It is the 21st century, but air travel leaves a lot to be desired, especially for “cattle class” travelers. There is limited leg space, seat width is narrow and downright creepy if you’re sitting next to a stranger, seat reclines range from a mere 98 to 123 degrees, and even that is considered against good social etiquette.
Food is handed over in pre-packed trays.
The toilet to passenger ratio is abysmal. Bad.
You are among the first ones required to board the plane and the last ones allowed to step out. Your luggage deposit and release suffer from the same sequence.
Lounge access is either disallowed or available at steep prices. The Business Class lounge at the Dubai Airport, for example, comes at a price of around US$100 per person.
None of the above seemed to matter to me as a teen uptil a couple of years ago. As I have “flourished” in length and width, I’ve learnt to suffer from all of the above with heightened exaggeration. It isn’t a fun spot to be in, especially when my pocket doesn’t allow for business class extravagances. The mind says “no”; the heart says “yes”. But with some saving and some luck, I’ve found a good middle road: I buy mixed class tickets. Save the one transatlantic trip we made to Canada two years ago when we plunged into a full business fare with Turkish Airlines (the total price tag for 2 adults and 1 child sky-rocketted from Rs.500,000 to an obnoxious Rs.1,000,000!), we’ve been eyeing and grabbing good mixed cabin class fares on each of our trips. We buy economy class seats for our outward journeys and business class seats for our inward journeys. Why not the other way around?
- Most foreign airports offer better perks for business class travelers than Pakistani airports.
- You get added baggage on the way back, in most cases, 10 kgs extra, which is always a welcome allowance if you’ve been guilty of windowless shopping.
- It is something to look forward to; otherwise, load-shedding and creepy crawlies are the only thing in your future – near and far. One. Last. Indulgence.
- Airlines like Emirates and Etihad offer complimentary and hassle-free airport transfer in most major cities.
I have researched fares from Lahore to London and back, for several popular carriers offering the route for July 2018. Hopefully, these can serve as good reference points for this discussion-cum-recommendation. Here are the results:
If cost is the only factor, then PIA comes out a clear winner whether you’d like to travel economy, business or a mixed class cabin fare. If quality of travel matters more to you, then look into other options.
Turkish Airlines, in this comparative analysis, clearly takes the cake. They’re offering more reasonable mixed cabin fares than the rest, and are neatly tucked close to the industry averages. I am a fan of the Turkish business class on offer in routes going westwards from Istanbul. They’re a bit old school compared to the modern and isolated business class cabin hum-dee-daas of middle eastern Airbus A380s but they’re extra spacious; plus, they have a chef on board for good quality gourmet food! Which one is your cup of tea?
A full business class fare from PIA is roughly the same as mixed cabin class fares for the other 4 airlines being considered here. I’d prefer the latter because well…they’re better people to fly with! I would still love to hear from people having traveled business with the national carrier and convince me otherwise.