According to a new report by the Business Travel News Association (BTNA), United Airlines leads all U.S. airlines for best business class flight service. The survey rated 19 U.S. airlines on several criteria related to comfort, efficiency, and ticket pricing. United scored highest in overall, business class, and long-haul service. Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American “myenvoyair” Airlines rounded out the top five.
The key factors considered in the rankings were both on-time performance and comfort, among others. While on-time performance can be subjective, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains a rating of 100 percent for all airlines for which it has data, with individual airlines listed in a separate table.
We’ll assume the higher the score, the better the service.
The rankings are based on results from an internal BTNA survey of 1,500 business travelers with an average annual spend of $2 million, per household. The survey did not include several major U.S. airlines, including Southwest, Virgin America, and JetBlue.
To rank the carriers, the survey asked business travelers about their comfort level on long-haul flights and for flights to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The ratings were based on factors such as service, comfort, and value.
Now, a little bit more about the methodology. To be considered, the airline had to have an entire fleet flying international business class. This may be because some carriers only serve international flights on certain routes, but not all of their business and premium cabins are available to the rest of the industry. The remaining nine were specifically identified as airlines with international flights, for the purposes of the rankings. These included the Big Three: American, Delta, and United. Also included in the survey were Air Canada, Alitalia, Air France, Cathay Pacific, and Lufthansa.
The average prices for business class tickets were converted to one-way U.S. dollars. There were some cases where two-way flights were given a different value, due to the different travel season.
Among the results, all but four airlines were ranked either in the “very good” or “good” categories for the categories asked about, based on responses from the 1,500 survey respondents. The most common responses that led to a lower score were availability of business class seats (90 percent) and availability of meals (80 percent).
So, what can you do to earn top honors from your fellow travelers? Here are some helpful tips:
Remember that what you choose says a lot about you. The latest trends in business travel will mean that more and more passengers are booking airline tickets that prioritize in-seat dining, premium lounge access, and generous checked luggage allowances. Those things may not matter to you today, but they may in the future.
Dress for the part, at least. Want to make a lasting impression? Consider a well-tailored shirt, pants, and shoes, and a conservative outfit in case the hotel concierge recognizes you, or a CEO catches you with your pants unzipped. Plus, it won’t hurt to look presentable. Remember that appearance matters.
Pay attention to the basics. The flying experience is only slightly more comfortable when a passenger doesn’t have to struggle to find an outlet for her laptop or keeps her passport in its case or pockets when going through security. So, don’t forget those comforts before you head to the airport.