AusBT Awards 2011: Best Business, First and Suites

By David Flynn, December 20 2011
AusBT Awards 2011: Best Business, First and Suites

Best International Business Class for Australian Business Travellers

This proved one of the toughest categories to judge, which in itself is good news for business travellers!

There was plenty of to and fro in emails, on Skype chat sessions and over the odd bottle of red as the Australian Business Traveller Awards panel weighed up their collective travel experiences throughout 2011.

Despite impressive flat-bed offerings from Emirates and Etihad, Qantas’ perennial Skybed II and Cathay Pacific’s impressive new business class seat, it was hard to go past the wide leather seats of Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380.

Each of these sumptuous sumo-sized benches is an ample 34 inches across, and the spacious 1-2-1 layout ensures every passenger has direct access to the aisle.

SQ’s graciously attentive service remains first rate, as do the meals and wines served in-flight.

Add personal storage nooks, a soft cotton duvet and feather pillows in lie-flat mode and this is, indeed, a great way to fly. 

Best International First Class (Seats) for Australian Business Travellers

The Australian Business Traveller Awards panel chose to split First Class into two categories – Seats and Suites – reflecting a trend in both directions as well as the issue of personal preference. Some frequent flyers enjoy the mood of an open cabin, others delight in the privacy of a personal suite.

In the Best International First Class Seats category, British Airways’ new First Class was the frontrunner by every measure.

Everything about this cabin shows that BA has done its homework and nailed the formula for ultimate relaxation (or productivity) on the long haul Kangaroo Route.

The seat and its surrounds are undeniably elegant: think refined, relaxed, and chic but without being flashy. It makes a pleasing change from all the fake wood, brass and assorted bling in many premium cabins these days.

Bells and whistles include a wardrobe to hang clothes, electronic window blinds, a super-sized angled video screen and thoughtfully positioned tables.

The cabin is spacious without feeling busy, with service and meals straight out of the classiest bistro. 

Best International First Class (Suites) for Australian Business Travellers

For those who’d rather cocoon themselves for the duration of a flight, self-contained suites are the only way to travel.

Those members of the Australian Business Traveller Awards judging panel who’ve been fortunate enough to sample the suite life voted Singapore Airlines ahead of a decidedly swanky shortlist.

SQ’s Suites tick just every box the well-heeled traveller could conjure: a private and incredibly quiet (it’s actually sound-proofed) cabin with discrete sliding doors and window blinds.

There’s a separate leather-upholstered seat and a full-size (2m long, 70cm wide) bed capped by a plush mattress with duvet.

Describing any First Class suite gets to the stage where every successive bullet point sounds more and more indulgent, and that’s the idea – so we’ll just draw the line here and suggest you keep saving your own points for that upgrade-of-a-lifetime!

Click here to see all winners in the Australian Business Traveller Awards 2011.

The Australian Business Traveller Awards are judged by an independent panel of business travellers and frequent flyers plus the AusBT team, and provide a uniquely Australian perspective on the best products and services for Australia's estimated 2.6 million business travellers.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

I do love Singapore Airlines and I do think they long haul business product is fantastic due to its size... but.... I'm not sure they are still the best product. Given that you need to stand up in order to put the seat down to a flat bed position is, in my opinion, a big negative. Surely it has to be agreed that being able to get yourself into the flat bed position without having to stand up and then pull down the seat and then adjust the little bit of material to cover the seat, is the preferred option. Also - you are forced to sleep in a "Z" position on the SIA seats, as there is not enough space to lie straight and flat.

Anyway... the width of the seat doesn't immediately make it the best seat.

To me, the likes of the new Cathay Pacific Business class seat is by far a better product. You get the privacy, you can adjust the seat to flat without getting up and you can lie straight and flat. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

AusFlyer: you would not believe how close the vote came on this one – I'm personally a fan of CX new business class, as were others on the judging panel, and the CX seat was within a whisker of SQ in the final tally!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

I think both the CX and SQ J class seats are equally as good in different ways - so far these awards have been very accurate IMO, great job to the AusBT team and the pannel, I will look forward to many more fantastic articles in 2012! 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

As David said, this one was a real nailbiter right down to the finish.

My impression of the panel's thoughts is that the wider availability of the seat on AU flights (though it was noted that SQ doesn't have the fully flat beds on all its services) was a major point in SQ's favour, as well as the usual extra points for the bigger windows, quieter cabin and lower cabin altitude of the A380.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

Yes, as John says, the wider availability of SQ's A380 was one factor in this from the perspectie of the Aussie business traveller, compared to CX's Sydney-only availability for the new business seats. We tried to keep a non-Sydney perspective on this, and it definitely helped that we had panel members from other cities!

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 542

Quite different now isn't it?

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on AusBT Awards 2011: Best Business, First and Suites