View Full Version : Business travelers fly in style

11-19-2006, 01:05 PM
http://www.finheaven.com/images/imported/2006/11/061116_bizclass_hmed_1phmedium-1.jpg (http://www.finheaven.com/boardvb2/)
Virgin Atlantic planes feature onboard bars, and passengers get their choice of onboard massage or (polish-less) manicure and hand massage from the red-suited flight attendants.

For modern business travelers, getting there is all the fun.

"Fifteen years ago, business class just meant a wider seat and a free cocktail," says Mike Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo. "Now, the seat density is half as much as what it was years ago — we've gone from 20 to ten seats in business. You get a personal entertainment system, gourmet dining and Internet connectivity. What used to be first class is now just being called business; when you're on a 180-degree flat bed, that is first class, no matter what you call it."

Indeed, many carriers are eliminating their first class products or investing in significant overhauls of their business products, turning business class into the first choice for harried business travelers everywhere.

Take British Airways. The venerable carrier is on the verge of announcing plans to invest £100 million ($190 million) in Club World, its business class offering. BA, which currently ranks second on our list of the Best Business Class Airlines, will redesign the Club World cabin, introduce a new, wider flat-bed and provide on-demand entertainment, consisting of 100 movie and TV channels and 70 audio programs for passengers.

And in August 2005, Air New Zealand, currently fourth on our list, went a step further. The airline discontinued its first class service altogether, introducing an upgraded business class service, Business Premium, and an upgraded economy option, Premium Economy, along with its standard economy class. A three-tiered cabin system? Sounds an awful lot like the old First, Business and Economy divisions to us, but with one crucial difference. While fares round-trip from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, on the old first class started at a princely $11,263, the same route costs just $6,268 on the new Business Premium (it costs $1,828 on Premium Economy, and $1,056 on regular economy).