In the heyday of flying, seats in the skies were reserved for Don Draper-style executives being romanced by fine wines and beautiful air hostesses. Today, there is still romance in the skies. If you are wealthy or fortunate enough to travel Business Class, you too can connect to the golden age of aviation.
This article compares the world’s Best Business Class airlines, rating them by their seat, food, staff, and overall product. This top 10 list is ranked for long-haul Business Class because it is on long-haul flights that you truly appreciate features such as a lie-flat bed, superb food, and a great pilot (see my inclusion of British Airways). Wi-Fi and personal screens with hundreds of channels are now expected.
Differentiators today include superbly comfortable seat beds, gourmet meals, ridiculous amenity kits, a personal chauffeur after touchdown, and the sit-down bars that take some of the tedium out of long-haul flights. This is my top 10 list of best Business Class airlines in the world.
1. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways offers the best Business Class for long-haul flights and turns Business Class into what would be First Class on other airlines. The ‘QSuite’ features Business Class suites with sliding doors and double beds. Adjustable panels and TV monitors on the central four group of seats enable colleagues and families traveling together to have their own private room to work and have fun in.
Finishes are out of this world with hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing. Qatar Airways also has a new food and beverage concept with excellent in presentation, flavors, and quality.
The QSuite is only available on selected routes and aircraft: A350-1000s and some retrofitted B777s and A350-900s. We have reviewed the older Business Class on Qatar Airways twice from Brussels (BRU) to Doha (DOH) and once from Amsterdam (AMS) to Doha (DOH).
Preflight Qatar offers one of the best airline lounges in the world if you travel First Class with the Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa lounge in Doha’s new Hamad International Airport and the almost as good Al Mourjan Business Class lounge at Hamad International Airport in Doha for those flying in Business Class.
2. Etihad Airways
Etihad’s Business Class product on its A380s and 787 Dreamliners includes excellent food, a unique dovetail design with forward and rear-facing seats, and direct aisle access. Poltrona Frau upholsters each seat. The 22-inch (56 cm) wide seat converts into a comfortable, fully flat bed of up to 6 feet and 8 inches (203 cm) and plenty of storage. Etihad Airways’ A330, A320, and B777 planes feature the older but still excellent Business Class seats, so try and book onto the A380s and 787 Dreamliners.
3. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines Business Class seat is the widest in the world, and the unrivaled space between each seat gives every single seat direct access to the aisle. The seat width is 30 inches or 75 cm on its A350 and B777 aircraft and is the widest in the world.
The unrivaled space between each seat is enabled by a 1-2-1 layout that offers all passengers direct access to the aisle. The new A380 aircraft Business Class seat includes a cocoon-like shell for privacy, and a center divider can be fully lowered to form double beds. Food is restaurant level.
4. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific offers a consistent and solid product for flying Business Class. Cathay’s best Business Class is available on their Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A330 planes, so be sure to book one of these. It features a flatbed that is just over 82 inches or 2 meters long. A bed extension increases its width by 6.5 inches or 16.5 cm to provide additional hip support, while the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side.
Cathay’s business seat is identical to the one installed on American Airlines, Eva Air, and Air France, but Cathay offers better customer service, impressive lounges, and award-winning cuisine.
We have reviewed Cathay Pacific First Class On Boeing 747-400.
For luxury travel to Dubai or more than 140 additional destinations, Emirates Airlines rises above the competition with the A380 Emirates’ Business Class product, taking advantage of the comfort and space of the Airbus A380 fleet. Generous amenity kits, a huge entertainment selection played on the private screen, and a roomy and well-appointed bar on the upper deck put Emirates in this top 10.
The ground service includes a chauffeur service, and the impressive Emirates lounge at Dubai Airport makes this a great product. Lie-flat Business Class seats with a built-in minibar are available on all Emirates A380 aircraft.
The Business Class cabins in most of Emirates’ Boeing 777s are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration, so not everyone gets direct aisle access on these.
Delta offers the best Business Class in the skies of the American Airliners. Their Business Class cabin features a sliding door at each suite with decent personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system, and premium trim and finishes. Delta One includes chef-curated meals, wine pairings by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, terrific Westin in-flight bedding, TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl premium skincare, and in-flight loungewear on select flights.
The Delta One suite gives you access to excellent lounges on US soil but is currently only available on Delta’s A350 and A330neo aircraft, which operate selected routes such as Seattle to Tokyo and Detroit to Amsterdam. The rest of the fleet has a much less impressive Business Class.
7. Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand offers a very good Business Premier Class product with comfy 22-inch leather lie-flat armchairs in Air New Zealand’s signature chalk-colored leather, premium on-demand audio and video, and convenient self-service refreshment areas. The lie-flat bed comprises a memory foam mattress, a cozy duvet, and two full-size pillows.
An amenity kit provides passengers with travel basics such as eye cream, lip balm and moisturizer, socks, eyeshades, a toothbrush kit, earplugs, and a pen. Your separate ottoman footrest also doubles as a “visitor’s seat,” making it easy to invite a guest over for a glass of fine New Zealand wine. This is more or less the same seat as the ones offered by Virgin Atlantic, but Air New Zealand beats its English competitor when it comes to food. The mouth-watering dishes are innovative, featuring the finest New Zealand produce, and are complemented once again by fine New Zealand wines.
8. Virgin Atlantic
Sir Richard Branson has created a very cool brand in Virgin Atlantic and although the Virgin Business or “Upper Class” experience might not be the most stress-free in the sky, see my review of the Virgin Clubhouse lounge in Terminal 3 which is a trendy but hectic experience, from the feel-good music as you enter to the joyful staff, Virgin Atlantic’s posh Upper Class cabin is more like a fun members club than other more starchy Business Class offering.
Virgin’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft offers an excellent Upper Class product in a 1-2-1 configuration, with all suites having a window and an 18.5-inch entertainment screen. The A350 also features a new bar area called The Loft, the largest social space in the airline’s fleet.
We feature reviews of Virgin’s Upper Class on B747 and Virgin Upper Class on A340. We have also compared British Airways Club World Vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.
9. Swiss International Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines is the pride of the Lufthansa group, which also manages Lufthansa itself, Brussels Airlines, LOT Airlines, and Austrian Airlines. The airline revamped its Business Class a while back.
The newer Swiss Business Class seat has a cubbyhole for shoes and a spacious workplace complete with a power outlet, USB connection, movable light, and an LCD screen that can display tablet and smartphone content. The seat itself turns into a 78-inch/2-meter flatbed that lowers into a space carved out for it in the seat in front.
The seat’s integrated massage function will pamper you en route. Flights departing from Switzerland offer travelers a rotating menu celebrating the cuisine of different regions and, of course, complimentary Swiss chocolate to make your travels a little more pleasant.
It is worth noting that not all airlines offer consistent business-class products, with older planes offering more dated seating and facilities. To work out what Business Class experience you will receive on your next flight, it is worth finding out which aircraft flies on your planned route. You will then be able to figure out if you will experience the best Business Class product from that airline.
10. British Airways
Scraping in at the bottom is British Airways. Pluses are the terribly British service and the excellent pilots who keep you updated in turbulence, which is essential for the less confident fliers among us. British Airways Business Class has the advantage of great airport lounges when leaving from Heathrow, such as the Galleries Club airport lounge at Heathrow, which makes the overall product very competitive for those beginning their journey in the UK.
BA Business Class or Club World offered the first fully lie-flat seat in a now unpopular “Ying/Yang” seat arrangement. The is now dated and thin, but it has the advantage of being private (if you avoid the Aisle). Catering is from DO&CO, and bedding and amenity kits are very good, but the seats let it down. BA A350 planes offer suites with direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, and 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens.
British Airways is not great, but for us Brits, it tends to be the most convenient airline to fly with.
We have also reviewed Club World on a British Airways Boeing 777-300ER, Club World on the Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet, Club World on the A380 and featured the best Club World Seats on the 787-9 Dreamliner along with First Class On The British Airways Dreamliner B787-9. We’ve also compared British Airways Club World Vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.
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