When booking a flight, passengers are often offered the opportunity to upgrade their tickets to either business or first class. But what can they expect from these experiences? Is there even a difference between the two? Read on to learn more about the perks offered by each category, including how they differ from one another.

The Basics
Business class is the next step up from economy class, or coach (although some airlines now feature a “premium economy” class, which are coach seats with a bit more space). Passengers can enjoy more legroom, as well as unlimited alcoholic beverages (for those of legal drinking age).

First class has all this and more; on some airlines, the seats not only recline fully, but offer complete privacy as well. The food and drink is much better than what you’d receive in coach (if any food is offered in economy class at all), and the flight attendants will see to your every need. Expect to pay for the privilege–first class seats don’t come cheaply.

Business and first class passengers both have access to a private lounge, where they can relax while they wait to board their flight. These are usually more comfortable than the public gate areas, with food and beverage service available. Service is prompt and courteous from the moment you board the flight, and as mentioned above, the seating is less cramped than in economy class.

In both cases, passengers are usually allowed to check an extra bag at no additional cost. As a bonus, many frequent-flier programs offer a bonus on miles earned in either business or first class. Be aware that some airlines have actually merged the two classes, offering only one or the other.

While business and first class passengers both have access to the same lounge, sometimes there’s a separate, more luxurious one reserved for first-class only. The latter experience, on the whole, will be the best the airline has to offer–and will likely come at a much higher price. Some of the larger aircrafts will even have additional perks, like showers or sleeping cabins, available for their first-class passengers.

The bottom line? It’s all about the legroom. First class will always offer the most space, so if this is a concern and the airline offers both, go for the gold.