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Which Airline Should I Fly in Business Class to Europe?

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TPG reader Kabir sent me a message on Facebook to ask about Transatlantic business-class products:

“On my next trip from JFK to CDG, I can fly business class in either Air France’s A380 angle-flat seat or the Delta One A330 flat-bed seat. The schedules and other factors are about equal; which one would you recommend?”

Transatlantic flights are a good opportunity to spring for a premium cabin, and there are plenty of options to choose from whether you’re booking an award or paying cash. I’ve had positive experiences crossing the pond in a number of different first- and business-class cabins, and for the most part I think picking between them is a matter of personal preference.

That said, there are some features that stand out. I flew Delta One on the A330 between New York and Istanbul last August, and while that trip was the start of my journey into TSA hell, the flight itself was pleasant. The reverse herringbone formation means passengers don’t have to climb over one another to reach the aisle. While the seat is a little narrow at 21 inches wide, the 80 inches of pitch and the fully flat bed makes for a fairly roomy and comfortable ride.

Air France’s A380 business-class seat is wider at 24 inches, but the angle-flat seat has only 55 inches of pitch and the formation makes it harder to reach the aisle from a window. I tried Air France’s business class on the 777-300 back in 2010 and found it to be adequate, but unexceptional — though the carrier is in the process of rolling out updated 777 business-class seats. The A380 has a few more amenities (like the self-service bar), and there’s a certain coolness factor to flying on the A380 (especially on the upper deck), which is an experience worth having if you’re an avgeek like me.

Delta One gives you a bit more privacy than Air France’s A380 business-class cabin.

Ultimately, I think the decision comes down to how much you plan to sleep during the flight. If you need a solid rest to be ready for work or other activities upon arrival in the morning, I’d go with Delta and the fully flat bed. If you’re more likely to be awake, Air France will likely offer marginally better food and service.

That’s my take, but I’m sure not everyone will share my opinions. If you’ve tried either of these products, please chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

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