One of our readers posed an interesting question last week. His employer is soon sending him on a business trip from Melbourne to London, and was offering a choice between not just airlines but which class he’d travel in.
Option 1 is to fly with Qantas in A380 premium economy all the way.
Option 2 is to fly with another carrier but have the trip split into business class on the way to London and economy class for returning home.
Another factor weighing into our reader’s decision is the possibility of using Qantas Frequent Flyer points to upgrade from premium economy to business class. The extra space would be welcome, he says, as he’s 1.9m tall!
His choice is certainly one to ponder. Our own take? We suggested that premium economy might be the better bet, especially using the advice in our Best Seats article on booking a premium economy seat with the most legroom.
(As our article details, on the Qantas A380 those are seats 38J and 38K, which are located at an emergency exit so there’s plenty of room to stretch out; and 34A, 34B, 34J and 34K, which are bulkhead seats immediately behind business class).
Qantas A380 premium economy seats are good enough that we’d rather make the very long Kangaroo Route hop both ways in these seats, rather than relax in business class on the way there but be crammed into economy on the way home.
But it has to be said that if you're on a tight schedule and need to hit the ground running with your first meeting in London on the morning you arrive, then a fully flat-bed in business class is going to give you the sleep you need.
As for upgrades, the problem is that Qantas still provides no way to guarantee your upgrade request.
Qantas will provide earlier notice of international upgrades from December – with up to 48 hours' advance notice, sent by SMS – – but unlike some other airlines you can’t ‘book’ an upgrade and know for sure that it’s yours.
So no matter how much ‘homework’ you do on seat availability, and regardless of how cleverly you time your flights for when there should be maximum availability of business-class seats, the risk remains that for whatever reason you won't be upgraded.
(Also, if you’ve got an upgrade in mind, make sure your travel agent or travel manager books a ticket class which is upgradable, as some of the cheapest fares can’t be upgraded no matter how many points you throw around.)
That was our take on this reader's choice, but we're interested in yours: do you agree that premium economy and the shot at an upgrade is the best way to go? Or does it make more sense to stick with the certainty of business class on the way to London, even if that means a long flight home in economy?