We review the best First Class airlines in the world, with lie-flat seats, high-end food, and amenities. The best airlines that have First Class include Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Swiss Airlines.
To be honest, it’s tricky to choose between my first three choices; Air France, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways. A lot depends on the style of the airline that you aspire to and whether you want to be separated off from the rest of the plane in an apartment like on Singapore Airlines and Etihad or by curtains like on Air France.
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. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines flies around the world, mainly out of its hub in Singapore Airport where you will find some of the best airport lounges in the world. But it also operates daily transatlantic routes from Frankfurt to New York (operated by an A380) and from Manchester to Houston (operated by an A350) so is one of the best First Class airlines to fly to Europe too.
I have reviewed Singapore Airlines 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 and it is pictured in the photos above.
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, with a wardrobe, 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. Next to 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.
2. Air France
I personally love Air France. It offers something completely different from the other airlines; French “joie de vivre” and style. There is a reason why the fashionable flock to Paris. This airline certainly offers a very special First Class. “La Première Class” is available its long haul flights.
You will find this First Class on both their A380 (which Air France discontinued this week) 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) and if you fly on this airline, 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!”
3. Etihad Airways
Eithad have a wonderful First Apartment, on its A380 superjumbos. The First Apartment is a room with a large leather armchair and a separate bed of more than 6 feet, quite similar in design to the Singapore airlines offering. If anything, it feels slightly more masculine and formal in decor.
The First Class cabin is located on the forward upper deck of the A380 and there are two beautifully crafted walls on either side of the corridor which contains the sliding entrance doors of the Apartments. The lighting patterns in the ceiling projects Arabian mosaic-like figures on the walls and floor, which is really lovely.
Etihad Airways’ A380 First Class cabin is the industry’s first-ever single-aisle cabin and there are only nine First Apartments on the plane. There are 5 First Apartments on the right side of the cabin (with 2 toilets in the front), while the left side features 4 First Apartments. This asymmetry is explained by the fact that the missing 5th First Apartment and lavatories on the left side of the cabin are replaced by the Residence (featuring a private living room, separate en-suite shower room, and a bedroom with a double bed).
If First Class is too pricy for you, the other cabins on Etihad Airways’ A380 are very comfortable as well. The 70 Business Class Studios which I have also reviewed are set in a 1-2-1 configuration, are located on the upper deck of the A380, behind First Class on this Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380.
The First Class cabin has 9 First Apartments in total: 5 with a rear-facing seat (1H, 3A, 3K, 5C & 5H) and 4 with a forward-facing seat (2C, 2H, 4A & 4K). The Apartments 3A, 4A, 3K, and 4K have their seats located next to the window, while in the other Apartments, the seats are located close to the aisle away from the window, making it more difficult to enjoy the views during take-off and landing. Six of the First Apartments (3A & 4A, 3K & 4K, and 1H & 2H) are interconnecting, with a divider that can be lowered to join rooms.
Each First Apartment has the same amount of space and an identical layout. It features a wide armchair in addition to a separate ottoman, both upholstered with the finest Poltrona Frau leather. Carry-on luggage needs to be stored in the space below the ottoman.
The very comfortable recliner seat is equipped with an in-seat massage and a pneumatic cushion control system. The seat has two armrests: one holds the tray table, while the other holds the Apartment and inflight entertainment system controls. By pressing a button, you can change the position of both the ottoman, raise or lower the window blinds, and control the light settings for a variety of lamps situated within the Apartment. Next to the seat, there’s a minibar, stocked with a premium selection of beverages, as well as a cabinet that holds the noise-canceling headsets.
In front of the seat, you find the Apartment-wide ottoman. You can use it as a footrest when watching TV, or it can be used as an additional chair when you want to dine with a companion. The ottoman can also be opened up to become a separate 80.5 inches (205 cm) long fully flatbed. When you want to sleep, flight attendants will offer a turn-down service: the ottoman will be flattened out into a bed, and the flight attendant will cover it with a decent mattress, duvet, cotton sheets, and two pillows. If you are traveling in one of the interconnecting Apartments, then you can lower the divider and enjoy the comfort of a double bed.
Each First Class Apartment has a 24-inch (60 cm) flat-screen, which features hundreds of hours of on-demand entertainment. You can watch more than 300 TV shows as well as more than 100 movies. The flat-screen can be tilted so you can still watch TV when you are lying in your bed.
Etihad’s First Class amenity kits include fine fragrances from New York brand Le Labo – Bergamote 22, including hand balm, lip balm, facial moisturizer, and a refreshing towelette. Dental kits, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, mints, pillow mist, and pulse point oil are also provided. First Class passengers also get a black pajama and slippers.
Etihad has real-life onboard chefs (recruited from Michelin-starred restaurants around the world). The food is an exquisite seven-course tasting menu with amuse-bouche, granita, and pre-dessert tasters. The Mezoon Grille menu is available to Etihad’s First Class customers only, featured a variety of premium products, including beef, chicken, lamb, and seafood, along with a range of delicate sauces, sides, and delicious desserts, all of which were prepared to order. Everything is served on fine bone chinaware, cutlery, and crystal glassware.
Etihad Airways’ First Class cabin on the A380 has 2 toilets in the front of the plane. Both have a lovely design and feature Le Labo Begamote 22 toiletries. One of the toilets also features a fully equipped shower room. Each First Class passenger has access to 5 minutes of running water in the shower, although you can turn on and off the water supply as many times as you want. Emirates First Class on the A380 also offers a shower suite which I photographed here.
Etihad Airways has installed a lounge on the upper deck of the A380 between First and Business Class, designated ‘The Lobby’. The latter is an intimate space that is more resemblant of a lounge in a boutique hotel than an airplane cabin. It seats up to six guests and has a widescreen TV so you can watch live sports with other passengers.
Emirates’ First Class features private, gold-clad suites. Emirates’ A380 planes feature 14 First Class suites, all of them located on the forward upper deck. The Dubai based airliner is also the largest operator of the Airbus A380.
The First Class suites on the sides of the plane (the window seats) are ideal for solo travelers and offer a generous 3 windows per seat, offering great views. The 6 suites in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion since dividers between these suites can be raised or lowered to provide a feeling of extra spaciousness.
Despite the high number of suites, the First Class cabin still offers an exclusive ambiance. It features a sumptuous decor though, with lots of walnut veneer, gold trim. With the exception of the window side, the suite is surrounded by high walls, only interrupted by two sliding doors that connect the suite to the aisle and can be closed to create a completely private space.
The ergonomic seat, which has a width of 23 inches (58 cm), is comfortable, and its various positions, as well as built-in massage systems, are controlled via a tablet. At the push of a button, the seat automatically reclines into a fully-flat bed of 86 inches (218 cm) long, with fully retractable armrest. When you want to sleep, a member of the cabin crews installs a mattress, fluffy pillow, and soft duvet.
In front of the seat, you find a gold-framed, 32 inch (81 cm) video screen, the largest of its kind in the skies, with a desk below. The latter features a fold-away mirror with a vanity kit, as well as a drawer containing a writing kit. Upon boarding, the crew also puts a basket with several snacks (e.g. dried mango, chocolates, etc …) on the desk
One side of the seat features a room temperature minibar with soft drinks and juices and you can order whatever (cooled) drink you want during the flight. Besides the minibar, there’s also a tablet to control the seat movements as well as the inflight entertainment system ICE. ICE has an extensive range of new-release and classic films, television shows, box sets, and audio options. You can choose from up to 1,800 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on-demand, and in multiple languages. The cameras installed in the tail, nose, and belly of the A380 mega plane also offer some fun moments, especially at take-off and landing.
Emirates’ First Class menu is extensive, and you can order whatever whenever and it tastes as good as it sounds. Here is a typical lunch menu:
- Canapés: tartlet of marinated feta with aubergine caviar and schichmi; foie gras on gingerbread with smoked salt; and arm salmon tempo sushi with herb crust
- Appetizer: caviar, presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream, and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis
- Pumpkin soup with croutons and sour cream
- Main course: seafood harra, which is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of oven-baked prawns and fish in spiced tomato sauce, served with saffron rice
- Dessert: banana cheesecake with toffee sauce
And this is the dinner menu:
- Chicken consommé with vegetable julienne
- Braised beef short ribs, with balsamic juice, braised red cabbage, and pan-fried gnocchi
- Seasonal fruit, an assortment of fresh-cut fruit
Like Etihad, the Emirates A380 offers an onboard shower in its First Class cabin. There are two showers (with heated floors!) at the front of the upper deck, each one of them located in one of the two spacious First Class lavatories. It’s quite surreal to indulge in a refreshing and rejuvenating shower at 40,000ft, using Bvlgari toiletries and Timeless Spa products. Each First Class passenger can shower once per flight, getting five minutes of water when showering (although you can turn the shower on and off as often as you want) and you can see more pictures in my separate picture review of the Emirates A380 First Class shower suite.
5. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways First Class on the A380 is one of the best. The intimate cabin has a very airy and spacious feel because it does not have completely enclosed suites like on the A380s of Emirates Business Class and Etihad First Class Apartments.
The cabin features a pallet of calming colors that match quite well together: pink (cushions, tv screens), beige (seats), and brown (wood panels). There are 8 seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration, all of them having direct aisle access. The 4 First Class seats on the sides are ideal for solo travelers with a generous 3 windows per seat, while the 4 seats in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion. In the front of the cabin, there is a small bar (with crisps, nuts, bottled water, and juices), a library (with magazines), 2 lavatories, and the stairs to the lower deck.
The seat is extremely comfortable and has very generous dimensions, with a width of 23 inches (59 cm) and a length of 83 inches (210 cm). In front of the seat, there is a large ottoman, a large TV screen above the ottoman. The ottoman has some storage space underneath and can be used as an extra seat when you want to dine with a companion.
The seat reclines into a fully flat-bed. In fact, this is the best bed I’ve ever slept in at 40,000 feet. The Qatar Airways cabin crew told me it’s the largest bed in the skies. Not sure whether that is correct, but it felt very spacious.
Breakfast is delicious on Qatar Airways. I had the cured salmon with citrus fruit, avocado purée, and fish roe, while my choice of entree was the chicken and potato rosti, sambhar, wilted spinach, and coriander crème fraîche. It all tasted delicious although I found the portions rather small.
However, in Qatar Airways’ First Class, you can dine at any time of your choosing and in any order, so a couple of hours later, I ordered some more dishes as a light lunch. I had a starter composed of Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad, Kalamata olives, bell peppers, and basil oil, followed by a small entree of lobster tortellini with shell-fish sauce, diced tomatoes with chives. As a sweet finale, the only option was a selection of indulgent individual Laduréé desserts. Qatar Airways is consistently better than the food on Emirates and Etihad Airways.
Qatar Airways also features a stunning onboard bar located at the rear of the plane, between the Business Class cabin and a small Economy Class cabin. The bar is curved, with leather sofas on both sides of the bar area. It has stunning chandeliers, inspired by contemporary Arabian design and fresh flowers.
Qatar Airways’ First Class passengers can take home a stylish Giorgio Armani bag, packed with bits for the flight and bathroom back at home. The amenity kit contains Armani perfume, body lotion, shower gel, and shampoo as well as eyeshades, socks, earplugs, and lip balm. Pajamas were not provided on this day flight. First Class passengers also receive complimentary WiFi while flying Qatar Airways. The internet speed is decent.
Qatar Airways’ A380 First Class cabin has 2 very large lavatories. Both feature a bench, large mirrors, a sink, luxurious toiletries, and flowers. In contrast to Emirates and Etihad Airways, there are no showers.
The First Class cabin on Lufthansa 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.
7. Swiss International Airlines
I reviewed my flight on Swiss Airlines Boeing 777-300ER in First Class which offers a spacious 1-2-1 seat set up which is stylish and roomy. They 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. 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. Yum!
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 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.
Qantas has a reputation for being the safest airline in the world. Qantas hasn’t had a fatal crash. This reputation was glorified in the 1988 blockbuster Rain Man when Dustin Hoffman’s character refused to get on a flight unless it was Qantas because “Qantas Never Crash”.
Qantas has equipped its 12 A380 aircraft with 450 seats and it was the first A380 airline with a four-class configuration. The 14 spacious, semi-open Qantas First Class Suites are located in the forward main deck and can be converted into flat beds measuring 212 cm (83.5 inches) in length and 83 cm (28.7 inches) in width. The suite also features a 43 cm (17 inch) touch screen and an ottoman so passengers can host a companion inside their suite during the flight.
Qantas’ Bedding Down service features luxurious pillows, blankets, a duvet as well as a sheepskin mattress. Designed exclusively by Martin Grant, the unisex navy and black trim Qantas First pajamas are 100 percent cotton, feature a tailored neckline and tapered silhouette to ensure elegant comfort in the First cabin, and come with matching slippers. Stylish male and female First amenity kits come in the same navy hues and feature a range of hydrating ASPAR by Aurora Spa products, Martin Grant-designed travel socks, dental kit, earplugs, and deodorant.
While food is very good, I was not overly impressed with the flavors nor presentation of the onboard meals created by Neil Perry. The menu read as follows:
- Canapés: caviar tartlet with crème fraîche + sesame lavish with labne, carrot and dill
- Spicy lentil soup with herbed crème fraîche
- Small plate: Qantas signature steak sandwich with tomato and chilli relish
- Main plate: Rockpool Bar & Grill style lamb rack with rosemary potatoes, peas and mustard
- Dessert: fresh fruit
- Before landing, I was hungry again (despite this being only a 7:30 hour flight) so I ordered the seared hamour with tamarind chickpeas, cauliflower, and coriander (which was not exactly my cup of cake)
The Qantas A380 does not have a proper onboard bar, contrary to Emirates, Etihad and Qatar which I have compared describing which is best. However, the front upper deck features a small and cozy lounge, where you can stretch your legs and interact with other passengers.
9. British Airways
Why do I like British Airways so much even though, so often the experience is disappointing? And yet their First Class is rather special even if Club Europe is not really Business Class (the seats are identical to the Economy seats but the middle seat is left free. 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.
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
10. 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 forgot to take pictures of these, as I was quite tired at that point. 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.Features
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.
In this trip report, I flew in the Etihad First Class Apartment from London Heathrow Airport to Male International Airport (Maldives) via a stopover in Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi. The flight from London to Abu Dhabi in Feb 2016… Read More.
Early 2016, I took a trip First Class on a Qatar Airways Airbus A380 from Doha’s new Hamad International Airport in Qatar to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Qatar Airways has six A380s in its fleet, deploying them… Read More.
Emirates brand new first-class suite on the Boeing 777 will launch in December and the layout will change from a 1-2-1 configuration down to 2 rows in a 1-1-1g configuration. 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.