- Air France and KLM started selling new business class light tickets on April 24.
- The fare does not include perks like lounge access, seat selection before check-in, and refunds.
- It’s part of a trend that started in 2019 when Emirates first unbundled its business class offering.
Air France and KLM are the latest airlines to join in on the “basic” business class trend: offering passengers a cheaper business class ticket, without some of the perks usually associated with the class.
If you want the comfy business class seat, but have no time to go to the lounge, for example, or don’t need to check a bag, you can purchase a business ticket that forgoes those perks, depending on the airline and route.
The tickets are slightly cheaper than regular business class and have names like “light”, “special”, “saver”, “lite”, and “simple”. These are usually sold in comparison to the full business class experience, called “flex”, “flex plus”, “comfort”, and “elite”.
The new offering is part of the unbundling strategy that has been widespread in economy class for some time, and it has raised some eyebrows when it comes to business class, as some people perceive it as taking things away from an already pricey ticket rather than offering more flexibility.
Here are some of the airlines that have gone basic with their business offerings:
Air France and KLM
Air France business class seat.
As of April 24, Air France and KLM — two large European airlines that share a parent company — have started selling business class light tickets, in addition to the standard and flex tickets they were already offering.
Business light does not include lounge access, it does not have a free seat selection before check-in, and it allows only one checked baggage with a maximum of 70 pounds, instead of two. Additionally, the ticket is non-refundable and ticket changes are permitted only by paying a fee of roughly $300.
For about $100 more, business standard has lounge access, two pieces of checked baggage, and the option to change the ticket for free, but no free seat selection before check-in, and no refunds.
The most expensive option, business flex, has it all.
As an example, KLM business tickets from Amsterdam to Singapore in August on a randomly selected flight would run $1,662 for light, $1,772 for standard, and $ 1,938 for flex.
The goal of the new fare is to “offer personalized fares” and “offer more choice,” a KLM spokesperson told Insider in an email.
The new option is available on long-haul flights, except for routes to North America, China, Vietnam, and Mauritius.
Emirates business class lounge.
Emirates is reportedly one of the first major airlines to have started unbundling its business class offering back in 2019.
That’s when it rolled out its special business class tickets, with no lounge access, no chauffeur service, restricted seat selection, no refunds, a more expensive change fee, and no ability to upgrade to first class through miles.
The special business fare is a cheaper alternative to Emirates’ saver, flex, and flex plus ticket options.
Flex plus, the most expensive offering, allows passengers to change tickets and have refunds without any charge.
Baggage allowance is the same for all business class passengers, regardless of the fare selected.
As an example, business tickets on a randomly selected flight from New York to Dubai in August would cost $3,456 for special, $3,747 for saver, $4,527 for flex, and $ 6,607 for flex plus.
Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787 business class.
Qatar Airways introduced its own unbundled business class in 2020 — offering Classic, Comfort, and Elite business tickets — and it has since then added an additional tier, the Lite business class ticket.
Qatar’s business class Lite fare is its cheapest. It does not offer seat selection before check-in and charges passengers for refunds, changes, and lounge access.
Elite business tickets, on the other hand of the spectrum, are refundable with unlimited changes, lounge access, and seat selection all included in the original price.
Lite business tickets could cost as much as $3000 less than elite business tickets, according to reviews.
Finnair business class seat.
When Finnair introduced its light business class in June 2021, a popular travel blog called it “brutal.”
Unlike most “cheaper” business class tickets, Finnair Business Light has no checked baggage, no allowed changes of travel dates or potential refunds, it doesn’t offer advanced seat selection, has no lounge access, and does not give passengers priority boarding.
Lounge access, checked baggage, and seat selection can all be purchased for an additional fee.
The light fare is in comparison to Finnair’s business classic and business flex tickets.
Business tickets from Amsterdam to Hong Kong in November — a randomly selected route as an example — would cost approximately $1,043 for Light, $1,208 for Classic, and $1,526 for Flex.
ZIPAIR full-flat seats.
Courtesy of ZIPAIR
The new low-cost Japanese airline has unbundled its business class tickets so much that a passenger can purchase the seat and nothing else, and it claims to have merely two different kinds of seats in its planes instead of two classes of service.
ZIPAIR’s business class seats are called Full-Flat, and while passengers can select three Full-Flat packages — Value, Biz, and Premium — they can also decide to customize their own package and buy nothing more than the seat.
Things like in-flight meals, check-in baggage, seat selection, and lounge access are not included in the cheapest full-flat ticket price but can be purchased as add-ons.
Full-flat tickets from Honolulu to Tokyo in August — a route randomly selected by Insider — would cost approximately $1,420 for just the seat. For about $100 more, passengers would get a meal, seat selection, checked bag, and an amenity set.