Worth It? A Budget Traveller’s Look at Business Class

For most of my adult life, I’ve been a budget traveler, always opting for the lowest cost flights and considering them as a means to get from point A to point B.

With a decent collection of airline miles from years of credit card usage, however, I decided it was finally time to give business class a try. After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted my initial plans, I recently had the opportunity to redeem my miles for a business class flight from Seoul to Singapore with Singapore Airlines. Here’s my take on the business class experience and whether I believe it’s worth the premium price.

Business class is pretty nice

Business class passengers are one of the first to board, and upon taking our seats we were promptly served a drink upon settling into my seat, even before the economy class passengers had boarded. The level of service was undeniably superior to what I had experienced in economy class. The flight attendants were attentive and went out of their way to assist passengers, even volunteering to take photos.

One of the noticeable perks of business class is comfort, and the seats in business class were a significant upgrade from economy class. They reclined fully, allowing for a comfortable sleeping position. However, I found a slight incline to be more suitable for my back, which made it easier to watch movies and relax.

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The large tray table flips open for a giant space for food and even a full-sized laptop. Fitting of the “business” label, it was an entirely possible thing to use my laptop in a productive manner throughout the flight which is something really tough to do in the crammed seats of economy.

One also gets an amenity kit with essential items like lip balm and facial mist, on top of comfy slippers, an extra thick blanket, and a comfortable pillow. It was an overnight flight back home from Korea, but it felt a lot more like a slumber party when you’re tucked away under the blankets, watching a movie and nursing a cup of Bailey’s in proper glassware.

The highlight of the experience was the meal service. Pre-ordering from the “Book The Cook” menu, I opted for the lamb while my friend chose the steak. Although the steak was not exceptional, the lamb dish was delightful, and it was like dining in a restaurant thousands of meters in the air.

Business class is also pretty pricey

Business class undoubtedly offers a superior experience compared to economy class, but it comes with a significantly higher price tag. While a budget airline ticket from Seoul to Singapore could cost around S$400, a full-service flight with Singapore Airlines starts at around S$600. However, when opting for business class, even at promotional rates, the cheapest option I found was S$2,500 for the same time period. That’s a four-fold increase in price compared to economy class. While the experience was enjoyable, I question whether it’s worth paying such a premium, especially when the additional budget could be allocated to other aspects of the trip, like a nicer hotel.

Fortunately, collecting airline miles allows budget-conscious travelers like myself to enjoy business class flights at a substantial discount. Still, it’s important to note that using miles doesn’t make the flights free. There is an opportunity cost associated with using miles instead of cash, especially if you forgo cashback rewards from credit cards.

Based on my calculation, even when optimising mileage strategies, business class flights will still cost roughly double compared to economy class. Redeeming KrisFlyer miles for a return trip to Seoul costs 104,000 miles plus tax. If one buys each mile at 1 cent (or gives up 4% cashback cards for 4 miles per dollar), the cost of the flight is around S$1,100+ or so – almost tickets for 2 people on economy.

The decision to pay the premium ultimately depends on personal preferences and priorities.

Cabin ClassCost
Budget~S$400
Economy~S$600
Business ~S$2,500
Business (miles) ~S$1,100
Some flight prices to Seoul around the same time period

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My personal take

Personally, I would strongly consider business class for flights at least 6 hours and up. As someone in my mid-30s with an increasingly bad back, I have come to realise the value of investing in a more enjoyable travel experience.

Of course, I would only choose business class by redeeming my miles rather than paying the exorbitant cash prices. Even then, one should be mindful of lifestyle inflation – miles are still a form of currency, and it’s one that is particularly easy to spend. Additionally, traveling with a companion who doesn’t have enough miles can complicate matters, as you might end up using your own miles for their ticket.

In any case, my first business class experience was memorable and enjoyable. It allowed me to appreciate the finer aspects of air travel and made long-haul journeys more bearable. If you have the opportunity to try business class at least once in your life, I would recommend it. I advise exploring mileage strategies and promotional offers to make the experience more affordable, so stay subscribed to the Telegram for more resources to earn more miles for your next trip without breaking the bank.

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