This encompasses more than just cabin space and amenity kits.
Long-haul travellers can definitely appreciate exclusive airport lounges, well-equipped airports and sumptuous in-flight dining. But what makes the travelling experience all the more seamless and swanky is outstanding, first-class airline services.
A large piece of the pie in this category is taken up by cabin comfort and amenities. This encompasses more than just cabin space and amenity kits; there’s also other factors to consider including the quality of beds, seats, pillows and duvets, in-flight entertainment, wine and dine options, and not to be overlooked: privacy.
Skytrax, the world’s recognised authority on the airport industry, has rounded up the best first-class airlines fulfilling the criteria above. The awards is a result of an 11-month-long survey of international airlines, participated by passengers from over 100 nationalities.
Based on the list, here are eight of the most impressive first-class cabins in the world this year.
#8 Cathay Pacific Airways
The highlight of Cathay Pacific’s first-class cabins is hands-down the seat, fitted without sophisticated, soft leather and cosy fabrics. Not only does it transform to a wide, fully-flat bed with a thick mattress and 500-thread-count cotton duvets, pillows and cushions, it also functions as a massage chair easily controlled by a 4.3-inch touchscreen device. A spacious, private working area, a la carte dining, fine wines and digestifs, immersive in-flight entertainment as well as an Aesop amenity kit further complete its first-class package. W cathaypacific.com
Related: First Look inside Cathay Pacific’s new lounge at Hong Kong International Airport
#7 Qatar Airways
This state-owned Qatar flag carrier has often associated with first-class experiences ever since its inception in 1993. For one, its 81-inch long, 33-inch wide fully flat bed with Frette linen and an ultra comfy duvet is equal parts luxurious, elegant and comfortable. But if there’s a need to stretch your legs, the in-flight lounge offers an ideal setting to enjoy fresh food and snacks, sample signature beverages or read a book. Alternatively, the on-demand in-flight entertainment system will keep you occupied with up to 4,000 movies, TV boxsets, music, games and more. W qatarairways.com
#6 All Nippon Airways (ANA)
This Japanese airline has one of the most innovative cabin designs on this list, in our opinion. The square-shaped cabins are fitted with sliding doors to ensure privacy (do not disturb sign included), forming a personal chamber in the sky. Inside, there are several storage compartments to stow away your belongings as you keep yourself entertained with the 23-inch touch-panel LCD wide-screen monitor and digital noise-cancelling headphones. Meanwhile, you can also order sake, wine and dishes from Japanese or Western menus curated by world-class chefs. W ana.co.jp
Following the introduction of fully enclosed private suites aboard its Boeing 777 fleet, Emirates has yet again wowed the world with its new first-class experience. Each suite features lavish leather seats inspired by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, complemented with temperature controls, mood lighting, and virtual windows. Also worth mentioning is the wine cellar boasting premier Bordeaux wines, champagne and Grand Cru to match the quality of your meal. W emirates.com
(Learn more: Emirates reveals Merc-inspired First Class suites)
Europe’s largest airline takes every detail into account when it comes to its first-class services. To be specific, passengers flying from and to Munich will have the option of taking a spin in a Porsche 911 or Panamera, turning waiting time into an exhilarating experience. The cabins are no less exciting, offering seats that transform into two-metre-long beds (complete with temperature-regulating duvets!); sound insulation, screen shields, and a wide range of dining and wine options. First-class passengers will also be greeted by a personal assistant at the destination airport to ensure fuss-free travelling. W lufthansa.com
#3 Air France
First-class passengers flying via Air France have a host of luxuries to indulge in before and after their flight, but let’s focus on what happens during. In the La Premiere suite, guests are welcome to make the space their home by roaming freely around the cabin, inviting a travel companion over for a seat on their ottoman, or enjoying some privacy with the floor-to-ceiling curtains at their own seat. Speaking of, the seat transforms into a 2-metre bed with a memory foam mattress for hotel-standard sleep. Besides laying back to enjoy 1,000 hours of on-demand entertainment, passengers will also have an individual cloakroom, ample storage space, and a bedside lamp. W airfrance.my
See also: Air France takes craft cocktails to the skies
#2 Etihad Airways
With United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier, first class cabins are dubbed “First Apartments” and for good reason. Equipped with a wide armchair, a separate 6-foot 10-inch fully-flat bed and walking space after closing the private doors, there’s more than enough room even for the strictest claustrophobic. Each apartment comes with a vanity unit and lit-up mirror for all your touch-ups, as well as complimentary loungewear in the full-length wardrobe. There’s also an exclusive first-class bathroom with shower amenities to freshen up before landing. W etihad.com
#1 Singapore Airlines
There’s no doubt that our Southern neighbour is the greatest contender when it comes to anything air travel. Singapore’s Changi International Airport has been named the best airport in the world for the sixth year in the row, while its flagship carrier, Singapore Airlines tops Skytrax’s list of best first-class airlines this year. This comes after a face-lift of its Airbus A380 cabins, or more accurately, enclosed suites – featuring separate, stowable beds with Lalique duvets; a Poltrona Frau leather armchair that reclines up to 135 degrees; full-table dining with a comprehensive wine selection; and more than 1,000 entertainment options. W singaporeair.com
(Read more: Singapore Airlines’ first-class suites might as well be flying hotel rooms)
Images: Courtesy of respective airlines