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The first think you need to think about before booking a flight is what class seat you would like, for example you can choose from economy class, business class and first class travel.
Some airlines have now renamed their economy class for marketing purposes. Such names include British Airways' World Traveller, Air Canada's Hospitality/Hospitalité, Philippine Airlines' Fiesta Class (although Economy Class is widely used) and Air France's Tempo.
An economy class seat usually includes a pocket of items attached to the seat in the next forward row, containing such things as:
An air sickness bag
An airline magazine
A Duty Free shopping catalogue
Safety and evacuation procedures card
Low-cost carriers often offer only economy class. These airlines are often associated with cramped seats, no free food, and often no reading material, but also lower fares. Such airlines include easyJet, Ryanair, and bmi Baby. Most charter airlines also offer only economy class but Air Transat is now offering Club class. MyTravel Airways and United offer Economy Plus.
Premium Economy is a travel class offered on some airlines as a form of upgrade to the Economy class, typically by offering better seats at 36-38" seat pitch (offering more legroom), leg rest, personal entertainment and dedicated cabin crews. Some airlines also offer lounge service, improved meals and drinks and more luggage allowance, but in return for higher fares.
In most cases, the Premium Economy class constitutes a separate section of the coach cabin which generally provides more legroom by removing a few rows of seats. Some airlines may designate an entire economy classes as premium, such as Singapore Airlines on its Airbus A340-500 aircraft (which calls them Executive Economy). Virgin Atlantic provide arguably the most pleasant Premium Economy, with purple leather seats, a separate cabin, dedicated cabin crew, pre-flight champagne and after dinner liqueurs. Also, Virgin offer amenities kits premium to those of the Economy Class.
The exact name for business class may vary between operators: e.g. Northwest Airlines and KLM "World Business Class," Continental Airlines "BusinessElite," Delta Air Lines "BusinessFirst," Philippine Airlines "Mabuhay Class," Air Pacific "Tabua Class," British Airways "Club World," Aerolineas Argentinas "Club Condor," Japan Airlines "Executive Class Seasons," Singapore Airlines "Raffles Class," Malaysia Airlines "Golden Club Class" and Etihad Airways "Pearl Zone."
Long haul business class seats are substantially different from economy class seats and many airlines have moved "lie flat" seats from first class back into business class. There are essentially three types of long haul business class seats today:
Cradle seats are seats with around 160 degrees of recline. These seats can be found in business class on Delta, Continental, Air India, Garuda, Varig, Aerolineas Argentinas, United, BMI and Aer Lingus.
Angled lie flat seats recline 180 degrees to provide a flat sleeping surface, but are not level to the floor of the aircraft when reclined, making them less comfortable than a bed. Such seats can be found on Northwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air Algerie, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, JAL, ANA, Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, Emirates, SAS, Finnair, Swiss, Thai, Malaysian and Iberia.
Fully flat seats recline into a flat sleeping surface which is level to the floor. Many airlines offer such seats in international first class but retain inferior seating in business class to differentiate the two products and fares. Airlines offering fully flat seats in business class include BA, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, LAN, Air Canada and Royal Brunei Airlines.
First Class travel is the highest quality travel class available that is offered by passenger airlines, railways and shipping companies that is usually much more expensive than the economy class, and usually offers better amenities. In addition to numerous services, first class travel also offers smaller cabins, allowing usually only 8-12 people in the first class cabin, while economy class seats well over three hundred.
Book Your Flights From:
Lastminute.com - For cheap short haul and long haul flights and travel at the last minute.
Netflights - Flights, Holidays, Hotels & Car Hire
Virgin Atlantic - Offer cheap economy and business and first class flights
Expedia - The holidays shops for flights and holidays.
KLM - Worldwide flight offers.
eBookers - Offers deals on all flights from around the world.
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When evaluating the size (and comfort) of a seat, typical terms used are pitch and width. Seat pitch is the distance between the seat rows. Typically this is in the order of 30 inches, for most U.S. carriers the pitch in economy class is 31 or 32 inches. More seat pitch usually means more legroom, but this is also affected by the thickness of the seat back, airliners have claimed that the reduction of seat pitch from 33-34 inches down to 31-32 inches is compensated by the thinner seat backs. Seat width is the distance from armrest to armrest, in Economy class this is typically around 17 inches. Staggered seating can increase seat pitch.