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Old Jun 25, 01, 10:44 am   #1
Join Date: Jun 2001
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Business Class Vs. Coach-International Flights

This is my first time to FLYERTALK. I am a pretty extended traveler within the U.S. but not abroad. Now I find that my husband and I will be making a few trips over to visit our son (in the Air Force) in Germany. I could probably handle a coach seat for the extended flying time but my husband will most likely have a problem. The problem is the GREAT difference in price of coach versus first class. Someone suggested Business Class instead but I can't get any clear answers about the difference between coach and business classes. Some have told me that Business Class is a big improvement over Coach and others have said not to spend the money as there is very little difference! I would like to get information ahead of time and be prepared. I would appreciate the time and feedback of anyone that has experience/knowledge in this area. Thanks for your help.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:13 am   #2
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In general, business class between the US and Europe is a VAST improvement over coach. It's also vastly better than domestic first class. Business class within europe is a different matter -- that will have the same seats as coach class w/i europe, but they give you better food and don't put people in middle seats.

However, Business Class to europe is also very expensive, compared with coach. New York to London in coach can usually be had for under $500 (or under $800 in peak season). Contrast this with the business class fare which is over $5,000. Of course, this is still cheaper than first class, which runs over $8,500 on the same trip.

If you guys are experienced domestic travelers, you might want to consider using your miles to upgrade from coach to business. Most airlines let you do this for 40,000-50,000 miles round-trip US to Europe. In terms of the dollar-value of miles, upgrading premium tickets will almost always get you the most bang for your buck.

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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:14 am   #3
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business class is about the same as domestic first. we normally get coach tickets & use miles to upgrade.
don....i'm practicing to be a grouchy old man, and getting good at it....
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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:14 am   #4
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I can't imagine anyone saying there is NO difference between C and B. I mostly fly AA, and it's like night and day between C and B.

The primary benefits are more seat room, leg room and much better food. Depending on the airline, the entertainment choices are much better as well.

I'm sure there will be a lot more people chiming in about this one.

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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:23 am   #5
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I also agree there is a big difference between coach and business on international flights. I believe the service, room, food and entertainment are so much better - plus you get your own bathroom . I've never paid for the upgrade but use miles or upgrade certificates the airlines issue (which is a great benefit from AA). I don't use miles/certs for domestic travel upgrades unless it is a connection to an international flight. I don't see the value as much for these.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:46 am   #6
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Anyone who says that there is no difference between domestic F and Int'l Biz has not flown internationally in 20 years. That simple.

Differences, legroom, seat widt, entertainment, food, general service. Average Domestic seat pitch 36" (sometimes as little at 34"), average int'l seat pitch 50" (sometimes as much as 60"). Case closed
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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:54 am   #7
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If using miles to upgrade from coach to business, be careful which fare class you buy in coach. On some (most?) airlines you can only upgrade certain coach fares with miles.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 11:55 am   #8
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Definite big difference between Coach and Business, as all have eloquently related above.

IF and I mean IF, you can sleep in a mildly reclining position, flying the US-Europe portion as an overnight flight in Coach can be cost-effective. When you are wide awake on the return (usually late morning flights), having the extra elbow room, service, etc. in Business definitely is advantageous.

If you don't have any upgrades, you need to make some fast friends who do! If you have upgrades, but no significant status with that airline, its tough to get off the waitlist.
If you have enough miles for an award ticket, be prepared to be VERY flexible in your travel dates.

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Old Jun 25, 01, 12:00 pm   #9
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There is big difference between coach and business class on international routes. Also, international business class is much superior than domestic First. Wider seat, great leg room and not to mention much better service (and meal selection) are available in international business. If you have miles to upgrade to business, don't think twice to upgrade.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 12:27 pm   #10
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Other advantages of J (or F) can include avoiding the herds during check-in, access to departure and/or arrivals lounges, expedited baggage handling (theoretically, at least), less competition for overhead space, or access to expedited customs and immigrations lines, among others.

[This message has been edited by wigstheone (edited 06-26-2001).]
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Old Jun 25, 01, 12:46 pm   #11
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You might want to consider looking into Delta's BizElite or Continental's BizFirst product.

My mother has flown twice to Frankfurt via Delta in the past year. She paid the coach fare and I used 40k Delta points each time to upgrade her to BizElite. There's a noticeable difference between a 3-class business seat and the 2-class BizElite/BizFirst seat.

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Old Jun 25, 01, 2:34 pm   #12
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">Originally posted by hfly:
Anyone who says that there is no difference between domestic F and Int'l Biz has not flown internationally in 20 years. That simple.

Differences, legroom, seat widt, entertainment, food, general service. Average Domestic seat pitch 36" (sometimes as little at 34"), average int'l seat pitch 50" (sometimes as much as 60"). Case closed
Most coach seat pitch is at 31 inches unless in AA's MRTC or UA's E+ with about 34-35 inches.

Most Business class seat pitch is 48-55 inches with seats that recline substantially and with legrests, too.

Frankly, the differences between Coach and Business are HUGE! The differences between Business and First are less significant.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 3:57 pm   #13
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welcome janicem to FT.

flying coach internationally is not the end of the world, but it can be challenging to squeeze into the seat if you are tall or weigh more than 200 pounds (obviously this is a big generalization).

if you cannot afford to buy a business class ticket (and not many of us can or are willing to -- it really is a lot of money to spend for a few hours on a plane) then your best options are to buy a coach ticket and try to get your hands on upgrade vouchers or lots of frequent flier miles that can then be used to upgrade tickets to business.

Although the airlines (and some of the folks here on FT) frown on this practice (I personally would not do this but then again I can (and have many times) suffer through 20+hours of coach if I have to), there are ways to BUY upgrade vouchers (for example, see eBay), and certain airlines (such as American and United) will allow you to use these upgrades on practically any fare. The caveat here is that the airlines can revoke your frequent flier status (or maybe even worse) if they catch you buying these certs. But this kind of thing appears to happen all the time (for now, at least)

The other option is to get your hands on more miles. There are many ways to do this. And this site is the place to learn about those ways. Right now, the best airline to accumulate miles without flying is American. Check out that board and you'll read about the current 20K for 20 partners promo (very doable for a modest out of pocket investment), the 10K bonus signup for applying for a Citibank World Mastercard for $50, and, of course, I should not forget that you can buy (and donate) food for a lot of miles. Once you get these miles, you may be able to upgrade your coach tickets to business... Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 25, 01, 5:04 pm   #14
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Domestic and international coach are similar. Domestic first is noticeably better. International business is better than that. How much better depends on the airline: those like Delta that have a hybrid business/first class tend to be better than those that offer a separate first class as their premier product. International first class, where available, tends to include things like caviar and beds - nice, but you're only going to be there for eight hours or so!

I concur with buying an inexpensive economy ticket and upgrading with miles, if that works for you. If it doesn't, some airlines are extending the multiple-price approach (lower fares for advance purchase, Saturday night stay, etc.) to the front cabin(s). Also, if you have or can get an AmEx Platinum card ("real Platinum," not a platinum-colored Optima) you can get two business-class tickets for the price of one on several airlines.
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Old Jun 26, 01, 6:50 am   #15
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You're going to Germany, but I can't tell where you are starting.

Business class tickets E-US rt are frequently much less than US-E rt. If you are making the same rt each time, get to Europe either with a rt booked with a max time return, or a one way, and begin starting your trip in Germany.

LU & SR allow upgrade of almost every paid coach fare with miles.
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