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.
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.)
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.