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The Best First-Class Cabins your Monday can Buy

It’s said that the 1960s were the Golden Age of travel. But In the 2020s—with all the improvements in the first-class cabins, at least—we could call our present era the Diamond Age. In the front of the plane, gone are the cigarettes and La-Z-Boy-style seats; in their place are massive suites with doors, lie-flat beds, showers in the clouds, and caviar collections fit for a king.

Don't forget the bone china for in-flight afternoon tea or the bespoke bedding for a long nap, too.

And these days, even business class cabins on some airlines have amenities once reserved only for first class like privacy doors that fully close for maximum privacy or dine-on-demand meals. Demand for premium travel is sky-high, and many people are willing to pay for the privileges that come along with sitting in front of the curtain. But not all premium cabins are created equally.

While many airlines have folded their first class into business entirely, making biz the most premium cabin you can fly on their planes, other carriers have pushed their first-class suites to soaring new heights to differentiate themselves from the pack and attract those willing to pay those sky-high fares (or cash in their miles) for them.

If you’re looking for the best in the sky, these first-class airplane seats are everything and more.

Singapore Airlines First Class Suites Airbus A380

Singapore Airlines doubled down in recent years to create what’s widely regarded as the single finest commercial flying experience. That’s not just hyperbole—at 50 square feet, its Suites on the A380 win by measurement as well, giving first-class passengers more space than any other airline. Even though its double-decker planes are not currently flying to U.S. runways, you will currently find them on flights from Singapore to London, Paris, Sydney and Mumbai.

The fact that the flight experience out of Singapore starts with a trip to a lounge formally known as The Private Room doesn’t hurt either. The airline recently invested more than $36 million into its Terminal 3 lounges at Changi International Airport, and this includes where the luckiest first class flyers get to rest before their flights. Here, drink selections like Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2007 or the signature SilverKris Sling (a spin on the hometown Singapore Sling) flow like water, and the lounge feels downright serene.

On board, you’re in a true suite, with a reclining swivel chair capable of facing out toward the windows or inward to the cabin for dining; there’s also a desktop for work, and a separate bed. A tablet controls everything from dimming lights to changing their colors. You can also carry it with you throughout the suite and use it, whether you’re in your chair or lounging on the bed. And then there’s the 32-inch television, which wouldn’t look out of place in most living rooms. Singapore also went one step further for traveling duos: Select suites can be combined to form a 100-square-foot apartment in the sky.

The airline’s book-the-cook service allows you to choose from more than a dozen meals before departure, including dishes like lobster Thermidor and filet mignon, although the airline says its Hainanese chicken rice is one of the most ordered advance selections. A new partnership with Golden Door Spa is bringing its wellness-focused menus to flights too. The airline sources much of its produce from sustainable vertical aeroponic farms.

Cathay Pacific First Class Boeing 777

Cathay Pacific’s first-class suite lacks many of the bolted-down features you’d expect on a list of the world’s top cabins. No, it doesn’t have a door, nor does it have a separate seat and bed. But if you ever wished a lie-flat seat could be your actual bed, it would be this one, and it is angled away from the aisle for more privacy.

Booking into Cathay Pacific first class means you’re never let down at any point in your journey. Cathay’s The Pier, its first class lounge in Hong Kong, rivals many of the finest five-star hotels in decor—and arguably in spa amenities, too. There are also private sleeping rooms, complimentary spa treatments, and an a la carte restaurant to seal the deal.

On board, it’s impossible not to revel in the handwritten welcome notes given to passengers, before the question of “Would you like a glass of Krug Grand Cuvée 2004?” is proposed. A companion can sit on the ottoman opposite the suite’s seat for an intimate dinner for two, with a table set like the most superb restaurants in Hong Kong and a menu featuring recipes from some of the city’s top Michelin-starred chefs. From the finest cuts of meat to an authentic claypot rice or dim sum basket, no one will go hungry. And when it comes time to hit the hay, the crew arranges each pillow, duvet, and mattress topper like a concerto from a grandmaster.

If that’s not good enough, there are rumors of a new first class product to arrive in 2025 with both privacy doors and higher walls, but also the same top-notch service for which the Hong Kong airline has earned its fame. While the exact details remain top-secret, this should be rolling out on the carrier’s new Boeing 777-9 aircraft in the coming years.

Air France La Première Class Boeing 777-300ER

There are first-class cabins with larger footprints and plenty more glitz, but Air France’s first class is the epitome of sophistication. There’s high-thread-count bedding, a crew who could pass most sommelier exams, and teams on the ground tasked with ensuring that every step of the journey is flawless. One example? Each passenger enjoys a private sedan from the lounge directly to their plane, bypassing the woes of the terminal entirely.

This is an experience where 24-hour fasting beforehand should almost be mandatory too, as the exquisite on-board tasting menu, complete with polished silver cloche for dramatic service effect, was designed by a rotating group of the world’s finest chefs, with the most recent dishes conceived by three Michelin-starred Régis Marcon, who whipped up a delectable menu with entrée selections like pigeon filet, sea bass, and prawns bouillabaisse. In fact, Air France works with more than a dozen culinary stars and Michelin-starred chefs, keeping the reputation for French cuisine as elevated as possible. There are also Clarins massage and beauty skincare partnerships in the lounge.

For those who’ve experienced the other end of the plane, the first thing to marvel at on board is the fact that you’ve got four windows all to yourself. Your seat—if you insist on degrading it by simply calling it “a seat”—is the ultimate relaxation chamber. Because doors are boring, Air France introduced thick, floor-to-ceiling curtains, which only intensify the feeling that you’re in a chic Parisian bedroom, rather than a plane. It comes as no surprise that the airline who once operated the Concorde would have such a chic first-class product both on the ground and in the air. In fact, the truly indulgent can even reserve all four suites in the first-class cabin for private use, creating a long-haul private-jet experience at a fraction of the cost.

Emirates First Class Boeing 777-300ER

With virtual reality, zero-gravity seats, and fabrics inspired by Mercedes-Benz interiors, the latest first-class suites on Emirates are completely over the top. Perhaps what makes this experience so unique is the sheer notion that the middle seat is actually the best seat. For the new Boeing 777-300ER, Emirates offers two rows with three suites across, rather than the traditional four. To make sure that the middle seat passengers weren’t missing out, Emirates created virtual reality “windows,” which show the scenes going on outside in HD clarity. After a few glasses from the airline’s $500-million wine cellar, including cult favorites like Château Mouton Rothschild 2004, no one would hold it against you for believing you’re in an actual window seat.

Emirates also commissioned top space engineers to create a zero-gravity position in the first-class seat, so you can feel as if you're floating through the skies. And with a seat that comfortable, who wants to get up to flag down a refill? Emirates created a FaceTime-style setup, where you can video chat with the crew to make any requests.

Passengers can adjust their personal lighting according to their mood and even control the temperature within the suite. They’ve also upgraded the TVs to 32-inch HD monitors, while also introducing the only floor-to-ceiling privacy doors found in the sky. Resting comes easy with a flat bed and goodies like leather-bound journals, Byredo eye cream, chamomile sleep oil, pillow mist, and an en-suite (non-alcoholic) minibar with soft drinks, mints, and snacks. In fact, there are so many gifts for first-class fliers that flight attendants present amenities like pajamas designed to prevent skin dehydration thanks to shea butter and Argan oil within the fabric, slippers, and deluxe amenity kits in a keepsake bag.

The only things missing on the Boeing 777 are the famous in-flight showers, bar, and lounge available on the A380. Luckily, Emirates’s first-class lounge in Dubai makes up for it with its dedicated Moët and Chandon bar, lavish shower suites, and an a la carte menu that includes a growing number of vegan and gluten-free selections. More decadent choices include char-grilled Wagyu burgers, 72-hour braised beef short ribs, and foie gras terrine. Even better, the airline has beefed up the amount of top-shelf Champagne and caviar it brings on-board for first class passengers to allow them to have second and even third helpings, should they wish.

All Nippon Airways First Class Boeing 777-300ER

ANA’s first-class airplane seats, dubbed The Suites, feature fully-closing doors and perhaps the widest entertainment screens flying today at 42 inches. Japanese hospitality is on full display with top-ups of high-caliber Champagne setting the tone for the flight. There’s also a lengthy list of sakes, shōchū, and plum wine to choose from too. Need something from a flight attendant? You won’t wait more than 15 seconds after ringing the call bell, and it will be delivered with traditional precision the carrier is known for. Japanese omakase or Western menus allow fliers to mix and match their above-the-clouds meals, and a companion can join using the ottoman as a second seat.

Everything is designed for easy access, like an individual coat closet should you need to reach for something mid-flight, and electronic window blinds that close at the touch of a button. There’s another noteworthy seat aboard, too: The aircraft features bidet toilets in the lavatory. Free Internet is the cherry on top because, these days, who can afford being disconnected while crisscrossing the globe?

Lufthansa First Class Boeing 747-8

Sleek cabins, ever-efficient German service, and luxury car transfers to the plane earn Lufthansa top marks for first class. But it’s the little details that make Lufthansa so special, such as an elegant fresh rose at each seat, plush pajamas tied with a ribbon, designer amenity kits stuffed with cologne, automatically controlled window blinds, and private storage closets for carry-on and garment bags.

Excellent bedding assures a comfortable rest, but for those that want to work, free Internet is a welcome perk. Dining is a multi-course affair with some courses plated at your seat like heaping helpings of caviar and a lovely after-dinner cheese cart.

There are no privacy doors guarding each seat, but the airline installed special carpeting to dampen the sound of foot traffic (there’s hardly any in first class anyway). Slightly delayed, but coming in 2024 is a new first class product aboard the Airbus A350 that will feature sliding doors and walls that stretch to the ceiling.

In its Frankfurt hub, first-class fliers may never set foot in the main airport terminal either. Instead, a private building with a restaurant, napping rooms, shower suites, a cigar bar, and even dedicated security and immigration await. It feels more like flying private, and that’s extra special on one of the last few airlines to fly the 747 jumbo-jet, a.k.a. the queen of the skies.

Qantas First Class Airbus A380

The return of the double-decker Airbus A380 for Qantas flights between Australia and other parts of the globe highlights the tremendous demand for post-pandemic flights Down Under. This includes seats in its celebrated first-class cabin, which wins customer accolades for its airport lounge experiences with restaurant and complimentary spa services, on-board dining (including numerous plant-based options), and comfortable bed with companion seat for dining.

However, there is room for improvement: The airline could add on-board Wi-Fi to the A380 and create more privacy between seats with a door). Luckily, this is all in the works for its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on the way by the end of 2025. These will have both a lie-flat bed and a separate seat in a private cabin with a door, plus on-board Wi-Fi. The airline plans to use these planes on its Project Sunrise flights (ultra-long-haul, nonstop services between Australia and places like New York and London). With enough time to eat, sleep, and be entertained, the privacy and service will give Qantas an edge that is hard to beat.


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