Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (June 19, 2017): Top 10 world’s best airlines for longhaul Business Class.
Each year, I give a round-up of my favorite 10 Business Class products in the world. Flying Business Class is purely aspirational for most, a lifetime experience for some (I belong to this category), and a must for a select few. With Business Class, the journey itself becomes a fun experience: there is no waiting in line or hassling at the airport, you get access to upscale airport lounges, you will interact with attentive personnel, gourmet food and wine will treat all your senses, and a comfortable flat-bed guarantees total relaxation. But which airline has the best Business Class cabin and product? I hereby present you my selection of the top 10 best Business Class cabins of 2017 (reflecting my own personal taste).
There is more information (with several trip reports & Youtube clips) below my slideshow. Think I missed one? Leave a comment, or take the poll below!
When Finnair became the European launch customer of the next-generation Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide body) aircraft two years ago, it put a lot of effort in the cabin design of its new flagship longhaul Business Class product and collaborated with top Helsinki firm dSign Vertti Kivi & Co. The A350’s bright and spacious Business Class cabin features 46 seats in a 1-2-1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access to all passengers. The Zodiac Cirrus III seats convert to fully flat beds, while a large touch-screen inflight entertainment system comes programmed with films, TV shows, music and other digital content on demand in numerous languages. An exquisite new A350 signature menu features Nordic delicacies and carefully selected wines. A very nice touch is that Finnair offers free WiFi to all Business Class passengers on its A350 planes. In addition, there’s a dedicated Ladies’ Room that provides cosmetics and other supplies for female passengers. When you book a flight on Finnair, keep in mind that its A330 planes have a less impressive Business Class product, although they still features fully flat seats.
- Official website: Finnair
- Review: read here my review of Finnair’s Business Class in an Airbus A350 XWB.
- Review: read here and here my reviews of Finnair’s Business Class in an Airbus A330.
It is pretty fashionable to complain about American carriers, especially about the service they deliver onboard, which – there is no denying it – is inferior to that of their non-American competitors. However, that may no longer be true, now that United Airlines unveiled its all-new United Polaris Business Class, the airline’s most significant product transformation in more than a decade, featuring a reimagined, sleep-enhancing, departure-to-landing experience for intercontinental travelers. Named after the North Star, United Polaris is the shining new star of Business Class travel that flyers can turn to for a tranquil and restful journey. Crafted as individual, forward-facing, suite-like pods, each customer’s personal suite will feature a ‘do not disturb” sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, several storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, a high-definition entertainment screen, direct access to the aisle, 180-degree flat-bed recline and, for seats in the center of the cabin, electronic privacy dividers. In rethinking the international Business Class experience, United conducted more than 12,000 hours of research.
- Official website: United Airlines
- Review: read here my review of United’s Polaris Business Class in a Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of United’s domestic Business Class in a Boeing 777-200.
Swiss International Air Lines is the pride of the Lufthansa group, which also manages Lufthansa itself, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, and Austrian Airlines. The airline revamped its Business Class a couple of years ago, and it is easy to see why the new product was instantly loved by passengers and copied by many airlines (such as Finnair, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines). The Swiss Business Class seat has a built-in power outlet (that is multi-national when it comes to plug formats), cubbyholes for shoes, and a small countertop to put things on when the tray is not extended. The seat itself turns into a 78-inch/2-meter flatbed that lowers into a space carved out for it in the seat in front (foot space is not generous though). The seat’s integrated massage function will pamper you en route. Food on Swiss is very good, and clearly a step up compared to most other airlines. SWISS recently added the Boeing 777-300ER to its fleet, and for the occasion, a newly designed cabin interior for its flagship aircraft was introduced, offering top comfort and visual appeal in all three classes, with the 62 lie-flat Business Class seats being an enhanced and refined version of the SWISS seat concept.
- Official website: Swiss International Air Lines
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in an Airbus A340.
- Review: read here my review of Swiss’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
Austrian Airlines’ small fleet of Boeing 777 and 767 airplanes underwent a revamp of their Business Class product a couple of years ago. The red-blue color scheme makes for a nice cabin, there are comfy blankets and a brilliant Viennese coffee menu on board, and the seats – identical to the ones of Swiss described above – can be adjusted for softness and of course go fully lie-flat, which is great for sleeping. But what really sets Austrian Airlines apart – among all airlines – is its onboard food. With the award-winning company DO&CO, Austrian has chosen a partner that creates airline foods using only fresh raw ingredients. DO & CO has succeeded in improving the reputation of in-flight meals by offering exclusively homemade food. On board Austrian’s long-haul Business Class, a qualified chef from Austrian’s catering partner DO & CO accompanies the crew, who takes the passengers’ orders and also serves freshly prepared meals which are currently – IMHO – the best you will have in the skies.
- Official website: Austrian Airlines
- Review: read here my review of Austrian Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-200.
The success of Emirates’ Business Class product is very much based on the comfort and space of its Airbus A380 fleet, and that’s why the mega plane is quickly being rolled out on all the major international routes. The window Business Class seats are perfect for solo travellers, while the dual and more intimate seats in the centre of the cabin are perfect for partners travelling together. Mammoth amenity kits, a huge entertainment selection played on the private screen, and a roomy and well-appointed bar on the upper deck makes flying Emirates quite an event, and in addition, the ground service matches the flying experience (e.g. chauffeur service, a gigantic Dubai lounge). Lie-flat Business Class seats are available on all Emirates A380 aircraft, and most Boeing 777 aircraft, but unfortunately, Business Class cabins on other aircraft offer only deeply-reclining comfort or spacious sleeperettes.
- Official website: Emirates
- Review: read here and here my reviews of Emirates’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
- Review: read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-200LR.
Business Class seats on selected Japan Airlines planes are named JAL Sky Suites, since each seat is located in its own private space, while still offering unimpeded aisle access to minimize disturbances. Each seats comes with a retractable privacy partition (which can be lowered when you are traveling with a companion), ample storage space beneath an ottoman, and a 23-inch (58 cm) LCD monitor (one of the largest in its class). Comfortable bedding is offered as well, consisting of a highly resilient airweave mattress and pillow, which will send you off to dreamland even if you are like me and have trouble falling asleep on a plane. On top of that, JAL offers some of the finest Business Class food in the sky, with both Western and Japanese menus created by chefs that are working in leading restaurants around the world. You can order in-flight meals from an a la carte menu by tapping a liquid-crystal touch-panel controller, in any order, at any time, and as often as you wish.
- Official website: Japan Airlines
- Review: read here my review of Japan Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
Cathay Pacific offers a consistent and solid product when it comes to flying Business Class. The carrier’s Business Class features a flat-bed that is just over 82 inches or 2 meters long. A bed extension increases its width by 6.5 inches or 16.5 cm to provide additional hip support, while the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side. For sleeping, you may choose to leave your armrest up for more privacy, or down for more space. In fact, Cathay’s business seat is identical to the one installed on American Airlines, Eva Air, Finnair, and Air France, but Cathay deserves to take the top spot for their difference in customer service, impressive lounges, cabin crew training, and award-winning cuisine, whilst ensuring their price point still remains competitive. Keep in mind that Cathay’s top-notch Business Class product is not available on some B777 planes with a regional configuration, so plan your travels accordingly.
- Official website: Cathay Pacific
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
- Review: read here my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A350.
Business Class with the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates is not business as usual. The Business Studios on Etihad’s A380 and 787 Dreamliner can be customised to suit every stage of the journey and are the embodiment of style, simplicity and functionality. The Business Studio has a unique dovetail design with forward and rear facing seats that creates a sense of space and freedom, with direct aisle access and convenient storage spaces. Upholstered by Poltrona Frau, the 22-inch (56 cm) wide seat converts into a comfortable fully-flat bed of up to 6 feet and 8 inches (203 cm). The Business Studio offers a space for everything, including a concealed storage, a meal table and a separate large side table that can be used for laptops and other personal belongings when you are dining. Located between First and Business Class, there’s also a lounge on the A380 that seats up to six guests and is fitted with seatbelts, power supply and connectivity ports. Unfortunately, Etihad Airways’ A330, A320 and B777 planes feature a less glamorous Business Class product.
- Official website: Etihad Airways
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777.
A couple of years ago, Qatar Airways introduced a stunning Business Class seat on its Boeing 787, A350 and A380 fleet, raising the bar for all of its competitors. And the carrier – which is currently facing difficulties following a severe diplomatic crisis in the Middle East – is now taking its Business Class product to a new, unprecedented level. The so-called ‘QSuite’ features the industry’s first-ever double bed available in Business Class, with privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the centre four seats allow colleagues, friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialize together. Each seat is crafted with thoughtful and luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing, bringing an unprecedented level of luxury, privacy and style to Qatar Airways’ Business Class offering. To further complement the customisable on-board seating experience that passengers will now enjoy, Qatar Airways is also launching a new food and beverage concept, introducing a menu that offers a host of new dining choices. The new QSuite concept is currently retrofitted on to the existing Qatar Airways B777 and A350 fleet at an estimated rate of one aircraft a month.
- Official website: Qatar Airways
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Dreamliner.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in an A330.
Singapore Airlines has always been synonymous with lavishing luxury in the skies. And they do not fail to impress. With their width of 30 inch or 75 cm, their Business Class seats on the A350 and B777 aircraft are the widest in the world (too wide for comfort, according to some). The unrivalled space between each seat, providing you direct access to the aisle, is a hallmark of the unique 1-2-1 forward facing cabin layout. Featuring a dedicated sleeping surface for added comfort, the seat is designed to accommodate virtually any sleeping position. Designed by JPA and introduced in 2013 on their Boeing 777-300ER and A350, the new Business Class seat – albeit somewhat more narrow – is even better than the previous incarnation of the seat. With Singapore Airlines, you will also enjoy a fine restaurant-style setting and culinary service at 30,000 feet. Each menu, specially created by an International Culinary Panel of celebrated chefs from around the globe, is sure to appeal to the discerning epicure within you. Singapore Airlines makes Business Class look First Class.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ A350 Business Class.