The world is getting smaller in the sense that people are travelling more than ever now.
Rise of low-cost carriers, competitive fares, and people getting more adventurous in general (all thanks to the power travel inspiration content in social media), have all contributed to the increase in travel.
And as people travel more frequently, their travel needs also change. Whereas 10 or more so years ago, travelling is just a method to get from one city to another, travelling is now an extension of a passenger’s lifestyle. Because people are spending more time on board planes, premium class passengers are requiring more from their airlines. It now needs to be their office, bedroom, entertainment den, and dining room in one.
The Golden Age of travel is back, and there’s never been a better time to fly luxuriously as airlines are getting more and more competitive with their First / Business Class products.
Here are the 10 best First Class products, in no particular order, by AirlineRating.com*
Known as: Swiss First
Introduced in January 2016 , these private suites are found in the company’s first ‘flagship’ Boeing 777.
Each first class passenger will receive their own private suite, which includes a 32-inch screen. In order to enjoy screen time (and possibly do work) whatever time of the day the flight is, the suites are also equipped with electric blinds to let just the right amount of natural light in.
The nine new Boeing 777-ER’s are all part of the company’s “Next Generation Airline of Switzerland” strategy.
Simply known as Emirates First Class, Emirates first stunned the commercial aviation world in 2008 when it introduced the onboard Shower Spa in its First Class cabin on its A380’s.
And 8 years later, when most First Class seats are individual suites themselves, the Shower Spa still remains to be Emirates’ differentiating point against other First Class suites.
Every element in Emirates’ First Class private suite is steeped in luxury – from a personal mini-bar to a private vanity table and mirror, to its Bvlgari amenity kits (leather for men, and silk for women).
3.) Japan Airlines
Known as: JAL Suite
The JAL Suite of Japan Airlines uses woodgrain interior that also combines functionality, giving the suite an overall feel and look as if you are in your own flying private office.
The bedding that lies on top of the seat features an original Airweave Dual-Mode S Line that allows passengers to choose between soft or hard setting to suit their ideal lying or sleeping positions.
Amenity kit is by Spanish brand Loewe and the suites are also equipped with green bamboo massage sticks for additional comfort.
The JAL Suite is available on JAL’s Boeing 777 aircraft routes.
Known as: First Apartment
It seems safe to say that Etihad currently boasts of the most luxurious First Class product in commercial aviation.
The First Apartment on Etihad’s A380 is the only first class seat / product that features a separate wide leather armchair and a dedicated 6 foot X 10 inch fully flat bed.
As though you are in an actual hotel room, the first apartment doors feature a “do not disturb” sign as well to ensure your uninterrupted rest.
Etihad also takes fine dining at 35,000 feet seriously by employing fully-qualified and internationally trained In-Flight Chefs. They will ensure that the guests’ seven-course tasting menu is specifically suited and tweaked to their taste.
5.) Singapore Airlines
Known as: Singapore Airlines Suites Class
Though private suites in First Class is not exclusive anymore, Singapore Airlines was one of the first airlines to offer premium privacy, and also first to employ not just a “seat that lies flat” model, but a separate mattress that is placed on top of the lie-flat bed.
The spaciousness of the cabin also allows for a standalone bed, which is completely separate from your seat.
When travelling with a partner, adjacent seats can be converted into a double bed, which absolutely creates the atmosphere of a hotel room in the skies.
6.) Korean Air
Compared to other First Class seats on the A380, Korean Air’s First Class does not have a suite that is fully enclosed. (The new First Class seats, the Kosmo 2.0, has a sliding door feature and this is available on Korean Air’s Bowing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft.)
For First Class passengers on flights of more than 6 hours, in-flight amenity kits by DAVI are provided. Toiletries inside the kit include face cream, hand cream, eye gel, lip balm (with wine extract), among the standard inclusions.
Pajamas given to first class passengers are by Gianfranco Ferre, which has a mostly positive feedback among frequent travellers as having one of the best in quality among airline pajamas.
Korean Air’s A380 planes are also equipped with the “Celestial Bar”, a social and relaxation area among First and Prestige class passengers.
7.) Thai Airways
Known as: Royal First Class
On Thai Airways’ A380s and newly remodelled Boeing 747’s, Royal First Class passengers are given spacious semi-private suites that are nearly 8 feet long.
While there are no in-flight chefs, Royal First Class passengers have the option to choose their in-flight meals by ordering their main course in advance via the website. However, for Royal First class passengers departing from Bangkok, there is an exclusive “Chef On-Call” service, where you can request special menus in advance on most long-haul flights.
With 18 different menu set selections, Thai Airways’ first class meal options are wide and varied enough to make a flying restaurant out of the Royal First Class cabin.
8.) All Nippon Airways
Known As: ANA First Square
These personal “squares” on ANA’s First Class cabin may resemble an IKEA office cubicle, but they have focused and invested significantly on passengers’ comfort when it comes to their bedding/ seats.
Their comforter is made from Teijin Nanofront fibers and uses the latest technologies from Nishikawa Sangyo. (Nishikawa Sangyo is possibly Japan’s longest-running futon and bedding company, established in 1566, marking its 450th anniversary this year).
The mattress, also from Nishikawa Sangyo, is favoured by many athletes when travelling as it has a unique three-layer structure which disperses the pressure placed on the body.
Next to the bedding / seat, it is the amenity kit of ANA’s First Class cabin that is worth mentioning. The current amenity kit is by Samsonite (made originally for ANA), in the shape of a mini hardcase Samsonite luggage.
Lufthansa believes that the best seat is where each passenger is most comfortable with. So with that in mind, they created ergonomic seats that are highly customisable. Privacy screens are also adjustable (not just up or down) to any length depending on how exposed or closed in you want to feel.
Upon request, flight attendants will also transform the seats into a two-metre-long bed with a comfortable mattress topper and temperature-regulating duvet.
Diethard Urbansky, holder of two Michelin stars and awarded “Chef of the Year” in 2014, is creating menus that will be served in First Class on Lufthansa flights departing Germany in March and April 2016.
Known as: First Suite
Featuring a sheepskin mattress, the First Class seats in Qantas converts into a fully flat, extra wide bed. (212cm on their A380 and 200cm on their B747s).
Legendary Australian chef Neil Perry (of Rockpool restaurant and Rockpool Consulting) designs all Qantas First class seasonal meals. While there are no in-flight chefs, Qantas’ wine selection is the forefront of the First Class service. Having won Best First Class Sparkling, Best Presented First Class Wine List and Best Overall Cellar at the Cellars in the Sky Awards 2012, there are ‘Sommeliers in the Sky’ available on-board to help passengers with wine pairings and selections.
*AirlineRating.com is The world’s best one-stop airline safety and product rating review website.