Updated June 22, 2020.
If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that my sweet husband Steve and I are loyal to United and have been enjoying the benefits of 1K status with them for several years. All of my business class experiences have been on United airplanes or with their Star Alliance partners until my trip to Doha on Qatar Airways. That airline is not in the Star Alliance and does not participate in TSA Pre-check, so I would not have the advantages that come with my United status. I was expecting the whole process to be slower and much more cumbersome than the travel style to which I’ve grown accustomed, and I was not looking so forward to that!
Not so! Because I had booked into business class, I discovered there are a great many advantages beyond just the better food and a lay-flat seat (which is plenty enough for me, so the rest was all just icing on the cake!). Here is a quick run-down of the lesser-appreciated benefits of flying business class, so you can understand just what you’re getting for the money you’re spending.
Did you know both business and first class passengers have a dedicated lane at the check-in counter? I usually check-in online and have my boarding pass loaded on my phone, and I always go carry-on only, so I can typically bypass the check-in counter altogether. Unfortunately, I checked in online and discovered that mobile boarding passes are not an option for flights from the U.S. to Qatar on Qatar Airways, so I had to go to the desk to pick up my boarding pass.
By the time I arrived more than three hours before the scheduled departure time, the line was out of control! I don’t know how long it would have taken to go through that line, but luckily for me, I could use the Priority Lane! There were only two people in front of me, and I got my boarding pass so I could be on my way in less than 10 minutes.
Priority Security Screening
I was kind of bummed I couldn’t use TSA Pre-check, since Qatar Airways is not a participating airline. But wait! Washington-Dulles International Airport has a dedicated security late for business and first class customers that is considerably shorter and faster. I still needed to take out all my liquids, electronics, etc., but the process went much faster than anticipated–less than 10 minutes from start to finish, in fact! I don’t know that all airports have a dedicated priority lane for security screenings, but Hammad International Airport in Doha did, and I have noticed such lines in Frankfurt and other International airports around the world as well!
This is one of the best benefits of flying business class. Airline lounges have food and beverages available—often very good food, and very filling food—as well as comfortable seating, and complimentary wi-fi! Many lounges also have quiet rooms, sleeping areas, and even showers! For more about this specific benefit, check out my post all about the Qatar Airways Lounge in Doha!
Priority Boarding and Overhead Bin Space
When you’ve been in the last boarding group, you start to really appreciate any opportunity to board early in the whole process. When flying business class, not only do you get to board with the first group of “regular” people (non-regular being the super priority people: uniformed members of the military, families with small children, the elderly, and those needing extra time and assistance when boarding). There is room for all your carry-on items, and you don’t have to fight for your bin of choice when you have priority boarding!
Okay, so the lounge access is a pretty awesome perk, but so are the amenities kits! The first time I ever flew business class was in August 2013, flying a great many hours from LAX-SYD (L.A., USA, to Sydney, Australia). I was so excited and felt so out-of-place, I had no idea what to even do with myself! Was I in the way? Did I need to ask permission to put my feet up? Why are they asking if I want a beverage before we take off? And what’s that little box in my seat?
That box was an amenities kit. It’s like a little present, and I still get excited when I fly in business class! Forget your toothbrush on purpose, my friend. There will be a toothbrush, toothpaste, and sometimes even a teeny-tiny mouthwash waiting for you. Flying more than 8 hours? There might be a pair of PJ’s in it for you! Flying to or from Asia? You will certainly be getting slippers! Here is a favorite amenities kit from an unexpected (but not unwelcome) upgrade to business class on a 14-hour flight from BKK-VIE (Bangkok to Vienna):
Because there are fewer people for whom each flight attendant is responsible, your service is much more personal and helpful. Need more water? Just ask. I even asked a business class flight attendant once if she wouldn’t mind filling my travel mug with hot water so I could have an emergen-C, and she offered to wash it out for me first! Totally unnecessary, but she said it with a smile! And I was grateful.
I don’t know about you, but after landing, waiting for a gate to open up, taxiing, and waiting for the seatbelt sign to go off, I am ready to get off that plane! It’s anxiety-inducing to know the doors are open and I am stuck at the back (or even just in the middle!) and can’t get out and be on my way. Customs lines get longer, crowds increase, people are jet lagged and confused about where to go next… it’s just more efficient to get in front of all that. If you’re in a business class seat, you will get off that plane first! Extra benefit: if you have to de-plane on the tarmac and take a bus to the gate, you will be on the first bus that fills up and starts toward the terminal. That’s a win!
I actually experienced this for the first time ever: Qatar Airways has its own lounge at customs with a passport control area inside. I didn’t have to wait in a line, I didn’t have to decide which line to go in, I just went into the lounge, went through passport control, and went out the “nothing to declare” door to meet my friends! Efficiency and expediency are quite valuable to me, especially when it comes to travel. This was an unexpected delight, and I hope more airlines will take note!
Are you ready for your own venture into business class? It could be worth your while!
Check out all my flying tips and hacks on my Air Travel Page!
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