Air India First Class vs Business Class 2023: Which is Better?

Flying first class on Air India offers an ultra-luxurious flight experience with lie-flat beds, fine dining, and attentive service. However, Air India’s business class product is also very comfortable with fully flat seats and premium amenities. Here’s an in-depth comparison of Air India’s first-class vs. business-class cabins to help you decide which is best for your next flight.

Air India First Class vs. Business Class

Seating and Cabin Layout

Air India operates both 3-class and 2-class aircraft configurations. On 3-class planes, first class is in a separate cabin with 8 seats in a 1-2-1 layout giving direct aisle access from every seat. The business class cabin is much larger on these planes with 30 lie-flat seats arranged 2-2-2.

On 2-class planes, there is no first-class cabin. Instead, business class fills the entire forward cabin with 18-26 lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. So first class offers more privacy and exclusivity, while J class has easier access to aisles.

Seat Size and Comfort

First-class seats are wider at 28 inches with a length of 82 inches when fully reclined into a bed. The seat is upholstered in soft supple leather.

In business class, the seats are also lie-flat for sleeping but are narrower at 20-22 inches wide depending on the aircraft. Beds lengths are between 72-78 inches. The seats are covered in leather or high-quality fabrics.

So first-class seats provide more personal space with their superior width and length. However, J class seats are still very comfortable for sleeping.

Amenities and Entertainment

First-class pampers passengers with luxury amenities including designer sleepwear, premium bedding and pillows, and Bulgari amenity kits. Noise-canceling headphones are provided as are slippers and shoeshine service.

Business-class amenities are also excellent but a notch below first. Passengers receive mattress pads, pillows, blankets, amenity kits, headphones, and slippers. There are also comfy pillows and high-quality blankets in business class.

For in-flight entertainment, First Class has 18-inch touchscreen monitors with hundreds of options. In business, the IFE screens are smaller at 14-15 inches. The selection of movies, TV, music, and games is extensive in both cabins.

Overall, first class offers superior amenities, bedding, and a larger IFE screen. But business-class amenities are quite generous and comfortable as well.

Dining and Cuisine

First-class dining is a luxury culinary experience with exclusive multi-course meals, premium wines, and champagnes. Passengers can pre-order meals and enjoy dining on demand. There is also a first-class bar area.

In business, the food quality is excellent with Indian and Western multi-course meals. The wine list features premium brands, though not quite as upscale as first. Dining on demand is available with reservations.

So first-class dining is more sophisticated, but J-class meals are still delicious with good wine. The service is also more attentive in first class.

Lounge Access

First-class passengers can use Air India’s First Class lounge with premium food and beverages in a relaxing environment. Business class passengers have access to Air India’s Maharaja Business Class lounges. The first-class lounges are more exclusive and luxurious.

Bottom Line

For the ultimate luxury experience, Air India’s first class is unmatched with lie-flat seating, fine dining, and premium amenities. But the business class product still provides excellent comfort and service on long-haul flights. Unless you require the extra space and exclusivity of first class, business class offers good value comparable to many other airlines. Consider booking first for celebratory occasions or when only the very best will do.

The Top 5 Air India Credit Cards for Perks in 2023

Air India frequent flyers can amplify their rewards and travel benefits by using a credit card that is co-branded with the airline. Here are the top 5 Air India credit cards that offer the most valuable perks and bonuses:

  1. Air India SBI Signature Credit Card

The Air India SBI Signature Credit Card is the airline’s flagship premium card, ideal for frequent travelers. Benefits include:

  • 15,000 bonus miles on the first purchase
  • 5,000 bonus miles annually upon renewal
  • Earn 3 miles per Rs. 200 spent on Air India flights
  • Complimentary access to over 150 airport lounges worldwide
  • Priority check-in, boarding, baggage handling
  • 1,000 off on J and F class redemptions
  • In-flight savings of 15% on base fares
  • Insurance coverage and lost baggage assistance

With its high mile rates and premium travel perks, this is the top Air India co-branded card. There is an annual fee of Rs. 10,000.

  1. Air India SBI Platinum Credit Card

The Air India SBI Platinum Card offers solid rewards and benefits with a lower fee, including:

  • 10,000 bonus miles on the first spend
  • 1,000 renewal bonus miles annually
  • Earn 2 miles per Rs. 200 on Air India tickets
  • Complimentary domestic and international lounge access
  • Priority services at the airport
  • Discounted award tickets up to Rs. 500 off
  • In-flight savings of 12% on base fares
  • Travel and shopping protections

With a Rs. 3,000 annual fee, this is a good mid-tier choice for Air India flyers seeking extra perks.

  1. Air India SBI Signature Visa Credit Card

This Visa Signature version provides similar rewards as the Air India SBI Signature Card but can be used more widely internationally. Benefits mirror the Signature card:

  • 15,000 bonus miles
  • 5,000 renewal bonus miles
  • 3 miles per Rs. 200 spent on Air India
  • Airport lounge access
  • Priority services, discounts on redemptions
  • In-flight savings on Air India
  • Travel insurance protections

There is a Rs. 10,000 annual fee for this Visa Signature card. It’s best for frequent international Air India flyers.

  1. Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro Credit Card

While not an Air India co-brand, the Jet Airways ICICI Sapphiro Card earns points that can be transferred 1:1 to Air India miles. Perks include:

  • 15,000 bonus points on first spend
  • 5,000 renewal bonus points
  • 2 points per Rs. 150 spent on flights
  • 4 points per Rs. 150 on dining and groceries
  • Complimentary domestic lounge access
  • Priority services at the airport
  • Redeem points for Air India flights and upgrades

This flexible card has a Rs. 5,000 annual fee and lets you earn Air India miles with everyday spending.

  1. HDFC Diners Black Credit Card

The HDFC Diners Black Card also earns rewards points transferrable to Air India at a 1:1 ratio. Benefits include:

  • 10,000 bonus points
  • 5000 renewal bonus points
  • 4 points per Rs. 150 on dining, groceries, flights
  • 2 points per Rs. 150 on other purchases
  • Domestic lounge access
  • Transfer points to Air India miles
  • In-flight savings on Air India
  • Hotel and travel protections

For a Rs. 10,000 fee, this card offers robust point earning and redemptions for Air India.

Air India Credit Card FAQs

  • What is the best Air India credit card for frequent flyers?

The Air India SBI Signature Card is the best option for frequent Air India travelers, with 3 miles per Rs. 200 spent on Air India, priority services, lounge access, discounts on award flights, and other premium benefits.

  • Which Air India credit card has the lowest annual fee?

The Air India SBI Platinum Card has the lowest annual fee among Air India co-branded cards at Rs. 3,000 per year. It still offers solid perks like bonus miles, discounted rewards flights, and lounge access.

  • Can I use Jet Airways or HDFC points for Air India flights?

Yes, Jet Airways ICICI Bank and HDFC Diners Club card points can be transferred 1:1 to Air India frequent flyer miles. This provides flexibility in redeeming points earned through everyday spending.

  • What is the easiest Air India credit card to get approved for?

The Air India SBI Platinum Card tends to have lower eligibility requirements than the premium Signature card. So it may be easier to get approved if you have a limited or short credit history.

  • Do all Air India credit cards offer free checked bags?

Most of the top Air India cards provide free checked baggage allowance as a key benefit. For example, the Signature card offers a free 1st checked bag for the cardholder and companions on Air India flights.


In summary, Air India offers an excellent first-class product that outshines its still very comfortable business-class service. For frequent fliers, Air India’s co-branded credit cards can amplify rewards and travel benefits. The top options provide bonus miles, lounge access, priority services, and opportunities to earn and redeem miles for award travel. For Air India loyalists who take several long-haul flights per year, the privileges of elite status may be worth the annual card fees.

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