Advice to First Time Business Class Flyer

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smit0847

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Wow I am overwhelmed with the kindness of you all! We will be flying out of Sydney. Budget? We thought we would probably have to pay about $8,000 each (very expensive I know) but hubby is determined to make this the trip of a lifetime (35th Wedding Anniversary) but of course I would love it to cost less.
I had thought about a flight that would perhaps have a layover of a few hours to give me time to get up and about and stretch my muscles. Having stopped in Singapore I thought that one of the hotels at the airport would be the go. But you have given me food for thought about maybe breaking the journey. I naievely thought that flying Business Class equated to it not be tiring, even to London, I'm guessing that I am probably over estimating how exhausting just the act of flying for that long will be.
I did it once in 1979 on a $500 airfare Sydney to London return and I don't have fond memories of that journey lol!
I really do not want to stop in Dubai or similar and there are not a lot of Asian destinations that interest me as far as a stopover.
Interesting to know about the top notch business seats on SQ limited to two a day. What flights would they be?
Once again I am really appreciative of the advice.


You're welcome - you'll find we're a friendly and helpful bunch here and there are a lot very knowledgeable people.

What are your travel dates?

The best SQ product is found on their A380 and 77W planes, so look for this plane type when booking (avoid the '777-300 refurb' and A330). I believe all flights SIN-LHR-SIN are the A380/77W product.

While SQ is fantastic, if you really want the best of the best (and you have a generous budget for it) I would consider CX over SQ. They really do have the worlds best business class and all flights to Australia have their best product so no need to be careful in trying to get a specific flight. HKG is also a very nice airport to transit (SIN is also good).

Let us know if these abbreviations are confusing you!
 

BadgerBoi

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If you just make it, say, an overnight stop the city doesn't necessarily matter - find a really great hotel and book yourself in, make sure it has a good restaurant and just pamper yourselves with a bit of five-star luxury.

For example, if you flew Malaysia Airlines, the airport hotel at Kuala Lumpur was great when I stayed there a few years ago, rooms start at about $170 a night, it's connected to the airport via a bridge so there's no need for transport. I dislike KL but it has a great airport and I really enjoyed this hotel.

Bangkok has a huge number of luxury hotels at good prices.

I think that it's a shame to stop in a city and not see any of it, but I have to admit that I've done just that myself.

Anyway, maybe just to give you something to think about...
 

ozbeachbabe

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A lot of people here on AFF find it's cheaper to buy miles in a frequent flyer program for a J award ticket as it's much cheaper than buying a retail fare.

See the link below re Alaska Airlines & purchasing miles which can be used fot travel on CX.

From time to time they have a promo where they will give you 40% bonus miles.

Why not both sign up which is free & keep an eye out for email offers re points bonuses.

It's best to book these giving as much notice as you can.

http://www.australianfrequentflyer.com.au/community/showthread.php?t=57584
 

knasty

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Agree with Ozbeachbabe I did award on CX mix of business first to LHR for around 4 grand inc tax using AA purchased miles. Great idea if you can plan 12 months out. Can also get BA First relatively easily but higher fuel surcharge.

Otherwise at the cheaper end consider Malaysia cash + miles. By using the 1000 free miles upon joining Enrich you can get good availability for around $4k.
 

OATEK

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I recently booked an open jaw multi-city return with Finnair (AY) that came in well under 7K. As other have said you could fly in to LHR and out of say Rome. On my booking I have CX to HKG, and then AY to Europe. On the home leg AY to Bangkok and QF to Sydney. So quite a mix of decent J seats/beds.

Try some dummy bookings through something like ITA Matrix (on the multi-city tab) to see what ideas are thrown up.
 

MEL_Traveller

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I naievely thought that flying Business Class equated to it not be tiring, even to London, I'm guessing that I am probably over estimating how exhausting just the act of flying for that long will be.

With the advent of full flat beds it is not tiring to fly straight through to Europe. You get on a plane in Australia, eat and snooze. Have a shower at the airport in transit, and then sleep all the way to your destination.

If you plan the trip correctly transfers can be a breeze - for example in Hong Kong. But if you transit somewhere like Bangkok it can be an ordeal - miles to walk from the plane to transit, and miles to walk back to you next flight. And lounges which are kind of so-so.

You need to weigh up a stopover - immigration, collect luggage, get taxi or train, hotel check-in, unpack, shower (and repeat the whole thing the next day on the way back) vs already being on your plane and well on the way to your final destination if you just transfer.
 
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SQ421

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I'd say you won't go wrong with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong

With four flights a day between Sydney and Hong Kong and the same number (or is it five now?) between Hong Kong and London, it gives you a great degree of flexibility in picking a schedule that works best for you.

The 1-2-1 product in J gives direct aisle access to all seats which might be a consideration should you wish to stretch your legs every so often. The soft product is excellent, and while some might say the food is lacking compared to Qantas, I personally haven't found that to be the case.

Transiting in Hong Kong is a breeze, and there's a couple of hotels near the airport (or many more accessible via the MRT) where you can spend a night or few at either (or both) ends of your trip to break up the journey.
 

missskybird

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I tend to agree with you on going straight through. Firstly I just like to 'get there' and also not having to sit up the whole journey squashed in Economy will certainly make a big difference to my personal comfort. I also like the idea of being able to shower etc whilst transiting. Do you get to use the airline you are flying with Business Lounge to do that whilst transiting?
 

MEL_Traveller

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I tend to agree with you on going straight through. Firstly I just like to 'get there' and also not having to sit up the whole journey squashed in Economy will certainly make a big difference to my personal comfort. I also like the idea of being able to shower etc whilst transiting. Do you get to use the airline you are flying with Business Lounge to do that whilst transiting?

yes... es... all airlines flying from Australia have lounges you can use. Again, some are better than others. Cathay pacific lounges are very good, Singapore airlines are good (not spectacular), Thai airways are very average.

the key to flying 'straight trough must be a full flat bed... not an angled one (unless you are a rare creature who can sleep comfortably on one).

overall, I would hazard to say Singapore airlines probably has the best offering out of Australia with everything considered (serivce is always superb). and if cost is not so important.

if you fly from Australia in economy and connect in Asia, a whole raft of other options open open up.
 

dajop

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YWhile SQ is fantastic, if you really want the best of the best (and you have a generous budget for it) I would consider CX over SQ. They really do have the worlds best business class and all flights to Australia have their best product so no need to be careful in trying to get a specific flight. HKG is also a very nice airport to transit (SIN is also good).

It's really down to personal preference who is the "best of the best" , and having flown both SQ and CX extensively I can see why a lot of people love CX product, but equally why many love the SQ product. Not the topic to debate the merits of one of the other, but suffice to say for anyone who has never travelled business class on long haul flights either carrier should have the "wow" factor. But for a business class "newbie", EK, QF, MH, NZ, all would have a wow factor, and probably several others like EY, QR & BA as well.

The idea of buying miles is probably a good one too - either AA, US Airways (for CX or MH) or using Avianca Life Miles (for Thai).

Also, there are two timing options (ex SYD) for travelling through with most carriers (CX, MH, SQ all have this), first is "straight through", gets the journey over and done with quickly, good chance to sleep leaving Asia (or Australia if travelling to Middle East first), and arrive into London first thing in the morning. The second option is to catch an afternoon/evening flight to Asia, overnight at a transit hotel at the airport, and continue on a day flight the next morning, arriving mid afternoon into London. This means you don't need to sleep on the plane at all, but in all likelihood will at some point.
 

RooFlyer

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Another vote here for either Cathay or Singapore Airlines, with a stop over in HKG or SIN respectively. Cathay would be a good compromise on cost Vs experience. You can land and either do an airport hotel, or catch the dedicated, fast railway from the airport to the city, and then there's a connecting free mini bus to many of the hotels there. But if going straight through, the airports are both great for browsing through, and the lounges are good for hours as well.

A minor, emphasize minor, point is whether you belong to a Frequent Flyer. If you belong to Qantas FF, you will get points and status credits for your trip on Cathay (must put the FF numbers in the booking of course). If Virgin, you will get points for flying Singapore Air. Biz class to London return should earn enough points on either airline to be useful.

When you are booking, make sure if you can, you get your seats allocated. if not, there is a chance that the system may seat you apart. it shouldn't, but it can happen.

I personally use a Travel Agent for all my international flights. Shouldn't cost you any more, and they look after the details, including seating. Especially valuable if there is a schedule change or flight cancellation; they sort things for you. But not Flight Centre or similar. if you don't have one, let me know and I'll send you details of the one I use.
 

Ben6

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The stopover choices to Europe is definitely a personal preference. I would always prefer a 2 leg journey with a 2-3 hr layover but other prefer a longer layover (or even a 3 leg approach). Then the choice between stopping over in Asia or the Middle East comes down to would you prefer the long 14 hr leg first, then shorter 6-8 hr leg 2nd (Middle East) or vice versa - 1st leg 7-8 hrs, then 2nd leg 14hrs (Asia).

Once you've decided those 2 points, you can really decide between the relevant airlines. If you haven't flown Business Class before, then you are likely to be delighted with most of the choices, so you can look at factors like price and schedule to make your decision. Personally I would choose Etihad or Qatar via UAE, or Singapore or Cathay if stopping in Asia. You should expect a lovely experience on any of these and with some flexibility, stay within your budget. If you end up baulking at the total cost then throw Malaysian into the mix for a good value option.
 

dajop

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Oh, and for leaving Europe, in case not mention above, most carriers will allow you to fly into London and out of another city they fly to in Europe. So definitely check the pricing of doing this, as discussed above it should be cheaper from anywhere but London as the UK government has a levy, of ~$350 AUD on passengers flying longhaul business class out of the UK. Generally places like Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece and Spain are the cheapest, then France, then Germany and lastly UK being the most expensive.
 

artemis

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Oh, and for leaving Europe, in case not mention above, most carriers will allow you to fly into London and out of another city they fly to in Europe. So definitely check the pricing of doing this, as discussed above it should be cheaper from anywhere but London as the UK government has a levy, of ~$350 AUD on passengers flying longhaul business class out of the UK. Generally places like Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece and Spain are the cheapest, then France, then Germany and lastly UK being the most expensive.


Can I ask a dumb question?

Is there no (or less) tax if you just take a short flight from LHR to CDG or something similar? And is the tax just LHR or all long haul business flights out of the UK?
 

RooFlyer

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Can I ask a dumb question?

Is there no (or less) tax if you just take a short flight from LHR to CDG or something similar? And is the tax just LHR or all long haul business flights out of the UK?

There are few dumb questions here - and anyway, I've already asked 'em :) Read all about the UK APD here
 

dajop

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Can I ask a dumb question?

Is there no (or less) tax if you just take a short flight from LHR to CDG or something similar? And is the tax just LHR or all long haul business flights out of the UK?

All flights in all classes. But much higher long haul and a lot higher again in business class. if you take a connecting flight in the same ticket to CDG and take the long haul from there, then you still must pay APD. Of course if it is on a different ticket/itinerary then you won't be charged the long haul APD. Also not chargeable if you fly into a UK airport on from somewhere else and leave again from that airport within 24hrs, provided both flights are on the same ticket.
 

serfty

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Note there is still an ex France levy of (IIRC) EUR40 for premium cabins ... Of course that's nothing like the up to GBP194 ex UK.
 
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I tend to agree with you on going straight through. Firstly I just like to 'get there' and also not having to sit up the whole journey squashed in Economy will certainly make a big difference to my personal comfort. I also like the idea of being able to shower etc whilst transiting. Do you get to use the airline you are flying with Business Lounge to do that whilst transiting?

My personal preference is SQ - service is always excellent but as we don't do night sectors, the bed configuration is not a consideration for us. I agree with others that there are some excellent deals to be had once you get to Asia as there are more airlines to choose from.

We personally like doing SYD SIN DXB in J with SQ - leave SYD early morning, a 3 hour transit in Singapore, arrive DXB around 5 - 6 pm, overnight in DXB connecting to a day flight to Europe/UK with a fair choice of carriers. In this instance you could perhaps consider Prem Ec on QF, VA or BA for the DXB LON leg if it is a day flight.

Perhaps you should consider using the Flight Search Assistance tool on this forum - $29 is a bargain for such expert help.
 
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