Ask many regular flyers what really matters when they score that prized seat in business class, and their response is usually, "all the extra space".

Sure, the amenity kits, chef-designed menus and flow of French bubbles are all very nice, but on a long international flight, much of that fades in importance compared to the comfort of extra room to stretch out in.

So if space is top of your agenda, then it's time to note how much the low-cost carriers have upped their game with their business class offerings in recent years.

The likes of Jetstar, Scoot and AirAsia now include business with flat beds, deep reclines, wide seats, separate cabins and a range of dining perks — at a fraction of the cost of what the full-service carriers are charging for business.


On a good day, business on a low-cost carrier can be comparable to economy on a full- service carrier. From Sydney to Singapore in ScootBiz in late-May, fares are from A$489 ($518) each way, while a Qantas Economy return for the same dates is from A$886.

Or Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur in AirAsia'a Premium Flatbed AirAsia in mid-June is from A$1,129 each way, compared to A$3,131 for full-service return business on Malaysian Airlines.

But the claim that not all business class seats are the same especially applies on the low-cost carriers, with the seats varying as much as the fares being charged. The adage you get what you pay for still applies — and with that in mind, we put Scoot, AirAsia and Jetstar to the test.


This Business class is called Premium Flatbed, and what it has over the other low-cost carriers is the seat becomes a flat bed, and what's even better, it's comfortable, complete with a thick duvet to cuddle under.

True, it's a 'lie-flat' bed, which means it's on an angle, but it's still comfortable enough to get a solid sleep with a width of 51cm and a full-recline pitch of 195.5cm.

The seat includes a thick comfy cushion, adjustable headrest and head pillow and a privacy screen if you want to shut off completely for the eight-hour trip to KL.

And with a separate cabin of only 18 seats in a 2-2- 2 pattern, it's decidedly quieter than a few rows back in Economy.

Preparing for takeoff. The seats in AirAsia's business class. Photo / Supplied
Preparing for takeoff. The seats in AirAsia's business class. Photo / Supplied

Check-in is at a dedicated counter, the baggage allowance is 40kg, a meal is included, and even though it's the same menu as economy, it's surprisingly tasty. There's a good range of TV and movies on the screening menu, but just know you need to book ahead for a screen device as supplies are limited.


The verdict: AirAsia's business has been described as "the next generation of premium economy", but with this much space, it has it all over any premium I've tried. Some of the advance AirAsia deals offer great bargains.


What Jetstar calls business class looks like premium on a full-service airline but compared to the tightness of economy only a few rows back, it's already a big step up.

Jetstar has polished up its business class and the result is impressive, so the leather seats are wide at 48cm, the pitch between them is 96cm and while these seats do not go flat, the recline is deep and comfy — certainly enough to burrow into and get some decent sleep.

The configuration is in a 2-3- 2 pattern, with a maximum of 21 seats in the cabin, so it's good for those who need their space. And there's no chance of any elbow battles here, as there are double armrests between seats.

No flat beds in Jetstar's business section but the food is great. Photo / Supplied
No flat beds in Jetstar's business section but the food is great. Photo / Supplied

What is great about Jetstar business is the in-seat screens, which saves from juggling a pad screen on your lap and includes noise-cancelling headphones. What makes this low-cost business offering stand out is the dedicated menu, exclusive to this cabin and offering simple but tasty three-course meals complete with matching beverages.

The step up starts at check-in at the dedicated business counter, with up to 30kg of checked baggage and two carry-on bags up to 7kg. At some airports, like Sydney and Melbourne, you can use the Qantas lounge if you have purchased the Max bundle.

The verdict: Don't look for a bed as this business is far more like good Premium, but what's on offer is smart, comfortable and with a good deal, worth the dollars.


You'd be forgiven for doing a double-take when walking into the ScootBiz cabin, thinking

you'd wandered into Jetstar's business cabin instead — they look that similar. But peer closer at the details, and that's where you'll find there's differences between carriers.

Firstly, the leather seats with the bold yellow stripes are markedly wider at 56cm, and with a recline of 20cm, it's easy to get into a comfortable position to doze off. What's also a bonus is that ScootBiz never seems to be full, so there's always a sense of room. And if you're in economy but like the look of biz, you can upgrade on-board for a smaller cost.

The checked baggage allowance is 30kg, with a generous 15kg of carry on. The welcome drink was a small bottle of water and there's one alcoholic drink later, but anything else will cost extra. There's a basic menu for the plane, and one meal is included in Biz. When I paid for a second meal, it turned up cold and had to be reheated, but was zapped too long and was almost inedible. The wine list was also no-frills.

The in-flight streaming service was also more miss than hit, as was the Wi-Fi internet access — and again, you pay for it. And a blanket to stay warm? Get your card out again.

The verdict: The seat may not be flat, but the space is good — just don't expect any bells and whistles. I have flown ScootBiz eight times, and for the room to stretch out, it's always worth it.