We’re lucky in Australia to have two airlines with very good domestic Business Class products. Both Qantas and Virgin Australia offer dedicated Business class cabins on domestic flights with comfortable, wide seats and plenty of legroom. On domestic flights operated by Airbus A330s, lie-flat beds are even available in Business Class.
When flying Business class within Europe, it’s a very different story! Almost all European airlines offer “Euro-Business” on their short-haul intra-Europe services. This may have “business” in the name, but you won’t have the same experience that you would in Australia.
When flying intra-Europe Business Class, you can expect to be seated in a standard Economy class seat with no extra legroom. The only benefit you get, in terms of the seat, is a guaranteed blocked middle seat. Some airlines place a small drinks table on the middle seat, but not always. This does give you a little more personal space, but your seat will otherwise be no different to a regular Economy Class seat.
If you’re able to select a seat in the front row, you may at least get a little more room due to the position of the bulkhead.
There is usually a moveable curtain separating the Economy and Business Class cabins. This can be moved between flights to create more or fewer Business class seats, according to demand.
Euro-Business class makes perfect economic sense for airlines. Not only can the airline fit more seats into the plane, but it can change the size of the Business cabin between flights. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of passenger comfort!
Most European airlines still provide good on-board service, including full meals and drinks, to Business class passengers. But as always, the quality of the catering varies by airline. Here’s an example of breakfast on a Lufthansa domestic flight:
One benefit of booking Business Class within Europe is the services on the ground. For example, you’ll have access to the priority check-in, security and boarding queues. You’ll also receive airport lounge access. (These benefits may already be available to you if you have status with the airline.)
Euro-Business is sold on almost all short-haul and medium-haul flights operated by European airlines. British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, KLM, Air France, Austrian, Swiss, Alitalia and most other European airlines all do exactly the same thing. This configuration is even used on redeye flights such as Lisbon-Helsinki with TAP Portugal or Amman-Frankfurt with Lufthansa.
There are a few exceptions. A small number of intra-Europe flights are operated by long-haul aircraft with lie-flat Business seats. For example, Finnair runs a daily A350 service between Helsinki and London. And LATAM Airlines has a Boeing 787 flight from Frankfurt to Madrid. Another exception to the rule is Turkish Airlines, which has proper Business class seating on all of its short-haul flights to and from Istanbul.
If you’re flying within Europe and you hold airline status, the only real benefit of booking Business Class is the on-board meal and guaranteed free neighbour seat. Otherwise, there’s little point paying extra for Euro-Business Class. In fact, for shorter trips, many prefer to simply take the train.
Let’s hope the concept of Euro-Business never catches on in Australia…