Flight Test: Business Vs Economy Class

flightFor those of you who read Giz’s sister site, Lifehacker, you’ll probably know that editor Angus Kidman writes a lot of stories about flying. I thought I would join his flying reporting club by putting a bit of a Giz spin on this. And I’m hoping to open this up to the community as well for opinion.

Two weeks ago I was in Japan. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself, “Hold on Damo, you’re in Japan now. And you were in Japan two weeks ago? What’s the go?”. Well, true story. I was back in Sydney last week and am now back in Japan, but aside from severe jet lag and a wallet full of yen, it did give me a bit of an eye opener when it came to airline options.

My point is this. When I flew to Japan the first time, I flew Singapore Airlines economy on its A380 via Singapore. In the A380 you get massive 10.2-inch screens, power plugs in EVERY seat, USB ports in every seat and a huge selection of media. That’s not to mention that it feels a hell of a lot more spacious than your average economy cabin as it’s so big and you can freely walk from the top level to the bottom level.

It gets even better if you happen to live in Adelaide. While you may not get to fly the A380, Singapore Airlines sends its A330 there. Sure, it’s not quad-engined or double-decker, but in economy you can connect your iPod or iPhone to the screen and watch your content on the bigger screen. Economy!

For this trip to Japan I flew JAL (Japan Airlines). My flight actually took off from Brisbane and it was an older 767-300. Now, don’t get me wrong, a bad business class flight is still a good flight, but the seats were old, the screens were small, the media selection wasn’t that great and it was hard to connect to a power point. For this the price was almost 10 times what I paid for economy.

It seems to me that if you fly business, you really have to keep an eye out for the airline and the actual aircraft they deploy on that route. New economy really has outdone itself on a few airlines. I would much rather fly in the Singapore Airlines A380 (it’s heaven for tech buffs) in econo than an old aircraft in business just because I have more legroom. My view may differ on a flight more than 10 hours though. Would you choose new econo style or old business style? Do you perhaps look up airlines websites to see which aircrafts they deploy on the route first before booking? I know I do.

In JAL’s defence, its newly refurbished aircraft are quite the bomb. Oh, I just put bomb and aircraft in the same line… lucky I didn’t write this near the airport security gate. Hahahaha… You’re not laughing are you?

Damian Francis is the editor-at-large for Australian T3 and contributing technology editor for GQ Australia. He is in Japan as a guest of Toyota Australia.

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