Photo: Nicholas Carlson
Business Class flying: Is it worth it?This morning – actually, it was Tuesday morning, but it feels like it was this morning – I woke up in my Manhattan apartment at 8AM and started an 8,800 mile journey to Auckland, New Zealand.
I just arrived, and though it’s only Wednesday afternoon back home, it’s Thursday morning here.
It was a long trip!
My first flight, from JFK to San Francisco lasted about 6 hours. Then there was a three hour layover. Then I took a 13 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean and into the southern hemisphere.
But instead of dreading this long haul since I first planned it a few weeks ago, I’d been eagerly anticipating it.
You see, this trip was my first ever as a Business Class traveller.
I’ve flown a million times and the closest I’ve ever gotten to the big, wide leather seats at the front of an airliner was jamming a knee with my carry-on on the way back to seat 27B.
This time, it was Business Class all the way – and I was dying for it to begin.
Mindful that there may be a few of you like me out there, I kept my camera out at (almost) all times during this trip to document every step of the way.
The questions I want to answer here:
- Is Business Class all that it’s cracked up to be?
- Is it worth the money?
- What are the secrets to surviving 24 hours straight of air-travel?
Unlike most Business Class travellers, I took the subway to JFK. It takes 2 hours, but I like how you KNOW it takes 2 hours.
No fighting ticket machines or lines for business class fliers. Just walk up to that counter, and you're checked-in in under 60 seconds.
Maybe it was the conference rooms, the copy-machine, and the work spaces, but the lounge started to feel like a Kinko's.
I finally sit in my first business class seat! Look at that legroom. Let's look at what else this puppy's got…
…Rejected! Turns out us Business Class fliers aren't good enough for a FIRST class lounge…we turn around with our tail between our legs…
As boarding time neared, the flight steward walked in approached all the passengers to let them know. It made you feel less like cattle.
Usually, Air New Zealand serves dinner over several courses. This couple looks like they're on a date!
Every Australian or Kiwi veteran of this flight told us to sleep, and get a drug to help. Our doc prescribed Ambien.
We also knew these $25 skull candy ear buds, which suction into your ear, also help block out noise.
The answer is that it depends on where you're flying.
On the domestic flight, we probably could have done without the warm, moist towelette and even the constant back massage -- thanks mostly to how incredibly engaging our iPad is.
The international flight was incredible. Compared to a couple of flights we've made to Europe, and even some across the country, it seemed short and a lot more fun.
But still, we would not spend the thousands of extra dollars on even an international business class ticket unless:
- It isn't on your dime -- and probably not even on your company's dime, especially if its a startup with limited capital.
- It is very important that you get a full night's rest before doing business on the day of your arrival. If you need 8 hours of sleep to be on your toes in a meeting that could make the quarter or year for your company, business class is a worthwhile investment. It will help you sleep.
- It is an extremely special gift for a loved one on a big anniversary or birthday. If you have the money and want to make the gesture, it's a really impressive one to make. The person you're giving the ticket to will be entirely blown away -- and feel like a million bucks.
- An iPad. The battery life is crazy. You can watch 10 hours of TV shows and movies -- and play some video games, too.
- Noise-cancelling earphones. Boise sells really expensive ones. The Skull-candy in-ear-buds I have cost $24.
- Sleeping pills, if your doctor says it's OK. I took Ambien. Slept like a baby.
You should know that I flew to New Zealand -- business class -- on New Zealand's dime. The government offered to buy my ticket and get me a hotel room so I could meet some entrepreneurs down here.
Scratch that; I jumped at the chance.
The Kiwis aren't saying they're expecting any kind of coverage. But the business owners down here will probably get some -- more than they would have if I hadn't flown here, I'm sure.
I promise to keep any stories I write about them honest.
(By the way, they're flying me back home coach.)
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