Why business class in Europe is rarely what you’d expect

EuroBusiness is essentially just like any other economy seat...

By Staff Writers, May 9 2023
Why business class in Europe is rarely what you’d expect

When is business class almost guaranteed to be a let-down? When it’s that specific breed of business class generally known as EuroBusiness.

Forget everything you know and love about real business class: wider seats, extra legroom, large inflight video screens, even lie-flat beds and direct aisle access.

EuroBusiness sees you in the exact same seat as economy class, and typically with the same legroom and recline (or lack thereof) in the same 3-3 layout on a single-aisle jet such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 series.

The only difference in comparison to economy, at least from the perspective of the physical seating itself – what’s known in industry circles as ‘hard product’ – is that the middle seat is left vacant so you have less squeeze and more elbow room.

In some cases, the airline fits a small stylish ‘cocktail table’ over the seat.

The shared 'cocktail table' in BA's Club Europe class.
The shared 'cocktail table' in BA's Club Europe class.

AC and USB power outlets? As a rule, they will only be found in EuroBusiness class If they’re also present in the economy seats.

Most UK and EU-based airlines – among them British Airways, Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, Finnair, Lufthansa and Swiss – fly EuroBusiness class on domestic and intra-European routes, at least when they are relying on a single-aisle jet.

The concept has also found a home outside Europe, such as in the Works Deluxe package of Air New Zealand’s Airbus A320 family of jets.

(Twin-aisle jets such as the Airbus A330 and A350 and Boeing 787 tend to have real international-grade business class seats, which is one reason to keep your eye out for those appearing on the timetable.)

Lufthansa is one of the many airlines where EuroBusiness the the norm on single-aisle jets.
Lufthansa is one of the many airlines where EuroBusiness the the norm on single-aisle jets.

The greatest differentiator for EuroBusiness is inflight meals and drinks – you actually get these, and they can quite often be surprisingly good, whereas in economy meals are mostly either a buy-on-board or BYO proposition.

Of course, on the ground you get the same familiar perks as any business class traveller: priority check-in and a fast-track through security, lounge access, a more generous luggage allowance and priority boarding.

But passengers with mid- or high-level frequent flyer status will usually enjoy those benefits regardless of the ticket they are holding, which can make the cost of a EuroBusiness fare harder to justify, especially on short flights of 2-3 hours.

You also see airlines frequently offering paid upgrades to Euro Biz at very reasonable rates. Have seen offers from BA before for around A$100, which is decent if you don't already have lounge access and you can skip a few queues at Heathrow.

However, airlines will sometimes offer paid upgrades to EuroBusiness at relatively reasonable rates, and those can be worth grabbing.

11 Apr 2018

Total posts 4

Many people are keen to complain about Euro biz, but the value is often there.  If connecting to/from a less popular Europe airport, it's often cheaper to fly Euro Biz via a major hub, than fly direct with a LCC once considering baggage/seat selection. For example Manchester to Venice. Both Jet2 in Economy and Swiss (via ZRH) in Biz are £400 in August. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 342

We upgraded my nephew to EuroBusiness Class purely for the luggage allowance as it would have cost more to pay for an extra bag that for the EuroBiz Class ticket when he moved to the UK to Study.

Only problem… and it was a BIG problem… no boarder guards / immigration to process him at London City Airport on that flight as it came from Dublin (he’d been travelling before heading over to the UK).

Poor kid was in a panic… got it sorted in the end… no easy task mind you 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 561

Might be missing something here, why is that a problem when he doesn’t have immigration to go through in London city airport?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2014

Total posts 113

Moving to UK to study, he would have required his passport and visa checked & a stamp in his passport to prove it was verified.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2014

Total posts 113

XWu, entering UK for first time on a visa requires the holder to present to Border Force to have it verified and the holders Passport stamped. UK / IRE has a common travel area, so technically they haven't entered the UK on their visa correctly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2014

Total posts 113

Entering the UK for first time on a visa, holder is required to present to Border Force and have the Visa verified and have a stamp placed in thier Passport. Failing to do that means the visa isnt valid. In this case, wouldn't be permitted to commence studying.

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 25

European business class is more premium economy than business. 

From a passenger perspective, it's a way to give long haul premium ticket holders their own cabin when connecting to/from the airline's hub within Europe and also gives premium customers a cabin exclusivity over economy. The irony is that often seats in economy such as exit row seats have more leg space than the business cabin making those exit seats easier to work from. 

For the airlines, the fact that the seat is the same across the plane means they can sell as many business seats as demand requires. They just move the curtain to the last row of business which can be anything from row 2 to row 13. This maximises airline revenue and reduces the need for free upgrades. 

The annoying part is when European airlines assign this model to longer short haul flights over 3.5 hours. 6 hours from London to Larnaca or Cairo in a slim economy seat is uncomfortable regardless of the free food and wine. It's like mutton dressed as lamb. 

The above said, the average business fare in Europe seems far cheaper than in Australia or the US. An offpeak London to Paris flight of an hour can be as cheap as £200 in business one way. This is in part due to the heavy competition from rail for business customers in Europe. That competition doesn't really exist in Australia, Asia or the US. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 953

I always fly Business in Europe or pay the extra on Easyjet for upfront etc, just makes travelling so much easier. I've also got some great photos of the food that should be thrown out rather than eaten. 

Last time we flew through Europe on a mixed airline J class ticket we experienced this, as well as all Y aircraft which were subbed in - no additional consideration at all, just a story that "these flights are considered domestic and not international as they are all within the EU so your international J ticket is meaningless". Certainly a trap for young players.

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 7

Aeroflot has/had proper business class (2-2) on their A320...meals were great and FAs were pretty and polite. This horrible war ruined it.

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 9

Last September I flew FRA/VCE and CDG/ZRH on a Lufthansa A320 and SWISS A220 respectively. You certainly couldn't compare the in-flight service on these sectors with international Business Class but the crew were efficient, courteous and right up with the play on reasonably short flights. The middle seat was left vacant which is a bonus and the meal and beverage service proffered was excellent. Drinks refills were not volunteered on either flight but it is not an issue to ask surely. 

Perhaps your correspondent who describes Euro Business as closer to Premium Economy has a valid point but still worth the little extras in my view.

cow
cow

25 Aug 2017

Total posts 20

I will take that spare seat in 'business' any time.  It is impractical for airlines to have total business facilities on all aircraft, particularly short hall.  Still better than their squeezed economy seats. More relaxing, particularly if you have used club facilities.   So no complaints.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jan 2017

Total posts 24

To be fair, a euro-business class seat can be as little as £20 more expensive than economy when you want to check luggage in.

It's quite easy to get better value by having a few drams on the flights from London to Greece or Spain.

The plus side of EuroBusiness is that it's often not THAT much more expensive than say a full-fare in economy, eg if you want a flexible fare or even a 'non-basic' fare with luggage. If you have status then yes, some of the business class advantages are yours anyway like lounge access and priority boarding, but if you are not paying a lot extra then the extra comfort, and space decent inflight meal and being up the front of the plane for quick 'deplaning' are all a bonus. Well the quick exit matters less if you have checked luggage but if you only have carry on then this is better than being stuck down the back.

19 Aug 2023

Total posts 1

EuroBusiness is still worth it.  Just for having a business check in counter,  a fast track for security,  a lounge , priority boarding, a nice meal and free drinks, a free  neighbouring seat, a curtain, priority deplaning, a business bus and priority luggage pick-up.  I recently travelled in economy class with KLM for a group holiday that i did not organise i and did not like it at all.  Too many people,  too tight,  too noisy etc. So euro business is perfect and intercontinental business class is even better when the occasion arrises. Yes it is worth it!


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