Please sign in to post.

Worth The Investment?

Planning a round trip from Texas to Rome next spring. Leaving in the morning on both British Airways flights. Each is broken up by short stopovers at JFK (going there) and Heathrow (returning home). It would be nice to arrive in Rome at 7 a.m. after getting some meaningful sleep. Is it worth going business class both ways for reclining seats -- or maybe just one way to Rome? I had zero luck sleeping in premium economy on a recent 10-hour overnight flight to London.

Posted by
20484 posts

Hard to say. One thing, your AA flight (actual operator) from JFK departs at 5 pm, which is actually be 4 pm on your body clock. Can you get meaningful sleep going to bed that early in the day? You land at 7:15 am, which will be just after midnight on your body clock.

I recently splurged on business class (got a deal) with lay flat seats. While much more comfortable and you get treated like a valued customer rather than self-loading freight, I really did not get all that much sleep. I blame that on the fact that I was just not tired enough to sleep until we were ready to land.

Posted by
408 posts

It's a very subjective question and everyone's needs will differ.

The price differential between economy/premium economy and business
can be substantial. Also the specific seats need to be researched - not
all business class seats are true lie-flat.

Only you can decide if the differences in price are worth the potential of
getting a few hours of sleep on the flight.

Sometimes there are sales even for business class seats, so that could
alter the evaluation.

Me, unless I got a great deal, I'd go a day earlier and get a nice hotel
room to sleep in. Since you'll be in daylight the way back, for the reasons
you offer, business class on the return seems to be less of a priority.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks, Sam, for the info. I thought about maybe going without sleep the day before leaving for Rome, but that might really screw up my body clock for the trip. So you have me thinking... just hit the ground running in Rome, go for as long as we can, then crash at the hotel before making the most of what's left in day 1.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks, Shoeflyer. I'd really be pissed if I paid extra and then didn't get sleep on the way to Rome. At least the flight there is broken up by a stopover.

Posted by
208 posts

My wife can and does sleep on overnight flights to Europe. I get very sporadic "cat naps". In general, that means I arrive in Europe a bit more tired, but even so, because of the time change, we're both "messed up". What fixes it - for us - is to stay up, get some sunlight if possible, and eventually have an early dinner and early night.

In general, it takes a bit of time to get through customs/immigration and get to our hotel where usually we just drop the luggage until our check-in. So, we're then out finding a cafe for a coffee or just walking in a park. We try not to have anything planned until early afternoon, and then we can take care of that until we have dinner and hit the sack. We then wake up early on the first FULL day of vacation and are generally well rested and adapted to the time change.

From a logistics standpoint, though, I would choose the "to Europe" leg of a flight as the choice for better seating. Coming back from Europe is rarely a drag for us and almost a "boost" as we are reset to an earlier clock and end up waking up earlier by default for a few days following our return.

Posted by
2532 posts

For myself, having a stopover actually makes it much harder to rest as by the time I manage to get comfortable the plane is landing already, then you get woken up by deplaning, changing gates, and get exposed to light and noise all over again. I've never had a lie flat seat but not sure I could even rest in that configuration either - too much unfamiliarity in the plane environment. I'd be willing to experiment if the price was right but probably only for a long haul (9+ hour) flight.

There has been much discussion about one specific time adjustment app (Timeshifter, see recent threads here and here) which is one way to help your body adjust to the multi time zone change and plan for long flights. I rarely if ever deeply sleep on a long flight, but did manage some rest on my last trip by (mostly) following the app's recommendations a few days before departure and on the way home. I live on the west coast so jet lag on return is much worse than the going over.

Posted by
8248 posts

We've just never thought the price differential is worth going Business Class. We don't fly often enough otherwise to run up "points" to where we're not paying full price.

We no longer accept flights that arrive in Europe early morning--choosing flight times that get us there more like mid-day.

There's Nothing worse than having to haul luggage thru the city and not be able to check into a hotel until middle afternoon. Many hotels will check the luggage, but it's just not enjoyable waiting until the room is available being tired.

We prefer to get into a hotel, take a couple of hour nap and then hit the neighborhood to eat dinner. Then back for early p.m. sleep so we will have our personal clocks turned around.

Posted by
5428 posts

Yes it is absolutely worth the investment. I've given up flying economy long haul as I can no longer tolerate the cramped conditions, people in front reclining etc. If flying BA then business class seats are all lie flat. You may be lucky to have an aircraft that has the new Club Suite which is a real cut above the old business class seats and is more akin to those in First Class (they've had to redevelop the First Class seats to ensure that they're offering a product that differs enough from Business Class to make customers feel justified in paying extra).

I always manage to sleep in both directions and especially in the Club Suite as there is no-one to climb over and disturb you.

Posted by
16939 posts

I think I see your flight on the British Airlines schedule—-departing DFW at 8:29 am, a 4 hour layover at JFK, then to Rome, arriving at 7:15 am. Overall flight time about 16 hours. Is that it?

I agree with the opinion above that you will not get much sleep on that flight, even with a lie-flat bed, because it just isn’t your normal sleep time. Staying up all night before to make yourself sleepy is a really bad strategy for avoiding jet lag, in my view. And arriving in Rome around 7 am is really awkward; it is too early to check in to your hotel and you will have to hang out somewhere, in a really tired condition, before you can check in and freshen up (or nap).

There are far better options on the schedule if you wish to fly BA/AA. One is a direct flight from DFW to FCO, departing 18:45 and arriving in Rome at 12:15. You should be able to get some sleep on that flight, although the flight is only 10.5 hours long. But that one is pricy.

A less expensive option is the 19;45 departure on BA with a short layover in London, arriving in Rome at 15:45. Overall flight time 13 hours. This is very similar to the timing of our usual flight on BA to Europe, departing SEA around 19:00, arriving LHR around noon-13:00, and in Italy around 17:00. We fly business class (using BA miles, but there is a significant cash component as well). I normally get around 6 hours of sleep on that flight, and then when we arrive in Italy it is time to check in to our hotel, shower up, and go out for a walk and dinner on the local schedule. It makes a huge difference in how we feel the next day, our first “on the ground” in Italy.

On the daytime flight coming home, when we wouldn’t be sleeping anyway, we are willing to fly Premium Economy to save on miles (and $$).

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you, Tom, CL, David & JC.

Lola, we'll be heading to Rome out of Austin. Have to dig into other flight possibilities. I know this is pretty early for thinking about buying roundtrip tickets for next May.

Posted by
2507 posts

We have flown business class back to the US from Europe. Admittedly it is nice but we didn’t sleep at all because it was daytime. We fly premium economy in both directions as it is less expensive. We get to Europe a day or two early. We have a hotel booked so that we can go immediately and get some shuteye upon arrival. This is a lot less expensive than paying business class round trip.

Posted by
799 posts

A couple of years ago, we decided to fly business class, and now that's always our choice (we made sure that we can afford the expense). What works best for us, and we're further west in the U.S. than Austin is, is to fly on an airline that has an evening flight that goes directly to Europe. We then connect there for a short flight to our final destination. The flight is close somewhat close to our usual bedtime, so it's easier to get to sleep. We took a trip last year that left earlier, and I really struggled to get any sleep. And on the way back, my previous strategy was to stay awake the entire time. This last trip, I took a several-hour nap, and really helped me to NOT have much jet lag that night or the following day.

Posted by
18 posts

My preference...

I was just telling a couple of people today that I have found the best time to arrive in Italy is mid day (I aim for 2-4pm). I have flown in business class a few times. I usually only get sporadic sleep (even with sleeping pills), but I'm a very light sleeper. I only like to splurge on it when it's a flight from Europe all the way back to the west coast (over 11 hours). With the coursed meal it's hard to fit in time to get good sleep on a shorter east coast to Europe flight (not that you have to do the coursed meal). Even when you do get decent sleep, traveling just makes you tired in general. They say you should get right on local time to help with jet lag. So if you arrive early morning and then get to your hotel (which as others have mentioned you probably can't check into yet), you have to spend the whole day trying to stay awake. But if you arrive mid day then you can usually check right in, rinse off and head out for some food and if you're exhausted you can be in bed by 8 and kind of get on local time easier. The one thing I always look for when booking the flight is that there are at least one, if not two, more flights from my stopover to my destination. That way if something goes wrong then hopefully they can still get me to my destination the same day. I would suggest premium economy unless you have physical issues that make even those seats difficult to nap in! I don't do well in really cramped seats (long legs and have hip and knee issues). But I've done premium economy on Delta from the east coast to Europe and managed to get some naps in. Have a great trip!

Posted by
16 posts

Snowboardchic99, thanks for your perspective. Perusing Delta’s site, it appears as though
its premium economy-plus seats are more (leg) roomy and comfortable than British Airways’ version. My premium economy seat on a recent British Airways flight to Heathrow was uncomfortable and the foot rest made no difference. I also noticed yesterday that BA’s premium economy fare went up $100 from just the day before — and I’m looking at flights to Rome a year away. Crazy. But maybe it’ll just steadily rise.

Posted by
5428 posts

I also noticed yesterday that BA’s premium economy fare went up $100 from just the day before — and I’m looking at flights to Rome a year away. Crazy. But maybe it’ll just steadily rise.

You could wait for the BA sale, they have several during the year. Sign up to their e-mails and you'll be notified when they have one next.

Posted by
279 posts

"Worth the investment?"

If you ask me, you deserve to fly first class! You are clearly worth it! Travel in style!

Happy travels!

Posted by
18 posts

" I also noticed yesterday that BA’s premium economy fare went up $100 from just the day before — and I’m looking at flights to Rome a year away. Crazy. But maybe it’ll just steadily rise. "

I find that they go up and down and that sometimes a flight that I really liked the timing of was too expensive so I booked something else and then when I looked later that time slot was actually cheaper. It's crazy weird the way their dynamic pricing works. But with most of the airlines not charging change fees anymore, you can keep looking and if you see a cheaper flight that has better seats or a better time, or maybe a day before or after, then you can change and get the overage put into a "wallet" with the airline (or sometimes a straight refund). I actually ended up changing my return flight while I was in Italy because I decided to fly over to Barcelona to see friends and didn't want to pay to fly over and then back to Rome just to catch my flight home. So I called and Delta was able to book my flight home from Barcelona instead of Rome and it was cheaper so I got the credit. I will say that for that one the only part that changed was that I was flying Barcelona to Paris instead of Rome to Paris, my flight from Paris back to LAX was still the same flight. But still, it was nice to be able to change it because it was more convenient for me and I got some money back!!

On another post I mentioned that I had looked a couple of years ago and found some amazing first/business class pricing on Turkish Airlines. This person was flying out of LAX which is where I fly out of. Back then it was around $2200 for that class flying direct from LAX to Istanbul and then connecting into Italy. I have not flown with them so I cannot attest to their service or anything but I looked up reviews and they seemed good. I'm sure it's a little more now but might be worth a look.

Posted by
23 posts

I can't sleep in Delta Comfort Plus, so my husband and I tried Air France first class last year and guess what...couldn't sleep there either! It was a fun experience but I'm not sure it was worth it. We'll probably stick to Comfort Plus or similar.

Posted by
7906 posts

We fly Delta and have been upgraded a few times to Economy Comfort. It is a bit better than regular economy. Never done Business or First Class across the Atlantic.

I can't sleep much at all in Economy, Economy Comfort and unlikely to do so in Business.

Business on Delta is usually at least three times the price of economy. That is way too much for me.

I don't like arriving at 7am would be that great, vs. 9 or 10am.

Posted by
16 posts

Went ahead and pulled trigger on buying BA premium economy seats. No way I’d sleep regardless of departure time, so saving $$$ by not splurging on business class. Sticking with 7:15am arrival in Rome. Figure it’ll be 11-ish when we get to hotel. We’ll just leave bags there, explore a little bit (maybe hop on/hop off bus ride) and grab something good to eat, then get our room and take a long nap before getting second wind. Appreciate everyone’s advice/insight on getting to Rome next year. Thank you!!!