If travelling is all about the journey, then the journey needs to be as comfortable as possible. There’s no shortage of luxury on offer on long-haul routes, but some airlines are taking it to new heights.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways sets aside the entire top deck on its A380 superjumbo fleet to accommodate business and first-class passengers.
In the First Apartments the emphasis is on privacy, with enclosed suites boasting both a reclining leather lounge seat for in-flight dining and a full-length bed. Seven-course dinners are served on demand, paired with an impressive selection of global wines. The first-class bathroom offers an on-board shower for freshening up before landing, with complimentary chauffeur-driven transfers waiting to meet you on arrival.
Still not enough luxury? Etihad’s The Residence, available exclusively on A380 aircraft, offers the fortunate few a private living room, double bedroom and en suite shower. Your Savoy-trained private butler is on hand to cater for any mid-flight requirements, naturally. Little wonder Etihad scooped the First Class category at last year’s Skytrax World Airline Awards. Last year, a seat in the swanky three-room suite set a new record with a flight from New York to Mumbai costing $38 000 each way.
A runner-up in last year’s World Airline Awards, Cathay Pacific did scoop the gong for the Best First Class Airline Lounge.
The Wing at Hong Kong International Airport is a marvel of elegance, luxury and understated Asian style. It’s so good you’ll barely want to leave your private ‘Cabana’ or the Moët & Chandon champagne bar to board the plane.
But with just six roomy seats in the first-class cabin, there’s a welcome sense of privacy and sophistication here. The fully flat beds are among the widest in the skies, and come complete with built-in massage function and impressive in-flight entertainment. On-board dining is a highlight here too, with a menu of Asian and international dishes.
When it comes to its premium cabins British Airways (BA) has always opted for understated style over bells and whistles. The revamped First cabin on BA’s new 787-9 Dreamliner fleet is no exception.
Each aircraft offers just eight First suites, the spacious leather armchairs boasting fine leatherwork reminiscent of Aston Martin. There are plenty of clever storage spaces for gadgets, while the 23-inch screen offers gate-to-gate entertainment. A menu of global cuisine with a British touch won’t disappoint.
When you’re ready to sleep, ever-gracious cabin crew transform the seat into a full-length bed with mattress, while you change into your in-flight sleepsuit – what most would call pajamas on terra firma. The new amenity bags are by Liberty London, stuffed with lotions by Aromatherapy Associates, ensuring one lands looking just so.
Emirates was one of the first airlines to push the boundaries of in-flight comfort. Aside from the usual selling points of spacious seats and perfect privacy there’s a distinctly opulent feel to the Emirates first-class suites, from the Bulgari amenity kits to the Hydra Active Microcapsule Technology embedded in its complimentary in-flight sleepsuits.
The food and wine offering is particularly good, with a blend of international and Arabian cuisine served on demand from an à la carte menu. The airline offers exclusive vintages of Dom Pérignon, the rare Hennessy Paradis cognac, and first-growth wines from notable Bordeaux chateaux. More than enough reason to pull up a stool at the exclusive in-flight bar.
There’s a typically French elegance, with just a dash of Gallic joie de vivre, in Air France’s revamped La Première cabin available on selected Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
Redone in a palette of blues and greys, and with just four suites per aircraft, the overall effect is of soothing spaciousness. Unsurprisingly, a stellar list of French wines pairs neatly with the dine-on-demand meal service, with the menu compiled by Michelin-star chefs including Joël Robuchon, Guy Martin and Michel Roth.
Curtains can be drawn across each semi-private suite for privacy, or for a good night’s rest on long-haul sectors when cabin attendants convert the seat into a 2m-long bed complete with futon mattress, large pillow and duvet by Sofitel MyBed. On arrival, a chauffeur will be waiting to escort you to your final destination.
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