As travel picks up, after months of restrictions, we will see business class in high demand across many airlines. Now, more than ever, passengers are concerned about having personal space and avoiding contact with others. We will likely see more people forking out the extra cash to pay for business class, even when service remains reduced.
This article will mainly focus on long-haul flights since that’s where the difference is truly felt. Most airlines only offer economy or limited business class products on shorter routes, not making a particular difference to passengers other than providing more comfort. However, on long-haul flights, passengers might appreciate doors on planes a lot more.
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Airlines have always marketed business class as being the more private section of the place, allowing passengers to eat or rest in a calm environment. This especially true for airlines who offer 1-2-1 seat configurations since passengers get a large amount of space to themselves.
However, in the times of COVID-19, this sense of privacy has found a new sense of urgency. Passengers now want to quickly get onboard and sit down in their seats, minimizing contact with anyone else within the plane. Having no passenger next to you, with the nearest person an aisle away, is a huge boon in these times.
There are currently few studies about how business class seats protect better against viruses, but it is safe to say that having more distance between passengers gives travelers a sense of safety. Additionally, most airlines also offer partitions between seats giving another layer of separation between passengers.
Airlines have also jumped on the chance to highlight how their cabins offer passengers more space. Qatar Airways’ QSuite offers a high door, closing passengers off from the rest of the cabin. Qatar has actually exempted business class passengers from wearing face shields thanks to the extra space (masks are still required).
Similarly, Delta and British Airways both offer doors on some of their widebodies, providing separation from the crew and the passengers walking in the aisle. Having your own (relatively) enclosed space is a privilege in these times.
Once again, there are no studies proving that doors or single seats make passengers safer on their journey. Unless you have six feet of space, real social distancing is hard to maintain. That being said, the lesser the contact the better, so business class does offer you some amount of extra protection.
Service remains scaled back
While business class does sound great in these times, a lot is missing from the usual experience. For both cost-cutting and safety reasons, airlines have scaled back the usual inflight and ground amenities.
Most airline lounges are not open (minus ones at the hub), and even there services are bare-bones. Onboard, airlines are offering pre-packaged meals and sanitation kits, in lieu of the usual table service and amenity kits. All of this means you’re really just paying for the privacy and comfort rather than the experience itself.
The final, and most important, consideration is the price. Business class tickets generally cost at least three times more than an economy fare. While some airlines are running attractive sales, it’s still a pricey option. Those wanting the extra safety will have to shell out for it.
In summary, business class will likely see high demand as more people take to the sky. The added sense of privacy does help many feel safer, an important factor. However, this does come at a price.
Would you pay extra for business class at this time? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!