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Business Class or Coach?
Old 12-27-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
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Business Class or Coach?

My spouse and I don't fly all that much, mostly twice a year; Boston to Tucson, Tucson to Boston. I'm considering going Business Class instead of steerage this time around. Price isn't all that different, maybe between two and three hundred dollars a ticket.

Never having done this before (I'm pretty provincial...) does anyone have any suggestions on how best to proceed?

Not going until mid-May.

Rich
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
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Business class on domestic flights can be a disappointment. Perhaps you get a little more legroom and a glass of wine. If that's worth a few hundred dollars to you then go for it.

Business class on international flights is definitely better though. It's much like domestic first class.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:08 PM   #3
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Business class on domestic flights can be a disappointment. Perhaps you get a little more legroom and a glass of wine. If that's worth a few hundred dollars to you then go for it.

Business class on international flights is definitely better though. It's much like domestic first class.
+1

Business class international is excellent, but when flying domestic I am happy to pay for extended legroom in coach class. (When I was working I flew domestic first class and business class international a number of times)
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:36 PM   #4
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I've never felt it was personally worthwhile to fly anything but cattle car, domestic or international. On someone else's dime, well that's an entirely different matter!
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:51 PM   #5
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I've never felt it was personally worthwhile to fly anything but cattle car, domestic or international. On someone else's dime, well that's an entirely different matter!
+1

This year I had been having really bad back problems so we decided to travel business to the UK on our own dime for the first time ever. However, DW realized that we could do "the crossing" on the Cunard liners for an awful lot less money and have ourselves a really good time in the process.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:27 PM   #6
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+1

This year I had been having really bad back problems so we decided to travel business to the UK on our own dime for the first time ever. However, DW realized that we could do "the crossing" on the Cunard liners for an awful lot less money and have ourselves a really good time in the process.
Ah, now your talking!
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:58 PM   #7
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A friend gave me a free upgrade that was about to expire next week. I used it to fly back from Australia in first class with the flat-bed seats. Very nice, but I would not pay for it. I don't think anybody in my section paid for those seats themselves.

On the way to Australia, I had 4 seats to myself in way back. I must say it was not as comfortable going as it was coming back, but I was able to stretch out and sleep.

I've flown enough to get free upgrades occasionally. I would not pay for business class and neither will my employer and neither should you unless you have medical reasons.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:54 AM   #8
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A friend gave me a free upgrade that was about to expire next week. I used it to fly back from Australia in first class with the flat-bed seats. Very nice, but I would not pay for it.
Back when I was in Saudi my late wife had an 'association' with Air France, and we recieved free tickets with most often, depending upon availability, first class upgrades......very nice, but I wouldn't pay for it with my money.

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I don't think anybody in my section paid for those seats themselves.
Same time frame as above....I recall reading an article in an aviation magazine that stated the exact same thing.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:19 AM   #9
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I would not pay for business class and neither will my employer and neither should you unless you have medical reasons.
How is it your business to tell him how he should spend his own money?

When I book a flight, I like to look at the seating chart and use seatguru.com to pick the best seat or at least avoid a bad one. This is where you can choose an upgrade on most airlines.

I upgraded to United Economy Plus for the first time on my longest segment last Monday because the flight was full and I could get an exit row with more legroom and just 2 seats (no seat right next to the exit door). Along with more room this also gave us another seat in front of us to stow a bag rather than fight for overhead space. $39 extra. I probably wouldn't do it any other time of year.

On my return flight yesterday there wasn't a seat I felt was worth upgrading to. Business seats were a $308 upgrade. Nicer than normal, on a 777. Lie flat seats would've been nice for international, but not used for domestic. First class had those pods, almost like flying in a cubicle. I'm not sure what the price was on those. I stuck with my economy seat and trudged back to row 43. We just decided to sit a minute or two longer and let the plane clear out before leaving since we had a 90+ minute layover but almost blew it, because when we got off we found our next flight was delayed but so was the previous one home. We took a shot and went to that gate and just made that earlier delayed flight and get home an hour early. Nice way to finish holiday travel!
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:43 AM   #10
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How is it your business to tell him how he should spend his own money?
He did ask for opinions.

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Never having done this before (I'm pretty provincial...) does anyone have any suggestions on how best to proceed?

Rich
For me, flying business or first means check-in is a little faster, there might be a different and shorter line to security, there might be a lounge to wait for the flight, there will be a bit more overhead bin space, there will be no additional luggage charges, and the seat will definitely be more comfortable. Perhaps a snack during the flight, probably some alcoholic beverages at no charge.

The question is, how important, and how much value, do you assign to these things? For me, the real value is the bigger seat and additional leg room, and that matters on long flights. That's 5 hours or more for me. Traveling with DW makes coach easier because we can share some space. I would consider upgrading for a coast to coast flight, also for international trips, and might find a "premium coach" option that gives the leg room at a lower cost.

The faster and easier check in, along with the shorter security line, are likely but not guaranteed, and if you hate the time spent in the airport this may have value. The overhead bin space might let you avoid checking luggage, though you still have to battle a little with your fellow travelers. I don't drink alcohol when I fly, but that might be worth some $$. An itinerary with plane change and tight connecting flight would benefit from being seated up front.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:17 AM   #11
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If I had the points, or it was only a couple hundred to upgrade on an international flight. But the business class tickets were 2x or more! We upgraded to economy+ for the legroom.

Unlike going first class on trains in Europe where it's more like 50% more off a much lower base. [still that really shocked my SIL]
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:37 AM   #12
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The times we flew business or first-class were all paid by megacorps. It's not really worth the money, unless for long coast-to-coast flights. For long international flights, it really made a difference, particularly for flights like from the east coast to the Middle East, or from the west coast to Sydney or to Asia. But boy oh boy, will I ever get rich enough to pay for that with my own money without cringing?

We once traveled on a multi-leg trip, and flew from LAX to Sydney, then Auckland. Seats were business class, upgradeable to first-class if available. Yes, we did get upgraded to 1st class on one leg on a 747. It was nice, but I would say business class was plenty good for me. Tickets were an award for a vacation (not business trip), courtesy of DW's megacorp.

Just checked out a typical airfare for LAX/Sydney round-trip. Coach: $2K. Business class: $5600. First class: $17K. Flight time: 15 hrs non-stop.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:46 AM   #13
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The 10.5 hour leg from Amsterdam to Houston in economy+ wasn't too bad. (it should have been 9.5-10 hours but had to fly around weather) I was dreading it (first cross Atlantic flights in 15 years) but it was fine. Will do it again no prob.

I tried to be clever and pick aisle seats in center 3 thinking the middle seat wouldn't be taken in economy+. But I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Both flights were completely full, and last minute passengers were assigned all those middle seats. Next time we will sit across the aisle from each other.

Europe was so expensive!!! We blew our budget completely on that trip, but we did pick up some hotel and meal expenses for family. Still, we spent 2X what we expected.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:48 AM   #14
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By the way, Eurorail passes are cheaper than buying pieacemeal. They also get you 1st class seats, which do not really mean much though for short hops. They must be bought in the US before the trip. Ticket holders are asked for passports, as the discounts are not available to the residents.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:10 AM   #15
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By the way, Eurorail passes are cheaper than buying pieacemeal. They also get you 1st class seats, which do not really mean much though for short hops. They must be bought in the US before the trip. Ticket holders are asked for passports, as the discounts are not available to the residents.
For this trip we weren't even sure we would be going anywhere by train as most of it was an extended family event. But next time we will have more time on our own and will definitely buy passes ahead of time!

The first class seat thing - it's more of an issue when you are traveling inter-country with substantial luggage. Short hops or day trips with no luggage - no big deal.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:22 AM   #16
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Very true about seats being no big deal on trains, and we always travel light anyway. Passes are however great for hopping on/off exploring little towns on day trips. One can explore Switzerland in a few days using Eurorail like this.

By the way, some regional trains in Italy do not honor Eurail, as they are not part of it.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:37 AM   #17
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I used to get free upgrades to first class on ATA and they were nice, but I wouldn't have paid a few extra hundred dollars for an upgrade. I do Chicago- Phoenix several times a year on Southwest, but they don't have business class. I find that I can handle a 3-4 hr flight in coach - I sleep almost the whole trip.

But I would consider it on a longer flight like yours. I guess it depends on your DW's preference. See if business class reservations can be handled online, or call the airline. You may be able to catch a deal.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:53 AM   #18
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For me it is mostly about space. I am 6'4" and find coach too uncomfortable. For domestic flights all you really get is more space, service is bad either way. International a different story with space and service much better. I would not fly international other than business or first. We usually use our points to upgrade and wouldn't go otherwise. For a couple of hundred dollars I would always upgrade.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:02 AM   #19
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Personally after running the full range of ff programs elite status, I come full circle from Diamond/Platinum to my Silver status expiring in March. In 30+ years of flying I've only purchased an upgrade twice - once to Orlando from Detroit on Spirit Air and once on Delta flying to the Czech Republic. Neither was worth it my opinion. I've reached a stage where I simply get on the plane just before the doors close, take my seat ( no carryons) and tough it out. To me there isn't a seat that makes flying an enjoyable experience anymore. But to each his own.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:04 AM   #20
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I have used what United calls Economy Plus for 3 international flights and one domestic flight to the west coast. What you get for your money is about 4 inches of extra legroom, but everything else is the same. That extra space really makes a difference for me since I am over 6 feet tall. It makes coach travel tolerable for the 8 to 15 hour flights that I was on. I even paid for the domestic upgrade myself, though that trip was for work.

On United, and I think this is true for the other airlines that offer some form of extended economy seating, you have to buy your coach seats first and then logon to the airline's website to purchase the upgraded seats. What I've noticed is that all of the coach seats that have extra legroom, such as aisle rows, now cost extra or require some kind of premium status to reserve.

I have never flown business or first class although I am saving up my miles and intend to use them to upgrade to business class for my vacation to the U.K. next spring. I will say that having some kind of "gold" level status is nice when you fly internationally. You get shorter lines at the ticket counters and your checked bags show up first on the carosel. Are those things worth thousands of your own dollars? Probably not. But for me at least, the seat upgrade for space is worth the cost or miles for long flights.
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