Differences between Business Class and First Class

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You may not always notice it, but when you book a plane ticket, you can choose from different travel classes. If you want to treat yourself to more luxury than you get in the standard economy class, choose the business class. Some airlines even go the extra mile and even offer first class. How much do you pay for such a ticket and what is the difference between business and first class? We tell you more.

Business class

Business class. The name probably immediately suggests for which type of traveler this travel class was ever created. The idea behind this was to provide business travelers with a higher level of service and comfort than the passengers in economy class. Today, business class is still offered by many airlines. This also immediately closes the gap between economy class (lowest travel class) and first class (highest travel class).


When flying in business class you pay a lot more than in economy class. You also get more luxury. This gives you a more comfortable seat with more legroom, a wider seat and you can adjust the seat. In addition, you are in a separate room and you also get better service, such as the use of WiFi, a more extensive menu choice and other extras, such as entertainment. In short, flying is a lot more luxurious than economy class. Of course, you pay more for this. Business class is not always available within Europe (depending on the airline). If you are lucky you can find cheap business class tickets at the best prices.


Flying in business class is often seen as the ultimate goal to experience at least once. This can be done in two ways: dig deep into your pocket or hope you get a free upgrade. The latter can happen if, for example, the economy class is overbooked and you are a frequent traveler with the airline you are flying with. They sometimes want to transfer passengers from economy to business, if there are free seats available. This does not happen very often, by the way, and you need to have a high status with the affiliated frequent flyer program of the relevant airline.

First class

One step more luxurious than business class is first class or translated first class. First class is only offered on widebody aircraft. Due to the limited demand, these aircraft are also equipped with a lot fewer first-class seats. Except for the A380, first class is always at the very front of the aircraft.


Flying first class is for the rich among us. It is the ultimate flight experience and at the same time the most expensive flight of all travel classes. Often used by celebrities. It is an extra thick layer that you get on top of the business class. Spacious seats, food from top chefs, top service with, for example, a limousine that takes you from home to the airport, and more. The starting rate for flying with first class usually starts from ten times that of an economy flight ticket. Emirates is known for offering the best first-class airline tickets. The only thing more luxurious is a private jet.


Now you may be thinking, what is the difference between business and first class? Both travel classes are (a lot) more luxurious than economy class and you will also have to put a lot more into your pocket for both travel classes. However, first-class differs much more compared to business. Both offer a higher level of comfort and service provided to the passengers.


This way you enjoy an (even) higher service level in first class. This often starts while you are still at the airport itself. When you arrive on the plane you have much more personal space at your disposal, with some airlines even having a room that can be completely closed off. Depending on the type of aircraft you are flying with, some airlines also allow you to take a shower on the plane. In summary, you could say that with business class you already experience a luxurious, comfortable way of traveling, while first class is an exclusive way of traveling where attention is paid to you as an individual.

The difference between First Class and Business: more space

Before the turn of the century, it was unusual to be able to completely turn an airplane seat into a bed. And if this was the case, it was usually possible in First Class. Nowadays, almost all Business Class seats can be completely flat. Also, most Business Class seats have direct aisle access. This makes the difference between First and Business Class more difficult to interpret. Yet in First Class, you still have significantly more personal space at your disposal. On an A380, these differences are extreme, as you can see with Singapore Airlines First Class suites and Etihad Apartments.


You'll wonder if you need that difference. We believe that in Business Class you can sit very comfortably and with a lot of space. For sleeping, the space in First Class makes a difference. In Business Class you often have relatively little space to lie down as you wish.

Benefits on the ground

When you fly Business Class, everything is aimed at offering you more convenience and comfort than the average passenger has. This way you can pass security extra quickly, use the Business Class Lounge and you can board the aircraft with priority. With First Class, it all goes a step further, although this differs per airline.


Almost every airline gives First Class passengers access to a special lounge. Sometimes it has to be shared with Top Tier Elite passengers. Most airlines have a lounge that is exclusively for First Class Passengers. Lufthansa makes it even crazier: First Class passengers have access to an exclusive First Class Terminal!


In general, you can make use of a free massage in the First Class lounge. In addition, exclusive drinks are often served: American Airlines, for example, serves Krug champagne in the Flagship Dining Lounge. In addition to a separate lounge, there are a few more examples of better service on the ground:


  • Lufthansa and Air France take their passengers from the lounge to the aircraft in a luxury passenger car;
  • Singapore Airlines and American Airlines, among others, escort their customers until they pass security;
  • Qatar Airways will wait for customers with a transfer at the aircraft and guide them through their transfer;
  • Thai Airways takes you from the lounge to the aircraft in a golf cart.

A higher service level & facilities

There are more seats in Business Class than in First Class. Of course, this ensures that there is more peace on board. This also ensures that the cabin crew has more time for First Class Passengers. Cathay Pacific First Class normally works with two people in the First Class cabin with six seats. In First Class, there is plenty of room for a conversation with the cabin crew. In Business Class this is often only possible if the cabin is not full. In Business Class you have to wait until it is your turn to eat and drink. In First Class you are central: you decide when you get a drink and when you eat.


At Lufthansa, for example, it is good practice for the pilot to have a chat with every First Class passenger before the flight starts. It's those things that make the experience that little bit more special. Also, the facilities are often a bit better in First Class. This of course differs per company, but consider the following examples:


  • Shower on board. It is possible at Emirates and Etihad on board the A380.
  • In Business Class you get a blanket and a pillow on some flights, in First Class you also get a mattress.
  • Slippers and Pajamas are standard, while those in Business Class are not always available as standard.

Better Catering

Of course, the food in Business Class is already a lot better than in Economy, but the catering budget in Business Class is quite limited. In First Class, this budget is significantly higher. And you can tell!


If you fly in First Class, a bottle of exclusive champagne will be opened immediately after you board. And the differences are sometimes extreme: in Business Class you get a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut (KLM) for € 30.00 per bottle, in First Class, you get Krug 2004 for € 245.00 per bottle.


Although there is a significant difference per airline, the catering in First Class is a big step up compared to Business Class. Not only are the wines and dishes themselves of higher quality: but the presentation is also nicer.

Which is more expensive: flying business or first class?

A first-class flight ticket is more expensive than a one-way business class flight ticket. Depending on your travel route, this can easily save a few hundred to a thousand euros compared to business class fares. In addition, first-class flights are disappearing more and more. There are several airlines that no longer offer First Class, such as KLM and Delta.