Even though airlines have reduced the number of first-class seats in favour of a larger business class in recent years, they’re tailoring an even more exclusive experience for the privileged few who are still willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a ticket. Here are the best luxury airlines to travel, take a look.
From a humble beginning with only a pair of planes in 1985, Emirates has henceforth become a luxurious force to be reckoned with. While many airline carriers have barely kept lights on at their offices, Emirates announced that their 2005 fiscal year profit was $762 million. As a passenger, you’ll feel like a million dollars too.
Getting quality rest and relaxation won’t be difficult; Emirates has made quiet cabins a high priority. An exceptional journey from start to finish, Emirates has been recognized many times over the years for the quality of in-flight cuisine, the breadth of in-flight entertainment, and for excellent overall service.
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Founded in 1920 in Queensland as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Qantas is Australia’s largest airline for domestic and international travel, widely considered to be the world’s leading long distance airline. Known as “The Flying Kangaroo”, Qantas flies to 54 destinations in Australia alone, while servicing 65 domestic and 27 international destinations in total; they were even the first airline to offer a nonstop flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles in 1999. While flying international first class on Qantas you get to enjoy extra-wide sheepskin beds that flatten completely and an ottoman so you can even entertain a companion in your suite while mid-flight.
You’ll also get a luxury amenity kit that includes perks like skincare products, an eye mask, and a pyjama set. In 2008 Qantas achieved the world record for commercial engine performance with 42,019 hours on-wing, using a Qantas General Electric CF6-80C2 engine on a B747-400 aircraft for nine years.
Considering that famed Sir Richard Branson is at the company’s helm, you’re going to get your money’s worth and then some. Virgin poses a strong argument for first-class — ahem, Upper-Class Suite — travel, for which the carrier is quick to suggest it offers more spacious appointments than competing airlines. Either way, you’ll love the pampering, including the surprisingly roomy beds, which convert from your seat. If all you want is a good night’s rest, Virgin also accommodates this desire: Certain Upper-Class overnight flights feature the “Snooze Zone,” with dimmed lights and minimal distractions.
Virgin America is a new, California-based airline that is on a mission to make flying quality again, with brand new planes, attractive fares, topnotch service, and a host of fun, innovative amenities that are reinventing domestic air travel. With the fleet-wide in-flight internet, mood-lit cabins, custom-designed leather seats, power outlets, and a video touch-screen at every seatback offering guests on-demand menus and countless entertainment options the Virgin America experience is unlike anything else in the skies.
Rolls-Royce aircraft engines are legendary, and you’d swear the company had an influence on British Airways cabins. BA’s luxurious first-class demi cabins multitask to serve as workspaces, dens, and even places to stretch and sleep. Awake time can be spent viewing many video options or dining on your own schedule, not the crews. As a thoughtful touch, evening and late-night flights offer to dine in elegant land lounges before the flight so you can maximize your sleep time in the air.
In operation since shortly after World War I, British Airways self-proclamation as The World’s Favorite Airline holds true for many travellers, and with a modern mission statement that aims, to be the best and most successful airline in the world, British Airlines tops the list.
CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS
With their vision to be the “best airline”, Cathay Pacific Airways is an international airline registered and based in Hong Kong, offering scheduled cargo and passenger services to more than 110 destinations around the world. However, the airline remains committed to its roots in Hong Kong, seeking to continue to make substantial investments to develop Hong Kong’s aviation industry and enhance Hong Kong’s position as a regional transportation hub.
Even if you’re not flying out of Hong Kong directly, you’ll be sure to appreciate the aircraft. If you’re flying first-class on Cathay Pacific you may actually wish the flight was longer. In 2006 Air Transport World magazine’s Airline of the Year honours went to Cathay also marking the airline’s 60th year of operation solid.
Swiss Airlines have had a longstanding reputation for courtesy and efficiency, and so far their reputation remains solid topping some of the best airlines around. All the expected luxury appointments and services are present but for those wishing for a bit more, your inner techno-geek will appreciate too-cool features that are all too entertaining to ignore.
For one, your video monitor can display flight data, such as airspeed, distance flown and distance remaining. While such technology has been around for years, Swiss, always innovative, has upped the ante: two onboard cameras let you watch the world in front of the aircraft as well as below it.
Flying internationally can leave you longing for the comforts of home. True flat bed seats, expanded in-flight entertainment, and gourmet meals make “dining up” as delicious as dining out. Experience these and other in-flight amenities by booking a BusinessElite ticket the next time you travel overseas. You’ll touch down rested and ready to go.
With Delta Sky Priority, from booking to baggage claim, as they say, you’ll enjoy an accelerated and streamlined trip with shorter lines, early boarding and priority baggage service.
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For Singapore Airlines, spaciousness is key as SA may soon claim to have the biggest plane in the air. As of 2006, they are the first carrier to fly the new Airbus A380, which is capable of carrying up to 555 passengers in all. Even without luxuriousness of the A380, the first class experience is amazing.
SkySuites are appropriately named and with only 12 of them in first class, all are perfectly alluring. In addition, seats cradle you in Connolly leather allowing for the feeling of travelling more in a spacious Luxury liner than a plane.
AIR NEW ZEALAND
With a slew of awards under their belt including 2010 Air Transport World ‘Airline of the Year,’ Air New Zealand continues to impress with exceptional customer service and Luxury accommodations. Their Business Premiere class offers guests a 22-inch wide seat that transforms into a six-foot lie-flat bed; personal entertainment centre with an expansive list of TV shows, movies, music videos, and games; and food options like pan-seared snapper, braised beef short rib, and passionfruit pannacotta.
New amenities have been added to the already opulent features including touch-screens to operate in-flight entertainment and food orders.
Thai Airways was founded in 1960 with overseas flights inaugurated and intercontinental services in 1971. After 40 consecutive years of profit — no small feat in the corporate world, it has topped luxury airline lists for years. Based in Bangkok, Thai Airways has become one of Asia’s best carriers.
Thai seeks to acquaint you with some of the best attendants in the air, take care of you on the trip, and serve you amazing meals, complemented of course by the some of the best wines and champagnes any airline has to offer. Thus, all of this accurately embodies the mission statement of Thai Airways, which encourages you to “fly Sabai” – the Thai word for “healthy mind and body”.
As the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways aims to provide the utmost in Arabian hospitality as they travel from 68 destinations in 43 countries around the world. Five different seating classes offer an array of high-end features, with the Diamond First Class Suite being the most luxurious.
Here is your own personal suite, enjoy a 6’8″ extra wide bed that lays perfectly flat, your own food and beverage manager offering five-star dining with fine wines, 23-inch widescreen TV, personal mini bar, massage chair, and complete privacy among other features.
Since 1951, JAL has been a leader in first-class comfort, and apparently, they intend to keep a good thing going. Select flights now feature their Skysleeper Solo speciality which is the airlines’ special interpretation of coddling for travellers. The seat’s leather upholstery is by sofa manufacturer Poltrona Frau, ensuring your comfort – awake or asleep – in the chair’s flat-bed configuration.
Whether your palate yearns for traditional Kyoto cuisine or your cravings lie more in Western food, JAL has you covered as both menus are offered to satisfy varying palates and are so delicious that you’ll swear an Iron Chef is on board.