23 Most Luxurious First-Class Amenities
Many airlines are moving away from first class, instead upgrading lucrative business-class cabins that are within financial reach of more passengers. Still, the airlines that do still offer first-class travel are making the experience more extravagant than ever, with custom, chef-prepared cuisine, onboard bars and showers, and even a personal butler on one airline. As the rest of us do battle with shrinking seats and an ever-growing list of annoying upcharges, take a peek at how the other half flies with this list of eye-popping first-class amenities.
Imagine being able to refresh with a long, hot shower at 40,000 feet. Well, it's a reality for first-class passengers on some Emirates A380s. And you won't be using any run-of-the-mill shampoo, either: The Shower Spa, designed from sumptuous marble and walnut, is stocked with Bulgari toiletries and organic seaweed products.
What's the use of splurging on first class if you can't relax because of noisy flight attendants or dry cabin air? On Lufthansa, first-class passengers benefit from sound insulation around their seats and even under the floor to soften those noisy footfalls. The airline also boasts "the first automatic air humidification system on board a commercial airliner," so you can hold off on slathering yourself with that complimentary lotion.
"It's like having your own private airport" when you fly first class out of London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic. Passengers who pull up to the Upper Class Wing get exclusive, line-free ticketing, baggage handling, and security screening that's completely separate from the chaos of the main terminal. The airline says it takes only 10 minutes for first-class passengers to be whisked to the airline's first-class lounge.
A three-room suite awaits for customers with money to burn on Eithad's A380s: A "living room" with a leather sofa, two dining tables, and a flat-screen TV; a bedroom with a double bed outfitted in fine Italian sheets; and an ensuite shower with plush robes and luxury toiletries. But we've saved the best for last: You'll even get a white-gloved butler to attend to your every whim.
What's an aching, jet-lagged traveler to do? If you're flying first class with Thai Airways through the Bangkok airport, drop in to the Royal First Lounge. There, you can opt for a full-body oil massage or a signature Royal Thai Massage to work the kinks out.
Not to be outdone, Qantas Airways passengers can choose from a whole menu of complimentary spa services when they're relaxing in the first-class lounges in Sydney or Melbourne. Massages? Sure. Hand or food therapy? You got it. A facial? Check. In Sydney's treatment rooms, lush floor-to-ceiling greenery and high-end oils and lotions complete the experience.
Tired of the same old tasteless airline food? Flying first class with Eithad will get you access to an internationally trained in-flight chef who can personalize the menu and prepare your selection exactly how you want it. Of course, the chefs aren't miracle workers — for instance, they aren't allowed to cook over open flames for safety reasons — but they guarantee an attention to detail you won't find eating mystery meat and a dry dinner roll in coach.
What's an airline to do when first-class passengers are stuck in a windowless suite? Put in virtual windows, of course. On some Emirates Boeing 777s, high-definition projections of the outside world make you feel like you have a window seat, and mood lighting complete with seven colors and 10 brightness settings can simulate sunrise, sunset, and everything in between.
In the first-class lounge at Tokyo's Narita airport, passengers can take advantage of a complimentary shoe-shining service from luxury British shoemaker John Lobb. Once your shoes are in tip-top shape, you can order some hand-rolled sushi and see it prepared right in front of you. On board, wash it down with a bottle of Cristal champagne.
Wine lovers, be sure to book a first-class trip through Zurich on Swiss International. You'll have access to 1,000 bottles from around the world in the airline's First Lounge, not to mention a 5-star restaurant and a champagne bar. If you have a little too much to drink, you can sleep it off in one of the lounge's full hotel rooms with views of the Alps.
First-class travelers in Singapore Airlines' A380 first-class suites won't have to squint at some tiny headrest entertainment system. You'll have a 32-inch high-definition touchscreen with wireless controls at your disposal. It's even hooked up to an entertainment system that can save playlists and preferences for future flights. Oh, and you get to watch it from the comfort of a full-grain-leather designer recliner.
French cuisine is renowned the world over, so it's only fitting that first-class passengers in the swankiest Air France cabins would have elegant dining options. They include caviar, of course, and rotating meals prepared by elite French chefs. The all-important wine list is updated every two months, and all meals are served on a white tablecloth with fine china and flatware.
Finding a parking spot, figuring out where the gate is, shuffling through security alone: First-class passengers on Lufthansa needn't suffer these indignities when they're flying through Frankfurt or Munich. Personal assistants will be there to whisk your car to the valet, speed you through security, accompany you to baggage claim, and even drive you to your jet, sometimes in a limo or a Porsche.
Summoning a flight attendant simply to get a drink might take a minute or two, so what's an impatient, thirsty first-class passenger to do? Grab a drink from your own mini bar, of course, hidden discreetly in a side console in your suite. You'll also have a personal stash of snacks and a complimentary Bulgari amenity kit filled with perfume and skin-care products.
When it's time to get some shut-eye, first-class Etihad passengers don't need to lift a finger. Flight attendants transform the seats into luxurious beds, complete with all-natural mattresses, sheets, a duvet, and a fluffy pillow. Passengers receive pajamas, pillow mist, pulse-point oil, and a soothing night-time beverage as part of their turn-down service. They can even use their own light-up vanity and hang their clothes in a full-length wardrobe.
First-class passengers on Air China flying into or out of Beijing or Shanghai can forget about scrambling for that last-minute Uber. One of the airline's best first-class perks is its "punctual and convenient" limousine service to or from the airport, which means traveling in style starts even on the ground.
Korean Air is one of a small number of airlines to offer an in-flight bar for first-class passengers. On its A380s, you can stretch your legs by leaving your seat to relax at the spacious, swanky Celestial Bar, which offers a menu of exclusive cocktails. If you hit some turbulence (or if you overindulge) don't worry — there are even benches by the bar where you can sit down and buckle up.
Flying through Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific? First-class passengers will find five private, temperature-controlled cabanas in the airline's swankiest lounge. Each has a bath, a rain shower, a day bed, work space, and plush robes and towels. Need something ironed before an important meeting? Just press a button to summon the concierge.
First-class passengers on Qatar Airways flying out of Doha will never have to risk being served rubbery chicken when they wanted a salad, or any other in-flight meal that's not exactly to their tastes. That's because the airline offers them "pre-select dining," which means they can reserve their preferred main course up to two weeks in advance.
What could be more British than an in-flight afternoon tea service? First-class passengers on British Airways can choose from coffee or seven of the most popular teas from Twinings, one of the world's oldest and most storied tea makers. But that's not all: There is also a selection of sandwiches, including smoked salmon or cheddar and chutney. Got a sweet tooth? Grab a chocolate tart or some pear walnut cake, or enjoy warm scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserves.
Airlines aren't usually noted for fresh food, but Korean Air serves up ribeye, beef ribs, and chicken recently sourced from Korean pastures. A formal Korean menu is served in courses, so you'll get a full appetizer, main course, side dishes, and dessert. Choices may include traditional favorites like bibimbap and kimchi. Wines are aged at least three years before serving, and champagne choices include Perrier-Jouet.
Luxurious pajamas are a fun but common perk in the toniest first-class cabins, where most seats convert into fully flat beds. Emirates' twist? It offers "the world's first moisturizing sleepwear," with fabric that releases sea kelp to hydrate and stimulate the skin while you sleep. Also on offer: matching slippers, an eye mask, and sheepskin-like blankets.
First-class benefits aren't the exclusive domain of adults. Lucky little ones will have the run of their own play room in Eithad's first-class lounge in Abu Dhabi. Whether they want to zone out with a PlayStation or have a kid-friendly meal or snack, an on-duty nanny has them covered. Etihad even has a flying nanny available for all passengers on long-haul flights. She comes armed with activity kits, hand puppets, face paints, and more.
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