What constitutes a cheap Business class airfare? In my mind, an airfare is cheap when it is lower than the usual cost for a flight of similar duration and/or flying to destinations which would usually be a premium destination. Since it is now winter and time for skiers to find places to go skiing at, I was looking at airfares to Europe. Normally, flying into airports like Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Oslo and Stockholm would be cheaper, while Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt are considered business destinations which demand a premium. Thus it was interesting to find that one of the cheapest airfares into Europe from South East Asia is found flying into Geneva from Jakarta.
Etihad offers the fare in Business Class starting from a price of IDR 26.7 million (~$1,920) inclusive of taxes. Not only that, Etihad already flies their new 787 Business Class which is actually considered better than the seats in their 777 for the Jakarta to Abu Dhabi route. Since there are limited non-stop European flights from Jakarta, this one-stop flight makes a lot of sense, and is worth considering for fellow travellers or skiers heading to the Swiss Alps from South East Asia. This flight is available most dates and can be searched through Google Flights, or booked directly through Etihad’s website.
Etihad flies 2 times daily between Jakarta and Abu Dhabi with EY475 departing in the evening around 5:35pm and EY471 departing around 00:05, or 5 minutes past midnight. For connecting into Geneva, the afternoon flight will allow a roughly 3 hour 30 minutes stopover in Abu Dhabi before arriving into Geneva at 06:45am in the morning of the next day. This routing is somewhat similar to most flights I have taken to Europe with Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific connecting either through Singapore or Hong Kong.
It is only the return trip that has a slightly longer layover in Abu Dhabi as the flight from Geneva departs in the morning at 9:25am, arriving at Abu Dhabi in the evening at 6:40pm, while the best connecting flight to Jakarta on EY474 departs at 3am in the dark, meaning there is a long layover. Passengers on the flight from Geneva would not make it for the earlier EY472 departing Abu Dhabi at 11:15am in the morning. For guests who have not visited Abu Dhabi, they could do a free stopover where Etihad provides a one night premium hotel for Business Class as compliments. Otherwise Business class passengers could also opt for a free 2 night stay at hotels that Etihad also offers to Economy class passengers. So for an additional cost of around $20-30, they could do a stop over with free hotels in Abu Dhabi on the return trip, as that would help in negating the long layover.
Otherwise Etihad offers a pretty nice Business class seating on the 787s which flies on both routes. The 787 features a special staggered Business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration allowing direct aisle access for all passengers, though at least half of the seats faces the reverse so check the seatmaps of the plane to ensure which seat faces the reverse direction. It is uncertain because Etihad has 3 kinds of 787 configurations, 2 for the 787-9 with one having a First Class cabin, and another one for the newer 787-10. Most of the time both flights from Jakarta and Geneva are served by the 787-9s, but all of them have the same seats and passengers in Business Class can also expect to receive new amenity kits from Italian fragrance brand Acqua di Parma.
For a similar price, Qatar Airways also has good fares starting around $1,980 and it is worth noting that some of the flights with Qatar are operated by the Airbus A350s. Both Qatar’s 787 and A350 that serves Jakarta and Geneva out of Doha are fitted with reverse herringbone seats with 1-2-1 configurations so I would say they would offer similar levels of comfort with Etihad. The difference lies in your personal preference of facing the front or rear at a straight line or at an angle.
Qatar also flies 3 flights daily between Jakarta and Doha, with QR955 departing at 12:25am and arriving at 5:35am in Doha, QR959 departing 8:45am and arriving at 1:55pm, QR957 departing at 6:20pm and arriving at 11:30pm. Only QR955 is expected to be operated by the A350 which unfortunately does not seem to feature the new Q-Suites Business class product. The other 2 flights are operated with 787s. Between Doha and Geneva, Qatar operates QR99 depating at 8:15am, arriving at 1pm, and QR101 departing at 1:45am and arriving at 6:30am. However QR101 only operates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while QR99 operates only on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with both flights to Geneva operated by A350s. Qatar’s schedule would provide more flexibility and shorter connections.
Qatar Business class is considered one of the best in the world and while I have yet to fly with Qatar, I have family members who enjoyed their flight with them. In addition, Qatar has a very nice Business class lounge in Doha and provides passengers with Bric’s branded amenity kits. Qatar also provides stopover possibilities in Doha for a nominal fee, but it is not free. One edge for travelling on Qatar is for travellers who collect miles or have status with oneworld as Qatar is a full fledged member. Thus flying on Qatar Business class allows both status and redemption miles to be earned on all the oneworld alliance’s frequent flyer membership.
For travellers based in South East Asia, these 2 flights out of Jakarta provides a cheap Business class fare to head to the Swiss Alps this winter to ski. Flying in Business class provides additional luggage that would come in handy for packing your skis and boots to travel with you. Arriving in Geneva also places skiers right in the middle with easy access to the French alpine resorts of Chamonix or to explore Zermatt and neighbouring Cervinia. From Geneva, even the Austrian Tyrolean resorts are an easy transfer by train via Zurich. With all the possibilities, this is a great airfare for skiers so they can travel in comfort across the continent and be ready in top form to ski the morning they arrive in Geneva.