For some people, flying first-class on a luxury airline and experiencing all the amenities is a dream that they will never realize due to the exorbitant price tag. But for others, the often word-class experience is something as commonplace as going through the security line.
While everyone aboard a specific airplane is physically heading to the same destination, the differentiation between first-class and coach can at the time feel like one person is headed toward a beach vacation, and the other has booked a stay in jail.
But all first-class and luxury airline experiences are not equal. Whereas some airlines think boarding first and providing a water-downed cocktail is luxury, there are certain companies that have made traveling in style an absolute art form.
Whether you call it an average travel day, or this is indeed travel porn, here are the 5 most luxurious airline experiences you can have.
Cost: $27,000 USD for New York to Sydney
For those flying Emirates, the company wants you to know that you’re dealing in luxury from the moment your posterior hits the seat. Travelers will first notice leather Bulgari travels pouches – available in four different options for men and women – featuring cologne/perfume, skincare essentials, razors, and other amenities to make your flight more enjoyable.
From a long-haul perspective, each seat is like its own private residence. Doors can be closed, a private mini-bar can be accessed, specliazed pajamas are provided which prevent dehydration and stimulate circulation, and a 32-inch TV can be enjoyed (the largest widescreen digital touch TV in the world on any aircraft).
If you want to get up and walk around, a bar/lounge boats a 55-inch TV where you can mingle, drink and eat with fellow first-class passengers.
For those aboard the new 777, you can enjoy world’s first fully enclosed suite (40 square feet) with “zero-gravity” seats – which recline and reduce pressure on the person’s body and create a feeling of weightlessness – as well as virtual windows for those in middle seats which display a real-time feed from a camera outside the airplane, so passengers can feel like they’re sitting on one of the sides of the aircraft.
Cost: 17,000 USD for New York to Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways touts their first-class services as “The Residence” aboard their A380 aircraft.
Boasting the only three-room suite on a commercial airline for flights to/from Abu Dhabi to New York, London, Melbourne, Sydney and Paris (including living room, bedroom and in-suite shower), guests are first greeted by a personal, Savoy-trained butler who will see to almost anything that you need as you settle into your own personal mansion in the sky.
Once in the air, guests have the ability to order a personalized menu from the on-board, personal chef who touts a range of gourmet offerings which can be enjoyed in the living room area where there are two leather chairs and a 32-inch flatscreen TV.
Inside the bedroom, there is a 6-foot 10-inch double bed – with designer Italian bed linen – and a 27-inch flatscreen TV.
If that weren’t enough, there is also the option to hand over your children to a nanny trained by Norland College in Bath so that you may pretend for the duration of your flight like you have absolutely no responsibilities.
Cost: $16,820 USD for Singapore to Sydney
Singapore Airlines unveiled their newly remodeled First Class experience aboard its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft in November of this year whose 1:1 configuration (one suite on either side of the aisle) falls in line with Etihad’s secondary tier, “First Apartment.”
One of the key highlights of the experience is that if you’re traveling with a companion in the nearby seat – or made a new airplane buddy – the walls of the individual pods can be shed to make one master suite where beds that are already 6×2.25 feet long can be pushed together to form a gargantuan sleep experience.
Another key feature is a leather chair which swivels between 135 degrees and 270 degrees through an electronic control and is the perfect habitat for the 32-inch flatscreen.
Perhaps Singapore Airline’s greatest amenity is its food; coming in at number one according to Saveur Magazine (who last conduced the award in 2015).
Singapore Airline spokesman, James Boyd, said that they invest $500 million USD per year in its in-flight dining – with more than $16 million USD going toward their wine program alone.
Chef Alfred Portale, executive chef of Michelin-starred Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC – and multiple-time James Beard Award winner – has worked/consulted for the airline for over a decade and works alongside other notable culinary minds from around the world like Zhu Jun, executive chef of Shanghai’s Jade Garden, and Carlo Cracco, chef of the two-Michelin starred Cracco in Milan.
Taking into consideration that airplane food must be reheated – because no open flames are allowed on board – the team examines aspects like using fattier fishes that won’t dry out or thicker cuts of meat that taste well braised.
Cost: $6,159 USD from Doha to Paris
Qatar Airways has a fleet of six A380 planes which regularly shuttle between Doha, Paris, London and Bangkok. Not surprisingly, they offer up quite the first class experience – although it may seem slightly less glamorous than fellow Middle East airlines like Etihad and Emirates simply because they are such over the top flights.
Passengers are given such perks as pre-flight samplings of wine and champagne from around the globe, a Oscietra caviar course, and tasty appetizers like green pea shorba soup with roasted paneer and green pea crème fraiche.
Once settled, the seats are configured 1x2x1 and are fully reclinable. A traveler is also gifted a set of pajamas from The White Company and in the past got Giorgio Armani amenity kits. However, they have recently began to offer an Italian-made leather amenity bag from BRICS packed with products — lip balm, facial mist, moisturizer, and night recovery cream — from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.
Cost: $20,500 USD from Los Angeles to Sydney
Although Uber remains a viable option for all passengers once they begin/reach their destination, Qantas ensures that their first-class experience begins with a chauffeured pick-up/drop off to set the tone.
Once on board their A380, individual pods have fully reclinable seats which turn into a nearly seven-foot-long bed. Passengers are also gifted 100 percent cotton pajamas, travel socks and an amenity kit designed by Qantas Creative Director of Fashion, Martin Grant,
The dining experience is curated by notable Australian chef, Neil Perry, who offers up an 8-course tasting menu which in the past has included favorites like poached salmon, curried duck and kohlapuri-style lamb. And of course, no meal is complete without a cocktail. Qantas has won awards like Best Presented First Class Wine List and Best Overall Cellar at the Cellars in the Sky Awards.
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- Main/Feature Image: Etihad Airways via Getty Images