3 airlines you may not have considered for business & first class

Garuda business classGaruda business class

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If you collect Avios, it can be tempting to stick with the usual suspects such as BA, AA or Qatar when flying business class. However, some of the best business class deals often come from airlines which you might not normally consider. You may wonder whether it is cheap only because the product isn’t very good. Whilst this may sometimes be the case, this article looks at 3 airlines which are highly rated by Skytrax and have modern business class seats.

Garuda Indonesia – 5* Skytrax rating

Garuda business class

Garuda business class

You might be hesitant to fly Garuda given its previous reputation for lack of safety. Indeed Garuda was banned from the EU between 2007-2009, following a spate of incidents. All that is now in the past and they have modern aircraft and a good reputation. In fact, the average age of their aircraft is 4.6 years old. Garuda are rated 5* by SKYTRAX and have won World’s best cabin crew for the past 3 years.

Garuda fly from Heathrow Terminal 3 to Jakarta, 5 times weekly, every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. They use a B777-300 ER aircraft. Wi-Fi is available on B777-300ERs and selected A330s.

Garuda business classBusiness Class

  • 38 staggered seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access
  • 43″ pitch & 21.2″ width seat that reclines into a flat bed
  • Hypoallergenic pillow in cotton cover and a duvet
  • L’occitane amenity kit
  • Food prepared by a qualified chef from 5 star establishments

First Class


The First Class cabin on B777-300 consists of 8 suites in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Each suite comes fully equipped with:

  • Sliding door for privacy.
  • Seat with 82-inch pitch and 22-inch width that converts into a flat bed with mattress, duvet, pillows and an ottoman.
  • Adjustable dividers for middle suites that open
  • 23.5-inch touch screen entertainment LCD TV
  • Personal wardrobe and storage.
  • Indonesian and International cuisines freshly prepared by dedicated Chefs on Board.
  • Loewe amenity kits

Earning miles

Garuda have their own scheme called Garuda Miles but they are also part of Skyteam. This means you may wish to join one of the other Skyteam schemes such as Air France or Delta and credit the miles earned on Garuda to that. Alternatively you can also redeem on Etihad or join Etihad Guest and earn on Garuda.

You can out more at Garuda’s official website here.


Hainan Airlines- 5* Skytrax rating

New B787-900 business class seats

Hainan Airlines have a great business class offer on at the moment, which I will be discussing on the blog tomorrow. They are based in China and have a 5* Skytrax rating. They don’t yet fly direct from London only Manchester but you can easily get a connecting flight through European airports such as Berlin, Prague or Brussels.

Hainan have 3 types of business class seats, all of which are fully flat. The B787-800 and A330-200 seats are similar  to Qatar’s B777 seats. They are configured in a 2-2-2 layout. The new seats on the B787-900 are the typical reverse herringbone seats found on many airlines such as Qatar. This means a 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for every seat. There is wi-fi on board the B787-900 and large touchscreen TVs. Finally the A330-200 has a 1-2-1 layout with forward facing seats. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are available for the entertainment system.

Hainan has excellent food on board and has won awards for its cuisine. The wine and drinks are served in lead free crystal stem wear and are carefully chosen. As usual with most Chinese airlines though, the wine refills can be few and far between. Bvlgari amenity kits are provided for international flights. Packed in the bag are Bvlgari White Tea Moisturising Series products, eyeshade, earplugs, socks  and toothbrush kit.

A chauffeur service is also provided on certain routes on some business class fares.

Earning miles

Hainan have their own scheme called the Fortune Wings club but you would most likely be better off joining another scheme to credit the miles to. You could credit your miles on Hainan to your Etihad Guest account or Alaskan Mileage plan. With Alaskan you can redeem on BA, AA or Cathay amongst others. Alaskan are also useful if you wanted to go to Hawaii, as they fly from the West Coast US which could connect on from your oneworld flight redemption.

You can find more information here.



Vietnam Airlines – 4*Skytrax rating

cheap business class to sydney

B787 business class seating

Vietnam fly from London to direct to Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City on a B787 with excellent modern seats. You can then connect onto a range of Asian destinations as well as Melbourne and Sydney.

They were recently doing a great deal from £1600 to Sydney in business class but this has finished for the moment. They often have reasonable deals to Vietnam for around £1600 direct from London too.

Business class

The business class seats on the B787 are configured in a 1-2-1 layout. Each seat is private, with the window seats angled away from the aisle towards the window. The middle seats point inwards but are divided from the one next to it by a divider. Seats have a generous 42” seat pitch and reclines to a fully flat bed.  The seats are very similar to those on Qatar’s B787 and A350. Business class also features:

  • fully flat bed with direct aisle access
  • 15.4’ touch screen for entertainment
  • noise-cancelling head-phones,
  • extra large windows with light balance control
  • cubby hole for water
  • USB and power point
  • slippers and amenity kit


The only minor negative is that the choice of English language films, especially new releases can be a bit limited.

Earning miles

Vietnam Airlines are part of Skyteam. This means you could use any miles earned on airlines such as Air France, Delta or KLM or credit them to any Skyteam airline. Delta are currently introducing an excellent new business class suite, similar to the Qatar QSuite with sliding doors for privacy.

Visit the Vietnam airlines website here for more information.

2 Comments on "3 airlines you may not have considered for business & first class"

  1. Even all these business classes put BA’s offering to shame!!

    • I was thinking the same thing as I wrote it. It almost makes me ashamed that our national carrier has fallen so far behind.

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