I’d Like Airlines To Offer LESS Service In Business Class

I spend a lot of time here talking about airline soft products. As airlines keep improving the quality of their first and business class, it’s a topic I find really interesting, as there’s such variation in quality.

However, at the end of the day it’s almost universally agreed upon that business class is all about the seat. The primary benefit of flying business class is being able to land at your destination well rested. The bells and whistles are nice, but if you have a comfortable bed, that’s more important than anything.

How much does meal service really matter?

When I review a business class meal service on a quick overnight flight, some people will comment “business travelers don’t care about food, they just want to go straight to sleep.”

I think that’s largely true, and some people may be surprised to learn that I actually think airlines provide too much service in business class on some flights.

I’ll go so far as to say that I’d almost like to see some airlines eliminate meal service on quick overnight flights altogether. I take issue with airlines that have really drawn out meal services, especially when they’re not even good.

How much do meal services impact those who don’t want them?

We all have different sleeping patterns. Some people can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. Other people need the perfect conditions to sleep. Then there are some people who can force the right conditions using sleeping pills, eyeshades, earplugs, alcohol, etc.

I’m not sure how much of a minority I’m in, but I’m someone who falls asleep really easily if the conditions are right, but if they’re not, I really struggle.

Ford and I are opposite in that regard. He’ll be able to fall asleep before a plane takes off, but then he’ll suffer from insomnia when we’re at our destination in a proper bed. Meanwhile I can’t fall asleep unless I have a bed and it’s dark and it’s cold, and then when I’m asleep, I’m good to go.

Maybe I should take sleeping pills when flying. Maybe I should use eyeshades and earplugs (maybe it’s weird, but I’m really uncomfortable at the thought of using them, as I feel like I’ll get robbed/generally get creeped out when sleeping in “public” that way).

I’d like to see airlines offer less service in business class

Airlines are always looking for ways to cut costs, so here’s something that I’d consider to be a genuine improvement that would also save them money.

I’d love to see airlines simplify service on short redeye flights. I’m not necessarily saying this should be on all flights, but rather let’s talk about a 6-7 hour redeye from the US East Coast to Europe.

Realistically it’s two hours after takeoff before the cabin is quiet, and then typically the lights are turned on about 90 minutes before landing for another service. You really only have 3.5 hours of “peace” on your quick overnight flight that way.

I’m not saying there’s a “one size fits all” solution, but in general I’d actually like to see airlines get a bit creative here, assuming they’re not willing to offer dine on demand. For late night, short redeyes:

  • If you’re going to offer a dinner service, serve everyone food on a single tray, so that the meal service is done within an hour of takeoff
  • Greatly simplify the breakfast offering; instead of waking everyone up unnecessarily early, how about instead preparing a box with some fresh fruit, a croissant, yogurt, etc., that passengers can eat during the descent (this is something British Airways offers as an option on their Club World London City service)
  • I know this won’t be popular with some, but otherwise completely eliminate one of the meal services; offer dinner or offer breakfast, but not both

Like I said, I don’t think there’s a perfect solution here. Furthermore, I recognize that everyone is on a different schedule, so while most people might be sleeping on a redeye, some might be awake the whole time because of where they’re connecting to and from.

Still, if business class is all about the seat, I think that should extend to creating a serene environment. It shouldn’t be that for half of an overnight flight the lights are on and there’s a lot of noise from the service being provided (which is inevitable, no matter how hard the crew tries to be quiet).

Some airlines have offered a sleeper service in some parts of the cabin, where those seated in some parts of business class can’t have a meal. Perhaps that’s a good solution. However, that’s not a widespread practice, and for many airlines that’s not practical, since business class is in a single cabin.

So maybe this is more a situation of knowing what I like and what I don’t like than having the perfect answer.

Being served a tasty snack on a single tray within 30 minutes of takeoff when flying from Los Angeles to Tahiti? LOVE!

Being woken up 90 minutes before landing for this breakfast when flying from Tahiti to San Francisco? Nope.

I’m curious how you guys feel about this.

Would you like to see airlines reduce service on short overnight flights? Are you able to completely sleep through any meal services without being awoken, or do you struggle to do so in the same way I do?

Comments

  1. Yes. I’d like to see airlines guarantee some kind of on-demand dining in business class, even if fewer dishes available (or hot healthy snacks) and served all at once on a tray.

    One reason that I will book first class whenever possible when using miles is for the on-demand dining. Makes it so much easier to adjust to jet lag

  2. Would be nice if airlines could split the cabin in the same way trains have “quiet cars.” Have the small biz section be no service and lights out right away to maximize sleep while letting the other cabin get full dinner service.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. With an 11 hour flight, I’m fine. But on a 6-7 hour, all I want is one meal served fast. I mainly want to sleep.

  4. Maybe the airlines could expand on the Flagship First dining option being tried by American, and use it as an on-the-ground replacement for dinner on the plane. For example, on a night flight from NYC to London, don’t serve a late dinner onboard. Instead, give all first/business customers access to the fancy dining room and a free meal. That way, they can board the plane already belly-full, and can get right to work/sleep if they wish. If somebody truly wants their “free airline meal” to be cooked in an airplane oven instead of a real kitchen on the ground, then they can simply eat whatever the coach passengers are being fed on the flight.

    Breakfast could still be an actual meal service closer to destination, of course. But by steering people to eat at the airport instead of on the plane, you give them precious added time to sleep or relax on the flight. Also, it would greatly add to the usefulness of the dining lounges.

  5. your post is stupid. serving everything on one tray doesn’t save the airline any money. The flight attendants are being paid by the hour, so they are paid regardless of how many courses the food is served. And, no one once a boxed lunch/breakfast in biz class. You have lost touch with your readers and your posts are going downhill.

  6. I flew Riyadh-London on BA two days ago on a 7h flight that left at 1am. BA offers a supper on that flight – basically an enhanced appetizer. I took it as I did not have dinner, but service was efficient, in one tray, and lights stayed out throughout. That allowed most people to sleep and some people to eat. I think that was a very good way to make everyone happy.

  7. Air Canada waits 1-1.5 hours before serving a meal on a short 7 hour TATL flight. And the cutbacks on staffing mean that your dishes wont be cleaned up until 2 hours in.
    Total waste.

  8. I’m 100% in the camp that most airline food is gross, even in business class, and that the best strategy is go right to sleep on short east-bound transatlantic flights to maximize sleep.

    However, I recognize that that is not the case for everybody. Even for me, there have been times when I’ve wanted to enjoy the meal and the movie. If you are paying for a premium experience, I think you should have the option of getting one.

    Furthermore, not everyone there is a business traveler. Occasional travelers who may not get to experience premium cabins often, should be able to enjoy a meal that makes it all feel more special.

    I think a terrific compromise is the “executive dining” options that many airlines have, whereby they will serve you the entire meal on a tray so that you can eat quickly if you would like to do so. I just wish the flight attendants didn’t give you so much stinkeye whenever you asked them to do it.

    As for your point about the meal service interfering with your sleep because of sound and light, my view is that’s your problem. That’s why they have earplugs, eye shades and ambien. If you don’t like to use them, you can hardly expect to deny everyone else a nice meal just because of that.

  9. Reduction is not really the right…term per se. I think for pax ex, personalisation is the name of the game.

    For red-eyes, the customer should be invited to indicate online whether he/ she wants pre-flight dining, multi-course/ one-tray/ null supper and/ or breakfast, and if they don’t indicate their preference, reminder emails should be sent to them do so up till 72 hours before departure. There can also be a “save your preferences” feature which becomes the default.

  10. For sure.

    My least favorite business class flights are always the ones where I can’t sleep, like our Azerbaijan Airlines flight where they kept waking us up, or a recent JFK-LHR that clocked at 4:30, resulting in just a short 70 or so minutes where the cabin was actually dark and quiet.

  11. I’m a big believer in the eye mask and earplugs, so I generally don’t even notice, hear, or care about the meal service if I want to go to sleep.

    I do think that the multi-course drawn out service on night flights is absurd. Just put it on one tray, a la AA’s express option. It’s ridiculous to walk through the cabin with a bread basket. That serves no one.

    In my opinion, the carriers should set up continental breakfast in the galley on these flights, and let people grab it themselves. Waking people up 90m before landing is terrible.

    AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON AA WAKING PEOPLE UP TO COLLECT THE #$&^#&%^ING BOSE HEADSETS. That drives me completely up the wall.

    One time I flew Qatar, and the service was so well done that I did not wake up until literally every other passenger got off the plane. The FA was nice enough to wake me up then, and let me know that it was probably time for me to get to my connecting flight. That’s the way it should be done!

  12. I’m with @ Unionruler. I’m in the camp of wanting as much service as possible…if the food is good…but options are the name of the game to provide a truly great product, one worth paying extra for.

  13. Singapore Airlines already do what you are suggesting on their 1am MEL to SIN overnight flight. They don’t turn the main cabin lights on once airborne and pax can chose between a light supper after take off or a breakfast prior to landing – but all done in a cabin with minimal lighting so people can sleep right through if they want.

  14. Opposite perspective from you, Lucky, the problem is that business class still doesn’t offer ENOUGH service. For a $10,000 roundtrip biz class seat, service should be individualized enough so that you can have all your meals on your schedule. Flight attendants should greet passengers during boarding to capture THEIR schedule, and then serve to that. I think it’s more than just “dine on demand”…it’s understanding the customer.

  15. @ Sam — FWIW, I *do* wear the earplugs and eye shades, and it doesn’t matter. Some people are just more noise and light sensitive regardless.

  16. Couldn’t agree more with the headline. Late meal service on Trans-Atlantic flights are the worst. Who eats a full meal at 11:30pm?. As I have gotten older all I want to do is sleep. I have only have a cheese plate a glass of wine and pass out. I am not opposed to full service on day light flights but late meals are a total pet peeve of mine.
    I think the solution is really a pre flight dine (like BA) and fall asleep. Great concept

  17. I disagree. I do think that any airline operating a 6-7 hour overnight flight should offer a single tray quick-service option and ask whether passengers want to be woken up for breakfast, but you can’t impose your sleeping habits/problems on the entire cabin.

    I have traveled on many of the top Business class products out there, and I have yet to find one that provides sleep equal in quality to sleeping in a real bed on the ground. Sometimes, I manage to sleep 4 hours on a short flight like that, but more often than not, I only get 1-2 hours of sleep (and I’m the type of person that can sleep in a fully lit room with dogs barking and a party going on around me). If I’m awake for 5 hours of a flight that I paid thousands of dollars for, I expect a meal, and a good one at that.

    As for separate “quiet cabins,” I don’t have a problem with the concept, but I don’t see how it operates in practice. What if the only seats left in the cabin are in the quiet portion, but I just came off a quick connection and am starving? Should I go stand in the galley to eat? Am I paying the same fare as a passenger sitting in another part of the cabin getting a full meal service?

  18. I could not agree more with Sam’s last paragraph. If your sleep is so sensitive that you need ideal conditions to be able to sleep, then perhaps a career that requires significant international travel is not for you.

    With all due respect to you, Lucky, you are not a business traveler. You don’t really live the reality of running from a meeting to the airport to board an overnight flight only to run to a hotel or arrival , have a quick shower, and run to a meeting. It’s a lifestyle choice. I couldn’t imagine not doing it, but you have to be able to follow the motto “eat when then they feed you, sleep when you can.”

  19. I frequently fly GA between Europe and Jakarta in business, so I will disagree with you on this regard. They offer a “happy medium”, I guess. After takeoff from Jakarta cabin lights are dimmed, and it will remain that way throughout the flight until breakfast time in Europe, where you’ll be woken up by the soft mood lighting some 90 minutes before landing.

    But if you want meal service after takeoff, you can have it. They’ll turn on the reading lights on the side, and the disruption is minimal. With their FA & food quality, my heart would break if they reduce service. Don’t give the industry any “smart” ideas, some of us actually like the good service offered on good airlines

  20. Tiffany – I’d be thrilled with a JFK-LHR that clocked in at 4:30 – sleep or not. Plenty of extra time on the ground to handle as I please.

    Lucky- Day flights need an elaborate meal service – it passes the time for me and is part of the relaxation.

    Air France gets the night flight thing right. The very late departures out of JFK have the lounge option that’s exactly the same as the inflight meal. I’d bet they count how many check in for the meal, and reduce the on board meal count in real time. That saves money, and gives real choice without sacrificing the on board option.

  21. The other thing to consider is the departure time of the flight. The earliest red-eyes to Western Europe from the East Coast (the typical 6-7 hour red-eye) leave around 4 pm. That means the flight arrives at around the time that most people would be going to sleep when they are home – fewer people sleep on these flights. The meal service should be reflective of that reality.

    Personally, I try to avoid those flights like the plague, but sometimes it is unavoidable if you have a connection.

  22. If really beckoning an issue

    You should travel economy exit row with lots of space, then you won’t worry as much about being disturbed, as if you are asleep during meals in economy they just ignore you.

    It would also remind you how privileged you are.

  23. Feed me, don’t make a huge production out of it, then leave me alone. I do, however, like the option of a meal on either end of the flight.

    It is all about the seat and bedding.

  24. Just took a JAL J redeye BKK-NRT and they got this right. During boarding you filled out a card specifying whether you wanted to be woken for breakfast and if so, what you would order for breakfast. After takeoff, a very light meal (really a hot snack) was served and then nothing until the actual meal service before landing (key: preorders meant they did not need to wake you until the food was already heated). This flight left at about 11:30PM BKK time and was the horrible length of 5 hours so this really helped to maximize the small amount of sleep on this flight.

  25. I think your post comes from a place where international business class is nothing special to you, because for you it’s the norm – as it is for many other business travelers who read this blog, and who consider it the norm rather than the exception.
    But, there are also a lot of travelers like me, for whom business class or first class is aspirational. For a lot of us, it’s many months or years of saving money or points as not all of us own businesses where we can generate enormous amounts of points (or dollars).
    So, heck yes, I want all the bells and whistles when I finally can afford such a flight. It’s special to me, and I would hell of disappointed if it was half assed. That’s one reason I’m a loyal reader to your blog: when I splurge for a premium flight, I want to make sure I pick an airline that does it right.
    That being said I also understand that for someone who has to “suffer” through regular TATL flying, maximizing sleep is better. That’s why for instance, Air France’s concept with the pre dining option is great and makes everyone happy.

  26. I think this post does not make any sense at all, Lucky. Maybe only if it was part of a Lucky Rant series, lol.
    Simply because you disregard people that did not have time to have a proper meal before flying, for instance.
    I do think your needs should be taken in consideration as everyone eles, right?
    Therefore I don’t think airlines should provide less service in any flight at all. Remember back in 2012/13 when you used to get excited about being served dinner late at night?

  27. Business class is just as much about the food and wine to me as the seat. In fact, I’m often ok traveling in coach on an overnight flight because I always keep time to get some rest at my destination (whether I’m traveling for business or pleasure). I like to be on a day flight if I’m traveling in business class so that I can enjoy the flight.

  28. I agree with you with the exception of one point – even first class for me is all about the seat and space. I want to get on-board, be comfortable and go straight to sleep. Food and drinks in the air, are at best mediocre, and I don’t want to waste my time on that when I need to sleep and hit the ground running once I arrive. The best thing about flying first is that I can get a great meal on the road, arrive relatively late for my flight, get on-board in short time and go to sleep. Keep the cheap caviar away. Same applies to business class for me.

  29. Reduced service only transatlantic flights. I want the full thing for transpacific.

    Honestly, the best solution is to improve the lounges in the US so that the food offering is much better. Then you can skip dinner and just offer a breakfast prior to arrival.

  30. @ Greg — Hah, I mean, I love airplanes, so I’m always fine with a longer flight in general, but as @ Ryan mentions, it’s trickier when you’re traveling for business. You aren’t always able to adjust your ground schedule to make up for the missed sleep, and a fast crossing like that doesn’t necessarily open up enough time to be “useful”.

    In this case we landed at Heathrow at literally 6:01 (as soon as the curfew lifted), so my plan of a quick shower and then coffee on the train into the city before my meetings turned in to an extra hourish to work from the arrivals lounge, which I always appreciate, and a bit less of a mad dash through town. But it still culminated in ~38 hours with no sleep, and I’d much preferred to have had that extra time on the plane.

    So it’s fine, and I’m thrilled to be able to do it, but I do miss when Virgin had their 747s and saved the upper deck for sleeper service on these short routes. Having options like that does indeed seem like the best compromise, as you mention.

  31. Flight time != travel time. Even a 6 hour non-stop redeye involves 9 to 10 hours of travel time once to and from the airport time and waiting after clearing security is accounted for. And that’s for people at hubs–for people CONNECTING at hubs that red eye meal could easily be the only meal on their itinerary.

  32. I really prefer the SWISS option for all long-haul flights. You can choose the „Quick Menu“, which will be served a few minutes after the Captain releases the crew post-takeoff. One tray, already including the choice of champagne or wine. Ten minutes later you can recline, put earplugs and eye mask one, and sleep. If you bother to fill out the breakfast card, you can politely ask to serve you your choices as late as possible (up to 35 minutes before landing in my experience). Works wonderfully for business trips.

    At the same time, if I feel like having a proper dinner while watching a movie, I can still choose the full service option. The example in case: Leaving on the 6pm JFK-ZRH, I often opt for the full dinner option as I won‘t be ready to sleep then. Leave at 10pm EWR-ZRH, I choose the Quick Menu and snooze 40 minutes after the gears and flaps are up.

  33. Just be careful what you wish for. It would not be surprised if certain airline CEOs took your post too far in making cuts.

  34. Total lack of consistency here. One the one hand, you chastise airlines for serving supper-sized meals, and on the other, you lament the sheer amount of food served.

    I’m not the only one here seeing a nose-dive in the quality of articles on this blog.

  35. My pet peeve: the crew wakes the entire cabin up long before landing to serve breakfast that hardly anyone really wants. Airlines should announce to their business class passengers that breakfast is available on demand, and they will leave the cabin lights dimmed until the very last possible moment. And similar to what Traveler described above as the SWISS option, they should then ask each passenger whether s/he wants to be woken up for breakfast, and when. Finally, they should limit breakfast to simple, non-aromatic things (coffee, pastry, fruit, cereal) rather than smelly things that will wake people up (eggs, sausage).

  36. I disagree in that if airlines are going to charge premium prices for a premium product, then passengers should at least have the option of enjoying the full experience. You also seem to forget that not everyone has access to a proper meal before boarding, either because they don’t have access to a lounge with proper dining, a tight connection, delays, ran to the airport as late as possible because of meetings, etc. As others have mentioned, “service personalization” seems like a reasonable compromise. Give passengers the option of a full service dinner, express service, or skip it altogether. Rinse and repeat for breakfast. Definitely do away with waking passengers up for breakfast unless specifically requested.

    As far as you needing perfect conditions to sleep – I don’t mean to sound harsh, but an airplane is public transportation, even in J. They can’t be expected to cater only to those who need zero light and noise.

  37. Yeah, I remember Virgin Australia doing that really well (on a 14 hour flight, no less) with their breakfast cards and keeping the lights dimmed.

    I also like the idea of the mini cabin being reserved for sleeping only. Shouldn’t be hard to implement and would be quite popular I think

  38. I think on a 6-7 hour flight, everything should be chosen online pre flight. Do you want dinner, do you want express dinner, do you want to be woken for breakfast? Those are all yes or no questions. I’m probably in the minority but I value quality food on a flight and food in general excites me so I’m all for the dragged out meal/beverage service on a flight.

  39. New Fare.
    Basic Business.
    You’ll have a seat, carry on and priority boarding IF the boarding doors for business and economy are separated.
    No amenity kits, no meal (maybe a cereal bar in BA?), no alcohol and your IFE will be off during all flight.
    It’s a new fare that all our corporate travellers will enjoy.
    Come and save yourself U$25,00 for this amazing deal!

    hahahahhahahaa
    Sorry

  40. The problem is that there really is no good solution for a flight that is effectively five or six hours long (wheel’s up to lights on and crew begins prepping for landing). That’s not even enough time to do nothing but sleep. While not practical, I wish they’d actually make these short overnight flights longer (ten or eleven hours total) to provide enough time to get comfortable, perhaps have a meal, and still be able to get a full seven hours or so of sleep if you’re able to sleep on planes (this is from a lie-flat point of view — in economy, end the misery as quickly as possible).

    As an alternative to flying more slowly, or in circles, they could extend the service into the lounge pre-flight or post-flight and serve a meal there, as mentioned by others. I love the tiny little United arrivals lounge in Heathrow (if it’s still there) — nothing special physically but showers and full English breakfast.

    Another possibility (also probably impractical) would be to serve an abbreviated meal in business during the boarding process.

  41. Yes, let the few rule the entire cabin. I know where you’ll get less service – Economy Class. When I travel, the entire experience is my vacation – from getting to the airport, lounge and especially inflight service. I think it’s fantastic most airlines offer ear plugs and eye shades in Business/First Class and if they don’t – BRING YOUR OWN. If you truly want less service, fly Southwest or the like …

  42. What an absolutely ridiculous article. As many have already mentioned, the quality of this blog has really gone downhill lately.

  43. @Leeza1 – I’m fine with that. That’s basically my business flights anyways. Just include a nice mattress pad, duvet and pillows for the bed and I couldn’t care less what else is provided. I bring my own night shades, comfy pyjamas and NC headphones so the cabin can do whatever they desire – I will be snoring in bliss.

  44. I know one or two airlines are working on some high end alternatives, but my biggest issue on an overnight flight in J is all the clanking of china crockery before and after meal service. It can be even worse on carriers that often “on demand” dining when it happens more frequently. Even with ear plugs in or NC headphones on, I often am woken by staff loudly clanking plates no matter how far away the galley is. The bigger problem is when the loud clanking starts long before a breakfast service. AA was serving our breakfast 90 minutes before landing on a recent flight, but the incessant clanking started 2hrs 45 minutes before landing, and the cabin was only half full. Serve food on some kind of very fancy plastic overnight!

  45. That’s why dining on demand, a la carte service concept should have been place on many airlines in business class.

    It’s you who drive the service. Not the flight attendant.

    Less doesn’t always benefits the passengers neither helping the airlines doing cost cutting.

  46. I’m completely agreeing with you. Having two MASSIVE meals within a short period is really tough. I think that more airlines should offer dine on demand. I expiernced the concept on Saudia twice lately. Both times I was on a 8 hour flight with them and the dine on demand concept really worked out fine for me as I was able to get enough rest and then eat rather than staying awake and losing valuable time.

  47. I don’t take the short red eyes, all mine are over 9 hours so I get plenty of sleep. Hot breakfast is one of the meals the airlines usually don’t screw up so I’d hate to see it become yogurt in a box. The FAs on my flights always ask me if I want to be awakened for breakfast at the initiation of the flight. If you want to sleep until landing, I’m sure they’ll leave you alone. I prefer full service.

  48. I always pass on meals and alcohol when flying business class on US airlines. It is just not worth it the calories you gain. Seriously, I am not excited to drink $15 bottle of wine or eat a not appealing meal. I usually eat before the flight and maybe get some parts of the breakfast like an yogurt and granola if I am hungry. I prefer to sleep, watch a movie or work.

  49. If I’m gonna take the better part of a year to save up 100K points or more for business class, I want ALL the food!

  50. But what are you going to review if you sleep through most of the flights? 😉
    For those like me who fly several times a year rather than every week or more like Ben, I certainly want full service!

  51. @Lucky I have to disagree. I travel business class round trip usually about three times per year, and it’s always a treat and feels like a special occasion. Two of these round trips are TATL on AC, I specifically choose flights that have more service (e.g. I avoid later flight with reduced meals). My other trip is usually from Europe to Asia and I equally choose flights that will have more service rather than less. For me the seat is only about half of it, I do it because I love the whole experience of having a multi-course meal, drinking, relaxing, switching off and watching telly.

    I suspect I’m the least profitable type of passenger as I always book discounted fares but would be super sad to see service reduced.

  52. Being given the ‘Express’ choice is the best compromise. Be honest, Lucky, if an airline just flat-out reduced their service in J, you’d pan them for it on your next article so fast, it’ll make their head spin. Have to account for the people who haven’t eaten a morsel in some hours, due to tight schedule, etc.

    Also, in a nod to the the thread-pocalypse of James’ PE article this week (btw, why haven’t you stepped in to give your own $.02 on that yet?) , if we accept that OMAAT as primarily geared towards the Aspirational Premium-Cabin traveler, then you should expect that your audience enjoys receiving as much of the service that the airline can muster up.

  53. Sounds like you want First Class – the ability to have a private space and not be disturbed by others. At the end of the day it’s public transport that needs to cater to many people with different needs and wants.
    Completely individualized service and sufficient passenger segregation can still be attained – it just costs more.

  54. Business class is one of the great misnomers of our time. I increasingly see business class full of well healed leisure travelers who want a lot of value from their spends, they are rarely brand loyal and will move if they don’t get it. Business travelers are more often in premium economy where the service is usually as Lucky describes!

  55. I usualy go to bed at 11-12PM so trying to sleep on a flight that leaves at 5-8 pm is a little challenging. So I like the service in business/First. That being said lots of shorter flights offer a quick meal for shorter east bound flights. With J tickets costing 4k to infinity these days, just splurge on that 40$ airport restaurant and eat before the flight if that’s so much of an issue. Most airports have nice restaurants now.

    I actually like longer flights for the very reason that you have time to work, relax, eat, etc…

  56. YES!! United especially drags out the service forever and then wakes you up a few hours later for breakfast. I always decline both but the noise and bright lights keep me awake, so business class makes it that much harder to do business upon arrival.

  57. Depends on flight length: for TATL sleep (with pill) and breakfast; for many TPAC flights I have dinner and breakfast although with the opening up of Polaris clubs I may eat there.

  58. If you want to go to sleep and be relatively undisturbed by the meal service around you, get a good eye mask and ear plugs. That’ll help you get some shuteye while not decreasing the meals and service offered to your fellow passengers who want to dine or stay awake for other reasons.

    Lucky’s fear of getting robbed in flight is really irrational. You’re not likely to get robbed in business class on most flights and, if you’re really worried about any valuables, put them in your luggage in the overhead and secure them with a lock while you sleep.

    Likewise, Lucky getting “creeped out” by sleeping with a mask and ear plugs is really silly. First, there will be many around you who are wearing a mask and ear plugs. Second, you’re a guy who relishes wearing airline pajamas on a flight; how is wearing a mask and ear plugs any more aesthetically awkward? Lastly, and most significantly, why do you even care what other people think about your appearance while you sleep on a flight (so long as you are clothed and not drooling all over yourself)?

    For me, I think the ailines should be offering more service, not less service, in premium cabins. But they could handle meals and sleep on redeye flights in a better manner [some do already]:

    1. Keep the cabin lights dim or off and let passengers use their own overhead and personal seat lights to illuminate their meals.

    2. Offer the option of an express dining service so it doesn’t take an eternity to get passengers who want to eat something served, fed, and ready to sleep. Dine on demand, QR-style, is just as useful, if not more so. And be quicker to initiate and complete first meal service on redeyes of seven hours or less.

    3. Ask each business class passenger if he or she wants to be woken for breakfast and either provide a “do not wake sticker” as a further reminder or, even better, an electronic “do not disturb” light or feature that can be deployed to remind the cabin crew of passenger preferences. Some airlines (VA, as an example) pass out a meal card which allows the passenger to make his or her “do not wake for breakfast” preference known.

  59. The service should not change. If you want to sleep in business, put on an eye shade and go to sleep. if you want to eat than stay awake and eat during meal service. What could change is the ability to have a do not disturb option if you just want to go to sleep and not be woken up.

    To me that’s the better fix than to actually reduce service as there will be others who want that service.

  60. Lot of y’all are missing the point… this is directed at evening, shorter flights and those without great departure/landing times.
    For the people that consider biz a splurge and want the whole “experience,” that’s great, but you’re in the minority. Biz travelers just want to sleep and get off the plane ASAP, and they are the primary focus. If you take that to mean your $ is less valuable than theirs, you’re not wrong.
    The luxury experience you seek is in F. Or J on a daytime flight.

    At the end of the day, when you’re spending thousands on these flights, you should get your money’s worth, whatever that means to you.
    But it should not come at the expense of others. Splitting the cabin like on trains could work but does that mean if you don’t book in time, you’re relegated to he party section? Proper implementation of this would require additional work for FAs to “customize” and “personalize” the experience and I just don’t see that happening, at least on the US3, even when we might spend $10k for 16 hours of flight RT….

  61. How about making the airline provide a way to show when a passenger wants food or just allow them to sleep. Not everyone wants to sleep the entire flight even on long haul.

    Going business class for me is not just about sleeping the entire flight.

  62. Get the Ativan Lucky! How about a “I DONT WANT TO BE WOKEN UP” sticker? That way those of us who like food can eat while those who want to be ascetics can sleep.

  63. Just tell the flight attendants you want to skip certain courses, be it starter, breakfast, etc.

    For me, 10+ hours is ideal length for business class flights. Enough to enjoy the dinner while watching a movie, get decent sleep, and have breakfast. Anything shorter, and I’d do premium economy and save money or miles.

  64. It should be left to the passenger to decide on what they want. You say business is about the seat, so too is first. If you reduce things on a US carrier you might as well fly economy.

  65. The best solution is never take a TATL 6-7hr Flight and always leave from the west coast for ANY flight. It’s the golden rule I stick to. Not to mention what a waste Tri-state area-Europe is on an award in J or F. Europe prices for a transcon. No thanks…

  66. Gee, maybe you should just charter a private jet, Lucky. Talk about diva behavior. As another poster said, I sure don’t want airline CEOs to make any more cutbacks which they would just love to do. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your inability to use eye masks and ear plugs.

  67. Lucky, you do realize you can tell the flight attendants not to wake you up, right? That’s part of the service of business class you’re complaining about — the ability to customize the experience as you wish.

    Rather than suggesting airlines make the $2,000+ some small business owners like myself pay a much less luxurious experience, why don’t you just let the flight attendants know what you would prefer? Don’t kill it for the rest of us.

  68. I agree. Too much time is spent on extended meal services. Esp on shorter flights I would rather sleep. No need for a dine dining experience.
    I fly BC or FC for the seat. Food should be of good quality but please get the whole thing done in 15 mts.
    Esp SQ has a habit to drag out the ‘experience’ over a 2,5 hours window.
    Many times I go flat halfway the ‘experience’ and forget the rest of the meal.

  69. @Stuart hits it on the head with his observation of Singapore Airlines.
    I flew China Eastern last month and that is how they did it.
    No cabin lights and no noise. Then when the FA saw that i was awake, she would quietly ask if i wanted to eat, drink.
    Also no constant announcements.
    None.
    The Captain made one after takeoff and that was it for 14 hours!
    Seat belt light and bell would sound periodically, FA would then visually check, but not wake anyone.

    This experience really opened my eyes to how a customer driven airline works versus an airline that makes everything easy for their staff at the expense of the customer.

  70. Just the type of comment airlines love- and here it comes-
    “Our survey says 87% of our customers want less!”

  71. I take the ‘express service’ and get the entire meal at once if I am actually having a meal. If the flight is too late I skip it. After that I recline, put the blindfold on, put on my own noise cancelling headphones and some soft peaceful music on a timer and drift off. Let others enjoy as they wish, but you can get the peace you wish. If the flight is too early I can’t sleep until later so I’ll stay up and watch a movie until later. I find the 8-9pm flights rather perfect, particular from Miami as it’s about 10 hours to London.

    I say leave it full frills and use the blindfold and noise cancelling headphones (the Bose QuietControl wireless ones are perfect!) and/or ear plugs. Get your sleep that way. That’s what I do and it works rather brilliantly.

  72. I just flew LAX/TPE/SIN in EVA Royal Laurel class. Most uncomfortable bed ever. Bottom of seat back does not lie flush with top of seat bottom when made into bed, thus creating a one inch rise against your back from bottom of seat back where it joins seat bottom. Checking other seats, same issue. Bed is also very hard and extremely thin mattress pad is the same as the sheet–actually I could not tell which was pad and which was sheet. It does nothing to pad bed. Plane was 777.

    My other recent flight was on OZ from SYD/ICN/LAX in First. Another hard bed. Mattress pad slightly better than EVA’s but no pad is going to improve rock hard bed. Plane was A380-800.

    Prior to landing, I asked nearby passengers how was their bed? All said they thought it was hard and not comfortable. What is the deal with these airlines using seats in First which feel like sleeping on a park bench?

    Lucky, great idea for another article: Evaluation of softness/comfort (not just dimensions) of Business and First seats/beds on long haul aircraft.

  73. Ridiculous article, easy solution. When I pay for it, I want full service. It all depends on various factors like lie flat or not and quality of service. On a good airline and long flight I want the whole experience, as in Kaffee Baileys on Austrian. On a short flight I put on my blindfold, put in my earplugs and tell the FA not to disturb me, but I don’t want others to be deprived of full service.
    If no lie flat like still 90% of red eyes on United from Maui to mainland I go with food and lots of drink, because I cannot sleep sitting up anyway.

  74. Most airlines only offer Business Class as its top class. Hence, full service should be provided. Except for AA’s 77W – all US based airlines only offer Business Class on International service. Even SQ only offers Business class on its A350s and some other types.

    Hence if you don’t want it – tell the FA during menu taking time – but on your face mask and go to sleep. Somehow Lucky, I don’t think you would skip the meal. You aren’t traveling to get to a destination – but rather traveling for the travel experience to review it.

  75. Initially I thought the headlines to this article was a joke..but then realized Lucky was serious. Like most posters I disagree with him. I want all the options offered in Business Class. I travel internationally for leisure several times a year all on paid tickets and the suggestion to scale back the dinner offerings and service is ludicrous.

    It’s not only about the seat but all the other extras that goes along with being in a premium cabin that I wish to experience. I get that the TATL flights are short but not everyone on board had a relaxing dinner in the lounge as many of us were on connecting flights and barely had time to board the plane.

    I do agree that some airlines (like Air Canada) could speed up the dinner service instead of dragging out the pre dinner drink service and then rolling out the dessert cart.

    If services in Business Class were to be reduced then future passengers would be screwed. As some posters have previously stated , don’t give the airlines CEOs any more cray cray ideas. Service is mediocre as it is right now and would be downright pathetic should they allow any scale back on service: there’ll be many flight attendants idly chatting and reading magazines in the galley while you sit there eating a ‘light” supper of an egg sandwich.

  76. Nearly 80 comments. Great click bait article Lucky. Do you believe what you write or is the joy gone? Where you flying around when you were like 15? Where is the joy anymore?! Champagne. Caviar. Chauffeur. You constantly defend the lens of your blog and then write these types of pieces. Read what Clem wrote and then re read your piece.

  77. You DO realize that airlines have express dinner services right? where you get everything at once in a tray & then you can go straight to sleep?

    Also, not everyone is a business traveler.

    This sounds more like a Ben problem than a universal problem. No need to ruin it for everybody cuz u need something done a certain way to your liking. Not trying to sound mean, but come on man!

  78. Simple – if you want less service, Fly AA. I’ve gotten less service on international first with them than most folks give you flying coach.

  79. A worthwhile topic: I like the idea of Airlines having an “express” option (like Air Canada offers along with a multi-course meal). Also, it is a good idea for airlines to give their customers the opportunity to pre-order meals (or the “express” option) like Singapore Airlines does; personally I just love multi-course meals in the air with wines per course

    Also, I love the ways airlines can infuse local culinary foods into their menus like Cathay Pacific (with Dim-sum breakfast option) and Bangkok Airways (with Thai red-curry) do. How many airlines still offer playing cards?

  80. I think that earplugs and eye shades are the solution.

    Even on a 9 hour flight, I eat beforehand and then pop an ambien throw on eye shades and sleep like a baby.

  81. @ Bour
    “If you want sleep, travel earlier and book an hotel.”

    Last week I returned to LHR from a work trip to Rio. The only direct flight is BA, leaving GIG at 23.00 (which is 01.00 UK time) – so there is no option of leaving earlier.

    By the time dinner was served it was gone midnight (02.00 UK). The flight took 12 hours, so, just before landing at +/- midday (UK time), they served, er, breakfast.

    Generally I prefer to have the option of full service than not. But some short red eyes, or late-night departures like my GIG flight, seem to have sub-optimal service patterns.

  82. On JetBlue Mint on an eastbound red eye they asked us whether we’d like dinner when we boarded so that we could choose between sleep versus service. And they used a breakfast box with healthy snacks left at our seats so that we could wake up at any moment while we were approaching New York. It was perfect to cram in so much sleep on a short flight.

  83. Steps for a wonderful flight out of SFO:

    1. Have a great lunch or dinner at Benu or Coi.
    2. Reach the airport for first class or business about 60 min to departure
    3. Head to gate
    4. Tell FA upon boarding that you are maximizing sleep, keep the poor food away, keep the noise around you to a minimum and please keep the lights bright to a reasonable but not excessive amount.
    5. Change into your own pyjamas, place NC ear buds and personal eye shades and enjoy.
    6. Wake up an hour before landing, freshen up and change. Order a tea/coffee with fruits.
    7. Arrive refreshed and get real food.

    Always works and FAs are more than pleased to oblige, especially to frequent passengers on their routes, sincethere’s one less to serve.

  84. Arrogant, privileged, white, self absorbed…….so don’t eat, don’t use the pillow and blanket, bring your own amenities…..

  85. I don’t know why you deny someone else service because you don’t want it. People fly for different reasons.

    For example, upon boarding, ask passengers to fill in a menu card before take off. In Business Class, don’t illuminate the cabin and only serve meals to those who ordered (on a single tray). I don’t want a boxed meal in business class, thanks Lucky!

  86. @rud01 – What’s arrogant, privileged, “white?”, or self absorbed in the numerous posts? I agree with many points, including that on why should I pay the added cost for rubbish in-flight food and amenities? Other passengers enjoy. I get my value out of the flight. Everyone wins! (FYI – I am not white). I don’t like vile food (aka airline food), I prefer my own amenities (airline pyjamas, socks and eye shades seem to made out of cheap materials) and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to request FAs to be understanding around those who want to sleep, in the same way that those who want to enjoy all of the benefits don’t have to make a ruckus. Welcome to something called a compromise.

    https://gph.is/17v5CUm

  87. Spot on! I live in NYC and fly to LON at least 10-12 times a year. I always eat dinner in the lounge at JFK and have breakfast and a shower at the LHR arrivals lounge. The flight is too short for a proper night’s sleep, so I want to maximize sleep time .

  88. VS used to have the ‘sleep zone’ on some flights but have stopped it simply because the number of people requesting it was less than the size of the cabin – they had a curtain divider so some people who wanted a full meal were located in the zone and it is unfair to force them not to have a meal because of an arbitrary curtain.

    And as to having no service on board remember not everyone arrives at the airport in time to have a meal in the lounge. Lucky I’m sure you’ve done that so no service would have meant you;d not get any meal at all. Happy with that?

    That said I am sure there are ways to speed up service / make it quieter but please don’t deny other passengers a full meal served in courses just because you don’t like it that way.

  89. 2-3 times a year I fly KLM’s KWI–>AMS route departing KWI at 3:55am. The flight starts with a drawn out drink and meal service, followed by 2.5 hours of downtime with breakfast commencing 2 hours before landing.

    I’ve given some thought as to why KLM includes the drink/meal service on this route. Perhaps it’s because Kuwait is a dry country so the idea of having drinks and then dinner and wine is a nice perk to the passengers. Or because the route actually originates in Bahrain departing at 1am with a stopover in Kuwait (no disembarkation for the BAH passengers continuing to AMS, and BAH–>KWI is too short for meal service) so this is the best way to accommodate everyone.

    I’ve noticed most passengers do order both dinner and breakfast so maybe KLM understands what most of their Clients on this route want. For me, a quick snack then a coffee and light breakfast maximizing quiet/dark cabin time would be ideal.

  90. @ Clem.. totally agree.

    Seems this article was more self aggrandizing whoa is me. Instead of addressing and centering on certain flights on certain airlines it’s an extremely broad brush. I’m pretty certain that business class passengers that mainly pay cash for their fares if polled would not say they want less service. If it’s a quick overnight flight then tell the FA that you do not want a meal put your eye mask on and be done with it. That’s too hard? Apparently it should be changed so no one has a meal option. We get it. You fly a lot and not with the sweaty masses and just need sleep.

  91. @rud01 anti white racism at its finest. Blacks, Arabs, Indians, Jews, Asians are all allowed to be proud to be black, arab, Indian, Jewish or Asian and are allowed to only hire their own and have countries of only their own but if whites want to be proud to be white, hire only whites or have white countries they are persecuted.

    The media and educational system has really made it so that any mention of the word “white” is negative. It literally is a crime to be white in today’s society according to them.

  92. I just want a business class seat with no service on a long haul flight. I’d be willing to pay $300-$400 for that on the day of departure.

    Some passengers pay big money to fly first or business class that know nothing about flying and they expect an experience in terms of service and food. Hard to please everyone.

    I flew American in the early 2000s from Buenos Aires to jfk in flagship first and my mom told me that the man who had nothing but a bottle of water and slept the entire flight was the frequent flyer.

  93. @ John Sert, Sam, Ryan, Ray, George and Oscar (and maybe some others):
    Guys, I could not agree with you more in your comments! Brilliant!

    @ Lucky, as some of the guys mentions, your posts, comments and so, are rolling down!!!
    I used to love this site and used to enjoy your posts, but not anymore, and most likely this is the last time I get into this website and forums. For sure, you will not give a dime for that, as you do not give a dime for many other things, to be honest.

    Just from the beginning, the title of your post is disruptive. When I read it, I said to myself “this guy cannot be saying this”.

    Definitely agree with Sam, if you are not used to wear eye-shades and ear-plugs, it’s your problem. Thinking that you will be robbed, that’s freaking paranoia my dear. GO to the psychologist or to the psychiatrist (maybe this better so he gives you medication).
    And I am a person who has extreme difficulties to falling asleep during the flights, but I will never complain about the noise for serving food to my fellow business class “roommates:”

    Regardless of your critics (like usually) to Qatar Airways, I am a Platinum member for them for several years and made it/kept it only because flying paid Biz Class with them.
    And definitely their dine on demand concept is the best; but cannot pretend that all airlines in the world will do it.
    And if I fly on another airline that doesn’t have the concept, I adapt to myself and go ahead, and if I cannot sleep, is my problem.

    To be honest, I guess I’m done with your blogs, comments and so.
    Good bye and good luck, especially good luck for not being robbed on a plane, hahaha!

  94. We need decent pork sausages for breakfast rather than those chickenshit ones which are usually served.

  95. NO, NO, NO!

    It’s easy for you to say that they should cut down service on Business Class flights. You’re spending most of your time in First Class anyway. Do you even realise that for some of us, Business Class is the best they can get. And, YES, I want that to be an experience! You keep going on yor First Class flights but please don’t take away the experience in Business Class.

    Also, you are very much contradiciting yourself. On the one hand you say ” The primary benefit of flying business class is being able to land at your destination well rested.” or “if you have a comfortable bed, that’s more important than anything”. On the other hand you make a statement like “Maybe I should take sleeping pills when flying. Maybe I should use eyeshades and earplugs (maybe it’s weird, but I’m really uncomfortable at the thought of using them, as I feel like I’ll get robbed/generally get creeped out when sleeping in “public” that way).” So, what is it now? You want a bed to sleep in but you don’t enjoy your sleep because you don’t want to get robbed?

    Many Business Class lounges are not worth the money to go to. So, PLEASE, at least have us get some proper service on board.

    And, for the record, I always get excellent Business Class servcie on my Lufthansa long haul flights. And I don’t want them to cut that short.

    Put on you eyeshades, plug in those ear butts, roll down your seat and go to sleep. But let those who enoy the service do so!

  96. “Personalization” is the correct option. THAT is what one is paying for in soft product in premium classes. Ben and Tiffany’s wants are not the same as everyone else.

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