Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (April 8, 2019): 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, and a must for a select few. With Business Class, the journey itself becomes a fun experience: you don’t have to wait in line at the airport; you get access to airport lounges; you interact with attentive personnel; you are treated to gourmet food and quality wines; and you can sleep in a comfortable flat-bed for total relaxation. But which airline has the best Business Class cabin product anno 2019? I hereby present you my selection of the top 10 best Business Class cabins of 2019 (reflecting my own personal taste).
There is more information (with trip reports & Youtube clips) below my slideshow. Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!
While British Airways’ Business Class (dubbed Club World) raised the bar worldwide two decades ago with the introduction of the first fully lie-flat seat and an innovative “Ying/Yang” seat plan, the seat concept itself is now dated and outclassed by some of its competitors. So you would not expect British Airways to end up in a top 10 list like this one, but it remains one of my preferred airlines for longhaul travel, because the product is consistent across its wide-body fleet and the seat is extremely private (as long as you don’t end up along the aisle). And as I recently experienced myself, British Airways dramatically increased its onboard experience over the past year, with improved catering (from DO&CO), excellent bedding, and stylish amenity kits, which rivals the best in the skies. In July, the airline will also introduce a new suite concept onboard its A350 planes, with direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens, and 40 % more storage space per seat (including a vanity unit and mirror).
- Official website: British Airways.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 747-400.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
- Review: read here my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
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 rolled out on all major international routes of the Dubai based carrier. With a staggered 1–2–1 configuration in Business Class, each passenger is assured of direct aisle access and a significant amount of privacy. The window Business Class seats are perfect for solo travelers, while the dual and more intimate seats in the center of the cabin are perfect for partners traveling together. Mammoth amenity kits, a huge inflight entertainment selection, and a roomy and well-appointed bar on the upper deck makes flying Emirates’ A380 quite an event, and in addition, the ground service matches the flying experience (e.g. chauffeur service, a gigantic Dubai lounge). Unfortunately, the Business Class cabins in most of Emirates’ Boeing 777s are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration (with no direct aisle acces for all passengers), which is significantly inferior to the one offered on the airline’s Airbus A380 fleet.
- Official website: Emirates
- Review: read here my review 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 JAL planes are named JAL Sky Suites, since each seat is located in its own private space. The seats come with retractable privacy partitions (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 have trouble falling asleep on a plane. In 2017, JAL began outfitting its B787-9s with a new version of the suite, the so called JAL Sky Suite III which are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, providing all passengers with direct aisle access. On top of that, JAL offers some of the finest Business Class food in the skies, 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.
Taiwan based EVA Air calls its international Business class ‘Royal Laurel Class’, providing passengers with comfortable sleeping space for a sufficient rest that is free from disturbances. The seats in Royal Laurel Class onboard EVA’s B777s and B787s are configured in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 layout that maximizes space. Privacy is assured through fixed panels that help create your own personal area. At the push of a button, each seat converts into an approximately 82 inches (2 meter) long bed, enabling passengers to lie down, get comfortable and sleep on long-haul flights. Thoughtful touches include a space to hang your jacket, a shoe cabinet, a retractable armrest, and a cocktail table. This excellent Business Class product is complemented by exclusive amenity kits, noise-canceling headphones, Fiji water, mouth-watering cuisine from all over the world (ranging from luscious beef steak to delicious lobster), and the warm, friendly service EVA Air is known for. To top it all, EVA Air is one of the few airlines to offer pajamas in Business Class; loose and comfortable, these garments are perfect for slumbering on long-haul flights.
- Official website: Eva Air
Business Class on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft features 37 private suites (that convert into the length of a queen size bed) in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 cabin layout. The aisle seats face outwards towards the windows and the center two seats face inwards towards each other on a roughly 30 degree angle. Customised triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame and a turndown service with memory foam mattress toppers and high-grade cotton pillows and donnas make for a good night’s sleep on the airline’s longhaul routes from Australia to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. Virgin Australia is also the first airline to have a lounge onboard a single deck aircraft, which offers a selection of nibbles and bites, beer, wine and spirits as well as a hot beverage selection with petit fours. The carrier also offers its passengers continental breakfast at the bar prior to the full breakfast service, or the opportunity to enjoy a full breakfast at the bar rather than in the suite. A new signature service element includes cocktails and movie snack service each hour throughout the flight.
- Official website: Virgin Australia
In 2017, Delta Air Lines redefined transatlantic and transpacific Business Class travel with the introduction of a Business Class cabin that features a sliding door at each suite. The suites offer passenger a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system, and premium trim and finishes to create a comfortable, residential feel. Service in Delta One (which is how Delta calls its international Business Class cabin) includes chef-curated meals, wine pairings by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, terrific Westin in-flight bedding, TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl premium skincare, and in-flight loungewear on select flights. The Delta One suite is currently only available on Delta’s A350s and some retrofitted B777s, which flies on selected routes such as Los Angeles to Sydney or Tokyo. Delta will refurbish all eight of its 777-200ER and all ten of its 777-200LR aircraft and expects to have taken delivery of 13 A350s by the end of 2019. The bad news is that when you don’t get to fly the A350 or B777, the experience will be less than stellar.
- Official website: Delta Air Lines
- Review: read here my review of Delta’s Business Class in a Boeing 767.
Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific offers a consistent and solid Business Class product, featuring 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 Class seat is identical to the one installed on American Airlines, 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. The carrier’s newest Business Class seat is found on its A350 planes, although it is basically a refreshed design of Cathay’s ‘old’ Business Class product onboard its B777 and A330 planes. 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 A350.
- 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.
Business Class with the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates is not business as usual. The Business Studios on Etihad’s A380s and 787 Dreamliners can be customised to suit every stage of the journey and are the embodiment of style, simplicity and functionality. The cabin 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 and the carrier is facing financial challenges.
- 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.
Singapore Airlines has always been synonymous with lavishing luxury in the skies. And they do not fail to impress. With their width of 30 inches or 75 cm, the carrier’s Business Class seats on its A350 and B777 aircraft are the widest in the world (too wide for comfort, according to some). The unrivalled space between each seat is a hallmark of the four-abreast (1-2-1) configuration that offers all passengers direct access to the aisle. Designed by JPA and introduced in 2017 on their A380 aircraft, the carrier’s new Business Class seat – albeit more narrow – is even better than the previous incarnation of the seat. A large back shell on every seat creates a cocoon-like feel for more privacy while the centre divider can be fully lowered to form double beds, making the two centre seats an ideal choice for customers such as families travelling together. Singapore Airlines also offers a fine restaurant-style setting and culinary service at 30,000 feet. Each menu, specially created by a panel of celebrated chefs from around the globe, is sure to appeal to the discerning epicure within you.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A350.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A380.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
- Review: read here my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
In 2017, Qatar Airways – which is still facing challenges following a severe diplomatic crisis in the Middle East – took its Business Class product to a new, unprecedented level of luxury and style, raising the bar for all of its competitors. The so-called ‘Qsuite’ features not only Business Class suites with sliding doors for total privacy but also double beds, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the center four seats also allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a four person 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. 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 Qsuite, which makes Business Class look First Class. is only available on selected routes and aircraft (A350-1000s and some retrofitted B777s and A350-900s).
- Official website: Qatar Airways
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Qsuite Business Class in an Airbus A350.
- Review: read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 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 Airbus A330.