Best Business Class
These days, the minimum requirement of international business class on any airline is a fully flat bed and direct aisle access. Some airlines can do that – some airlines can’t – and some airlines do it in some aircraft and don’t in others.
So let’s start from 5:
5. Swiss A330-300/A340-300
Good morning sir! Would you like some tea?
These seats are put in many aircraft (LX, AY, SN etc) but LX deserves the crown because of its phenomenal service. On LX, you get all the warm hospitality and comfort you want. Soft and comfortable, these seats are used from HKG to ZRH.
4. Singapore Airlines A380-800/B777-300ER
This is Business Class sir, First Class is further forward in the cabin.
These wide Singapore AIrlines seats are the core of International Business Class. We’re not fans of flipping the seats over instead of reclining them, but the leather benches are really comfortable.
3. Emirates A380-800
The inflight minibar is NOT a hoax.
On Emirates, you get three types of international business class service. This is the best service you get. Used on some EK 380/1 services to/from DXB, this seat creates an unforgettable experience (and a full rest).
2. Virgin Atlantic Airways A330-300
Don’t fear the herringbone; unlike CX’s old business class, this seat is comfy and spacious.
In a spacious herringbone configuration (the walls are translucent, letting light in and creating a difference between the seat and a coffin), these unmissable seats are great for sleeping. They have pretty much the best business class padding in the world (no kidding) and even though we don’t like all the flipping, a good night’s sleep is worth it.
1. Cathay Pacific Airways B777-300ER/international A330-300
No, this is current world, not the future.
Cathay deserves the crown for its “Asian” hospitality and private seats. Cathay modified the US Airways Sicma Cirrus seat to make it private and suite-like. It doesn’t have the best padding in the world, but an extra duvet under you when sleeping will make up for it.
Business Class Seats that we also liked were EVA Air B777-300ER (lack of service though), Qantas Skybed Mark II (no direct aisle access), American Airlines B777-300ER (not sure about the service), Etihad International Business (too much beige and clunky entertainment system), Japan Airlines B777-300ER (not enough storage space) and Thai A380 (not many amenities, and not enough storage space).
Worst Business Class
So we’ve seen the best. However, not all airlines have products as good as these – even first world countries have these types of airlines. Let’s start from 5:
5. Lufthansa Business Class All A/C (except B747-8 and some A330-300)
Ouch, the angle…
An uncomfortable angled lie flat seat, this business class is a nightmare to Munich (Frankfurt to Hong Kong sees a B747-8). The bottom of the seat angles towards the floor, making the tendency to slide down the seat even worse.
4. Cathay Pacific A340-300, B747-400
Even people can be over 18.5″ wide…
There are reasons why we put a fully flat bed under an angled flat seat – the walls are really high, and despite a quite comfortable padding, the seat is as wide as the average 9-abreast 777-300ER economy seat – 18.5in. These are the seats we dread during flights across the Pacific – they’re worse than the regional business class that Cathay owns. (Of course, some people like the seat, but we don’t.)
3. US Airways Business Class B767-200ER
Looks great and blingy, but feels the opposite.
These are one of the worst seats across the Atlantic (no, these don’t fly to Hong Kong). Generous recliners, these can do a 3h hop pretty well, but are really crappy for longer flights.
2. Japan Airlines Skyrecliner B767-300
Yes, that’s a first world city international JCL seat.
This seat flies with the B767-300 to Vancouver daily. It’s hard to imagine how a 9h flight on a recliner sounds like. Cathay uses flatbeds even on shorter flights to CGK, CNS or PER…
1. Aerolineas Argentinas A340-300
Sixteen hours? Even three are unacceptable!
For a 16h flyover from EZE to SYD, this huge seat is just unacceptable for Business Class. Business Class means sleep. On this flight, you won’t get it.
Other seats we don’t like are Delta’s herringbone business seat, JAL’s Shell Flat Seat (we like Shell Flat Neo though), and Qantas’ Skybed Mark I.