What It's Like Flying Around The World in Business Class
As a couple we travel a lot, we love it. We love traveling to destinations around the world, some close and some far away. There are two questions we often get asked from friends and family we see throughout the year, "Where was your last adventure?" and "So where is the next adventure?". The last major trip we went on took us literally around the world, that's not to say we went everywhere around the world but our flight path actually circumnavigated the globe. So when people ask us where our last adventure took us and we say we flew around the world, usually it elicits a pretty strong response, and then when we say that we flew business class around the world, their jaws typically hit the floor in amazement!
Flying around the world in business class is an incredible experience, one that we'll never forget. There's a couple of things to point out first, there is a difference between business class and first class. That being said, there are few airlines that still offer first class in the way that one normally thinks, especially if you're unfamiliar with the airline industry and aren't a "professional passenger". Nowadays business class is the equivalent of what most people think of when they think first class, extra wide seats, seats that turn into full length beds, huge touch screen TVs, premium menu offerings, and insane service that includes making the bed, turn down service, premium wine offerings, to name but a few. Whereas a select few airlines have first class offerings that actually consist of private rooms (or room-ettes), some even offer showers! So although technically we were in business class, it was exactly what we imagined first class to be.
Secondly we booked our trip around the world using Aeroplan points which was a feat unto itself. All in all we paid approximately $325 for both of us to fly in business class around the world. It wasn't easy though, Aeroplan is a great program to use for flights, but on anything more complicated than an Air Canada flight from point A to B it becomes a hassle to say the least. I won't go into the ins and outs of booking trips using Aeroplan in this post, I'll leave that to Daniel who's the expert trip planner. Be sure to read his guide on collecting and using Aeroplan points to their max potential.
Our flight itinerary was as follows: Winnipeg -> Montreal -> Zurich -> Tel Aviv -> Istanbul -> Bangkok -> Perth ->Adelaide -> Melbourne -> Beijing -> San Francisco -> Calgary -> Winnipeg. It was a lot of flights, and lot of time in airports! In fact we spent a total of 64 hours in the air, and 63 hours in layovers, all in less than four weeks. That a long time to spend flying and in airports, but we didn't actually spend all of our layovers in the airport and in the airports we did stay for in our layovers we were pampered in the business class lounges, making the time so enjoyable it was hard to leave!
This post will be exclusive to our first leg which was Winnipeg to Tel Aviv. I'll be doing subsequent posts for the second and third leg, which includes the famous Turkish Air, Bangkok Airways, and United's new Polaris business class product. But for this post we'll be looking Air Canada's meager business class offering on domestic flights and the famous Throne Seats of Swiss Air. Read on!
One final note before going into the flights, I'll be covering the lounges in separate posts, as they definitely deserve their own!
Winnipeg to Tel Aviv
We boarded in Winnipeg for our initial flight to Montreal, it was only a short haul flight so we weren't on anything special (Airbus A320), that being said we were pretty happy with the service right from the get go. It was our first flight and one of only three Air Canada flights out of 10 different flights. The leg room was sufficient, the food was good, and the entertainment was plentiful. A great start. This was the first time we'd been served on an airplane with real china dinnerware. It was pretty exciting. Great breakfast of three cheese omelette, roasted hash browns and some sort of tomato dish that was kind of like shakshuka.
After landing in Montreal we headed straight for a Montreal bagel stand inside the airport - you can't go to Montreal and not get a local bagel. After said bagel we headed for the Maple Leaf Lounge where we waited a few hours to board our Swiss Air flight to Zurich. I'm going to save details about lounges for other posts. We were definitely excited about flying Swiss Air, so much so that we booked separate seats so we could each have one of the fabled "throne" seats, essentially a row all to yourself. I was a little worried about not sitting next to Dan for the entire flight, not because I'm scared of flying, but who would I tell all my humorous observations to? I get bored with in-flight entertainment quickly, so I thought I might get a little lonely. Needless to say I didn't even have a chance to get lonely. The meals were spectacular and plentiful, and I was out like a light pretty soon after my first dessert. I got pretty upset with Dan when he mentioned that I missed an all you can eat chocolate buffet in the galley during the flight while I was asleep. WHY DIDN'T HE WAKE ME UP?!?! There was a lot of little things that made the flight so special too, like giving you a hanger to hang your coat on with your seat number on it, which they promptly pick up and hang up for you in a closet. I was little disappointed in the entertainment screen, it was pretty small and wasn't the best touch screen, seemed finicky, I didn't use it too much though.
After spending time during our layover at the Swiss Air Business Lounge, we boarded another Swiss Air flight to Tel Aviv. This one we sat next to each other and while not quite as spacious as the throne seats, we had so much room that it didn't even feel like that much smaller. Once again the food was outstanding, I was quickly learning that between the lounges and flights, one never goes hungry while flying business class, and at the risk of sounding spoiled, there's almost too much food!
On the topic of food, here's my business class rookie mistake. As a vegetarian I always pre-select the vegetarian dining option on flights (natch), however it seems lately that vegetarian meals are the same as vegan meals to airlines now, and while still delicious, I need me some cheese! While in Zurich I spoke with the gate agent who was more than happy to change my meal selections to just regular, nothing special for the remaining flights, including all the different airlines, another great reason for flying on Star Alliance. I'm not typically a custom order kind of guy, but all the in flight staff were so accommodating, they made me feel like they were genuinely happy to change up the meal so that I would enjoy it. In economy and even economy plus it's a get-what-you-get free for all, there ain't no customizing, and you better hope to god that if you special ordered a vegetarian meal they didn't run out before getting to you - because it happens.
All in all our first leg from Winnipeg to Tel Aviv was a stellar introduction to flying business class. The throne seats were so spacious, there seemed to be neverending food, and the best espresso and chocolate. I loved the style of the business class products with Swiss, the wood touches were sleek and classy looking without being too overstated. What more could there be? Well quite a bit actually. Next up, Tel Aviv to Bangkok on Turkish Air.
Check out more photos from Winnipeg to Tel Aviv: