Whether you just won the lottery, saved up, or are simply looking for a better way to fly, these are the commercial airlines to book for the ultimate in commercial flight luxury. Certain perks exist for those who spend a bit more. Certain things like legroom and in-flight amenities are quantifiable, but many things like staff training and air quality are not so easily measured, but become immediately apparent on these five luxury commercial airlines. (For more, see Are You jn the Top 1% of the World?)
Perhaps the tightest luxury seats, Virgin Atlantic’s upper class offers a fold-out bed/seat combo and half-partition walls. Guests can enjoy private chauffeured cars that drop them off at the airport and a private security area at London Heathrow. Richard Branson's airline company has a standing reputation for treating their employees well, and many flyers—and workers alike—report excellent treatment from the British airline.
From designer pajamas to celebrity-chef food, no detail is overlooked for Qatar’s first-class passengers. The airline offers the standard seat that folds into a bed along with in-flight cell phone service, a bar, privacy wall and room for a friend to join you in your “cabin.” Wooden trim and purple tones make first-class seem all the more luxurious. Flying with Qatar feels like having your own private booth.
Emirates is the first on this list to offer first-class travelers a real private cabin on the flight. This cabin has a mini-bar (in case you didn’t want to get up to visit the common bar), a seat that turns into a bed and food presented on fine china. The first-class bathroom has a shower and, like Virgin Atlantic, travelers can arrive at the airport in style in a private chauffeur-driven car. Emirates is consistently one of the most expensive first-class options, but the details make the flight not only enjoyable, but an absolute pleasure.
Singapore Airline suites allow for complete privacy in an enclosed cabin. For traveling couples, the privacy wall can be retracted and the two seats folded out into a double bed. Travelers are treated to private check-in and luxury lounge services as well as on-demand meals and beverages. While the bathrooms leave much to be desired when compared to Emirates’, a ticket is also significantly less.
Ever wanted to travel in a cabin bigger than your apartment? No, Etihad doesn’t offer private flights, but the airline does have the next best thing: The Residence, a three-room suite with a permanent double bed in the bedroom, a living room and a private en-suite bathroom with shower. Travelers who book a suite have access to a chauffeur, spa, private check-in, butler and an onboard chef.
A trip from New York to Abu Dhabi will cost a whopping $32,000, but if that’s too much, don’t worry. Etihad offers a range of lesser but still incredibly luxurious smaller apartments, studios, and private seats; even economy seating comes with an amenities kit, four-course meal and nanny service for children. (For more, see Private Jet Charter Vs. First Class: What’s Best?)
The Bottom Line
Today’s airlines are hoping to bring the rich back to the glamorous days of air travel. And while not everyone needs to fly to and from the Gulf States or Singapore, the cost of flying in a private apartment or first-class suite is perhaps worth it in order to have an incredible experience.