Is Long-Haul first class alive or dead? Several airlines have eliminated first class and are upping the ante on their business class offerings to nearly first class standards. Other airlines maintain a distinction between the two, utilizing suites for First Class and lie-flat seats for business class. One thing is certain, airline business class offerings are moving up, with United and Delta announcing new products in 2016.
Recently, United Airlines introduced its Polaris business class for international flights that includes enhanced business class suites, as well as exclusive lounges on the ground at key airports, upgraded dining, luxury bedding, and drinks. The Polaris brand is focused on improving the sleeping experience in flight.
Not to be outdone, Delta is now introducing new suite seating for its DeltaOne business class, which already features upgraded dining, luxury bedding and drinks. The new DeltaOne suites are shown below, and will debut on the carrier’s new A350 aircraft entering service in fall 2017. Delta’s suites feature a full privacy door and divider panels for center seats.
These suite offerings will now compete with the first-class services of American and British Airways, whose business classes are very good, but do not currently offer full suites. On the AA website, the link to American’s next generation Business Class is disconnected. Is a rethink in strategy underway?
In the North American market, two of the big three have eliminated First Class internationally. Will American follow suit with an upgraded business product that bridges the gap between first and business. Time will tell. In the meantime, international first class remains both alive and dead, depending on the airline.