Each year, I give a round-up of my 10 favorite airlines in the world. Last week, I published a top 10 list with my preferred airlines for longhaul Business Class.
Today, we’re taking an upgrade to the next cabin, First Class. First Class is a slowly dying breed since more and more airlines are dropping their most luxurious cabin it in favor of an improved and competitive Business Class product.
These days, First Class is mainly offered on ‘high-yield’ routes with heavy business traffic and enough people willing to pay for the privilege (e.g. New York or Los Angeles to London). First Class is, among others, known for excellent ground service (with limo transfers and dedicated lounges), lie-flat seats (with superb bedding), personalized onboard service, as well as superlative meal service (with high-quality champagne, lobster tail and caviar). I hereby present you my selection of the 10 most luxurious First Class cabins in the sky.
There is more info (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!
Japan Airlines’ First Class passengers can indulge themselves in all the warmth and graciousness for which Japan is renowned. The semi-enclosed suite onboard the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet features a woodgrain interior, 23 inch (58 cm) personal entertainment screens, and ample storage compartments. Passengers rest comfortably on airweave bedding that allows them to drift off into the perfect sleep. Far away one of the classiest of its kind, Japan Airline’s First Class dining sets a high standard with tempting new menus, featuring both Western and Japanese cuisine and created by dedicated chefs.
Inside Garuda Indonesia’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, eight luxurious private suites with a 1-2-1 configuration await First Class passengers. The exquisitely designed suites are peaceful sanctuaries that will make you forget that you are sailing high above the clouds. The wide suites are equipped with an ottoman and the ergonomic seats turn into luxurious full-flat beds (with mattress, duvet, and pillows). Let’s not forget the dining options that Garuda Indonesia offers: First Class passengers enjoy the finest culinary delights, served by onboard chefs and handpicked from world-renowned restaurants.
Asiana maximizes the in-flight privacy of its First Class passengers by providing seats with two sliding doors: close the sliding doors, and the seat turns into a private space. The full flat-bed stretching 82 inch (210 cm) in length is equipped with one of the world’s largest 32 inch (81 cm) HD personal monitor, guaranteeing an unrivaled viewing experience. Mood lightning optimizes lighting conditions for take-off, meals, sleeping and rest, and the Star Light system provides a special in-flight sleeping experience under the stars in the sky. First Class passengers can also enjoy the company of a travel companion for dining since the suite features an extra seat (ottoman).
Switzerland’s national carrier offers eight spacious, fully enclosed First Class suites nestled into the nose of its new Boeing 777-300ER flagship planes. Each suite exudes a warm ‘colour and materials’ palette of browns, greys and accents of European oak wood, while soft walls, woven fabric bulkheads and curtain screens help dampen noise in the cabin. Passengers can use the electric-mechanical window blinds on all three windows in their suite simultaneously. Each passenger has a personal wardrobe and a sliding door, which creates a partition between the seat and the aisle to offer greater privacy. And onboard entertainment is pure pleasure thanks to the 32 inch (81 cm) video screen.
The First Class cabin on Qatar Airways’ (small) A380 fleet features ultra-wide seats tailored in the softest fabric and with signature design elements. Central and aisle dividers afford more privacy, which can be raised or lowered to provide a feeling of extra spaciousness when travelling with a companion. It is a flexible space: the seat automatically reclines into a fully flat-bed, or the table can be extended to allow two people to dine in style. Sleeper suits, flight slippers, and the finest amenities from renowned Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani add extra touches of luxury.
If you value privacy and personalised service above all else, you’ll love Emirates’ First Class private, gold-clad suites. Each suite comes fully equipped with a sliding door, a personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, and its own vanity table, mirror, wardrobe, and privacy divider for central suites. And if you want to stretch out and sleep, the crew will convert your seat to a fully flat-bed with a mattress, so you can arrive at your destination totally refreshed. First Class private suites are available on all Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft.
Air France’s new La Première cabin has four exclusive individual suites on board the long-haul Boeing 777-300 fleet. Each suite ensures optimum privacy and enables customers to be totally or partially alone, in absolute comfort. The airline’s “haute couture” suite features a seat that reclines into a bed stretching 2.01 metres long and 77 centimetres across (6 ft 7 ins and 30 inches), one of the most spacious in the world. Each suite is dressed with thick curtains, held back with leather tiebacks, enabling the passenger to decide whether to be totally isolated or just partially. Opposite the seat, an ottoman can be converted into an extra seat, enabling the passenger to invite a guest for dinner or simply for a conversation. Each guest also has a personal 24-inch (61 cm) HD touch screen.
Following the spectacular refurbishment of their First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific extended the sophisticated, contemporary style into its First Class. The outer surface of the First Class Suite is a dark, high-gloss material, while inside, the side console and the interior of the seat are wrapped in natural leather with subtle linings and stitching for a clean, refined, sophisticated look. Warm-toned natural leather is used extensively on most interior surfaces of the suite for a soft, luxurious feel. The seat smoothly transforms into a fully flat-bed, and the bedding comes with high-quality fabrics for the duvets, pillows, cushions and the mattress to ensure a comfortable sleep.
The Singapore Airlines First Class suites, exclusively on board the Airbus A380 aircraft, provide the distinguished few with their very own haven of tranquility. Here, passengers can luxuriate in their very own private space in the largest ever armchair in the sky, hand-stitched by master Italian craftsmen Poltrona Frau. Each individual cabin features sliding doors and window blinds, offering passengers the freedom to decide on the level of privacy they prefer. While the leather and wood finishes, created in soothing natural hues, enhance the sense of serenity. Singapore Airlines’ signature turndown service, with fine linen and plush, full-sized pillows, ensures a restful slumber.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways outclasses all its competitors by pushing luxury to a sky-high new level and beyond First Class with its ‘First Apartments’ concept on board its (small fleet of) Airbus A380 superjumbos. More than just a seat, the First Apartment has a large leather armchair and separate bed of 208 cm (6 feet and 10 inches). There is even space to walk around after closing the privacy doors. Six of the First Apartments are interconnecting, perfect for when you’re travelling with a companion. Alternatively, you might want to invite a travelling partner from First Class to join you in your apartment for a meal or a meeting.