Top 3 Differences Between Business and First Class



Envision a pilot in the cockpit making his welcome-aboard announcement to the passengers saying, “The flight time today is five hours in first-class and 12½ hours in coach.” Of course, there are no differences in flight times between business and first-class, but passengers who sit “upfront” often remark that their flight felt faster, thanks to the added comfort.


  • Differences between business class and first class exist, but they’re not as pronounced as those between economy and first class.
  • In Asia, first-class lounges are on a different level, but in most airports, the wait is fairly similar for business or first-class lounges.
  • First-class passengers might have a seat that turns into a bed or even their own private apartment.
  • Business-class might offer more legroom but doesn’t offer a private space.
  • The food and drink in business class are typically at a restaurant level.
  • However, first-class dining might be at another level with an award-winning chef setting the menu.

More Money, More Amenities

Although the differences between first class and business class are not as significant as those between economy and first or business, there are still some variables to consider when making your travel choice. In general, first-class costs about twice as much as business class. But that can vary significantly by route and airline.

Comfort Levels

Business- and first-class services offer a range of improvements and luxuries to help you get a good night’s sleep and privacy. The best source of information on the configurations for any flight you are considering is To decide between business- and first-class, consider the following before you buy your ticket: Will your seat turn into a bed? What’s the configuration of the cabin? How close will you be to other passengers? Will you have a double bed, your own “apartment,” or a seat and a bed combined?

Food and Drink

This is one of the two categories where business class and first class differ the most. “Business-class food is restaurant quality, but dining in business class is rarely an experience,” Schlappig said.

In the first class, customers often have food prepared under the auspices of a famous chef. For example, Air France—rated No.1 for in-flight food by the Robb Report—offers menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs.

When it comes to a before-dinner drink, Singapore Airlines, according to the UK-based Telegraph website, is “the only airline to offer both Krug Grande Cuvée and Dom Perignon 2004—with caviar. And that’s before takeoff.” Business-class on Emirates, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, and Virgin Atlantic have onboard bars where you can chat with your fellow passengers.

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