A big part of the appeal of luxurious business class is the opportunity to do something really special for your frequent flyer. This was no different for me when I recently flew business class from Los Angeles to London with American Airlines. Here’s how I spent one working week in cabins across the U.S. and across the pond:
When I arrived at my final destination in London, it was almost like an awards ceremony — with an entourage and a loudspeaker playing to loud music. There was no waiting room, a fully stocked drinks cart, snacks and drink. That’s right, a cart. It was also equipped with a toilet, a water cooler, a mini gym and massage tables. It reminded me more of a Middle Eastern airline than an American one. You’ll never get away with that in the U.S.
On a recent American Airlines flight between Los Angeles and London, the airliner moved the lie-flat bed on each side of the plane for an elevated lie-flat, which now contains four sheets and doubles as a desk for spreadsheets. You can work on it all day and night because there’s no need to tighten the weight-balancing belt. There are fully reclining seats, which some swear helps you sleep because your hips and ribs are compressing with each step down.
This year, there’s been a new and better way to work. On business class flights on American, Emirates and British Airways, these seats are “self-adjusting” with a back-rest that wobbles so you know whether to lean back or forward. If you lean back, you get a better seat so you can head to sleep.
The overhead space isn’t padded in the way it was years ago. What’s changed is that it now allows larger pouches for iPods and electronic devices. But, of course, you still must have your own headphones to use the outlets.
On American, airlines are offering a meal with wine. It’s from a cuisine created by a California chef. I was impressed with the chicken and pasta with olive oil and capers. (The chef wasn’t available for an interview, but appears on camera during an upcoming promotional video for the meal.)
And not all passengers like being on-board on short haul flights. “No need to go to bed at 2 a.m.,” said one stewardess when I was asleep on the last flight from Los Angeles to London. Oh, well.