What Is The World’s Best Business Class Product?

I’ve been reviewing a lot of business class products lately, including Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Avianca, Iberia, LAN, Oman Air, and South African, with a lot more coming over the next several weeks.

Quality has varied significantly by airline, though the overall impression I’ve gotten is “wow, this airline could be so much more if they tried a little bit harder.”

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the 11 features that make a business class product great. While there are some obvious important features, like a comfortable seat and good food, the points which set the good airlines apart from the great airlines are a bit more subtle.

After writing the previous post I started thinking to myself “well, if those are the points which matter most to me, which airline is best?”

When it comes to great seats, there are dozens of airlines which do very well — really any airline which has one of my three favorite business class hard products is pretty awesome.

But then I started narrowing it down to the airlines which truly differentiate themselves. Which airlines offer wifi? Which airlines have great bedding? Which airlines have great food, and ideally a dine on demand menu? Which airlines make a killer cappuccino?

Well, after much consideration, I think I’ve decided that Qatar Airways has the world’s best business class product, at least on the A350, A380, and 787. It sort of kills me to admit that as well, since the airline’s CEO is cocky as could be.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-96

But Qatar Airways really is fantastic.

The above planes have reverse herringbone seats, which are among my favorite hard product.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-03

Qatar has an extensive dine on demand menu, where you can truly have what you want when you want.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-62

They whip up a mean cappuccino.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-67

They have great bedding, including a mattress pad and duvet.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-68

They offer amenity kits and pajamas in business class on many flights.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-16

They do well with the small details — you can choose whether you want a hot or cold towel (and they’ll remember your preference), you get arabic coffee and dates before takeoff, they have both normal champagne and rose champagne, and their desserts are exquisite.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-14

Qatar-Airways-Business-Class - 39

Qatar Airways also has a fantastic business class lounge in Doha, and if you’re connecting within the Gulf in first class you even get access to their incredible first class lounge.

Al-Mourjan-Lounge-Doha-18

I will say, however:

  • The airline is undergoing cost cutting, so they seem to be cutting out many of the frills
  • I don’t generally love service on Qatar Airways — I find the crews to be rather distant, which is probably due to the corporate culture at the airline
  • All of the above doesn’t apply on Qatar’s 777s, which remain the backbone of their fleet — supposedly these planes will eventually get a “super business class,” though we’re still waiting
  • On the 787, Qatar Airways charges for wifi based on data usage rather than the length of the flight, which drives me crazy (at least that was the case the last time I flew their 787)

I will say that on a good day I think Singapore Airlines business class could also be the world’s best, though it depends on the type of meal they’re serving, and also the crew you get. My two complaints about Singapore business class are the outrageous cost for wifi on their A380s, and also their lack of a dine on demand menu.

Singapore-Airlines-A380-Business-Class-6

I also suspect Etihad’s 787 and A380 business class is excellent, though I haven’t had the chance to fly it yet. But it could very well be up there.

Why am I excluding certain other airlines?

American business class? They have a fantastic hard product and the best international wifi in the sky, but the product is otherwise bland.

Austrian business class? They have fantastic catering, but I’m not a fan of the seating configuration.

Cathay Pacific business class? They don’t have wifi, and in practice I don’t find the food in business class to be especially good.

Oman Air business class? Overall I love this product, though service can be hit or miss.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, the best business class product really does vary depending on the exact details of the flight. For example, while I think Qatar Airways’ business class is possibly the most well rounded out there, that doesn’t apply to their 777s, which remain the backbone of their longhaul fleet.

Similarly, on a good day Singapore Airlines absolutely could have the world’s best business class product, especially if you score a bulkhead seat.

The moral of the story is, it’s the little things which differentiate a good business class product from a great one. There are dozens of airlines which have equally great business class hard products, but it’s the little touches which set them apart.

What do you consider to be the world’s best business class product?

Comments

  1. I’ve never flown Qatar, so I can’t compare to that directly.

    My favorite business class is Turkish. The seat itself is typical for business class (which is fine but not exceptional), but otherwise I found the experience(free wifi in business class, great food, great service, fantastic business class lounge in IST) comparable to first class on most other airlines.

  2. Tmobile Wi-Fi, best business class seat by your own definition, great catering… IMO superior to Qatar.

  3. I believe the first class best product is offered by Emirates on their A380 suites with a sharing spacious bathroom with shower. Of course The Residence on Etihad’s A380 beats all but it’s not a first class, it’s a different product available for now in their only A380 in the fleet.

    In regards to Business I have to agree, it depends on the aircraft rather than on the airline. New planes normally offer better products and this applies for most carriers. Qatar is definitely racing at the front.

  4. Was surprised about the fab Lufthansa service and food (a perfect done filet on both flights) – if they only would have a better seat for alone travellers

  5. Having flown on current Business Class products on: AA, AC, BA, CX, QR, SIA, Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand. My vote goes to QR.

  6. When travelling with my wife, I would definitely vote for Turkish and, even alone, their seat offers reasonable privacy but no direct aisle access. The rest of the experience is superb. I couldn’t care less about wifi.

  7. @Lucky Am surprised you haven’t covered Etihad’s A3830 business product. Any plans to do so soon?

  8. Just recently flew Turkish from Central Europe to Mauritius in Business. On their A330 there is no wifi – the seats offer hardly any privacy and the transfer in Istanbul is a catastrophy. The ground product and ground service is just horrible – if I have a chance I will avoid Turkish at all costs.

    From ZRH to IST we got a remote stand. No priority deplaning for Biz. On the return they could not give us boarding passes for both flights and finally gave us Eco boarding passes. Took them 15 Minutes on board to sort it out and reaseat us.

    If you have some miles to burn why not …. But a never ever on a revenue ticket!

  9. I agree that QR has marketing leading business class products on their A380/A350, and A330 with the upgraded seats. Their costs are also very competitive too (between UK/Europe and SE Asia). From my recent experience, long haul business class on Swiss, Eva, Air Canada and Lufthansa (upgraded A330) are all pretty top-notch as well. BA biz class are generally acceptable. I would avoid Lufthansa 747-400 (maybe just once if you can snag seat 1A on a day time flight).

  10. ?? I don’t understand how this post makes sense without any mention of JALs SkySuite J on 77W or B787?

    You haven’t flown it, right? It is better than QR, particularly if you get a window. And if that opinion is debatable, JL is at least quite close to the top.

  11. Wait where can we have a trip report of QR A380 Business class? I think the one that is on the link is for QR’s A380 First class…

  12. @lucky
    Cathay has wifi now.
    Would love to see you review their updated business seats designed by Porsche in their new A359!

  13. Good luck using your points to upgrade on Qatar Airways. The next 12 months show upgrading to business will cost X2 miles! 😛

  14. hey BEN
    u haven’t tried the emirates business class on A380 ,i might be wrong but i am reading your trip report and blogs since June 2015 and i haven’t seen u focusing or targeting the Emirates business class on the A380

    I hope u have a great trip
    thanks

  15. ANA could be at the top, but they have also made cuts. The food in their lounges in Japan was great, but this year has seen a drop in quality. No socks offered and their slippers are too small.

    When flying ANA First Square or Star Alliance first class round trips (with connecting business class flights within Asia) they don’t allow access to their First Suite lounges unless your next flight is on first class.

  16. I would say Air France new business class ( Best and beyond ) product can be considered as the best business class product. In term of hard product, AF business featured reverse herringbone seat which are your favorite. Paris Lounge is great, even more if you pay for La Premiere lounge. Inflight catering is also super nice featuring great champagne. Just a problem AF don’t offer WIFI on their flights for the moment… Otherwise by flying air France you can redeem miles for the new Air France LaPremiere which is for me the best non-A380 product in the world.

  17. I agree with a few others here. Turkish business class is bleak. Was really looking forward to the 11 hour trip. Very uneventful in all departments. However the Turkish lounge was cool. Off my list, never to redeem points for.

  18. i think the best biz class is etihad on a380 and 787. don’t forget that etihad offers lie flat direct aisle access seats in theirs a340 and 777.

  19. I think Virgin Atlantic deserves to be in contention. The seats are not the best, but the lounges and some other aspects of the experience are well ahead of other airlines.

  20. Really interested in everyone’s thoughts on this: in terms of consistent good service for business class clients, what airline do you guys think is the best? I definitely enjoy nice amenities here and there, and a good seat, but the service can some times make the difference between a good experience and a stellar experience.

  21. Etihad’s A380 Business Suite is to Qatar’s Business Class what the Etihad Apartment is to Qatar’s First. Sorry Lucky, but you can’t really write this post till you’ve flown in the cabin that has changed the game. 😉

  22. To me, Etihads 777 (not Jet Airways config) is better than their 787. Its a similar setup but a bigger space. the 787 may have some new features like touchscreen lights and dual use controller. But the layout of the 777 is perfect.
    Also, ground transportaation is a great feature for using miles. Pickup to and from an airport can easily save you a $100 each way, so $400 total!
    The biggest things of any flights is how is the crew going to be and how are the people next to you going to be. You cant predict those things though. I have had better crew on Delta than on some Etihad flights. Also once on AUH-IAD, the person across the aisl must have ordered everything on the menu during the first 5 hours of the flight. Which just meant a lot of foot traffic and a lot of banging of dishes during that time. I decided to just mirror him and eat when he eat and sleep when he slept….

  23. Title needs changing:

    “What Is The World’s Best Business Class Product…from my perspective.”

    It is all relative…

  24. I’ve got a Qatar airways biz class flight on my Oneworld RTW from Frankfurt to Doha. Looking forward to a350 and trying out the biz class. Hope I get pajamas for my collection.

  25. Just did EY business class on the A380 and B789. The ground service at check-in (JFK/AUH/SIN) was great. Very attentive and fast. Similar experience in the lounges at JFK and AUH. As for the aircraft, my seat on the A380 had a few problems – the tray table wouldn’t come out of its slot, one of the storage compartments on the window side wouldn’t open either (although having 3 such storage units for each passenger on the window side is a great help). The seat – it is not particularly comfortable; its hard. There are settings to change the firmness but when you “soften” it, it just becomes lumpy. The service was OK on the 380 sector. It was definitely better on the AUH-SIN-AUH sectors. The food was FANTASTIC – on all sectors. I would pick QR over EY any day for Business. Will hold my thoughts on EY First till I try it out.

  26. Singapore Airlines 777-300ER business class is the world’s best in my view. I don’t care about Wi-Fi though…in fact I prefer not having it.

  27. Flying QR business JFK-DOH-JNB-DOH-DFW, but I agree with many others at this point that the etihad business on A380 hands down the best I’ve flown.

  28. No business class can beat Etihad A380 and 787, its a complete product, a private seat and comfy with great service and fantastic dinning.

  29. “American business class? They have a fantastic hard product”

    Huh? There are a small handful of 77Ws with a nice product. The majority of AA J seats are still not lie flat at all and the ones that are are mostly in the jiggle-and-shake rear facing configuration.

  30. Looking forward to your review of Virgin Australia’s new business class product. I have flow the hard product east to west coast on A330 and had Virgins fantastic soft product on Syd-Lax will be something when the two combine. BTW after flying SQs Buisness class it makes little sense to fly First a J bulkhead seat is just amazing and the service is fantastic (talking 777 of course not A380 nothing beats suites)

  31. Why do you only review First & Business Classes? First Class is going the way of the dinosaurs and most people can’t afford that anyway. Review the economy products please.

  32. Lucky – I would also like to see you reporting on Emirates Business class. Have you experieced that yet? I could not find any reports…

  33. Ben, I think your post is pre-mature, You haven’t flown JL SkySuites; you haven’t flown EY Business Studio. Have you flown SQ’s new J? *sigh*

  34. I can’t say I’ve flown the perfect business class seat just yet (there’s so many airlines and aircraft I haven’t tried), but the ideal business class product based on my experience would have: – The privacy of the new VA suites on their B777, – the consistency in both service and product of Cathay Pacific, – the in-flight bedding from Westin of Delta’s Delta One, – the attentive service of Garuda (or Singapore Airlines), – the attention to security and safety of British Airways, -the in-flight monitor and technology of the new VA Business suites, and the opulent finishing touches of Etihad.

  35. Surprised nobody (but one) mentioned Swiss. Especially their 777, classiest hard product by far.

  36. EK A380 Biz class..you get the onboard bar for some real “networking”. You’ll be surprised hoe much of it happens on the DXB-London flights…business class awards are impossible to get on that sector because of the amount of premium business travel…and why do they prefer it? The bar!

  37. To me, no airline beats Air France in terms of business class seat (new fleet), refined catering AND exceptionally smart and attentive service. And I really feel welcome onboard on an AF flight.

  38. just flew ANA’s 787-9 for the first time; interiors are not a lot different than on the ‘-8s, just some mild touches to soften the hard product. I felt very comfortable and well taken care of. Some may knock them a coupla points for wine & food variety/selection, but not for the quality of what they do have on board (sake & sochu selection offset wine selection though, IMO). Overall I’d put the carrier up there with SQ for long-haul biz class. The FAs are very sweet and attentive, I can’t find a single reason to fault their service on my last trip. (although coming from a red-blooded male, visually their uniforms make them look dowdy and not in the same ballpark as SQ’s ‘look’ )

  39. Overall business class product? I’d have to add transit experiences as well and SIN Changi airport hands down beats Doha, in my opinion. All of my transfers at SIN have been seamless. I’ve always gotten a real gate and I prefer going through security right at the gate versus right after arrival. As for DOH, half the time I transit there I always have to go through a staircase/bus. Sure the new lounge is great but I guess culturally I always feel I don’t ‘fit in’ in Doha. I don’t know.
    +1 on the SQ business class overall product (hard/soft/transit).

  40. Lucky – not sure if you’ve ever stayed in a Trump hotel, but I feel similarly about the Trump hotels in relation to the owner of that company as you do to Qatar (which I agree has a fantastic business class product).

    We stayed in a 2 bedroom penthouse suite in the Trump hotel in Las Vegas, and it was absurdly nice for the price we paid (somewhere around $400 for 3 nights…long story). The hard product is as gaudy as Emirates, but classier.

    I would never want to meet Mr. Trump, but I will probably continue to be a patron at his hotels when they’re an option …

  41. There will always be disagreement on the world’s best anything..nothing is consistent. However, the comments clearly point to the following airlines deserving of excellent biz class products, which frankly is more relevant to those who travel to/fro all the time and don’t necessarily have the option of booking a single product every time.

    The excellent products in no particular order: Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore, Air Canada, ANA, Air New Zealand, Swiss, Austrian, Air France, JAL, and perhaps American and Turkish. Completely based on my experiences.

  42. QR J on the 787 is fantastic product although I found the lack of privacy on the A380 bothers me (the fact that there is no shielding around the head area of the seat is bizzare and very reminiscent of the first generation US Airways product).

    My ranking:

    1. SQ J (77WN)
    2. EY J (388)
    3. QR J (788)
    4. AC J (789)

    SQ J in 11A of the newly refurbished 777s was an amazing experience. Better than a lot of F flights on other carriers, whereas the A380 J is decent but suffers from the feeling of being part of a production line.

    Only EY has successfully built a J product which can break down the A380 into something resembling a tranquil and private experience.

  43. I totally agry with you but I also think that one of the criteria should be the consistency of the product across the fleet.
    As far as Qatar Airways go, their 777 seat is not that awful but for example on American Airlines, you could be on a new 777 or on an old 757/767 which would totally devaluate the experience.
    That is really important since aircraft swap could and will happen.

  44. Lucky, on which flight did you get a mattress pad in QR J? When I flew this product first time in November 2015 (A350 and A380) it was not in place and when asking Iabout it I got the answer “it is no longer available”. And I didn’t see on all my QR flights in 2016 (FRA-DOH-BKK-DOH-FRA).

  45. A lot of comments commending the Emirates a380 j product, I actually found it so small! I have to squeeze in the window seats! The crew are great but I was disgusted when I was given a mattress pad and there was a large blood stain on the pad- think a lady must have thought it was a sanitary product- admittedly the crew were disgusted too and admitted to me they are hardly ever washed just repackaged

  46. I have flown Business and First on Etihad a380 and Business and First with Qatar. As a frequent traveller I find their products (including lounges in London and respective countries) the best in the world. Also you seem to get better deals and more availability on Qatar as a one world partner.

    Flying first class on the new 787-9 service from London to New York in October, looking forward to seeing if this product is any different from their usual service on this route!

  47. Everyone seems to go a bit over the top about their requirements for Business Class travel. I just want a comfortable seat for a good sleep and great food all at a respectable price. On that basis Alitalia wins for me and the new lounge in Rome is fab albeit generally mobbed. KLM (especially 747) comes a very close second.

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