Lufthansa First Class Cabin on A380 flights. Image Courtesy of Lufthansa Facebook Page
Flying first class gives a whole new meaning to the term “on cloud nine”. Like one King Lear said, vile times make small things precious, or something like that. Flying long distances is vile. You’ll need your basic human rights like your shower and bed. And yes, since you are travelling first class, why not aim for the best service and comfort a flight can bring 35,000 feet in the air?Surrounded by luxury and style, it really is the best way to fly and if you have the miles, booking a cabin should be as easy as ABC. With an array of airlines to choose from, finding a suitable carrier to ferry you from destination to destination seems like the best kind of problem to have. From showers to a flatbed where you can rest your tired body, we check out the best first class cabins. While most of the amenities mentioned below are available, it would be wise to check with the airlines so as not to be left disappointed.
Singapore Airlines Suites
We like how the airline talks about its Suites: “How close is too close? You’ll never have to know.” Privacy — a luxury on planes. Slide those doors, close up those window blinds. Stretch out and enjoy the space you should always have had in-flight. On your honeymoon? Connect two suites to make a double room. We hope you booked a chef at least a day before your flight, because you can enjoy a decadent, bespoke meal, served on bone china by Wedgwood specifically designed for Singapore Airlines.
The A380-exclusive Singapore Airlines Suite. Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Emirates First Class Suites
A380 Shower Spa. Just the three words alone make us want to use our miles (if we had them) to book these first class suites. Travel time totalling near or over 20 hours (we’re looking at you, Sydney to Dubai, then Dubai to Chicago) means you reach your final destination with frizzy hair, the clothes you had on from the day before, and a desire to enter into a hole in the ground, no matter which class you fly. Unless you happen to be Victoria Beckham who steps off long haul flights looking like a goddess. Sure, with Emirates First Class Suites, there’s mingling at the Lounge (on board) and the Bulgari amenities kit for long-haul overnight flights, which don’t hurt, but A380 Shower Spa is the key. If you’re still not convinced, learn more from Jennifer Aniston here:
Etihad Airways The Residence
Was there ever a time where Etihad was not upping the game for first class (and beyond)? Your chauffeur awaits, before you even step out of your house. He or she brings you to the airport, where the Porter and Concierge are ready to assist. After enjoying top-notch hospitality and a light, delicious meal at the Lounge, your cabin manager walks you to the plane. Then it’s welcome to the flight. We have no idea how the airline manages to give each of their most well-heeled traveller duos a living room with a reclining couch, a private en-suite bathroom, and a private double bedroom on their A380 flights, but they do. Well played, Etihad. Well played.
Lufthansa First Class
If a private jet with the airline is not your thing, there’s always the Lufthansa First Class. For the airline, it’s all in the details. Pampering with the wellness programme the spa at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, exploring a library of DuMont coffee-table books, and if you smoke, heading for the cigar lounge-within-the-lounge — just some of the things you can do at the Frankfurt Airport. Ready to fly? At five airports including Frankfurt and Zurich, you might just board the flight in style with limousine service. Sound-cancelling curtains and Michelin-star-standard food (which includes caviar) on board complete the first class experience. Airline agreements means if you book first class for that (seemingly endless for coach) Sydney to New York flight with Lufthansa, one leg of the trip might be operated by Singapore Airlines, which works well for us.
Note: Frequent flyers between Bangkok and Frankfurt, rejoice! Lufthansa says that they will be rolling out A380 flights between the two cities, with First Class cabins starting October this year.
Lufthansa First Class Cabin on A380 flights. Image Courtesy of Lufthansa Facebook Page
Qantas First Class
G’day mate. Two things are for sure in this world: we love Qantas and we love Australia. If you’ve watched the video where Ellen DeGeneres takes (or rather, “gives up taking”) first class on her Qantas flight home from Melbourne to Los Angeles, you would notice a couple of things: the bed in First Class is spacious enough for more than one (and you’d be the only one with all that space), there’s an ottoman for guests, and flying top-tier means too many pillows (which we welcome). Then there are the things the video doesn’t show, like a chauffeur to bring you to the airport, an eight-course dégustation menu courtesy of Neil Perry, and a Sommelier in the Skies so you know the right pairings for the exquisite food you’re tasting. First Class? Absolutely!
Air France La Première
There have been many videos in this article, we know. This one doesn’t have a celebrity, but we couldn’t resist showing it to you. It beckons you right in. Air France wasn’t kidding on their website when they mentioned how uber-comfortable the La Première beds are. After you watch the flight attendant lay out a futon mattress, a large pillow and a Sofitel MyBed™ duvet and tuck yourself into the two-metres long bed, you’re drifting off to sleep and hoping that you wouldn’t have to land so soon. Depending on how social you feel at any moment, you could close the curtains or open it up so it doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Sleep is important on a flight, we know but the airline shows that there’s more to being one of the best than a comfortable bed. Say you are departing from Paris. Would you like to have something from the menu crafted by the likes of Joël Robuchon? How about some Aquitaine Sturia caviar? Oui and oui, please. Oh, and just in case you prefer even more exclusivity, there’s always the option of private jet from Charles de Gaulle.
Asiana Airlines First Suite Class
Excuse us. We were just fascinated with the Seat Function Control Unit, from which we can control the universe! (Disclaimer: We have no actual dominion over the world, just our seat.) Besides conveniently adjusting your seat, you can also enjoy the 32-and-a-half-inch LCD screen on which your entertainment plays. You would know that there are more important things than movies, especially on long-haul flights. Besides lying flat (the joy!) on the 2.1 metres bed, and a shower, which Asiana sadly does not offer, nutritious and delectable food is your other priority to stay refreshed and upbeat on the flight. If you’re flying the airline’s First Suite Class from Seoul to the United States or Europe, you can choose between 10 royal Korean menus — simply reserve in advance.
Asiana Airlines First Suite Class. Image courtesy of Asiana Airlines
British Airways First Suite
Picture this: if Ritz-Carlton came to us saying that flat beds are a reason to stay, we would stare at them blankly. With air travel, however, we cannot overstate the importance of the two words that sound like music to our ears: “flat bed”. Besides being home to a 1.98 metre flat bed, the First Class suite infused with British design looks aesthetically pleasing. Add to that essentials (we gave up using the word “luxurious” because so many things on the flight are vital, as we previously mentioned) like a quilted mattress, white cotton duvet and yes — the pillow. If like us, you appreciate fine amenities, the Liberty London amenity kit (currently available on flights from London’s Heathrow Airport and Los Angeles only) on board might bring a smile. The airline’s First Suite only comes on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner planes flying to selected locations like Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi, but never fear — there’s First Class on other planes.
British Airways First Cabin on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights. Image courtesy of British Airways
Cathay Pacific First Class Suites
If you’ve seen articles deliberating whether Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific is America’s Next Top Model (we mean the World’s Next Top Airline for First Class), you’ll know this airline means business when it comes to first class experience. Pretend your flight is a Hollywood film. First it starts with someone greeting you by name, then there’s a close-up shot of 500-thread-count cotton duvet, pillow and cushions. If you think that escalated pretty quickly, then here’s the climatic point of the narrative — in-flight in-chair massages — this is as relaxing as it gets. Did you find all that underwhelming? Here’s an Aesop amenity kit, award-winning wine, fine cheeses and freshly-brewed coffee to make it all right. And now, excuse us while we curl up in our private suite to pursue that flighty temptress known as sleep.
Cathay Pacific Airways First Class. Image Courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways
The results are in and the passengers have spoken: Singapore Airlines has been crowned the top international airline for in-flight dining by Travel + Leisure magazine. Following closely behind are none other than Emirates and Etihad Airways.
The ranking is part of the magazine’s annual World’s Best Awards, which saw readers vote for their favorite hotels, cruises and destinations amongst others. This is hardly the first time that Singapore’s national carrier has been awarded an accolade for its services. In 2015, the airline was named the best culinary airline by Saveur magazine. to see how the airline fared by other measures, see this year’s Skytrax awards.
For those wondering how the airline managed to secure its culinary position, well their secret lies in the talented people who develop its in-flight menus.
Enlisting the likes of Yoshihiro Murata from Japan, Georges Blanc from France and James Beard, the sample menu is created for passengers in first, business class and premium economy. The spread on board ranges from beef bourguignon, lobster Thermidor, Cantonese roast duck, sushi or rosemary beef brisket for the main course that can be selected 24 hours in advance. Before the dishes are rolled out to those lucky enough to savor the delicious flavors, they are tested for quality control. According to Travel + Leisure magazine, the meals are tested in a pressurized tasting room that stimulates the dining experience 30,000 feet in the air.
While the indulgent menu certainly sounds tempting, the carrier recently launched a new dining program that caters to the health-conscious flyer. Called “Deliciously Wholesome”, the menu features items such as salads, fish, tofu cheesecake and quinoa. Here are the top 10 international airlines for food, according to Travel + Leisure magazine:
The next time you can’t decide which airlines to fly, consider Garuda Airlines. The Indonesian national carrier has taken top spot this year as “the most loved airlines”, according to a list compiled by Skytrax. It is hard to believe that Garuda is the top flier today, having been through a rough patch lasting most of the 1990s and 2000s (it was banned from European airspace until 2009).
Well, everyone loves a comeback story and, even better than that, it seemed the Indonesian firm won by a mile in 2016. It received an impressive approval rating of 85 percent by fliers, ahead of Asiana Airlinesand Eva Air, also Asian carriers. In fact, these are but three of the 11 Asian airlines that took the top 15 spots, proving that they are only growing in popularity. Also notable is the absence of any U.S carriers in the top 15, although Virgin Airlines manages to sneak in at 15.
Analysts looked at how customers rated their overall flight experience, which measured on a scale of one to 10. Passengers had to consider everything from seat comfort, onboard services, food and beverages, in-flight entertainment and value for money.
Travelers looking to fly long-haul on the Airbus superjumbo can now book tickets directly via a new dedicated online search platform developed by the aircraft’s maker. Why would this be useful? If for example you love Etihad’s suites or the same on Qatar, Emirates or Singapore Airlines, what unites all these excellent options is the Airbus A380 so being able to search for A380-specific flights may help you find the right service.
A survey of passengers arriving at London Heathrow Airport quoted by Airbus reveals that 60% of passengers are willing to put their hand in their pocket to fly on the A380. Some, it seems, are ready to go the extra mile to travel long-haul onboard one of the airliner’s two passenger decks.
Today more than ever, aircraft type is an important factor for travelers booking flights. However, passengers aren’t able to search specifically for tickets on their favorite planes when booking online. Now, thanks to a new travel search engine called iflya380.com, travelers looking specifically to fly on the Airbus A380 can do just that.
The site takes the form of a regular travel search engine for booking flights, but here, only flights operated by A380 aircraft are listed in the results. Thirteen airlines currently operate the Airbus superjumbo, which offers passengers more spacious traveling conditions and a quieter cabin: Emirates Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, Qantas, Air France, Korean Air, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, China Southern Airlines and Asiana Airlines.
The site, launched by Airbus, lets users view and compare the range of onboard services from each carrier. Users search for flights by entering details such as departure and destination airports, dates of travel and preferred class. However, passengers are redirected to the airline’s own page for the final stages of booking.
An airline is more than just a means to an end and Skytrax knows this all too well, hence it has been evaluating and recognizing airlines around the world for excellence since 1999. This year, Emirates is crowned king of the skies, as World’s Best Airline while Etihad Airways bags top honors in luxury, as the World’s Best First Class Airline 2016. Making it a triple-header for Gulf airlines, Qatar Airways is the World’s Best Business Class Airline in 2016. No American airlines made the top 10 this year, which you can see at the bottom of this article.
Etihad Airways First Apartment
Etihad didn’t just bag the award for World’s Best First Class Airline. For the second time in its history, Etihad took home two other titles: World’s Best First Class Onboard Catering and World’s Best First Class Airline Seat for its First Apartments and Suites.
For its part, Emirates returned to the top of the pile this year, displacing perennial rivals Qatar Airways (last year’s overall winner) and Singapore Airlines (second last year, third in 2016). Emirates was also crowned best airline for keeping passengers entertained, an award the carrier has won for the last 12 years.
Calum Laming, Vice President of Guest Experience at Etihad Airways, said “The airline is tremendously proud that, based on the results of a huge global customer satisfaction survey, we have yet again been presented with these prestigious awards for the world’s finest First Class experience.” He added that “We have enhanced the experience even further this year through investment in our products, services and cabins and this is a welcome reward for those efforts.”
Etihad Airways: First Apartment Bed
With nine First Apartments aboard the A380, guests can relax tens of thousands of feet above the ground in spaces that are said to be 74% larger than Etihad’s current First Class suites. Within this 39-square-foot space, the airline has installed a Poltrona Frau leather armchair and ottoman that can create a 80.5-inch long bed. Guests also have a dedicated shower room — who said travelling first class was anything but fancy?
To ensure that you never go hungry during a flight, the airline even offers up a sumptuous menu that features fine steaks, sides and sauces that are prepared by onboard Chefs. These professionally trained crew members can even craft a meal based on the request of each passenger for that bespoke dining experience.
Etihad Airways: Onboard Chef’s serve the First Class Cabins for each flight
Capping off the first class experience with Etihad and cementing its status as the World’s Best Airline of 2016, is the First Class lounge & spa. Located at Abu Dhabi International Airport, first class passengers are given access to an array of services such as a fitness room. Cigar lounge, Six Senses Spa, Style & Shave barbers and even a nail bar.
Other awards categories see Cathay Pacific emerge tops for cabin cleanliness, which is always a plus, and marked yet another year of Asian airlines dominating the awards. Indeed, only Qantas and Lufthansa cracked the top 10 best in the world 2016, if one counts Turkish Airlines as Asian. Asian airlines were once again honored for their top-quality crews, with Garuda Indonesia winning “Best Airline Cabin Staff” for the third consecutive year, ahead of All Nippon Airways (second), Singapore Airlines (third), Thai Airways (fourth) and Eva Air (fifth, Taiwan).
In case you are curious, the top 10 airlines in the world for 2016 are as follows:
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific
5. ANA All Nippon Airways
6. Etihad Airways
7. Turkish Airlines
8. EVA Air
9. Qantas Airways
The top First Class airlines are as follows:
1. Etihad Airways
2. Cathay Pacific
3. Air France
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
5. Singapore Airlines
8. Qatar Airways
9. Qantas Airways
10. Garuda Indonesia
To find out more about the World’s Top 10 Airlines 2016, click here.
More than 18 million travelers have spoken, and they’ve voted Hong Kong’s flagship carrier CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS the world’s best airline!.
Airline passengers from 160 countries participated in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards and helped Cathay bump last year’s winner, Emirates, from the top spot. Cathay also took the title in 2003, 2005 and 2009.
Emirates took a tumble to 4th place, coming in after QATAR AIRWAYS and SINGAPORE AIRLINES which came in second and third place respectively.
Of note: The top 10 list is absent of any North American airlines and is dominated by Middle Eastern and Asian carriers.
One reviewer on the Skytrax airline review forum gave Cathay a perfect score for his “exceptional” flight between Hong Kong and London that included a solid six hours of slumber in comfortable seats and a “superb” in-flight menu that featured lamb shoulder confit.
“Overall a great journey and my new favourite airline for business class.”
Over the last four years, the carrier has invested $4.9 billion HK ($632 million USD) in cabin makeovers.
The world’s longest nonstop commercial flight ended without fanfare Monday after Singapore Airlines (SIA) flew its last nearly 19-hour service from New York.
Flight SQ 21 landed early Monday in Changi Airport, bringing an end to a nine-year run. A direct service to Los Angeles has also been cancelled as part of a fleet renewal.
Analysts said the rise in fuel prices since 2004, when the 15,335-kilometre (9,529-mile)service was launched to cater to business travellers, made it economically unsustainable.
The cancellation of the service was first announced a year ago. Five Airbus A340-500s used by SIA for the service to New York — through neighbouring Newark — are being swapped for Airbus A380 superjumbos, a larger but more fuel-efficient model that is not designed for such distances.
The 100-seat, all business-class service to New York was pricey but passengers flew in comfort and saved hours of travel time by not having to make stopovers. A Singapore travel agency said the last list price for the New York direct service was Sg$14,000 ($11,180).
Ultra long-range routes have proven to be uneconomical, making it unlikely there will be a return of flights over 17 hours, which can only be flown by the niche A340-500 or (Boeing) 777-200LR.
Three routes now share the distinction of being the longest in terms of duration — Dubai-Houston, Dubai-Los Angeles and Johannesburg-Atlanta — at 16 hours and 20 minutes.
In terms of distance, a Qantas flight from Sydney to Dallas will be the longest, but tailwinds enable it to be completed in 15 hours and 20 minutes.
If you’re getting ready for a long-haul flight to your vacation destination, you may not be looking forward to the on-board meal. Between soggy sandwiches and microwaved chicken cutlets, airplane food often leaves a lot to be desired. But there are exceptions: these airlines have called upon master chefs for in-flight cuisine that’s a cut above the rest.
The UAE airline took home the honors for “Best First Class Meals” in the 2013 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Over the past two years, Etihad has recruited chefs from the world’s top restaurants. On board for select international flights, master chefs offer gourmet fare rivaling that of fine dining restaurants.
Fresh and organic ingredients take center stage. The eggs and honey used in the kitchen, for example, come straight from an organic farm in Abu Dhabi.
For its business class, Air France calls upon a new master chef every eight months to create gourmet fare for its long-haul flights from Paris. Through October 2013, travelers can enjoy the cuisine of Michel Roth, chef at “L’Espadon,” the restaurant of the Ritz in Paris. In first class, the menus are created by Michelin-starred chefs including Joël Robuchon and Guy Martin.
Last year, Qatar Airways recruited a gourmet all-star team to create a transnational menu. Starred chefs Nobu Matsuhisa (Japan) and Tom Aikens (United Kingdom), as well as Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri and Indian chef Vineet Bathia have created dishes inspired by their home countries.
The cuisine has been prepared with two particular challenges in mind: limited preparation methods available and the possibility of an altered sense of taste in high altitudes. This globe-trotting gastronomy can be found in first and business class on international flights.
The German airline’s first class service also includes a high-end culinary experience. On long-haul flights from German cities, master chefs take turns offering well-crafted and creative menus. This summer, Joachim Wissler, who holds three Michelin stars and was voted “Chef of Chefs” by his German colleagues, offers among other delicacies a green pea mousse with mozzarella and tomato basil sauce.
Flights to Germany also feature the cuisine of gourmet chefs, chosen from the best restaurants in the countries of departure. Next October and November, for example, passengers will savor the creations of French chef Marc Haeberlin of L’Auberge de l’Ill in the Alsace region.
For several years now, the Singaporean airline has relied on a panel of nine internationally renowned chefs for its in-flight meals. The dishes served in premium and business class were created by French chef George Blanc, whose restaurant in Vonnas holds three Michelin stars, Italian chef Carlo Craco (two Michelin stars) and Alfred Portale of New York.
Delta Air Lines
Delta recently announced that it was giving its in-flight menu a TV twist, by creating a competitive culinary show that will see four top US chefs — Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, Kelly English, and George Mendes — go up against one another for the prize of developing the dish ideas for passengers.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday unveiled new seats and other in-flight amenities in all classes as part of a sweeping upgrade of its cabins in an attempt to stay competitive.
Passengers on selected flights between Singapore and London will be the first to experience the improved seats and entertainment system, wider TV screens and other improvements.
SIA said it will spend nearly $150 million on improved cabin amenities on an initial eight Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline is battling strong competition from Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, and on the economy side from budget airlines, which have grown in number in Asia.
Like other airlines its net profit has been hurt by the sluggish global economy, which has hit both passenger and cargo demand, as well as high oil prices.
“The investment programme will be extended as the new products are introduced on Airbus A350 aircraft scheduled for delivery in the years ahead,” the airline said.
The airline said it worked with top global design firms to give passengers more comfort and luxury, including longer and more luxurious beds in first class and additional personal space in economy.
Passengers flying with Singapore Airlines (SIA) can now access the internet for a fee, announced the airline Thursday.
SIA passengers will not only be able to send and receive emails on smartphones and other electronic devices during their flight but also send and receive SMS text messages with GSM-compatible mobile phones. Continue reading →
Singapore Airlines has said it plans to introduce revamped seats and cabin interiors with an upgraded in-flight entertainment in a bid to stay ahead of Asian and Middle East rivals in the premium travel market. Continue reading →
The award means that Delta came out top in a string of assessments including social responsibility and quality of product, as well as business-related criteria such as quality of management and global competitiveness.
Delta has moved steadily up the ranks over the past four years to reach top spot, which was awarded to Singapore Airlines last year — the airline’s boss Richard Anderson described the award as a “remarkable achievement” in a note to staff. Continue reading →
Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines has become the seventh airline in the world to win a five-star rating from airline reviewer Skytrax.
The prestigious ranking is awarded by Skytrax and is the highest rating an airline can achieve, signifying a “truly consistent and high quality of Product and Service.”
Hainan Airlines was the first mainland Chinese airline to be awarded four star status in 2009 and was elevated to five star last week, with exceptional rankings in long haul business and economy classes and short haul first class service. Continue reading →
Singapore Airlines is to offer private jet transfer in Europe to passengers flying from Australia, the airline confirmed last week.
A partnership with Lufthansa’s Private Jet services will mean that passengers flying to one of Singapore Airline’s 14 European destinations will be able to continue their journey on a private jet to one of over 1,000 airports in Europe.
The model is almost exactly the same as PrivateConnect, the British Airways tie-up with CitationAir announced earlier this year which provides private jet connections in North America for passengers arriving on BA flights.
The European service, which is provided by Star Alliance partners Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, uses a fixed price and is based solely on distance (from â‚¬6,900), regardless of the number of travelers.
A dedicated “Private Jet Manager” is on hand to arrange catering, baggage transfer, limousine services and customs clearance for passengers using the top-end service.
The service is likely to be popular with Singapore Airlines’ first class passengers, who enjoy suites aboard the A380 services to London, Paris and Zurich — albeit at a price tag which starts at around â‚¬12,000 return.
Think the price of your airline tickets is growing while the leg room is shrinking? Well, it isn’t for everybody. Elitetravellers are accustomed to significantly better accomodations.
Newsweek is singling out what it says are the eight most luxurious airlines in the world right now, and by the looks of some of these pictures, some of the seflying experiences might have you thinking hard about actually caring whether you reach your destination !
The eight most luxurious airlines in the world enlisted by Newsweek in order are: