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U.S. Airlines Upgrade Business Class. Which Is Best?

SmarterTravel

If you’re among the privileged few whose pocketbook or corporate travel policy allows you to fly business class, you’re in for an upgrade.

The Big Three full-service carriers have all recently introduced new international business-class services, including seats and associated amenities. Bloomberg, which reviewed the new business products, characterized them as “glossy offerings that can actually compete with international standard setters, like Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.” That’s high praise, especially considering U.S. carriers’ longstanding reputation for subpar premium services.

So, which of the new business-class products is the best? It depends on your priorities, according to Bloomberg.

  • For privacy, “Delta wins hands down” for its suite-style seats with closing doors.
  • For personal space, it’s American, “with the widest seats of all three carriers and a reverse-herringbone configuration that ensures easy direct-aisle access for everyone.”
  • For current availability, United’s new Polaris service will be available sooner, on more flights, than the other new offerings.
  • For great amenities, Delta and United both got nods, for bedding by Westin and Saks Fifth Avenue, respectively.
  • And for inflight entertainment, American and Delta both feature 18-inch monitors with more than 1,000 hours of movies, TV shows, and Games.

For those who don’t normally fly business class, the improvements may be an incentive to spend more, or to redeem their frequent-flyer miles, for an upgrade. Although, given the price premium, and the co-pay required for mileage upgrades, that’s a stretch.

Reader Reality Check

Are the new business-class offerings a game-changer for you?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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