Flying business class is a dream for many of us – especially when funds don’t usually allow us to enjoy the luxury. However, while most of us know that the more expensive seats come with better food and lie-flat beds we don’t know the ins and outs of what’s on offer.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to catch a business class flight from London Heathrow to Bangkok, Thailand. Throughout the 11 and a half hour journey I finally got an inside look at all the extra perks and benefits that business class seats come with on a long haul flight.
As someone who usually flies economy with budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet it was a revelation. My return flight to South East Asia was with airline EVA Air – A Taiwanese carrier that connects London with hotspots around Thailand, India, Korea, Japan and more with the flight costing a whopping £5,200.
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I got to experience turning left when entering the airplane to enter the Royal Laurel class cabin and boy, was my journey completely different to my usual long-haul experience of cramped seats, disappointing food and sore hips. Firstly, your private seat is enormous with room to stretch my legs all the way out, a table that swings out from the side, a cocktail table to keep my things on, shelving areas to shove my book and headphones and a plush leather seat (super squishy).
The seats are wider than economy seats with EVA Air (25.2inches versus 18.3inches), recline 180 degrees to fully lie flat at two metres long. You sit next to one other person but the divider is so wide you can barely see them so you get lots of privacy. There are also charging plugs and the seats have lumbar support so your back doesn’t hurt.
There’s also a 15.4inch touch screen TV filled with films, TV shows and games in English, Japanese and Mandarin (I watched Jennifer Lawrence’s new film No Hard Feelings). Plus, there are only 39 seats in the section meaning you have plenty of flight attendants to help at all times of the day or night – you just have to push a button on your screen to get their attention.
Upon sitting down, I was immediately handed a glass of Champagne – proper stuff, not Prosecco – or you can have juice if you don’t drink. Then the crew gave me a pair of large, noise cancelling headphones, a menu for the flight and an amenities kit.
The amenities kit differed on each of my flights; one red eye journey and one through the day. My favourite was the mauve pink hardshell case designed by Giorgio Armani. In the kits was an eye mask, ear plugs, a hairbrush, a toothbrush and toothpaste plus some toiletries – a Malin+Goetz lip balm, moisturiser, facial mist and keyring.
Now, all of this was lovely, but by far the best parts of my flight were two fold – the food and the sleep. There were two meals on each of my flights: breakfast and dinner. But, you could have drinks and a range of snacks whenever you wanted.
My dinners consisted of mountains of food in multiple courses. On one flight I had a salmon pate starter, warm bread, guinea fowl served with potatoes and vegetables in a rich gravy jus and more Prosecco plus fruit for dessert. My second flight, where I was hungrier, we started with duck and bresaola canapés, a salmon roulade, foie gras, and more bread. Then I chose the white fish and noodles dish which was soft and buttery.
After that the food kept coming, I enjoyed a cheese plate with crackers, melon and nuts, a fruity cheesecake and you could have chocolate ice cream too. Alongside all of this, you could have whatever drinks you wanted from the menu – Champagne, wine, beer and cocktails, cocktails and tea and coffee.
I tried the extensive tea menu and had an Oolong follow by Puer tea. Then I had a Yammamatoyama Sencha because I could and a mix of fresh taro root with milk (it’s sweet and malty and I recommend). The cocktails were less enjoyable, but maybe I shouldn’t have ordered something with creme de menthe inside…
A few hours later I perused the snack menu and got stuck into a fresh bowl of ramen heaped with vegetables and herbs. Way better than a pot noodle. I also tried the chicken wings (delicious) and a fried crab dish that was hot and felt expensive.
For breakfast, you could choose a western style meal or a Chinese option. I chose the Chinese meal and was served a rice porridge, pork green beans, preserved plums and a tasty omelette-style egg dish. It was filling and quite unusual – but I’d opt for the Western style next time.
When on an 11.5hour journey overnight to another time zone getting good sleep can make all the difference to jet lag. On my way to Bangkok I changed into my complimentary PJs (super comfy and designed by Jason Wu and super comfy).
Then I alerted the flight attendant that I wanted to sleep and went to brush my teeth while she kindly made my bed for the night. When I came back, my seat was now a lie-flat bed covered in a plush, padded under cover and topped with a super warm and puffy duvet. The lights in the cabin were turned down so it was nice and dark – though you can use your personal reading light if you’re not sleeping – and the roof of the cabin is covered in small twinkling lights that look like stars.
Honestly, that was the best sleep I’ve ever had on a flight and I was out like a light for a solid eight hours. I only woke up when the cabin crew shook me awake so I could tuck into breakfast.
Other perks to the pricy seat include access to premium airport lounges where booze and food flow freely. This was particularly handy when in Bangkok on a layover as you can enjoy spicy Thai soups, all-you-can-eat dim sum, pastries, desserts, ramen noodles, sandwiches and Thai tea.
You also get priority boarding and disembarkation so you’re on and off the plane first. Additionally, you get an outrageous amount of luggage (two pieces of up to 32kg each).
Whether it’s worth the cost really depends on whether you’re willing to pay it. It’s by far the easiest and most enjoyable flight I’ve ever experienced and certainly it’s something to do once in your life, but it is also just 11.5hours of your life.
I’ll be back in economy from now on, fighting to sleep and wishing the flight would end. But I’ll know that there’s a better option should I ever win the lottery (or bag a free upgrade).
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