Business Travel: Surviving Long-Haul Flights

 
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If you’re a business traveler, an overnight flight poses special challenges. Unlike passengers who are traveling for leisure, you may not have the option of taking a day to relax when you get to your destination. 

On long-haul routes, such as ones that span the Atlantic or Pacific, or fly coast to coast, it can be difficult to get your body into a relaxed position if you’re sitting up. Although some business class seats recline partially, even that isn’t optimal if it’s an evening flight and you’re trying to sleep. While a flat-bed seat is more expensive, it could be worth the extra cost if you can get some shut-eye and arrive at your destination feeling reasonably relaxed and ready to work. Of course, you want to make sure that the seat really does recline flat, not simply at an angle. Plus, if your return flight is during the daytime, you can save money by flying home in regular business class or economy.

Offering flat-bed compartments is one way airline carriers compete for passengers by trying to improve the experience for business travelers who tend to be among airlines’ most frequent fliers. 

The competition for these premium-class travelers means airlines are stepping up the experience. They may offer better-quality material in premium seats and make it easier for passengers to use their electronics during the flight, with the addition of more USB ports and holders for devices like tablets. Airlines are also looking at improving privacy for business class passengers in premium seats, with doors that close and higher walls between seats. 

For example, the flat-bed seat in United Airlines’ premium business class comes with sheets and pillowcases from the iconic New York brand Saks Fifth Avenue. If you need to get work done during the flight, you’ll have room to open up your laptop and spread out documents, plus in-seat outlets to help your devices stay fully charged. When you’re ready to get some rest, it’s easy to adjust the seat into a reclining position or a fully flat bed with more than six feet of sleeping space. The suites are also equipped with entertainment systems that include a 15-inch video monitor. 

Delta Airlines’ Delta One class is available on long-haul international flights and select long-haul domestic markets. Every suite has a full-height door, privacy dividers between center suites and customizable ambient lighting. The 180-degree flat-bed seat is easily adjustable, whether you’re trying to eat, sleep or get some work done. You’ll also find an electrical outlet and USB port, in addition to an 18-inch entertainment screen. 

While you won’t see one on your next business trip, manufacturers are working on the next-generation of flat-bed suites. The trend is to allow passengers to make their seating area as personalized as possible. Improvements include allowing individual adjustments for head, legs and back, with the seats moving seamlessly between different positions based on a passenger’s activities, as well as automatic changes in LED lighting.