be quite awkward…! All seats are lie-flat and have direct aisle access, so BA’s business cabin is better than the old -fashioned 2-2-2 configuration some major airlines unfortunately still have on their planes. But a lot less private than those with the reverse herringbone configuration, which remains the best of the best in terms of privacy.
Air France’s business class cabin isn’t very private, nor particularly comfortable for night flights (featuring an old-fashioned 2-2-2 seat configuration and angled flat seats)… Luckily the French carrier is currently refurbishing its J cabin, tough it’s not clear how far they are right now in this process and only indicate on their website new business class cabin as “available on some of our intercontinental flights“. Nevertheless, what makes flying AF business class enjoyable is the quality of the catering and service à la française (they just need to get rid of those ugly trays).
The first impression when seating down on Lufthansa’s A380 business class seat is quite good. Ok, it’s not the best long-haul business class on the market (2-2-2 configuration, so no direct aisle access for the window seats…) but it still is a good one. Especially when travelling with a partner, window-side seats are very nice! The reverse herringbone seat configuration found on most up-to-date international J class cabins surely offers best privacy, but chitchatting with your travel mate can be tricky… Lufthansa’s seats are roomy (Finnair’s A330 business class seats feel way more cramped, for example), comfortable and feature good commands. Storage bins on the side are very handy.
Last year thepickytraveller flew Turkish Airlines between Istanbul and Tokyo to experience the famoussakura. While TK’s business class surely is a strong product in terms of food and CIP lounge, unfortunately the quality of service is erratic.