The recession turned practically every carrier into a low fare airline; fancy flying was one of the first items chopped from businesses budgets.
But the economy is finally turning around. And in an effort to bounce back from billion dollar losses, airlines are offering all kinds of extras to woo corporate fliers.
So which perks would persuade you to pick one carrier over another? See how the most popular international fleets stack up.
Cabin comfort: United’s business class passengers settle into a long-haul flight on fully adjustable ergonomic seats with lumbar support and leg rests. The airline is currently rolling out seats in international and business class cabins that lie completely flat when fully reclined. Travelers also receive a complimentary amenity kit featuring Murad products to help protect skin from travel stress.
Meals: Leave the $5 airport peanuts in the terminal. Passengers enjoy premium wines, ports desserts, fruit, cheeses, and a three-course meal. Some international travelers are lucky enough to be served local cuisines, including Japanese cuisine for travelers to Tokyo.
Entertainment: Premium cabin customers can catch up on films on a personal 15” widescreen video monitors with access to 150 hours of on-demand movies and TV shows. Some flights offer iPod and iPhone connectivity to play iTunes video. Plus, noise-reducing headsets drown out the snorers.
Work: Most aircraft come with in-seat power outlets for your tech gadgets. Satellite phone service is available for a charge and customers traveling between New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco (premium service flights) can surf the Web, and access corporate VPNs on their Wi-Fi enabled laptop or mobile device.
Frequent Flyer: United’s Mileage Plus program offers a decent list of partner airlines and partner hotels to its loyal customers. Plus, several car rental companies and credit cards are affiliated with the airline. You can earn miles with the United credit card, T-Mobile Wi-Fi service, or even by subscribing to a newspaper. The one catch is there’s an expiration date on accrued miles. Use them or lose them!
Next Page: Continental Airlines →
Cabin comfort: Continental’s BusinessFirst travelers flying overseas to certain destinations can stretch out on a flat-seat bed, a roomier design that allows you to lie completely flat to sleep. An amenity kit filled with aromatherapy products helps you arrive fresh and revived after a lengthy flight.
Meals: Continental offers carefully select menus and wines for each country they serve, many times highlighting local specialties. BusinessFirst meal service includes a wide variety of delicious menu selections as well as premium wines and champagne. And don’t worry if your sleep schedule is off. The “Executive Meal Option" allows you to dine at anytime during the flight.
Entertainment: That eight-hour flight will fly by with Direct TV, feature films and audio/video On Demand at your fingertips.
Work: Keep your laptop juiced up with a power port at your seat. Joining the Wi-Fi frenzy, the airline will be adding GoGo Inflight Internet to a handful if its Boeing aircrafts this Spring. The new wireless service will provide access on Wi Fi-enabled laptops and smartphones, and will offer similar speeds to wireless mobile broadband.
Frequent Flyer: Continental’s OnePass program partners with dozens of airlines and hotels, rental companies and mileage credit cards. You can even earn miles on France’s Amtrak rail travel. OnePass members earn a minimum of 500 miles per flight. Plus, reward tickets start at 20,000 miles instead of the usual 25,000.
Next Page: Delta Airlines →
Cabin comfort: Business passengers rest easy on flat bed seats on certain aircraft in Delta’s fleet. Plus, you won’t miss a wink with premium pillows, duvets, and headrest to snuggle in. Extended bins allow rollerboard stowage for added legroom.
Meals: International five-course dining menus feature entrees from celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. Wash one down with signature cocktails or a select choice of wines.
Entertainment: Stave off boredom with complimentary movies, live TV, and video games. Passengers also have access to over 18 satellite networks and more than 3,700 MP3s. Don’t want to miss the best part of the movie with a trip to the restroom? Delta On Demand lets you pause and start your movie at your leisure.
Work: On Delta, you can tweet from your seat and get work done! In-flight Internet access is available on thousands of flights a day. In addition to laptops, Wi-Fi works with smartphones and other wireless handheld devices offered by all major U.S. providers. Keep your gadgets running strong with in-flight power adapters at your seat.
Frequent Flyer: Delta’s Sky Miles program offers 90 ways to earn miles. Delta also offers SkyMiles dining and hotels with even better rewards rates if you book ahead. The airline is a member of the Sky Team Global Alliance along with Continental and Northwest, with whom you can rack up miles as well.
Next Page: American Airlines →
Cabin comfort: Can’t postpone a meeting until you land? Seats swivel so you can conduct business face-to-face. Electronically-controlled recline and lumbar support features in each chair makes for a comfortable ride. Plus, individual satellite phone at each seat keeps you connected. Sleep in peace in a fully flat bed and wrapped “Premium Cabin Duvet.” Plus, passengers are provided with an SpAA In Flight amenity kit, which includes two aromatherapy packets, comfort socks, eyeshades, tissues, earplugs, and a pen.
Meals: Menu designed by three world-class chefs on staff at American Airlines. Food and wine selection tailored to the route you’re flying. The airline’s “Dine Upon Request” option let’s you eat when you please.
Entertainment: Each seat has personal video system with on-demand library of 45 movies, 80 hours of TV shows, and 15 video games. An On-Demand library boasts 30 CDs & 14 channels of audio programming. Drown out the crying babies with noise-cancelling headphones.
Work:Wireless Internet access on American’s flights is available in the continental U.S. and to customers traveling to Mexico and southern Canada; however, coverage currently doesn’t extend 100 miles beyond the U.S. border.
Frequent Flyer: Like most airlines, reward tickets begin at 25, 000 with American’s AAdvantage program. The one catch is that there is no minimum number of miles earned on a given flight. They make up for it by providing dozens of ways to earn points, including opening up a line of credit at certain banks, donating to charities, and even activating a smartphone.
Next Page: Virgin Atlantic →
Cabin comfort: Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning Upper Class Suite and Premium Economy cabin is as posh as it gets. Upper Class offers first class style at a business class price with amenities such as a reclining leather seat that folds into a fully flat bed with a real mattress! Pampered passengers can indulge in a massage or a manicure in a private treatment area. A novel lighting system that can go from dawn to dusk over the course of a flight reduces the effects of jet lag.
Meals: Want your three course meal right after take off? No problem! Meals are designed so travelers can eat what they want, when they want. Everything on the Freedom Menu is individually and freshly prepared to your order and served up in style on fine china.
Entertainment: Get comfy in reclining seats with adjustable headrests, lumbar supports, and moveable armrests. Escape in your own private cinema with a seatback TV and a choice of with a huge choice of films, TV programs, and games. Some flights offer seats decked out with their own video games console with up to 35 games.
Work: Hop on your company’s VPN and check your email in flight on Virgin’s Wi-Fi system.
Frequent Flyer: Elevate members enjoy a pretty cush reward program. Fliers earn points for every dollar you spend on your base fare, can redeem reward flight for as low as 2,500 points. Plus, they’ve got neat website where you can manage your miles with ease.
Make that monthly trip to Shanghai a lot more bearable by finding the best airline that fits your needs. Carriers are constantly rolling out promotions and slashing fares to compete for your business. With a little research, you’re bound to get the best bang for your buck when flying the much-friendlier skies.