MANY full-service airlines have been revamping their business class offerings to effectively provide premium flying experience to passengers for a cheaper price. With the inclusion of bigger seats, lie-flat beds, private suites and amenity kits that are stuffed with modest luxury, the business class has given the impression of replacing the first class, mostly when it comes to long-haul flights. While some do not consider the apparent switch luxurious enough, many believe that the business class will get a makeover in the next few years.
The first big hallmark of the new business class, as well as the future of air travel, is the upgrade in the use of cutting-edge technologies. Innovators have predicted that from smart phones, passengers will soon be able to control every aspect of their flying experience. The upgrade ranges from seat positioning, which can stretch out to be completely flat, to ambient lighting with a million settings, climate control and personalized entertainment play lists. Soon, passengers will also be able to illuminate a ‘Do not disturb’ sign and set a wake-up call from the crew.
Apart from stocked in-flight bars and lounges, airlines have also brought quality chefs aboard flights to cater meals and refreshments to the passengers in person. Some airlines have a team of sky chefs who serve customers and recommend drink pairings with meals from wines to vintage champagnes. Some have also included fresh flowers, canapés and other snacks or treat passengers to appetizers and drinks curated by skilled bartenders. Numerous airlines have also been offering meals especially prepared by Michelin-starred chefs.
Some amenity kits provided by airlines now contain artfully designed bags with a package of body lotion, after-shave cream, perfume and nourishing face emulsion. International business travelers also receive expensive bags from other airlines. Also, they are now integrating massage components into the seats of passengers besides the lie-flat features. Other airlines offer back massage feature on their sky bed. Also, the business-class seats on particular airlines have a massage button, an ottoman and a large table in the center console that moves forward and backward. Other airlines have a massage function and an adjustable lumbar cushion that allow passengers to keep the straight-up, lounge or bed position.
Airlines today are also teaming up with home-design companies to create and provide elegant beddings. Some provide linen pillows, blankets and mattress pads through the well-known brand on their intercontinental routes. Passengers on some airlines can curl up or stretch out underneath their in-flight beddings, which include a comforter, hypoallergenic or lumbar pillows. Some airlines also weave mattress pads and pillows that are available on select routes. Made from resin fibers, the materials make for better breathing while passengers sleep.
Noticeably, airlines are getting more creative with storage space. Other airlines have seats that come with a coat hook, shoe holder and seat side table. Some have first-class armchairs, private wardrobes and additional storage space on long-haul flights.
Other airlines offer first-class passengers a mini closet, a space underneath the footstool for baggage, a multiple compartments for smaller item and an upper-deck cabin with a living room, a double bedroom and an onboard shower.
Flying business class with other airlines also includes complimentary chauffeurs who are ready to bring passengers to and from their destinations. Some airlines designate chauffeurs for passengers on select routes as long as they book directly through the airline. Airlines are also starting to integrate personal assistants to assist passengers with passport controls or in tracking the fastest security routes. These assistants also allow them to board first.