Regional business class is business with a difference

Regional business class is business with a difference

Think of business class and the images which spring to mind are wide comfortable seats that convert into a fully flat bed. Direct access to the aisle. Ample personal space surrounding you. Seats so good that the best of them are starting to threaten first class.

But that's not always the case. As many high flyers have discovered, the business class experience can be quite different around the world.

Euro business

Nowhere is this more evident than in Europe, where the pointy end of the plane is usually decked out in what's called 'Euro business' class.

It's often the same seat as you'd get in economy, with a little more legroom or little extra recline.

A key difference is that if the business class cabin follows an economy-style 3-3 configuration, the middle seat will be kept vacant so there's a bit more 'personal space'.

British Airways' Club Europe business class blocks off the middle seat with a tray table.

(This is similar to many of Air New Zealand's trans-Tasman jets, which have economy seating from tip to tail but the front rows are higher-priced 'deluxe' seats with nobody next to you.)

Of course you still get those expected business class perks such as lounge access, priority boarding and a better quality inflight meal, but in practical terms of comfort you're essentially stuck in an economy seat.

AusBT review: British Airways Airbus A320 'Club Europe' business class

Stack that up against the standard business class of Qantas or Virgin Australia's Boeing 737s,  let alone the international-grade business class of both airlines' domestic Airbus A330s flying east-west, and it can be argued that we Aussies are spoiled by comparison.

Qantas' domestic Boeing 737 business class puts 'Euro business' in the shade.

A regional spin on business class

Another twist to the business class recipe is 'regional business class', which some airlines roll out for trips of around 4-6 or even 8 hours.

Regional business class is popular with Asian airlines, as those short-to-medium range flights make up the bulk of their routes apart from long-range journeys to the UK, Europe and the Americas.

Cathay Pacific and its Chinese-focussed offshoot Cathay Dragon offer a regional business class that's closer to what we know as premium economy.

Cathay Pacific's regional business class seat is well-suited to hops around Asia.

The seats are wider and have more legroom than their economy counterparts, with a deep recline rather than going fully flat.

Add a decent-sized table plus AC and USB sockets for powering your inflight tech and regional business class is perfectly suited to high flyers making short hops.

Cathay Pacific's regional business class seat is well-suited to hops around Asia.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has reinvented regional business class with a new seat bound for Australia.

In every respect it's an international-grade business class seat complete with a fully-flat bed, direct access to the aisle for every passenger and extra space to spread out work your during the flight.

Singapore Airlines' new regional business class seat converts to a fully-flat bed.

This seat is already seen daily on the Perth-Singapore route on the airline's factory-fresh Boeing 787-10 – a longer version of the same Dreamliner flown by Qantas, but with room for more passengers.

Singapore Airlines will be bringing more of these advanced Boeing 787-10s with their superb regional business class seats to Australia over the coming years.

Singapore Airlines' new regional business class seat could take on the world.

The same seats will also appear in the airline's latest Airbus A350 jets, with the B787-10 and the A350 replacing Singapore Airlines' older Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets, in what will be a solid upgrade for Australia's business travellers.

AusBT Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 regional business class

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

14 comments

  • Phil Young

    Phil Young

    1 Aug, 2018 05:20 am

    Just flown on Austrian Airlines Krakow to Vienna on a Dash8-400, and all seats were 2-2 yet they sold both Business and Economy seats, for the 60 min flight. Business cost a whole lot more, so didn't waste my money on it.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Aleks Popovic

    SYDINI

    1 Aug, 2018 08:41 am

    there’s 2 ways to look at this.
    1. Do you want a Euro business that is better than international (ie BA 2-4-2 in international or AF in 2-3-2)” on some aircraft).
    2. Does it warrant having business when this aircraft can be swapped to the charter arm and operate seasonal flights.

    Realistically the seats are not flash, but you get the upgraded services such as check in, fast track security, lounge access, points, luggage, status. It’s not really that much less for a 60-120 minute flight. As well as being able to compete with the likes of an LCC. I’m flying on Wizz doing a 2 hour flight in a couple of weeks time. I have 32kg, exit row seat, fast track and priority boarding for $220. The comparable ‘business’ flight with Air Serbia would give me miles and status, lounge access, an additional 32kg, meals and beverages onboard. For about double what I paid now. I couldn’t justify it personally for an AM flight where I would feel uncomfortable drinking champagne lol.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    1 Aug, 2018 08:42 am

    There was also a variation between Euro Business and what we know as J class on QF and VA 737s. This is the convertible seat most recently seen on the now retired QF 734s. These could be configured as a standard Y class seat with a little extra legroom but, when converted to 4 abreast, the armrest and reclining mechanism moved making the seat wider. Whilst not as good as what we now know as J class, they were very convenient for the airlines as they converted very quickly.

    QF loved them on services to CBR where J class was often filled during sitting weeks so they could have 6 rows of J class when demand warranted it but then convert back to just 3 rows for the return service.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • jrfsp

    jrfsp

    1 Aug, 2018 10:07 am

    While euro business isnt flash, especially compared to how we are spoilt on QF / VA, the price difference between Euro business and our domestic business is significant. Upgrades can be bought for less than $100 in Europe
    No member give thanks

  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    1 Aug, 2018 01:12 pm

    Yes i agree...$4600 return from east-west coast versus $650 return is what I paid for 5hrs in euro-business.
    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    1 Aug, 2018 01:09 pm

    A friend recently travelled on BA in J class LHR to LIS and described the 'business class' as 'very basic.' He wasn't paying out of his own pocket and had connected from QF9.
    No member give thanks

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    1 Aug, 2018 01:28 pm

    Thank God there is no mention of QF / VA 'regional business class'. Think routes to Wagga, Albury etc. That could be embarrassing.
    No member give thanks

  • Ross

    Ross

    1 Aug, 2018 02:34 pm

    Much of Euro J class have no different seat to Y with the exception of the center blocking. There is no additional leg room or recline - it is bloody awful!
    No member give thanks

  • BJ01

    BJ01

    1 Aug, 2018 03:33 pm

    We are indeed spoilt in this country. VA/QF's 737 J Class is more than acceptable to all the places they fly them compared to any domestic/short haul Business Class offering in the US or Europe.
    I am surprised by the demand (if in fact there is?) for J lie flats on our "not that long" East/West Coast routes and the way some get all hot and steamy about it.
    Member who gave thanks

    Gilflyer

  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    2 Aug, 2018 11:52 am

    One of the things i get 'hot and steamy' about is the price they charge for 737s vs A330s. Why charge the same price for an inferior product? The 737s should have cheaper fares than the widebodies...not that I would ever pay for domestic J at the rip off prices they charge anyway.
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    1 Aug, 2018 08:10 pm

    Turkish Airlines is stirring the pot a little with Business on their A320s that's similar to the QF/VA layour rather than the 3-3 empty middle seat approach of the other EU carriers. It makes connecting out of Istanbul to Europe/ME/Africa far more attractive than BA or LH etc. Plus TK also use widebodies with international business class on many EU flights.

    Service on board is ok (from excellent to scary). Service at the airports (in Istanbul) is generally woeful and abrupt unless you're a TK high level FF. Star Gold is all but ignored.

    No member give thanks

  • Jason Bird

    Speedbird

    1 Aug, 2018 09:44 pm

    You should of also mentioned the likes of Philippine Airlines new A321Neo Biz class seats which are fully flat and winging their way to Aussie Skies now I believe. They are a part of a small group of airlines who are starting to buck the Premium Economy style recliners in favour of fully flat (and in some cases) direct aisle access for regional, single aisle aircraft.

    Even Virgin Australia are talking big when it comes to narrow body aircraft biz class of the future (although it’s still a waiting game to see exactly what they have in mind, AND whether it will be B737Max wide, or only kept for the East West trek).

    Phew I’m rabbiting on this morning.. so enough from me. Enjoy your day everyone👍👍

    No member give thanks

  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    1 Aug, 2018 10:36 pm

    Correct, Speedbird, PAL flies the new A321neo (I think it only has two at present) MNL - BNE 4x weekly and now MNL - SYD on Sun to Thursday (latter varies a bit: A333 with 1-2-1 suites in J are used always to MEL (soon daily), and to SYD on weekends and during Dec - Jan plus probably higher demand other periods like Easter.)

    There are 12 lie flat business seats in the PAL A321neo. No other airline has brought this aircraft with such a feature to Oz before PAL. Fares are reasonable some flights offer connections to LHR and all flights to YYZ/YVR/LAX/SFO/JFK plus numerous Asian destinations and service on board is good. One gets access to SQ's lounges in Oz.

    In the article's defence, SE Asia to Oz is arguably 'mediium haul', somewhat longer than what one might term 'regional.' Subjective though.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    2 Aug, 2018 09:07 am

    Flydubai also has lie-flat business class in its Boeing 737MAX, and uses an 'alternating' layout similar to JetBlue Mint in the US where one row of seats is 2-2 and the next is 1-1, so you get some of those solo 'throne' seats. As for Virgin Australia yes they are "talking big" but I will wait until they deliver on that talk.
    No member give thanks

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26 May, 2019 11:25 pm

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