A columnist for the Economist wrote about a recent flight a client purchased for him. It was a short-haul trip from London to Norway, and about 90 minutes in length.
The client opted to buy him a ticket in business class. While the author enjoyed being in business class, he decided that paying for this luxury was pointless.
“Still—and without wishing to sound churlish—on this occasion, it seemed like a perk too far. The posh tickets were for a flight of barely 90 minutes from London to Norway, the evening before the conference. No chance of jetlag hampering my performance in this instance. Which invited the question of what utility business-class travel brings to short-haul flights.
The answer is very little.”
I’ve personally flown a lot of short-haul flights in either first or business. And while a lot of those times were due to free upgrades, I have paid for some myself. And after calculating whether or not it was worth it, I realized (in some cases), it was.
In his case, he was on a European short-haul flight, which is substantially nicer than a (US) domestic one. There was probably food–real food, though the author lamented a lack of outlets.
In the past, I’ve taken luggage into consideration. When I was flying on Hawaiian Airlines between two islands, I opted for first class. I had two checked bags with me and no status. Once I did the math, the extra legroom, boarding first, and cocktails were only tens of dollars more. I was sold.
One of my friends took her personal well-being into consideration. She had injured her knee before a trip and was in a lot of pain for the outbound flight. When returning, she looked into the cost of upgrading at the gate and compared that in her mind to the cost of whatever would make her feel comfortable post-being in coach. She was able to stretch her leg out and keep it (relatively) pain-free.
I’ve also read about tall people (being tall…. I wonder what that’s like!) who swore by getting the upgrade–even on the short-haul–to make sure their knees fit. To them, it wasn’t about the drinks or the other perks the author talks about, it was about being able to physically fit in the space.
Where do you fall on this spectrum? Do you think short-haul business class flights are pointless? If not, what do you think gives them value?