SAS: Business Class A330

I've been frequenting Scandinavia in the past several years and SAS is always my airline of choice. Why? When I went to fly Norwegian, their 787-9 was hit by lightning and blew out both electrical batteries. Therefore, SAS has been my one and only choice. Since upgrading their A330 product I've really enjoyed my flights in each of their respective classes. For this particular review checkout SAS' upgraded business class product!

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Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class 787-9

Virgin Atlantic’s Dreamliner service is awesome. Period.

In traveling on Virgin's new 787-8 service from LAX to LHR, there are several key improvements in Virgin's newer equipment over it's older equipment. I was pumped to fly this route, on this product, on one of my favorite airlines! Read on to find out more!

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Emirates: Business Class 77W

Emirates airlines, one of the favorites around the world. I had the opportunity to fly both their 77W and A380 service from ARN to SYD via DXB. This review is concentrated on their 77W service, which as you can guess is not my preference between Emirates' 77W and A380 business class products. All you need to do is do some Googling and you'll find that tends to be the general stance across the industry.

Overall, good product, just not as luxurious as their A380 business class product. Read on to find out why!

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Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class A330

Virgin Atlantic started refreshing their A330s in 2014 with updated Upper Class seats. These seats were upgraded to accommodate what any business traveler has come to expect out of a premium cabin. The updated seat now offers in-seat power charging, USB cable connector, and touch-screen IFE.

Read on to find out more details of Virgin's amazing Upper Class service on one of their A330s!

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American Airlines: First Class E170

Lesson #1: Short distance work trips != luxury space. Heading down to Raleigh for a work trip I flew down economy and back in First (at-kiosk upgrade). Consider this a standard US carrier (American) where they just can't compete with better service (JetBlue) for the same price. Fact is, although American has split cabins, JetBlue overall takes the cake.

 

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How Do I Rate Airlines?

Question: How do you define 'best' airline?

This all depends on personal preferences. I break the 'best' airline category down into five distinct parts, judged on a scale of 1-10. My scale will be based upon flight route rather than overall airline, I find this is the best way to rate airlines as this is how travelers identify the best routes. At this point, airlines differ route to route as the aircraft you are should contribute heavily to the airline you choose.

Note: You'll note in this list I do no include price. Airline prices vary so heavily on time of booking, route, and aircraft. I'd much rather rate based on quality not quantity.

 

1. Quality of Seats (Per Class)

I will break this down by class, where I can with a certain trip/airline. Additionally, where I can only compare to a specific class, I will compare the to other fleets of the same class/price.

This will entail specific aircraft, seat width, seat pitch, recline/lie-flat, storage, and cabin space.

2. Quality of Entertainment

This is a large part of the in-flight experience. I, like many, use this time to either work or relax. Therefore, WiFi, on-demand entertainment, power ports are considered in this category.

3. Quality of In-Flight Food

During short or long haul flights, I often eat in-flight. Those that enjoy flying understand that the food and drink is in large portion a heavy factor in a specific flight they may choose.

4. Quality of Customer Service

I myself work in a fast paced start-up world where I am responsible for Customer Support and Success. I know what customer service is and it's principles apply to any business.

This category is critical because when traveling for business or pleasure you need to be able to change flights quickly, for little or no cost, and to be able to actually speak with someone.

5. Quality of Fleet

In the age of WiFi, lie-flat seats (and in some cases suites), necessary power ports, and overall service. The fleet of an airline is a heavy factor in my decision of what to fly.

6. Flight Access and On-Time Reliability

How many flights are available per day? What is the on-time reliability of those flights? What about the boarding process? As a business traveler, in my mind these key to know.

7. Lounge Access

Whether flying First, Business, or Economy (Coach in old-school terms), we all enjoy access to a lounge. Now, lounge quality is an entirely different ball-game. I will do my best to describe the lounges, but for now I specifically will rate this category based upon level of access. Some are allowed access only if flying first, some are allowed if of a certain status. I shall rate those here.

8. Overall Quality

First thing everyone needs to know is upgrades are not guaranteed. I'll say it again, upgrades are not guaranteed. Therefore, my personal opinion is that the best airlines have a balance of quality in any cabin on their airline.

As an example, let's take United vs. Virgin America. Two domestic US airlines. The route also matters, let's take JFK to SFO, a route I often fly.

United

First Class: Leather seats, reclines fully, food choices are decent, entertainment is average.

Economy: Seats are cotton, recline slightly, food is poor. Overall experience is sub-par.

Overall Rating: 3 (Aka you better hope for that upgrade)

Virgin America

First Class: Leader seats, reclines fully, food choices are OK (not great), entertainment is excellent.

Economy: Seats are leather, recline more than typical economy, food choices are excellent and on-demand, entertainment is excellent.

Overall Rating: 10 (I'd fly this economy class over United short-haul business class)

Therefore, the way I rate my first category is by overall cabin quality. For any cabin I may be sitting in, how is the experience.