Many of the perks of flying business class on long-haul flights are well known. The lie-flat seats, for instance, are an iconic image of flying in luxury. And let’s not forget the multi-course meals featured in so many social media posts.
These flashy amenities may be Insta-worthy, but they’re not the only pros to flying business class. Here are some of the lesser-known amenities you may also enjoy.
1. Priority check-in
The benefits of business class start long before you board the plane. And it all begins at the check-in counter. Many airlines offer accelerated check-in and baggage handling, with dedicated counters for business and first-class passengers.
This is obviously less important to folks who check in online and don’t check any baggage. But if you’re taking a long-haul flight, chances are good you have some luggage to check. Being able to waltz past the lines and crowds to check your bags gets the trip off on the right foot.
2. Expedited security screening
Speaking of long lines…not looking forward to waiting in the ones for security? You may not have to if you’re flying business class. Some airlines offer an expedited security line for frequent flyers, including some business class passengers, that can get you through in a fraction of the time.
Whether there is an expedited security line will depend on the airport and airline. It’s worth asking at the check-in desk if the service is available (and where to go if it is).
Pro tip: You don’t need business class tickets to get through security faster. TSA PreCheck can help you sail through security once you’ve qualified. Even better, a lot of travel rewards cards will pay for it.
3. Lounge access
A fantastic feature offered by many airlines for international business class is access to the airline’s lounge. This is especially appreciated when it’s an airline with lounges I wouldn’t normally be able to access with my credit cards.
It’s important to note that not all upper class tickets get lounge access. And not all lounge access is made equal. Here are some general considerations:
- Domestic first class typically won’t get you into the lounge.
- International business or first class nearly always have lounge access.
- If your airline doesn’t have a lounge, you may still have access to partner lounges.
- Even business class doesn’t get you into the most exclusive lounges. For example, American Airlines Flagship First international first class passengers have access to dedicated Flagship First lounges in several airports.
4. Dedicated flight attendants
One of the reasons business class service is so much better than other cabins is the staff. The flight-attendant-to-passenger ratio is simply much lower in business class; in other words, each flight attendant has fewer people to assist. This makes service much faster, as well as more personal. (Don’t discount the personal part; you get to know each other well over the course of an eight-hour flight.)
5. Toiletries and pajamas
The big selling point of business class on an international flight is the lie-flat seats that turn into beds. Being able to stretch out completely and sleep is a luxury that cannot be overstated. The only problem? Your toiletries and sleepwear are probably packed.
Happily, your business class seat will usually come with a handy little zippered pouch full of helpful toiletries, often including:
- Lip balm
- A toothbrush
- A tube of toothpaste
- An eye mask
But that’s not all. Some airlines will also offer you a set of complimentary pajamas so you can sleep in comfort. However, unlike the amenity kits, which are often waiting on your seat when you board, you’ll likely need to request a pajama set from a flight attendant.
Upgrade to luxury
If you have to be stuck in a tiny metal tube for an eight-hour international flight, you may as well make that tube as comfortable as possible. Flying business class is how you do just that.
The downside to all that luxury? Zeroes. As in, add a couple zeroes onto the end of your ticket price if you want to upgrade to business class. (A quick search right now shows one-way business class fares from the east coast of the U.S. to Europe going for $3,000 and up.)
Or, you could use your credit card rewards. Pretty much all of my favorite travel rewards cards come with welcome bonuses large enough that you could get at least a one-way business class flight to most destinations. With a little planning — and some strategic welcome bonuses — you could travel in luxury nearly for free.
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