We review the best airlines to fly from North America to Europe in First Class, with lie-flat seats, high-end food, and amenities. The best European airlines that have First Class include Air France, American Airlines, British Airways First Class, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic Swiss, and surprisingly, Singapore Airlines. I review all of these airlines below.
All these airlines fly from North American to Europe and offer First Class cabins. Wherever you decide to fly to, book your flight and hotel via our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels including the Four Seasons, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, InterContinental, and more…
Typically, our free benefits at luxury hotels include:
- Room upgrade to next category
- Complimentary breakfast for two per bedroom
- Complimentary Welcome Gift
- $100 USD equivalent Hotel experiential credit per room per stay
- Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
1. Air France
Air France offers “La Première Class” which is its long haul First Class offering. You will find this First Class on both their A380 and 777-300ER, but if you have the choice, the one offered on their 777 is the best. Most Air France transatlantic flights arrive in Paris (CDG) so if this airport is convenient for your European travels, then this airline is a particularly great choice as you get escorted to and from the plane and their First Class lounge is one of the best in the world. Sometimes you are driven between the plane and the lounge in a BMW with your own personal chauffeur.
The First Class airport lounge is empty, stylish with lots of cream decor (much like the First Class cabin on the flight). It offers great food and free-flowing champagne. There are sleeping areas, a spa, and stylish showers.
Once you board the plane, you will notice that each First Class seat has curtains which will give you absolute privacy in flight. It makes the cabin quite unique compared to other First Class cabins.
The seats are arranged 1-2-1 and each of these seats offer 79 inches of pitch, about 6 feet, 7 inches in the lie-flat position. There is only one row of four seats in the La Première cabin on the 777. Each has a large and crisp 24 inches in-flight entertainment screen. There are more than 250 movies including new releases as well as another 250 TV shows plus music.
Food and drinks are delivered on silver trays and porcelain crockery. The wine, the food, and the service are as good as you would expect from a fine dining restaurant in Paris.
You also get pajamas and an amenity kit including an eyeshade, hairbrush, earplugs, pen, and Carita skin products; an eye cream, moisturizing mask, hand lotion, and face moisturizer.
The toilets are compact but immaculate with lots of complimentary Carita products like a face cleanser and a hydration mist as well as toothbrushes.
The Points Guy has reviewed this First Class Air France experience and to quote their review: “From beginning to end, my La Première experience was the epitome of what First Class should be. The ground experience was unparalleled, the service was the most friendly and attentive I’ve ever experienced in the skies — by a mile — and the food selection on the ground and in the air was perfection… C’est Magnifique!”
2. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines operates daily transatlantic routes from Frankfurt to New York (operated by an A380) and from Manchester to Houston (operated by an A350). I would have put Singapore Airlines join first with Air France but their transatlantic network is limited to two routes so is not convenient, even if their First Class is one of the best in the skies.
I reviewed Singapore Airlines with photos on its A380 plane in a First Class Suite from London to Singapore. This trip was flown in their brand new suite and the flight was a brilliant experience in almost all aspects.
Singapore’s new First Class cabin in the A380 is located in the front cabin of the upper deck. The new First Class cabin features beautiful, warm, and stylish decor with light shades of grey and beige, creating a calming and neutral tone.
The First Class cabin consists of only 6 suites, with 3 suites on each side of the aisle. That’s a downscale compared to SQ’s A380s with the old layout, which features 12 First Class suites.
The aisle is framed by beautifully crafted walls, only interrupted by the sliding doors which gives access to the individual suites. The exclusivity of the First Class cabin is further accentuated by two stylishly furnished lavatories in the front, one of which features palatial dimensions has a sit-down vanity counter and is stocked with Lalique toiletries (e.g. special citrus-scented facial mist, body lotion, and fragrance).
Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines are the only airlines to operate single-aisle First Class cabins on the upper deck of their A380s. I think that Singapore Airlines beats its Middle East competitor because Singapore Airlines’s First Class cabin feels even more exclusive (6 larger suites on SQ compared to 9 smaller suites on Etihad) and all of SQ suites face forward which is not the case with Etihad Airways (with 5 rear-facing seats on a total of 9).
I had pre-booked suite 3A for the 13-hour flight from London to Singapore. The suite was separated from the aisle by sliding doors and was surrounded by high walls to ensure privacy. All suites have identical decor, complete with lavish yet stylish furnishings much like a mini-hotel room.
Each suite comes with a large leather seat, a separate folding bed, so you can lounge comfortably in the chair or rest in the bed without the need to convert the bed from a sitting position. All of the suite’s features (e.g. seat position, lighting, entertainment, etc) are controlled by a handset in the armrest, an electronic control panel on the side, and a tablet by the windows.
The 53 cm (21 inches) wide armchair is the centerpiece of the suite. The seat itself was upholstered in fine leather from Poltrona Frau, which also produces the seats for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati. The super-comfy chair is fully adjustable, swiveled, and reclined up to 45 degrees.
The suite’s folding dining table was located next to the seat. The small table itself was decorated with white flowers and also featured a holder for the menu, which was beautifully lit by a reading light. A large 32” touchscreen monitor in high-definition was attached to the suite’s aisle-side wall was located in front of the seat; this TV could be also swiveled.
In front of the seat was the bed, which is folded up when you board the plane and was made up when you requested turn-down service during the flight. The bed was 80.5 inches (205 cm) long and was comfortable but not particularly large and rather too firm, one of my very few gripes during this excellent flight.
Once the bed is folded out, the suite feels smaller, so if you’re not sleeping, it’s better to stow the bed and enjoy the space.
There was plenty of storage space within the suite. A personal wardrobe was located in the seat’s aisle wall, with enough space for smaller bags, shoes, and a jacket and with a mirror in the door. Larger items could be stored under a fixed panel by the windows that served as a support for the bed’s head when unfolded. Along the window, there were three storage compartments, one of them featuring a backlit vanity mirror.
For couples, the beds in the first two suites of each aisle could be converted to form a double bed by lowering the partition between these suites. When not in use, the bed could be stowed completely, creating even more personal space within each suite.
Male and female amenity kits from the renowned French brand Lalique when traveling out of Singapore and a male-female combined amenity kit on Singapore-bound flights. I received the latter; a black pouch containing a scented candle, lip balm, body lotion, and soap.
You also get a Lalique branded sleeper suit, a pair of Lalique branded slippers, and Bose noise-canceling headphones (which you can’t keep). It is worth noting that Singapore Airlines does not provide amenity kits to its Business Class passengers.
The meals on Singapore Airlines are some of the best that I have experienced in the skies. I have reviewed this First Class food separately.
The 32 inch, high-resolution TV screen in the suite was controlled by a tablet and displays KrisWorld, SQ’s inflight entertainment system. The latter features an impressive selection of 1,000 entertainment options, with tons and tons of movies, television programs, music, games, and apps. Contrary to most other airlines, and to my own great disappointment, SQ hasn’t installed tail, nose, and/or belly cameras on its A380 aircraft.
WiFi was available on SQ’s A380 and was of reasonable speed. SQ offers 100 MB and 30 MB of complimentary data to First and Business Class passengers respectively. Once your data had been used, you have to pay, and unfortunately, the rates were expensive.
Female flight attendants wear signature sarong kebaya and both male and female crew are some of the best in the industry. They addressed every customer by name and did all they can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible.
Singapore Airlines does not feature a bar on its flagship plane, but you can order snacks from the menu at any time during the flight.
The First Class cabin on Lufthansa is the third-best First Class product to fly you to Europe in utter luxury. Lufthansa’s First Class cabin offers its clear lines, timeless design, and muted colors. It has a unique sense of spaciousness largely because they have removed the overhead bins within the cabin.
First Class on the A380 features eight large seats located on the upper deck. The seats are arranged in a pleasantly open design. An individually operable and adjustable screen lets passengers decide how much privacy they want at any time. There is also a convenient wardrobe with plenty of room for storing luggage or clothes.
For a long flight, a lie-flat bed is an absolute must. The seats in Lufthansa First and Business Class both lie flat although the First seats and cabin and more spacious.
On my flight, the amenity kits were handed out to each passenger individually but they are not that exciting. The only noteworthy point is that you get grey pajamas, a soft throw blanket, and the La Prairie creams which are generous and smell nice.
In terms of layout, First Class on the A380 is set out in rows of 4 seats, 2 windows, and 2 aisles. There are only 8 seats and there is no best seat, just the preference of window or aisle. There are also 2 toilets at the front of the cabin. When you want to sleep the staff make up your bed with excellent bedding and the bed is super comfy and ideal for a great sleep. The fact that you are not close to your neighbor means that sleep in First is much easier than sleep in Business Class.
Once onboard you are offered Champagne and nuts. When you’re in the air, the main meal is served. On my last flight, this meal started with a wild salmon tartare with mango carpaccio pre-starter to go with your drink.
Appetizers were nicer than they sounded and were a choice between:
- Prawn Cocktail
- Pomegranate Couscous
- Veal with Turnip Salad
- Mixed Leaf Salad
- Asparagus with Hollandaise with your choice of BlackForest Ham or Escalope of Veal plus potatoes
- Sole with a Tomato Spinach Cheese Mash
- Veal with Potato Cucumber Salad
- Corn Fed Polard With Wok Fried Veg & Mash
- A Selection Of Cheese With Chutney
- Melon Strawberry Gazpacho with Ice Cream
- Rhubarb, Elderflower, Strawberry
The nice thing about traveling in First is that the tables are beautifully set. Of course, there is also a large selection of wines and beers and other drinks available. When you are ordering your food, you are allowed to select all the appetizers at once! Before landing, there is a snack meal to choose from with a variety of options, from salads to mini burgers.
Lufthansa has a very consistent First Class with a nice cabin, excellent service, and staff, good food, nice ambiance. It is definitely one of the best.
4. Swiss International Airlines
I reviewed my flight on Swiss Airlines Boeing 777-300ER in First Class from Zurich (ZRH) to Los Angeles (LAX) and it was really rather good, we think that Swiss offers the fourth-best First Class to Europe.
Swiss uses a 1-2-1 layout in First on their B777 and the seats are stylish, feel roomy, and have an ottoman at the foot. The use of natural woods gives the cabin a relaxed and natural feel.
The seat has four pre-set seat settings for take-off and landing, lounging, sleeping, and eating, although you can press all the buttons and perfect the seat settings beyond these. There is also a reading light, plenty of storage, headphones, and a universal plug and USB charging outlets
The amenity kit is not impressive for First but has decent socks, an eye mask, a toothbrush & toothpaste, a wooden comb, earplugs, and moisturizers by La Prairie. Slippers were provided as was a rug and a nice pair of Zimmerli pajamas.
My flight dining started with an appetizer of a cheese poof thing and Champers. There were a number of International and Swiss specialties on offer for the main. My table was set for dinner around an hour after takeoff and started with a choice of salmon, lobster, or Swiss charcuterie with cream cheese. Next came a soup with smoked duck and a seasonal salad (very good).
Mains were a choice between beef tenderloin with ox cheek confit and sweet potatoes, or rabbit with chanterelles and potato gratin, or a herb-crusted fillet of fish. This was followed by a cheese course and Swiss chocolates.
About an hour before landing, you could pick a meal although there was not an official menu. Something like a salad or whatever takes your fancy (that they stock).
When you want to sleep the staff will prepare the bed, which is super comfortable and conducive to sleep.
Most noteworthy is that the screen in First which is very large at 32-inches with high resolution. It is like having your own movie theatre in your seat compartment. There are more than enough movies and shows to keep you entertained.
The Swiss Boeing 777s offer Wi-Fi and First Class passengers get a voucher for 50MB worth of data, which would cost about $19 USD.
Overall, the cabin is stunning, the seat, superbly comfortable, and the staff really help to make the flight special. What Swiss does need to work on is its ground service. Lufthansa and Air France run much smoother operations with tarmac transfers which are really convenient and true priority is given to premium passengers both at immigration as well as when boarding the plane.
Even though Swiss may not have over-the-top things like year-round caviar, showers on planes, terminal-sized lounges, and direct boarding from the lounge, what it lacks there, it definitely gains from having more personable and genuine personable staff and superb Swiss food.
5. British Airways First Class
The look of the British Airways First Class cabin is very sleek and beautiful, but the experience pales in comparison to that offered by other airlines on their A380 planes, such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Qantas.
The British Airway’s Airbus A380 has 469 seats spread over two decks with four cabins: 14 seats in First, 97 in Club World (Business Class), 55 in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 303 in World Traveller (Economy).
The First Class cabin is located at the front of the main deck, behind the cockpit. The cabin is modern and sophisticated with 14 semi-open suites in a 1-2-1 configuration, all of them having direct aisle access and facing forward. There are 8 window seats (4 on each side) and 6 paired seats in 3 rows in the center of the cabin.
Although they are not fully enclosed, all suites have high seat walls and enjoy total privacy. Nobody is directly looking into the suite across the aisle as none of the rows quite line up and the window suites are angled towards the windows while the middle seats are angled towards the centerline. In addition, dividers can be raised for extra privacy.
The British Airways A380 First Class seat features a semi-open design, although it’s located within its own cocoon and feels totally private. No other passengers can see you, thanks to the herringbone layout and high seat walls as stated above.
The seat itself is spacious, with a generous pitch of 78 inches (198 cm) and a width of 22 inches (56 cm). It features a dark, leather-stitched upholstery. In front of the seat, there’s an adjustable ottoman that can be used as part of the flat-bed or as an extra seat to dine with someone else. The entertainment screen is located above the ottoman and swings out from the suite’s sidewall. That same seat wall also holds a cabinet opening to the aisle where you can hang a coat and store your shoes.
There is a reading lamp and a small cabinet for storing smaller items. This space also contains the power ports, a USB port, and the inflight entertainment remote. Above this cabinet are some buttons and a jog wheel control device to regulate everything within the suite, from the programmable seat positions and the suite’s lighting, privacy screens, and the automatic window shades. This side of the seat has a platform to place a drink on and that stores your tray table.
The seat can be transformed into a fully lie-flat bed of 78 inches (198cm) long. The crew provides a soft mattress topper, a thick pillow, and a very comfortable blanket.
Although I do not consider the BA First Class Amenity kit one of the best airline amenity kits in the world; it is very nice nonetheless. There is different content for men and women. The stylish, grey-colored bag features a BA leather logo on the front and the word “First” imprinted on the leather zipper pull. The men’s bag contains shave gel, revitalizer moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant stick, and eye gel from London based, grooming emporium for men, The Refinery, in addition to essentials such as a pen, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, hairbrush, and razor.
BA’s First Class passengers also receive pajamas with slippers. The lightweight, dark green pajamas feature the BA First Class logo on the chest.
Shortly after takeoff on my last First Class flight, the crew handed out hot towels to the First Class passengers. The food is good but not great. The dinner menu read as follows:
- Duo of citrus-flavoured rock lobster medallion and beetroot and dill back salmon with orange confit and fennel purée
- Cream of lemon and carrot soup with toasted almond sumac
- Grilled beef fillet with ginger, honey and sour cream sauce, potato au gratin and roasted vegetables
- Lemon cake with fresh strawberry compote and crème fraîche
About 90 minutes prior to landing, the cabin lights were switched on for a delicious breakfast. I was served the following items:
- Chilled fruit juice
- An energising fruit smoothie of pineapple and ginger
- A selection of yoghurts
- Bircher muesli with strawberry, apricot and prune
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- French toast with apple and rhubarb, strawberry coulis and mascarpone cheese
6. American Airlines
I most recently flew and reviewed American Airlines Flagship First Class flight from Dallas DFW Airport to Hong Kong HKG on their Boeing 777-300ER at the end of August 2017. You can also fly American Airlines First Class to Europe. American Airlines is not the best way to fly in First Class to Europe but it may be the most convenient as American Airlines has a large route network out of North America.
On this plane, the layout is 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. For this flight, I was seated at 1G, which is a bulkhead seat. The seat was 30 inches wide and had a pitch of 64 inches. The seat also reclined into a fully flat bed measuring 78 inches.
After being seated and waiting for the flight to fill up, I was offered a glass of pre-departure champagne and a bowl of warm almonds. I got myself comfortable in the seat and began looking around. To the left of my seat, lining the length of the inner wall was the side table that had a wooden top. The reading light was next to the seat, next to a rectangular compartment that opened up to power plugs and a mirror. The remote control for the TV was located under this compartment.
In the middle of the side table was another seat controller to adjust the seat. The tray table was folded in the middle of the side table. Towards the front, there were 3 buttons on the side of the wooden table that were used to pop out the tray table and turn on/off the TV and lights. On the front part of the side table, there was also a small sunken storage area with a USB port. This area was ideal for phones or other small items. In the front of the seat was the 15.4” TV, which could be swiveled outwards.
There was a big pillow placed on the seat when I boarded the plane. On the side table, waiting for me were the headphones, in-flight menu, and the amenity kit. I was impressed that American Airlines offered a pair of noise-canceling Bose headphones. The amenity kit was a Cole Haan branded pouch. The items inside include an eyeshade, a dental kit and mouthwash, compression socks, earbuds, and some hand cream, moisturizer, and lip balm from a brand called 3LAB. Shortly after takeoff, I requested for a pair of pajamas. While unbranded, the American Airlines pajamas are quite comfortable. They also provided a pair of slippers.
Soon, the in-flight dining commenced. This was from the Flagship First food menu on American Airlines. I started off with the caviar and gazpacho. There was also a side of olives and beetroot chips. The caviar serving was quite small but tasty. The gazpacho had a bit too much of a ginger aftertaste for my liking. I ordered some salad with the Miso-Marinated Portobello for my starter. The mushroom was done quite well and was delicious. I was also impressed that they provided me with two mini-sized salt and pepper grinders.
For my main course, I had the Braised Pork Belly with a side of Brussel sprouts and choy sum. The pork belly was tender and succulent, and the honey soy glaze was adequately flavourful. The side vegetables were nice and crunchy as well. After the satisfying meal, I had a mixed fruit tart as a dessert.
Following the meal, I continued watching some movies before having my bed set up to sleep. The stewardesses made up my bed with a comforter and a blanket. I slept quite well for the remainder of the flight,
Overall, I would say that I was quite satisfied with American Airlines’ Flagship First experience. While there is always the perception that US carriers are completely outclassed by the Big 3 Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad, Emirates & Qatar of top Asian ones, I would say that AA First does a decent effort in competing with this product. The hard product, seat, etc, is very comfortable, the food is very good although not outstanding. This First Class experience is solid and reliable but not inspiring.
7. Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class
While we love flying with Virgin Atlantic, their Upper Class is closer to most airline’s Business Class offerings. The Upper-Class Suite is relatively consistent across the fleet. You can see how Virgin Upper Class compares to British Airways Club World and in the majority of areas, Virgin wins. But remember, I am comparing Virgin’s Upper Class to BA in Business Class. Virgin Upper Class does not come close to the other five First Class products outlined above.
Virgin Atlantic goes with the herringbone layout for their Upper-Class cabin, where seats are angled, which feels odd, with window seats facing towards the center of the cabin. Across from the seat is the ottoman which has a seatbelt of its own for guests.
The advantages of the Virgin layout are privacy, as you face a wall rather than another passenger. If you fly on British Airways Club World (which is their Business Class) you run the risk of being in the middle pair of seats. Every Virgin seat also has direct aisle access, (unlike BA), so no-one is going to jump over your feet in the middle of the night. The downside of this is that the booths are so private that you will have difficulty sharing the flight with your partner or children as you can’t see anyone else! Storage is mainly in overhead bins down the center of the cabin as well as over the windows.
The Virgin seat itself flips to a bed like Singapore Airlines. This means that you do not sleep on the seat surface which makes it a more comfortable and restful sleep experience than Club World. The turn-down service also creates a nice opportunity for the crew to interact with the passengers. There are likely to be subtle changes to optimize the use of the wide cabin and to create extra space and comfort.
The Upper-Class bar is a key part of the Virgin Atlantic brand experience. In fact, the airline’s research has found that the door 2 bar area creates a positive feeling among many economy passengers when they pass it during boarding, even though they can’t use it.
The food is good and there is plenty of choice, from prawns and caviar starters to chicken, beef, and salmon mains. Examples of puddings include lemon curd sponge, which is very good, and strawberry pannacotta. To finish Virgin push a traditional cheese and port trolley around the cabin which is a classy touch. Later in the flight, you can eat a choice of sandwiches, cakes, jam, and clotted cream scones or a burger.
Virgin Atlantic’s Upper-Class Relax Packs have been developed by Canadian lifestyle brand Herschel and come in two innovative designs. On outbound flights from the UK, it’s a hangable wash bag. On inbound flights to the UK, they offer a bag inspired by the famous Herschel Network Pouch. This is a constant across Virgin’s fleet and both packs include A Rituals hand cream, lip balm, and face cream. A toothbrush, a new larger, branded tube of toothpaste, earplugs, eyeshade, socks, and a Virgin Atlantic pen.
Wilbur and Orville, the Virgin salt and pepper characters, returned in 2013. Possibly the coolest salt and pepper pots in the world, you can ‘borrow’ them and take them home with you – it is almost worth flying Upper Class to take home these lovelies.
While Upper Class is great, it is not First Class.
You now might ask what airlines are in positions 7 to ten, but we have already covered the limited number of airlines that fly to Europe with a First Class product on their planes. Beyond this, we need to start looking at the best Business Class airlines flying to Europe.
Below you will find my reviews of recent experiences I have had on some of these airlines. You may want to draw your own conclusions.
8. Delta Air lines
American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta are the three main North American airlines and all three have a great range of routes between North America and Europe. All three airlines recently launched a new, upgraded Business Class soft and hard product, with improved seats, food, and service. These are good Business Class, offerings but they are not First Class.
Only American Airlines has First Class. But Business Class is worth considering as the flight route in Business Class might be more convenient than the routes if you restrict yourself to flying in First Class. Delta and United are, therefore, worth considering, hence my inclusion of non-First Class flights in this listing.
If you fly on Delta One, you immediately get airport club lounge access where you can eat or drink, work or relax. Travelling Delta One gives you complimentary access to Delta Sky Club® and SkyTeam® partner lounges around the globe.
What is it like to fly on Delta in their Delta One Business Class Suite? You get:
- 180-degree flat bed seat
- 76″-82″ flatbed
- Tumi Amenity Kit
- Westion Heavenly bedding
- Chef curated meals
- Top Shelf Liquor
- Sommelier-Select Wine
- Up to 15.4″ TV screen
- Noise cancelling headphones
- Delta Sky Club access
Delta Air Lines is the first airline to offer an all-suite Business Class product. The suite is a smaller and less luxury (but more affordable) version of the popular Etihad A380 First apartments.
Delta One Suites are brilliant Business Class seats, are far better than United’s Polaris seats, and are marginally better than American Airline’s variety of Business Class seats. You can currently book the Delta One Suite seats on their A350 planes and Delta are retrofitting their B777 fleet with the new Delta One suites too. The A350 planes are a great choice as they are quite new and are better at combatting jetlag because of the air pressure, humidity, and lighting. Currently, the A350 only flies on certain routes.
Each Delta One (Business Class) suite features a sliding door that delivers total privacy and transforms the space into a fully-enclosed suite. The suite also includes storage compartments for shoes, headphones, and laptops; universal power outlet and USB port, and an 18-inch in-flight entertainment monitor. For sleeping, the seat becomes a flatbed that is covered in a memory foam mattress and the airline’s signature Westin Heavenly bedding.
Passengers traveling on Delta One can expect meals with wine pairings by American sommelier Andrea Robinson; noise-canceling headphones; TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl’s Since 1851 skincare products; and pajamas on select flights.
9. United Airlines
the United Polaris Business Class Pod cabins are probably the best looking of the three seats (American Vs Delta Vs United) and the fact that these cabins are complemented by matching ground facilities means that this entire product is, in some cases, more of a complete experience than American Airlines or Delta offerings.
I reviewed my transatlantic flight on United Airlines B787-9 Dreamliner Polaris Business Class from Paris to San Francisco. This flight took place in August 2017, from Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG) in France to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in the USA.
United’s new Business Class concept ‘Polaris’, launched in December 2016, was offered on this flight. I also reviewed the brand new Polaris concept including the new seats on my recent Business Class flight on United’s Boeing 777-300ER from Hong Kong (HKG) to San Fransisco (SFO). Even without the new seating, I enjoyed a great flight and overall liked the new Polaris concept.
United launched its new Polaris Business Class in December 2016, replacing its BusinessFirst; and Polaris First replacing Global First cabins. The brand new United Polaris Pod concept is the company’s most drastic product transformation in more than a decade. United Polaris Business is comparable to Delta One and American Airlines Super Diamond Business Class, which also both launched several years ago.
Before the flight, I had access to the Star Alliance lounge in Paris (which does not feature the new Polaris lounge concept), but due to a quick connection, I did not have time to try it.
United’s B787-9 planes seat 252 passengers: 48 in Business Class, set out in a 2-2-2 arrangement, and slightly angled towards the windows. There is a small partition between seats that helps with privacy. All seats face forward and have aisle access, except for the window seats where you will have to climb over the legs of your neighbor to get to the aisle.
United’s current B787 2-2-2 Business Class layout is inferior to the excellent new 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout that the carrier is currently offering on all of its brand new B777-300ER planes and is retrofitting all of its existing wide-body planes with the new seats too.
When you arrive, you will be greeted by a large pile of bedding. A Saks Fifth Avenue pillow along with the same brand of light and a heavy blanket. You will also have some united branded headphones and plenty of trays and storage units.
The United B787 Business Class seat is similar to the one that Qatar Airways installed on its A330 planes. The soft cushioned seat has a generous pitch of 78 inches (195 cm), with a width of 22 inches (56 cm). The seat is quite comfortable, even for a 10+ hour flight.
Each seat features a 15.4 inch HD touch screen. Below the TV monitor, you find a drawer that is large enough to store your laptop and an ottoman which becomes part of the flatbed once the seat is fully reclined.
The size of the ottoman differs dramatically depending upon the row: the bulkhead seats in rows 1 & 6 offer a much larger ottoman as compared to the cramp footrests of all the other Business Class seats.
The armrest that is shared with the adjoining seat features a small shared table. It also houses a fold-out tray table that needs to be pulled out for any use (after which you are blocked in your seat).
The seat does go fully flat, but your sleep comfort will depend on the seat you choose: except for the bulkhead seats in rows 1 & 6 (which come with large ottomans), the footrests are very narrow, so not very comfortable for a good night’s rest.
Do not forget to request pajamas and a mattress cushion, which are both available upon request, to improve your sleep on these seats.
Window seats are worth avoiding as they don’t offer direct aisle access. Equally seats next to the window seat are also worth avoiding as your neighbor may climb over you in the night to go to the bathroom which would wake you up.
Included in the Polaris amenity kit are:
- Cowshed toiletries: a relaxing pillow mist, lip balm, and hand cream
- Toothbrush and paste, socks and earplugs
- Free pyjamas (dark grey with a navy trim)
- Stylish wash bag with a nice zipper that I will continue to use beyond my flight
This particular flight featured United’s new signature pre-meal beverage service, where you could choose a sweet and bubbly Mimosa, or create your own savory and spicy Tito’s Vodka Bloody Mary. I chose sparkling water and some hot nuts for apéritif.
I ordered the following from the menu:
- Smoked salmon, capers, onion, and hard-boiled egg, served with mixed greens, blueberry, papaya, strawberry, dressing and assorted bread
- Steak and eggs (e.g. grilled tenderloin, scrambled eggs, potatoes, asparagus, tomato)
- Vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce (which was one of the items offered on a trolley rolled by the crew through the cabin)
During the flight, a small walk-up bar was set up in the galley near the exit door, which offered some fresh fruits, salty and sweet snacks. You can also order a mid-flight hot bite (e.g. beef stew with rice, which tastes excellent).
Ninety minutes prior to arrival, a warm lunch is served. I choose the grilled chicken, served with tomato-basil sauce, vegetable couscous, green beans, and a side salad. All in all, the meal service on this flight was excellent and far exceeded all the other meal services that I had onboard other USA carriers so far.
During the flight, fresh fruit and snacks are set out in the galley- it’s not really a bar as such but you can fill up here if you are still hungry. They have a very good grilled cheese sandwich.
There were 3 lavatories on board the B787-9 for Business Class passengers: one is located behind the cockpit and the two others are located in the galley between the two Business Class cabins.
United offers WiFi onboard its B787 aircraft. Rates on this flight ranged from $11.99 USD for one hour to $32,99 USD for the entire flight.
United’s Dreamliner offers a good night’s sleep if you request a mattress cushion and get a seat in Row 1 or 6. The seats are, however, rather too close together if you are traveling on your own. You are forced upon your neighbor to some extent. I much prefer the brand new 777-300ER Polaris seats and would go out of my way to search for United planes with these new seats.
10. Air Canada
Another very good transatlantic Business Class is the new Air Canada Business Class Executive Pod, which is available on flights to Europe. Once again Air Canada does not offer international First Class. The Executive Pod is available onboard the newest Air Canada Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, as well as on selected Boeing 777 aircraft. On other international flights, you will probably experience the Classic Pod which is inferior to the Executive Pod.
The best seats are in the front cabin. I like a window, so would choose rows 1-6 as row 7 is too close to the toilets and may suffer from passing traffic. In the back cabin, you are closer to the small Premium Economy cabin and the Premium Economy bassinet seats which sit directly behind row 11. These are probably the worst seats in this Business Class cabin.
These seats are set up with a pillow and blanket. The seat is comfortable with a 203.2 cm lie-flat bed which is 53cm wide and it is pretty comfortable for sleeping on. The seat also has a head and neck massage button if you like that kind of thing. There is also plenty of storage and enough power sockets to keep your tech alive.
Straight after boarding, passengers are offered the usual welcome drink which on Air Canada includes Drappier champagne with nuts.
Air Canada’s International Business Class cabin, offers “inspired dishes” by celebrated Canadian Chef David Hawksworth. The menus feature dishes sourced from other traditions such as chicken biryani, Thai green curry, and a Moroccan tagine. On Asian flights, dishes are Asian-inspired and when traveling to Tokyo, expect Japanese-inspired meals like noodle soups, dim sum, and traditional Chinese and Korean dishes.
On this Business Class flight, the starter was a salad followed by smoked salmon and couscous with creme fraiche. My main choice was a tasty Alberta beef tenderloin (you can rarely go wrong with the Air Canada beef option), then you can have a cheese plate followed by a dessert.
If you would like wine to go with your meal, Air Canada currently offer Champagne Drappier, Carte d’Or Brut (Reims, France); Vineland Estates Select, Niagara Peninsula (Canada); Jurtschitsch Grüner Veltliner Terrassen, Kamptal (Austria); Vini Be Good Les Athlètes du Vin Pinot Noir, Touraine (France); Volpaia Citto Toscana (Italy); Masroig Rojalet Selecció, Montsant (Spain); Dow’s Port (Portugal).
The Air Canada amenity kit is not noteworthy and currently offers Escents lip balm and hand lotion, plus the usual dental kit, earplugs, eye mask, and socks.
We reviewed a recent flight on Singapore Airlines on their A380 plane in a First Class Suite from London to Singapore. This trip was flown in their brand new suite, and the flight was a brilliant experience in almost all… Read More.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.