I am starting to look at air fare prices for my 2016 trip. I can fly from Nashville to Paris and home from Rome for $1230 based on today's pricing. I have always wanted to fly business or first class at least once, but just not sure it is worth the price. If I fly from Nashville to Paris business class, and home in coach, the price is $3300. Would like some thoughts on whether it is worth that extra $2000 for an 8 hour flight. After the plane takes off, serves dinner, and everyone is settled in, only about 6 hours to actually sleep or rest. Do you feel that much more rested after arriving. As you know, you sure don't get much sleep in coach. I imagine this will be my last trip to Europe and I want to cherish every moment, but just not sure the extra cost for the flight is worth it.
I enjoy business class when the company is paying for it – more for the lack of the sardine experience, rather than for a wonderful night's sleep. However, I'm not terrific at sleeping in any "public" venue. I have not been willing to pay the premium for business on personal travel, and I've found that the frequent flyer programs I use charge a large dollar premium for mileage upgrades to business.
But you mention that this is a special trip and you want to cherish every moment. In that case, if business class costs are not a huge sacrifice, I would probably do it. Minimally, you are likely to feel more energetic in your first few days in Europe if the airplane experience is more pleasant.
My husband and I have decided to only fly first or business class. We have flown both ways from Atlanta to Munich twice on first and once to Prague. My husband is 6'4" so even sitting in coach for him is uncomfortable. We will be flying business for the first time in September and we are curious how that compares with first. I have to say that the customer service is awesome and we do arrive so much more rested. It seems that we don't suffer from jet lag nearly as much nor as long. We are in our early 50's so we think it is worth every penny but that is a personal decision. Hope you have a good trip.
Whether it's worth it or not is going to be a purely personal decision. For a couple of hundred $$ it would be worth it to me, using all my flier miles to upgrade would be worth it to me, $2000 cash - absolutely not worth it for 6-8 hours of comfort. Others will feel differently so in the end it will be up to you to decide, and then you'll only know if it was worth it after you've done it. A lot depends on how that $2000 affects your budget, it would totally blow mine.
This spring I paid $2000 extra to fly business class on United to Paris from SFO. Not worth more than $200. The meal service took 3 hours! There were lights and commotion for all but about 3 hours of the flight. I loved being able to stretch out on a flat bed, but still didn't get much sleep. United has combined 1st and business classes into one large compartment. So most of the feeling of getting "special" treatment is seriously diluted. The second best part of the experience was being able to board and de-board first. If I ever again fly business class I will choose a seat toward the rear of that section for a quieter experience.
I used to travel a lot for business and travelled to Finland from Colorado a dozen times or so. I was upgraded free to Business Class at least 6 or 7 times. We also have travelled to Europe for personal trips over a dozen times and have never paid the difference for upgrading to Business Class. I don't think I arrived any more refreshed traveling in Business vs Coach.
We're flying to Amsterdam and returning from Brussels this fall for a vacation. My airfare was in the $1200 range. Upgrading to Mileage Plus alone for just the transatlantic legs would be an additional almost $300 or so. It's an easy choice for me. That's $300 more to spend on museums, food, souvenirs, etc. But it is a personal choice and if it doesn't blow your budget, the extra leg room is nice. It's certainly not worth it just for the difference in meals or free drinks.
BTW, the biggest thing that helps me arrive feeling better refreshed was getting noise cancelling headphones. Reducing the sonic fatigue really helps.
There is no doubt about it, business is more comfortable than coach. Not all airline business seats are equal. If you choose to go business, take a little time to investigate the type of plane and reviews on service prior to buying your ticket to increase the value you receive for your money. For example, I would rate Air France as a much nicer business class experience than American Airlines. If you are going to pay more, make sure you are getting more.
Whenever I fly to Europe, I always go at least Business class. While I don't really sleep on a plane, having a lay flat seat that I can stretch out in does make the trip much more enjoyable. Also, depending on the plane, you might get a seat in business where no one has to crawl over you to get out. The food on most US based airlines isn't all that great these days even on the long trips and I don't drink much alcohol so the free drinks don't mean that much to me. And don't rely on 6 hours of sleep time on an 8 hour flight. Dinner can drag on longer and they wake you early before arrival for breakfast and paperwork. Some airlines provide express customs access to their business and first passengers which can save a lot of time when you arrive in Europe. Access to the airline lounge provided with each flight is a great plus. The shower and a cup of coffee when you arrive in Europe might even be just enough to avoid jet lag. :-)
I would suggest you carefully choose which airline you fly. Each has its own version of business and first class on their flights to Europe, some airlines even have different layouts for the various planes they use with some more comfortable than others. If you want a lay-flat seat, make sure your airline offers those on the route you are flying and the specific plane assigned to that route. (You can check seatguru.com for seat configuration info to help you decide.)
Everyone is different, but if I had an extra $2,000 in my budget for a given trip, I would overwhelmingly vote to spend that money on the ground. I value transport to and from a destination at a fraction of the actual activities, food, sights, etc. I could see once I arrive. If comfort on a trip is key, you can spread that $2,000 entirely on several nights of nicer hotel rooms and that would give you way more than 6 hours of "sleep value" and then some. I'm in the minority here but I minimize all transport costs on my trips and maximize everything else. Even the $1,230 base ticket price does not sound great - I would hold off and check other airlines (or fly off season), you have plenty of time to get a better fare.
It is not in our budget to spend that much extra on business class. $2000 is an extra (much smaller) vacation for us (like a cruise). We just can't justify spending that much for 8 hours. We do, however, fly Delta and get the economy comfort seats (total for both of use for both international legs comes to about $380). My DH is 6'6 and we buy early enough to get the bulkhead. That is within our budget and really makes a difference to us. We do, however, look longingly through the curtains at business class. :-)
Tony, you don't mention which airline you'll be taking. As a previous poster mentioned that makes a difference. Flying from PHX I usually use British Airways and splurge for premium economy. If leg room is your issue, you may want to look at that option on which ever airline you chose.
Also have a look at www.seatguru.com.
Thanks for all the great comments. Being only 5'7" and 175# I don't require lots of space. Leg room never an issue on the planes. Imagine I will save the $2000 and ride coach. The $2000 would add 30% to the budget for the trip. I think that would go a long way for an additional trip. It does take me about two years to save for 17 days in Europe so just not worth $250 per hour to sit or lay in a better seat. The noise cancelling headphones sound great and will sure try those. I usually always fly American as I use what miles I have and always have a few AA gift cards as well. Based on a few comments, American does not sound like it has the best business class anyway. Also the $1250 flight was flying home from Rome using the multi city plan. Would be cheaper using only Paris over and back. Sure there are better rates and I check regularly but just prefer American as I have always had good luck with them and never any travel problems.
I'd plan an "extra" night at your arrival hotel and sleep there as long as you like. Depending on timing, a nap may not be the best solution to jet lag, but the cost is much less, and when you wake up, you still have money for dinner in Paris.
How about splitting the difference: fly over in business class, back in coach?
Here is my stratagy:
1. I usually take the chance I will be offered first class when I sign in 24 hours before the flight. It often is 75.00 to 500.00 to upgrade to first or buisness class. Hawaii, Grand Cayman, Alaska, Bali, Costa Rica, to name a few that has worked out. Some required some miles and cash and some just cash.
2. Today I booked economy class tickets from Peoria to Amsterdam, 1057.00 round trip, after booking I could upgrade for $1,000 for first class, if I had booked it as first class, the price would have been 5482.00 each. Cost me 20,000 miles and the cash.
3. When I get to the airport I go to the ticket machines and upgrade that way too, often an hour before boarding for as little as 50.00 to first class. No miles involved.
4. A tip for your sanity: never do I book a seat in the front row of economy, you know the one where you don't have a place to put your bag under the seat in front. 4 occasions I have had to share my seat with a another person because their seat won't allow them to fit in it.
Yes this is all chance involved, and you might end up sitting in economy or for additional money in Economy Plus®. I do try to book with one main airlines and its much easier now that many airlines are co partners with others. I start off after I buy the tickets getting a window seat, then check 1X a week getting a better seat if available. I travel a lot, so I have this down to a fine science.
I think an extra $2000 for business class one way is a lot. I would expect round trip business class for that price. If you can be flexible with your travel dates and arrival/departure cities, you can sometimes find better prices for business class tickets. I found business class Chicago to Rome on Aer Lingus for $2200 last summer. This year I found a multi city Chicago-Paris, Basel-Chicago for $2800. It is still a lot of money but not quite as high as what you found.
When I fly business, I definitely arrive feeling more well rested and not quite as gross. And it is nice to have a faster check in, faster security line (at SOME airports, not all), and access to very nice lounges when I have a layover. But ultimately, you know your budget the best. If you decide it is a luxury that is worth it, don't feel guilty about it.
Tony, here is suggestion that is sometimes EVEN MORE EFFECTIVE than flying Business Class as it relates to reducing jet lag and feeling refreshed.
Try as hard as you can to find a two-leg flight from Nashville.
What has been an absolutely "killer" for me lately are the three-leg flights from Nashville, then to Atlanta, then to Amsterdam, then to wherever final destination. Ditto for routings like Nashville to Atlanta to New York, then to final destination.
There are the rare, but much nicer, Nashville to New York (or Philly or Chicago) to final destination.
Those routings seem to cost a few hundred dollars more, but oh so worth it by not having to hang around yet one more airport to wait for the next connection. The waiting just wears me out.
But, be warned: I booked routing from BNA to NY and on...only to find out a few months later that I then had to be routed to Atlanta first when the BNA/NY route was canceled.....so we would have wound up with BNA/ALT/NY/Spain. But, then a few months after that, another terrible re-routing problem resulted from the airline.....and that's one of the times I was able to kindly and tenaciously negotiate a First-Class upgrade. But, on the coming-home route, yet another flight had been cancelled, so we had to spend the night in Atlanta, but we snagged a $300 voucher each for next flights.
It's all a game. If you are booking far in advance, likely you will go thru several reschedulings by the airlines.
Yep, it's a lot of money to pay full fare. And, you could spend less arriving two days early to your destination before the RS tour, sleeping an entire day (or two) and probably be much more refreshed than a multi-leg flight even in First Class.
Margaret, the best rates so far on American have been Nashville to Charlotte and then to Paris. That is also the least amount of flying time overall. About 90 minutes layover in Charlotte which is great. I usually don't feel that bad after landing in Europe. Most of the lag hits me on the return trip. Guess I am just so excited going over I don't let anything bother me. I will have from 9am on Fri to 2pm on Tue in Paris before the tour starts so I will be well acclimated to the time and over any lag at all. Ideas on the upgrades are great and will try those when time comes. I don't fly but a couple times a year so not up on all the ways to get upgrades and perks.
Just flew American twice this past weekend but did not notice anyone trying to upgrade on a US flight. I also know there has been some talk about Southwest starting a European route. Has anyone heard anything about that?
I'm sure I can beat the $1250 price but after I use some miles and a couple gift cards, only about $750 out of pocket which is not bad. Guess that is why I can't really splurge and spend another $2000 for business class to Paris. I have never been tight with my money, but that one does not make sense to me.
Tony, good to see you posting again and planning for your trip! I myself would not pay the extra for business class. The reclining seats are not a factor for me, as I cannot sleep on a plane. The extra leg room is tempting for sure, but that's just too much to pay for it for me.
Seems high for one way; you might want to wait and see if price fluctuates. Can you get the US Airways/American Airlines credit card to build miles to use for an upgrade in 2016? There should be a signing bonus of 30,000 or so, depending on the deal. I just got 30k after spending $1000. Otherwise, f you are going in summer, Air France has put business on sale for the past few summers for about 2,500 more or less round trip.
I have never considered flying business class or first class--if I was paying. And now we're young retired.
We've been on 4 major vacations in the last year including 2x to Europe. There's no way I could keep this pace up if I was paying for any upgrades out of my pocket. And we don't fly on company business anymore to pile up any substantial airline miles that could be applied to the upgrades.
Last time I checked, the back of the plane arrives at the same time as the front of the plane. And I'm almost as rested packed in the Sardine Department as I would be up front.
I've been traveling to Europe since going to university there in 1970, and there's still some places we want to see. My greatest joy is searching the internet and finding a budget flight 1/2 that of normal airfares. We're considering spending 85 days in Europe next year--starting in Budapest on 9/1/2016--and seeing some really off the beaten path places 2 weeks at a time.
I'm sorry that you may be ending your European vacations. My parents traveled with a group of 22 persons from Franklin and College Grove until they were about 80 years old--and loved every minute of it. They went just about everywhere in the world--except India.
Tony -- just keying in on something you said in an interim response -- that the "open jaw" ticket -- flying into Paris and back home out of Rome is more expensive than just flying RT Nashville-Paris-Nashville.
I think most of us here would advise that that money would be money well spent. You usually will spend more trying to backtrack to your original destination - both in terms of money and in terms of precious vacation time -- than you have to spend to purchase the open-jaw ticket that allows your trip to follow a more logical trajectory. That's one place I would advise spending the additional money up front for a moneywise decision that helps your trip flow better.
Like everyone says, whether or not to spend the extra money is a purely personal decision, but for what it's worth, here's my take.
Business class will be very different depending on the airline you fly. I've only flown business twice and both times were to/from SFO to a European destination. The first time was on Lufthansa. Very nice seats and cabin, good food and drink. This was in the fall of 2010 when they had just upgraded all of their business class seating (can't remember the type of plane). In addition, the business class lounge at Frankfurt was very nice, offering a good variety of hot/cold food and drink as well as shower facilities. In 2011 I flew business on United. It was a bit of a downgrade, the seats and equipment were old, outdated, and worn. The seat-side TV monitor did not have any special program selections, GPS mapping of the plane, or other services, it basically had about 10 channels of movies or shows, playing on repeat. So while you still get business class level leg room, it just didn't come close. Both had lie-flat seats, but beware, while they lay flat, they do not lay horizontal, so your whole body is still at a bit of an angle.
Both times I didn't pay full price for the ticket, nor did I use miles or cash to upgrade. Rather, I paid for the ticket entirely with miles (less the tax/fee which was about a hundred dollars or so). As far as I know, you have the following ways of getting into business class:
1.) Pay cash for a business class ticket
2.) Pay cash for a full fair economy ticket and then use mileage and/or cash to upgrade to business. Keep in mind though, that on many airlines, only full fair economy tickets are upgradeable and full fair is much more expensive than discount.
3.) Use miles to purchase a business class ticket (less tax/fee).
The difference between 2.) and 3.) other than how much comes out of your pocket, is that with 2.) you are not guaranteed upgrade availability. This is a bit of a risk if you're paying extra money for that full fair economy ticket. With 3.) you'd obviously need a lot more miles but you'll be guaranteed that seat on business class once you've purchased the ticket, rather than hoping for upgrade availability.
Please note though that not all cabin classes on all flights with all carriers are available for purchase with miles. Those seats (whether econ or biz) that are available for purchase with miles are usually limited or on less desirable routes (i.e., such as those with multiple stopovers). Your best bet is to book early.
If it's leg room you're after you might also want to try upgrades to exit row seats in economy. On some planes there's an "emergency" exit row mid-cabin. Those are the ones I'm talking about. I'm referring to those that are the actual exit rows for on/off-boarding. These are the first row of seats in each cabin section.
I like the idea of splitting the difference and agree with Kim's suggestion of investing in the open jaw to make the most of your travel time in Europe. The reason I like splitting the difference....business class over and economy back....is that I did the very same thing in April. Believe me, I enjoyed getting pampered and having the nice...lay flat seat. But in the end....I felt just fine in economy. To be sure...that extra $2000 can take you a long way in Europe but I understand taking the business class plunge. Either way you win.
I've always flown Economy direct to Europe from Calif, either out of SFO, LAX or Oakland, except twice with Lufthansa I was totally by chance and pleasantly surprised to be told that I would be seating in Business class, ie, got upgraded, both times going over to FRA. Of course, it's more comfortable than being in Economy for a 10-11 hr flight going to Paris or Frankfurt. There have been times being in Economy was barely tolerable, other times not as acute.. To me it's still not worth the price if I had to pay extra for extra comfort. I would rather spend that extra money on the ground, prolonging the trip, or splurging on more luxurious accommodations. True, it's easier to fall asleep in Business class, but then I sleep anyway in Economy, sometimes more, sometimes less, but still enough to feel adequately refreshed upon arrival after those 11 hours. That's all that matters.
It depends for whom. For me not.