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How 8 first-class airlines are making flying more amazing than ever

Luxury airlines have upped their game with first-class perksLuxury airlines have upped their game with first-class perks — Photo courtesy of rudi_suardi / E+ Via Getty Images

While passengers in coach have to cope with narrow seats, cramped legroom, and lukewarm meals, others travel much more comfortably. Flying first class can be costly, but it’s always worth it.

Nearly all first-class passengers on any luxury airline enjoy bigger, more comfortable seats. But the best first-class airlines take travel to new indulgent heights. Some luxury airlines have jaw-dropping private apartments, full bars and lounges, spa showers, gourmet wine pairings, and even traditional English tea. Others have first-class cabins so luxurious they rival five-star hotels.

Here are eight of the best first-class airlines with perks so amazing, flying itself is like a vacation.

Emirates

Emirates is known for its luxe SkyBar and loungeEmirates is known for its luxe SkyBar and lounge — Photo courtesy of Emirates

Emirates First Class is best known for its SkyBar and lounge, but passengers who would rather stay in their seats can order exclusive on-demand meals, including unlimited Champagne and caviar.

Some first-class passengers have private cabins that look and feel more like a hotel room than an airplane seat. Private cabins feature ambient lighting, lie-flat seats, a selection of Bulgari fragrances, luxury amenity kits, loungewear and slippers, and exclusive skincare and spa products. First-class passengers on this award-winning airline even have access to an onboard shower spa.

First-class passengers in Dubai can arrive at the airport in style with a complimentary ride in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Etihad Airways

The apartments on first-class airline Etihad Airways fit up to three peopleThe apartments on first-class airline Etihad Airways fit up to three people — Photo courtesy of Etihad Airways

For passengers who want to feel truly at home in the sky, Etihad Airways includes entire apartments. One of the world’s best first-class airlines, Ethiad’s private suites include a deep, comfortable seat, a sofa that converts into a lie-flat bed, a vanity area, and a minibar.

Etihad first-class passengers also have access to an onboard shower. For passengers who want the ultimate privacy, Eithiad has three-room residences with a living area, bedroom, and full bathroom for ultimate privacy. First-class passengers also get luxe amenity kits, noise-canceling headphones, and meals with wine pairings.

Singapore Airlines

First-class passengers can sleep in double beds aboard Singapore AirlinesFirst-class passengers can sleep in double beds aboard Singapore Airlines — Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines

First-class passengers on Singapore Airlines can book a suite for one or two. Suites on this award-winning airline feature lie-flat beds, plush leather seats, and vanity areas perfect for touching up before landing. All suites have a sliding door for privacy.

Singapore Airlines’ first-class suites also come equipped with 32-inch, high-definition touchscreen monitors paired with Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones. Meals come on fine Wedgwood china.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways' QSuites include first-class airline perks like in-flight fine diningQatar Airways’ QSuites include first-class airline perks like in-flight fine dining — Photo courtesy of Qatar Airways

QSuites aboard Qatar Airways are among the best business-class seats in the sky. Qsuites can accommodate up to four passengers and feature doors for privacy. Passengers can face forward or flip their seats around to face their travel companions and create a social area.

For sleep, Qsuite passengers can lie completely flat, change into complimentary pajamas and slippers, and pamper themselves with luxe amenity kits. There’s even a “do not disturb” indicator, just like in a hotel.

Qatar Airways’ business class rivals many competitors’ first-class options, but the airline also has first-class seats on select aircraft. First-class cabins have only eight seats. Each passenger has three windows, plenty of room to spread out, and attentive service.

Cathay Pacific

The first-class airline Cathay Pacific is a 10Best Readers' Choice Award winner for a reasonThe first-class airline Cathay Pacific is a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award winner for a reason — Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific, a premier trans-Pacific, award-winning airline, has incredible amenities for first-class passengers. Many Cathay Pacific planes feature some of the widest lie-flat beds in the sky, a must for comfortable long-haul flights.

For extra pampering, the seats have extra-thick mattresses, 600-count thread sheets, a selection of soft pillows, and a calming pillow mist. To help ensure first-class passengers get the best night’s sleep possible in the sky, Cathay Pacific provides sleep suits, slippers, and eyeshades.

When passengers aren’t snoozing, they can choose wines from the airline’s onboard cellar and curated menu created in partnership with some of Hong Kong’s finest restaurants. First-class passengers have access to Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system with high-definition screens, BOSE noise-canceling headphones, and video handsets.

British Airways

First class on British Airways is a great way to travel in comfortFirst class on British Airways is a great way to travel in comfort — Photo courtesy of British Airways

The newest first-class seats on British Airways planes are for travelers who value comfort and privacy. These planes feature cabins with doors and seats that convert into comfortable lie-flat beds with luxurious bedding. To help passengers doze off, passengers receive pajamas, slippers, and high–end skincare products.

First-class passengers enjoy 23-inch in-flight entertainment screens and on-demand dining from a gourmet menu. British Airways has a Master of Wine who curates the wine selection, especially for first-class passengers. Cocktails, mocktails, Champagne, and spirits are available throughout the flight.

For a distinctly English touch, passengers on daytime flights enjoy high tea.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines redefines first-class travel with its comfortable seatingTurkish Airlines redefines first-class travel with its comfortable seating — Photo courtesy of Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines pulls out all the stops for business-class passengers, who can request meals served by candlelight on porcelain dishes. Moreover, all long-haul passengers receive meals created by Flying Chefs.

Those in business class also can request premium wine or cocktail pairings selected by a certified wine expert or beverages designed to reduce the effects of stress, indigestion, and sleep loss. Long-haul business-class passengers also receive luxurious Ferragamo amenity kits to make their flights even more comfortable.

On land, business-class passengers have access to Turkish Airlines’ legendary lounges at Istanbul (IST) and New York (JFK) airports. Some business-class passengers can spend a night (or three) at a five-star hotel in Istanbul or take a tour of Istanbul at no extra charge.

Air France

Le Premiere cabins aboard Air France come with lie-flat beds and privacy curtainsLe Premiere cabins aboard Air France come with lie-flat beds and privacy curtains — Photo courtesy of Air France

On Air France, La Premier first-class experience starts before you even arrive at the airport. When flying out of France, many La Premier passengers can opt for complimentary transportation to the airport, check-in at an exclusive lounge, and expedited security screenings.

Once in the air, La Premier passengers can use partitions and curtains for privacy. Seats convert into lie-flat beds with memory foam mattresses to promote sleep. Passengers also receive a luxurious amenity kit with products from the Sisley Beauty Institute Paris, plus a high-quality cotton robe, pajamas, and slippers.

Le Premier passengers also are treated to gourmet French meals and a selection of French wines.

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