This past summer, I flew around the world with 3 friends, it was a true #avgeek bachelor party. We hit 5 continents, and racked up 40,000 miles flown. You can see some of my tweets over the trip with the hashtag #JoeyRTW. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts from flying around the world in 8 days in Business Class
As a recap of the trip, here was the itinerary, for the most part, we flew west, with only a little backtracking to get home after our second visit to Santiago in 8 days.
Now, you might be starting to ask yourself – why in the world would we all subject ourselves to 40,000 miles in business? Well, Unfortunately it’s a new reality, and business was the right price. Interestingly enough, First Class wasn’t even offered on half of our flights.
High Level Thoughts from flying around the world in 8 days in business class
Before I get into the specific products, I thought I’d summarize some of my thoughts ahead of time.
- Hard products (aka the seat) vary rather significantly. All of the products we flew were technically “layflat” however they were not all necessarily 180 degrees (aka parallel to the deck). Seats on this trip ranged from 1-2-1 reverse herringbone, 2-2-2 configurations, 1-2-1 staggered configuration, SQ’s “flip your own seat to sleep” seat, and whatever it is you call British Airways’ 2-4-2 high density Club World seat.
- Soft products (aka the service) also varied rather significantly. Some of this can be chalked up to the focus of the particular airline – some, such as Singapore are very focused on service, while others surprised us with how poor their service was.
I don’t want to leave you with the idea that all we did was fly for a week. We certainly maximized our time on the ground, at one point, almost too much. But, that is perhaps a topic for another time.
American Airlines has a pretty decent seat
We flew American Airlines down to Santiago, it was the new B/E Aerospace Super Diamond on a 777-200. It wasn’t amazing, but I got a pretty solid nights sleep, which may have been helped by a few hours in the AMEX Centurion Lounge.
Qantas 747-400 – The same lackluster seat as the A380
Perhaps the coolest “line” we flew, was from Santiago, Chile to Sydney, Australia. Its not often that you fly the southern great circle route.
While the mattress pad made a difference, the seat is largely similar to Qatar’s outdated 777-300ER seat (pre-Q Suites)
The service was ok, but I’d offer that really the only seat you want is on the upper deck, the lower deck looked downright cattle class:
Seriously – what business class does a middle seat now a days? preposterous!
The service was decent, but we did notice that the wine offerings were different in the upper deck as compared to the main deck.
One other point of reference – while more modern aircraft have areas to congregate with other passengers, the Qantas 747-400 does not. We still made the best of it on the stairs to the upper deck.
British Airways 777-200 Business Class Sydney to Singapore
Perhaps the 14 hour Qantas flight prepared us for our quick hop up to Singapore on British Airways.
It still boggles my mind that any airline would fly an 8 abreast business class product. This, in a world where 10 abreast economy seating is borderline unsafe for long hauls due to DVT concerns.
Overall, the service was fair but nothing particularly exciting.
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Singapore to Seoul
I had entered this flight with fairly low expectations given how Qantas and BA had fared. Believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised. It was probably due to the fact that I was definitely ready to sleep and it was a red-eye, leaving just shy of midnight. I got a 4-5 hour nap, facilitated by hopping up to flip the seat into bed mode as soon as we got to 10,000 feet. The bed was firm–not my favorite–but I went into this flight expecting that.
Emirates A380-800 Business Class Seoul to Dubai
At this point, we were approaching the best seat of our flight–but not quite yet! We had a slightly older Emirates A380 business class seat, but this was another redeye, leaving at 11:55pm (yes, you read that right, 2 redeyes in a row with a long layover in Incheon). This was the first time for most of us flying in Emirates Business Class–note, previously I had flown Emirates First Class, more than a few times.
Following another good sleep, we decided to splurge on our layover in Dubai and revisit the Emirates First Class Terminal/Lounge, which you can pay a fee to enter, even if you aren’t flying First. Ironically, to this day, I’ve never seen the Business Class lounge in Dubai. I had heard from others though that it was much, much busier.
Emirates A380-800 Business Class Dubai to Madrid
This flight was our pinnacle flight – it was the best flight of the trip! We had a slightly newer cabin, a slightly different seat, a fairly cool crew, and since it was a day flight, there was plenty of time to enjoy the onboard bar.
As I had mentioned earlier, there were minor differences with the seat, I thought this one was just a touch more comfortable
and while we didn’t have the new and improved Emirates A380 Bar, we still had a fantastic time!
LAN 787-9 Business Class Madrid to Santiago
I was particularly looking forward to this flight, despite it being another redeye. Unfortunately this flight didn’t go quite as planned. It was significantly delayed, so we ended up leaving just shy of EU 261 compensation. Onboard, the seat was again a 2-2-2 configuration, but at least this seat was better than the BA, and even better than the Qantas seats.
In layflat position there was no mattress pad, there was a decent blanket, and since we left so late, I pretty much reclined and conked out for 8-9 hours.
Upon waking up, we had a light breakfast. I did order a non-standard breakfast beverage–a Disaronno Amaretto and Orange Juice–and the first time I thought they had forgotten, as it took 20 minutes to come. I ordered a second, and really thought they had forgotten me, because it came within minutes of our early “lock down the cabin” announcement. Apparently, LAN has flight attendants prepare the cabin and seat themselves before crossing over the Andes Mountains. Its logical, we were bumpy coming in, so that’s not a complaint. I think it made more sense, fewer spilled drinks, less risk of injury; bottom line, that was prudent.
American Airlines Santiago to Miami (then home)
I’m not sure why, but I was exhausted for this flight. I reclined, and was asleep before I knew it. I woke up in time for breakfast, and that was about that. I was surprised, because, I didn’t even get an amenity kit this flight. I found the crew not to be amazing. One thing stood out as odd to me – every single time I looked up (and I was noticing this a fair amount when I was awake), the forward lav was occupied. It seemed to me, that the forward lav was occupied the entire flight. The seat was the same as the flight down – perfectly comfortable, perhaps my favorite American Airlines business class seat, over the reverse herringbone seat on the 777-300ER.
Wrapping Up: Thoughts from flying around the world in 8 days in Business Class
This trip was epic! I was nervous flying around the world in 8 days, it seemed so quick, but it was truly epic. This post doesn’t cover our time on the ground – which wasn’t much but was truly enjoyed. Flying around the world in essentially 8 days (Santiago to Santiago). Flying around the world in 8 days was always a bucket list goal of mine. I still want to figure out a way to do a similar trip visiting every continent, or at least 6 of the 7 continents. We flew such a motley selection of airlines on this trip that it really provided a very good variety. Many knock American Airlines as not a great airline, yet, the hard product was easily the second best of the trip behind Emirates. The service wasn’t amazing, but it was better than LAN. British Airways reminded us how bad dense business class can be, with 8 abreast seating, though, we made the best of it, chatting with each other, rather than staring into a stranger’s eyes (since the seats alternate between forward and backward facing seats). Qantas provided an interesting experience, but more importantly, a more interesting “line”, flying the southern great circle route, a first for all of us. Finally, Singapore left me feeling like the soft product was phenomenal.
Perhaps the most surprising thing of all? I wasn’t even a bit exhausted from the trip when I landed, 9.5 days after I started. So much so that I dragged my wife out sourcing for our reselling business, after she picked me up from the airport.