Transport : Airlines

First Class is known for excellent ground service (with limo transfers and dedicated lounges, such as the iconic British Airways Concorde room), lie-flat seats (with superb bedding), personalised onboard service, as well as an improved meal service (with high-quality champagne, lobster and caviar) and my favourite, First Class “free” pyjamas.

Not all airlines in the world offer longhaul First Class cabins. In fact, many of the best airlines are replacing their First Class airline cabins with an improved and more competitive Business Class product. As an example, the American Airline Delta, has just launched a new Polaris Cabin which I have reviewed, which is far better than their original Business Class, but with slightly less room than their the original First Class seat.

First Class is still offered on “high-yield” routes with heavy business traffic that are willing to pay the increased cost (e.g. New York or Los Angeles to London).

This is my list of the 10 most luxurious First Class seats in the sky, accompanied by some of my trip reports.

1. Etihad Airways First Apartments

Etihad Airways (pictured above) offers the ultimate First Class experience in the sky with its Etihad First Apartments and The Residence 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 . 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.

You can read my review of Etihad First Apartments.

2. Emirates First Class Suites

Privacy, personalised service and glamour tipify Emirates’ First Class product (pictured above). Gold-clad suites come with a sliding door, a personal mini-bar and adjustable ambient lighting. At night, the crew will convert your seat to a super comfy fully flat-bed with a mattress, so you can arrive at your destination totally refreshed. If you don’t feel refreshed, take a shower in the sky. First Class private suites are available on all Emirates Airbus A380 and A340-500 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft. First Class cabins on other aircraft offer flat-bed seats or deeply-reclining comfort seats.

You can read my trip report of the Emirates First Class Suite on their A380.

3. Singapore Airlines First Class Suites

The Singapore Airlines First Class suites are exclusively on board their Airbus A380 aircraft. 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.

You can read my review of Singapore Airlines First Class Suite

4. Cathay Pacific First Class Suite

Following the spectacular refurbishment of their First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific extended their 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. 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.

You can read my review of Cathay Pacific First Class on the 777 and Cathay Pacific First Class on the 747

5. Qatar Airways

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.

You can read my review of Qatar Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380 and also read about the new Qatar QSuite which is their new Business Class product which resembles First.

6. British Airways First Class Seat

When travelling on British Airways in First Class out of Heathrow you get access to the Concorde Room airline lounge, which is also present at other lesser BA hubs such as Singapore. The British are experts at the class system and their excellent pilots and staff make BA First Class a joy to experience. The seats in First are much better than those in Club World, but their First Class is let down by mediocre food and of course, you just get a seat, not an apartment. British Airways is one of my favourite ways to travel transatlantic.

you can read my review of British Airways in First Class.

7. Swiss International Airlines

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 their own personal wardrobe, with 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.

You can read my review of the Swiss International Airlines Business Class. I have yet to try their First Class offering.

8. Asiana

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.

I have not reviewed the Asiana First offering but I have reviewed Asiana in Business Class (which was less than impressive).

9. Garuda Indonesia

Inside Garuda Indonesia’s new Boeing 777-300ER, eight luxurious private suites with a 1-2-1 configuration await First Class passengers. The newly designed suites are peaceful sanctuaries that will make their occupants. 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.

10. Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines’ First Class passengers can indulge themselves in all the warmth and graciousness for which Japan is renowned. The newly designed suite onboard the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet features a woodgrain interior, 23 inch 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.

This article was inspired by The Luxury Travel Expert.