First class has long been the mecca of glamorous travel. Over the years, the first-class cabin has evolved into a high altitude haven that seeks to rival the comfort of your own home.
Aviation is an extremely competitive industry, with airlines always trying to outdo one another to create the most memorable first class experience. This is great news for the customer, as it means better options for you to enjoy. But who offers what? We’ve rounded up some of the best below, so see how your go-to airline measures up against its peers and make sure your next long-haul trip starts on a high note.
The Lounge: If you’re flying with Emirates out of New York (JFK), San Francisco, London or many more destinations, you’ll have access to the super-chic Emirates lounge. There, you’ll discover a freshly prepared menu with choices for every taste available around the clock, and there’s a full bar too. There’s also a staffed reception desk to help you with any inquiries as well as work stations and wireless internet.
The Flight: Emirates in-flight first class service is arguably the most elegant in this realm. First class means your own private suite, complete with a sliding door to offer complete seclusion, a personalized mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, vanity table and mirror and wardrobe. On most flights, your seat can transform into a lie-flat bed, so recline and enjoy over 16,000 channels with your on-demand entertainment. If you get bored of your own private cabin, you can check out the Onboard Lounge on the upper-deck with five-star delicacies and sommelier-selected wines to match. With this level of luxury, the 16 hour flight from Los Angeles to Dubai goes by in a jiffy.
The Perks: There are showers and spa kits on board to help you freshen up, and each seat has a satellite telephone and on-screen email/SMS service. The dining choices are particularly impressive—international cuisine, high tea and hors d’oeuvres are all offered.
The Lounge: As of now, the 24-hour SilverKris lounge has a solid array of facilities—clean, comfortable showering units, private work stations and lounge areas. There’s a fine dining buffet and bar counter with top-notch goodies, and you can lose yourself in your favorite magazine while you’re there. What’s more, they’re currently upping the ante on lounges worldwide, with a multi-million dollar investment just underway to improve the offering at over 15 airports, including SFO and JFK.
The Flight: The lounge pales in comparison to the Singapore Airline Suites, exclusively on board the A380 Aircraft, which flies the Los Angeles to Honolulu route. Think beautiful private suites with a full bed complete with fine linens and plush pillows. If you don’t want to sleep, you can rest in your white leather recliner and dine at a real wood table. Plus you’ll be eating your specially prepared meal on Givenchy tableware.
The Perks: Apart from the guaranteed good food, Singapore Airlines offers a “book the cook” service so you can have a gourmet meal specially prepared to fit your dietary needs.
The Lounge: The Virgin Atlantic “Clubhouse” is nothing short of amazing. It’s super chic—think state-of-the-art design meets cool supper club for all ages. London Heathrow and Gatwick even have a spa, with a Bumble & Bumble hair salon to ensure your tresses are fresh. There is an à la carte menu as well as lighter options such as smoked salmon and French charcuteries.
The Flight: As soon as you step on board into the Upper Class cabin you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne. When you plop down in your “seat that thinks it’s a bed”, you can switch on your 10.4″ TV and choose a movie, TV show or even a video game. Every seat has aisle access—meaning you can comfortably navigate from bathroom to bar and back to your seat without disrupting anyone. The food promises to delight—from the dinner menu to the cheese trolley designed to please even the most discerning cheese lover.
The Perks: Virgin Atlantic keeps the good service rolling on arrivals too. The “revivals” lounge at Heathrow, open from 5:30am-1pm has showers, spa treatments and breakfast goodies to ensure the transition into your new time zone is smooth sailing—the perfect way to break the journey if you’re passing through London on your way to destinations such as Thailand or Bali.
The Lounge: Air Canada’s “Maple Leaf” lounge can be found at all major airports across Canada and at key international locations, including Los Angeles and Paris. Complimentary light snacks, draft beer, tea and coffee will tide you over before the in-flight meal, while a business center, stacks of magazines and newspapers mean you can keep up to date with the latest goings on before boarding.
The Flight: While not technically first class, the “executive pod” on the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which will fly long-haul routes from Toronto starting this month (including non-stop to Switzerland), has a fully reclined chair with adjustable head and leg rests as well as massage function. Personal access to the latest entertainment and power for all your devices means you will have plenty to keep you occupied in-flight. Ambient lighting in synch with time zones and plush pillows will ensure you’re refreshed upon landing. Add this to a gourmet menu and an upscale wine and champagne list and you’ll be spoiled for choice.
The Perks: You’ll receive a complimentary travel essentials pouch, including “Escents” aromatherapy skin care products.