A Look Inside the Best First-Class Airline Experiences
The first-class experience with Lufthansa begins as soon as you arrive at the airport, where a personal assistant can be waiting to greet you. After spending time in the exclusive first-class lounge, passengers can also be chauffeur driven directly to their aircraft.
A first-class airline concept with separate cabins was deliberately rejected because at numerous customer events, and during in-flight tests and surveys, Lufthansa passengers expressed a clear preference for an open-plan design. However, a flexible privacy screen allows first-class guests to determine the degree of individual privacy they desire.
In order to adapt the first-class concept to the actual needs of passengers, Lufthansa customers were substantially involved in its development. From the outset, their experiences and wishes were integrated into the design. A quiet atmosphere was reported as one of the most important needs of first-class customers. Sound-absorbing curtains partition off the rest of the cabin, while special sound-insulating material in the aircraft’s outer skin and sound-absorbing carpeting block footstep noise and ensure Lufthansa has the world’s quietest first-class cabin.
Measuring 6’9” feet in length and 2’7” feet in width, the comfortable bed offers plenty of room, enabling passengers to enjoy deep, relaxing sleep. The air humidification system—the first of its kind to be installed on a commercial aircraft—and the lighting concept—which adjusts according to the time of day—also contribute towards passengers’ well-being on board.
On Lufthansa’s A380, first-class passengers have an extraordinary amount of space. In the cabin, overhead bins are omitted in order to provide more headroom. Instead, each passenger has an individual closet, which is lockable, in addition to the generous storage facilities around the seat.
Lufthansa’s first class is noted for exclusive service, and not just in the aircraft cabin. In this luxurious traveling class, distinguished with five Skytrax Stars among other kudos, passengers enjoy personal service, exclusivity, and privacy which concludes with a first-hand examination by an anonymous inspector.
On the ground, the first-class terminal in Frankfurt scored five-star ratings across many of the assessment categories. The dedicated terminal won acclaim for its exclusive service from personal assistants for first-class passengers to greetings upon arrival at the airport through to check-in for their flight. The terminal’s comfortable armchairs, sofas, and other amenities, including quiet rooms with daybeds, also received praise. A separate cigar lounge, spacious bathrooms offering high-quality toiletries, and an extensive choice of hot or cold meals, cocktails, and fine wines contributed to the Skytrax top-tier ranking.
“In 2015, our customers will experience the best Lufthansa there has ever been. Over the past few years, we have invested billions in completions, quality, and services on behalf of our passengers, who will now benefit from this investment. As an airline, we are once again where Lufthansa belongs—namely in the leading group of international premium airlines. Our guests can be sure that ‘Made in Germany’ as a seal of quality applies to all Lufthansa flights. We are on the right track to becoming the first, Western five-star airline, and day for day we offer the quality that other airlines can only speak of.” – Jens Bischof, Member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board Product, Marketing & Sales and Chief Commercial Officer
At the start of their trip, International first-class customers can access various lounges in the network—including the renowned Sydney and Melbourne International Lounges—which contain a restaurant with menus by Neil Perry, and the Aurora Spa featuring a range of complimentary treatments.
Onboard, the First Suite offers exceptional levels of comfort and flexibility, including enhancements to privacy and exclusivity. Large surrounds and an additional electronic moveable divider between suites optimizes privacy while still offering a spacious environment. A guest seat is also available for First customers to easily enjoy conversations or dine together restaurant-style during flight. The seat swivels after take-off, transforming into a comfortable armchair or can convert into a fully flat, extra wide and long bed.
Entertainment offerings include a 17” widescreen digital system with access to over 1,500 entertainment options including over 100 movies, 500 TV programs, 800 music options, or 18 radio channels, and noise-cancelling headsets.
First offers an à la carte menu designed by Neil Perry, with premium signature ingredients to ensure a five-star-style restaurant offering. Selected flights also offer the Qantas exclusive eigh- course tasting menu. Many flights feature onboard sommeliers that provide recommendations on the selection of premium wines and champagnes on offer in First. Meals are presented on table cloths, and served on premium Noritake crockery with Alessi cutlery.
Qantas, together with Samsung Electronics Australia, has launched a trial entertainment service that uses Samsung virtual reality (VR) technology to give customers a spectacular 3D experience in a 360-degree interactive format. Qantas’ VR headsets transport customers to an immersive virtual world at the click of a button and showcase the sights and delights of network destinations, new Qantas products, and the latest inflight blockbuster movies.
As part of the trial, a number of Samsung Gear VR headsets have been made available to customers in Sydney and Melbourne International First Lounges as well as in the first-class cabins on select A380 services. Qantas is the only airline to offer a virtual reality entertainment experience inflight.
“The teams at Qantas are committed to delivering outstanding product and service for every one of the airline’s customers. For our First customers, the premium experience can start before they even leave for the airport, with a Chauffeur service available in a number of our ports. And at the airport, First customers are invited to enjoy the luxury of one of our flagship lounges in Sydney or Melbourne, and world-class food, wine, and comfort in one of the 14 suites on the A380 aircraft.” – Mr. Capps, Qantas Head of Customer Product & Service Development
4. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific’s first-class suites are among the most spacious in the air. As soon as you step inside the aircraft, plush carpet leads passengers to their personal suite, furnished with a soft and luxurious leather chair opposite a footstool, which doubles as a seat for partners who want to sit together. Although, the chair itself is so wide you can actually fit 2 people in it.
The wide chair smoothly transforms into a fully flat bed that has a luxurious thick mattress for sleeping comfort, and newly designed bedding made with high-quality fabric adds to the sense of comfort and luxury. The included LCD controller makes it easy to recline your seat, adjust your back support, and even adjust your suite lighting.
Passengers receive an amenity kit featuring high-end Aesop brand skincare and toiletries and a luxurious 100 percent organic cotton sleep suit from Hong-Kong brand Pye.
Closets on floor level have replaced overhead bins. The storage closets are huge, even allowing passengers to hang their clothes; the lack of overhead storage means passengers have a lot more headroom. This coupled with just six seats in the first-class cabin on a Boeing 777 spread across two rows makes the overall cabin feels very open and roomy.
Dining first-class with Cathay Pacific is truly a pampered experience. Passengers are presented with an extensive menu: there are so many food options it will be hard to decide. Cathay Pacific is well known for its whole tin of Calvisius caviar served with a mother of pearl spoon. Passengers dine à la carte and all dishes are made to order so you can choose when you prefer to eat. Flight attendants can also alter the seating configuration and set up the table to allow travelling companions to dine together.
There are five business- and first-class Cathay Pacific lounges at Hong Kong International airport. All are styled slightly differently but set a new standard in airline ground service and offer unparalleled levels of comfort and convenience.
Some of the offerings available include complimentary foot massages with neck and shoulder massages available on request. Day suites that are furnished with a bed and heavy curtains offering personal privacy. There are also 5 cabanas which feature a spacious shower, a full-sized bath and a comfortable day bed, providing a calm and relaxing private sanctuary for passengers to unwind before their journey.
The Emirates first-class service begins at your doorstep. Guests can travel in comfort by booking the complimentary chauffeur drive service that takes travelers to and from the airport in over 70 cities.
As you fly, so will time. Once onboard, slide the privacy doors closed and unwind in your own sky-high world. Guests can enjoy a glass of exclusive wine or champagne or help themselves to their personal mini-bar. Alternatively, passengers can opt to take a break, stretch their legs, and meet some new people in the A380 Onboard Lounge—exclusive to first-class and business-class customers. In the lounge, guests can choose from a selection of canapés or sip a refreshing cocktail. Premium spirits, exclusive wines, champagne, cocktails, and beers alongside hot and cold beverages are all served by an Emirates dedicated bartender.
Back inside the private first-class cabins, guests can choose from a variety of on-screen entertainment, perfect the lighting, and relax in their own private cinema. Then as you start to feel tired, convert your seat into a fully flat bed with plush mattress and bedding and drift into a restful sleep.
There’s nothing quite like a rejuvenating shower to leave you feeling refreshed. Travelers can prepare for their arrival in the Shower Spa, using the selection of Bvlgari toiletries and signature Timeless Spa products. The vanity table and mirror which are included in the first-class cabins will help guests prepare for the day ahead, so they arrive feeling their best.
After passengers have finished pampering, they can replenish their energy with a detoxifying fresh juice: just the boost long-haul passengers need to feel ready to take on the day.
Emirates first-class lounge in Dubai termed ‘The Lounge’ is in fact more like an entirely separate airport and is quite possibly the largest lounge in the world: it extends the entire length of the concourse. The lounge is open round the clock so no matter what time you arrive you can luxuriate in the elegant surroundings.
For those cigar smokers, there is a separate cigar lounge with huge overstuffed leather chairs. The timeless spa offers a number of treatments to help passengers relax, and first-class customers are entitled to a free 15-minute spa experience. There are also two sleeping rooms featuring multiple day beds, individual shower suites, and numerous dining areas filled with extravagant delicacies.
2. Etihad Airways
This year Etihad Airways rolled out new décor, meal options, service enhancements, and amenities throughout all of its cabins, enhancing its already unparalleled hospitality services. This included on-board chefs, a variety of in-flight entertainment, luxury amenities kits for adult and special ones for children, specially trained flying nannies, and complimentary chauffeur service for business and first-class passengers.
Etihad Airways offers superior levels of comfort from the moment your journey begins. On the ground, Etihad’s first and business class guests can enjoy personal chauffeur services in a fleet of high-end cars in more than 40 cities across its network.
At the airport, first and business class guests have access to Etihad’s world-renowned lounges offering fine dining, a spa, concierge services, and business centers. First-class passengers will be greeted with a hotel-inspired welcome, allowing guests to check-in and relax in style. Welcome reception service is presented on an elegant silver platter with welcome drink, dates, a welcome letter, and a fragrant hot towel.
The on-board Etihad experience offers the best of Arabian hospitality, and includes award-winning cuisine and vintage wines. In Etihad’s commitment to creating a true, five-star dining experience for their first class, passengers can now enjoy meals on a luxury range of dining equipment, including fine bone china tableware from Nikko Japan, Royal Oak cutlery from Studio Williams, a full range of crystal glassware from Lucaris and signature cognac glasses from Norman of Copenhagen. Etihad has also added service enhancements to reflect fine dining trends, including Pre-Dessert prepared by the In-Flight Chef, Café Gourmand accompanied by a selection of mini-cookies, cakes and pastries and Cognac Service, showcasing exquisite XO cognac in the new signature cognac glasses.
Passengers can enjoy turn-down service that includes a new “Sweet Dreams” card, in addition to all-natural bed linen, pillow mist and pulse point oil. Brand new furnishings include a luxurious throw, blanket and seat cushion designed to reflect the palette of the new cabin interiors.
“At Etihad Airways, travelers are not simply passengers; they are our guests and we are committed to providing them with an unparalleled luxury and hospitality experience. We’re redefining expectations of air travel—both on the ground and in the air—including bringing our world-class butlers, nannies, and chefs on board to curate a unique and unmatched experience for our guests flying with us.” – James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and CEO
1. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ new next-generation first-class seats, which are currently being rolled out on the B777 fleet, offer customers enhanced comfort in their own personal sanctuary. Designed together with BMW Group DesignworksUSA, each seat features a new fixed-back shell design with curved side panels for added privacy. At 35 inches in width and with an increased bed length from 80 to 82 inches, it is one of the most spacious first-class products in the sky.
A new passenger control unit has also been introduced: it provides customers easier access to turn off their in-flight entertainment monitor, and allows for cabin crew to do so without disturbing customers when they are resting.
Complementing the experience is a new state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, featuring a sleek 24-inch LCD screen, with video touch-screen handsets.
In-depth research was carried out with lighting experts to develop not justonly a stylish reading light, but one that also provides a conducive environment for reading or working. In addition to reading lights, the seat features ambient lighting, which not only accentuates the seat design but also serves as a night light in a dimmed cabin.
Guests can choose from a selection of gourmet masterpieces created by the International Culinary Panel of world-renowned chefs served on exquisitely patterned tableware.
Going one step further, select guests travelling on board the A380 Aircraft can experience a distinguished haven of tranquility within an individual cabin featuring sliding doors and window blinds. For those seeking the upmost in luxury, passengers can experience the pleasure of sleeping on a distinctively designed standalone bed—not one converted from a seat. And it looks like even more will be coming soon.
“We are working hard on a new ground-up first suite and business class product that will be unveiled when we put into service the next batch of A380s which are coming in 2017,” said Mak Swee Wah.
“The significant investment in our next generation of cabin products reaffirms our commitment to product innovation and leadership, and demonstrates our confidence in the future for premium full-service air travel,” said Mak Swee Wah, SIA’s Executive Vice President Commercial.