There’s nothing worse than spending a small fortune on air travel tickets and then boarding an old plane with less than acceptable seats and amenities. To help you avoid this, industry experts have agreed on a special few carriers that boast the best first class experiences cabin products possible. With these carriers, not only can you expect roomy, comfortable, large seats and flat beds, but in some cases you can even look forward to on-board lounges, shower spas, celebrity chef inspired meals and award winning wine-lists. These days, it’s all about having your own personal suite on-board, and if every seat doesn’t have aisle-access, it’s just not worthy. That said, all of these carriers have exceptions offerings, and comparisons are literally nitpicking inch for inch.
On Emirates flights on A380, Airbus 340-500 and most Boeing 777 planes, if you book first class, you can expect a First Class Private Suite with a personal mini-bar, adjustable lighting, a mirrored vanity table and wardrobe, privacy dividers and sliding doors, and the capability to turn your seat into a full-length, 79 inch fully flat bed with a dedicated mattress.
Your meal service is on your demand, whenever you want it. Expect the regionally inspired menus to be made from only the best locally sourced ingredients. Food is served on Royal Doulton fine bone china and with Robert Welch cutlery. Hors d’oeuvres are available in on-board lounges. Look for opulent menu options like stir-fried lobster in black bean sauce, wild Iranian caviar and glazed duck breast.
If you need to freshen up before your arrival and you’re on the A380, you’ll have access to the Emirates on-board shower-spas, where you can do just that. Yes, you can shower, on the plane.
In first class on a newly-fitted ANA Boeing 777-300ER, you’ll find a First Square seat with your name on it. The carrier’s First Square arrangement involves a 23 inch LCD monitor — the largest size possible (other carriers have it too) — jacket and shoe storage, an iPod connecter and USB port, all-aisle access, flat bed capabilities and large dining tables. It’s the similar cube set-up to other airlines, and just as luxurious, soaked in wooden trims and tones.
The airline boasts some interesting brand collaborations, too. At any time during your flight, you can request light meals created by renowned NYC ramen restaurant, Ippudo, and you’ll receive a care set from famed luggage designer, Rimowa.
On Cathay Pacific, first class cabins host only six or nine passengers, depending on the plane. You’ll have the suite set-up, with a seat that reclines to a flat 180 degrees, privacy screens and a luxury duvet, pillow and sleepsuit. You’ll be greeted with an amenity kit flashing brands like Ermenegildo Zegna and Aesop. There’s a 17 inch TV screen and noise-cancelling headset to use while browsings hundreds of entertainment options.
Food is made to order on-board and selections range from Asian to international. Cathay boasts that on-board kitchens use real rice-cookers, toasters and steam-ovens.
On Singapore Airlines, first class isn’t even the top of the line. On A380 aircraft, guests can book into an unprecedented Singapore Airlines Suite, but for comparison purposes, we’ll talk about first class here, available on Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-300 planes.
In first on Singapore, you’ll have a 35 inch fine-grain leather seat and you’ll be surrounded by mahogany trim. Your seat reclines to a flat angle, or you can have the crew pull the seat-back down and add a mattress to convert it into your full bed. Singapore also provides Givenchy slippers and sleepersuit. You have a 23 inch TV with surround sound and noise-cancelling headphones, too. There’s Wi-Fi and cell service available.
To eat, you’ll choose a meal from a gourmet menu. Each dish is paired with wines and everything is served on Givenchy tableware. Or, you can “Book the Cook” ahead of time and pre-order a dish (there are 60 choices,) that will be made specifically for you.
The first class cabins on Lufthansa A380s have been designed every step of the way in tandem with customer ideals through surveys, workshops and seat-tests on aircraft with actual passengers. This means the cabin experience is truly one that the consumer will find comfort in. Each first class cabin hold just eight, 79 cm wide seats that turn into 6.8 foot flat beds. Lufthansa aircraft are the first to include an air humidification and zonal drying system to help customers breathe, sleep and eat well.
Flight attendants perform a turn-down service and top the flat bed with a mattress from Paradies, and German bedding expert, and scientifically tested pillows. Your bed is topped off with 100% cotton Perkal sheets from Fleuresse, and you’ll receive Van Laack pajamas and Porsche amenity kits with luxurious La Mer cosmetics for women.
Each seat has flexible screens to provide privacy outside of the suite formation that other top first classes use. Lufthansa finds that suits can feel small and constricting. Bathrooms on board are much larger than other airlines and include separate changing areas to promote hygiene and comfort.
At meal time, Lufthansa serves up menus created by Michelin Star chefs like David Bouley, Paul Bocuse and Thomas Keller. Meals are served up on Dibbern fine bone china, and each plane is stocked with high quality caviars. Passengers are often surprised with whiskey or vinegar tastings, ice cream sundaes or Oktoberfest specialties.
On Qantas international flights, you’ll get great sleep on a fully-flat, extra wide bed topped with a sheepskin mattress, luxurious pillows, blankets and a duvet. You may not have time to sleep, though, because a collaboration with Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry of Rockpool means that each flight is stocked with irresistible food.
For dinner, you can choose to enjoy an eight-course tasting menu from Rockpool or eat a la carte. All meals are designed by Neil himself, and you suite has a roomy ottoman so you can host a guest and not have to dine alone. Consult one of Qantas’ “Sommeliers in the Sky” to make the most of the airline’s award winning wine selection. If you’re not hungry come dinner time, you can request a light meal at any time during the flight.
Not eating? Enjoy entertainment on a 17 inch touch screen in your A380 suite. You’ll also have access to laptop and phone connection. Or, dig into your amenities bag full of SK-II products.
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