Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today: Top 10 world’s best airlines for longhaul First Class
Each year, I share on my travel blog a selection of the 10 best airlines in the world for flying First Class. Unfortunately, First Class is a slowly dying breed since more and more airlines are dropping their most luxurious cabin in favor of an improved and competitive Business Class. These days, First Class is only offered on selected ‘high-yield’ routes with heavy business traffic and enough people willing to pay for the privilege (e.g. New York to London or Singapore to Paris). First Class is, among other things, known for excellent ground service (with limo transfers & dedicated lounges), lie-flat seats (with superb bedding), personalized onboard service, as well as superlative meal service (with high-quality champagne & caviar).
There is more information (with reviews and YouTube videos) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Leave a comment.
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10. JAPAN AIRLINES
Japan Airlines’ First Class passengers can indulge in all the warmth and graciousness for which Japan is renowned. The semi-enclosed suite onboard the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet features a woodgrain interior, creating the feel of an at-home library with smartly placed furniture of subdued tones. Everything is inside the console, including a storage compartment, controller for inflight entertainment, a laptop power brick, and a 23 inch personal entertainment screen. Passengers rest comfortably on airweave bedding that allows them to drift off into the perfect sleep. Far away one of the classiest of its kind, Japan Airline’s First Class dining sets a high standard with tempting menus, featuring both Western and Japanese cuisine.
- Official website: Japan Airlines
9. SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES
Switzerland’s national carrier offers eight spacious, fully enclosed First Class suites nestled into the nose of its Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330 planes. Each suite exudes a warm ‘color and materials’ palette of browns, greys and accents of European oak wood, while soft walls, woven fabric bulkheads and curtain screens help dampen noise in the cabin. Passengers can use the electric-mechanical window blinds on all three windows in their suite simultaneously. On the carrier’s Boeing 777, each passenger has a personal wardrobe and a sliding door, which creates a partition between the seat and the aisle to offer greater privacy. And onboard entertainment is a pure delight thanks to the 32 inch video screen.
- Official website: Swiss International Air Lines
- Review: read my review of Swiss’ First Class in an Airbus A330 here.
Most of Lufthansa’s longhaul aircraft feature 8 generously sized and individually adjustable First Class seats. When you want to sit back and relax, the seat’s independently adjustable backrest and footrest and the moveable ottoman provide the greatest comfort. On request a flight attendant will transform the seat into a super-comfy bed with mattress topper and temperature-regulating duvet. Although there are now newer and visually more striking First Class products available, Lufthansa’s First Class remains one of the most sought-after experiences in the skies, mainly because of the flawless service, delicious food, extremely comfortable bedding, and exceptional First Class lounges (when traveling via its hubs in Frankfurt and Münich).
- Official website: Lufthansa
- Review: read my review of Lufthansa’s First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
7. QATAR AIRWAYS
The First Class cabin on Qatar Airways’ A380 subfleet – which comprises only 10 aircraft – features ultra-wide seats tailored in the softest fabric and with signature design elements. Central and aisle dividers afford more privacy, which can be raised or lowered to provide a feeling of extra spaciousness when traveling with a companion. It is a flexible space: the seat automatically reclines into a fully flat-bed, or the table can be extended to allow two people to dine in style. Sleeper suits, flight slippers, amenities from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, and Qatar Airways’ stellar onboard service add extra touches of First Class luxury.
- Official website: Qatar Airways
- Review: read my review of Qatar Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
6. GARUDA INDONESIA
Inside Garuda Indonesia’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, eight luxurious private suites with a 1-2-1 configuration await First Class passengers. The exquisitely designed suites are peaceful sanctuaries that will make you forget that you are sailing high above the clouds. The wide suites are equipped with an ottoman and the ergonomic seats turn into luxurious full-flat beds (with mattress, duvet, and pillows). Let’s not forget the dining options that Garuda Indonesia offers: First Class passengers enjoy the finest culinary delights, served by onboard chefs and handpicked from world-renowned restaurants. Unfortunately, Garuda Indonesia keeps cutting the routes that feature this exclusive product.
- Official website: Garuda Indonesia
5. AIR FRANCE
Air France’s La Première cabin on board its long-haul Boeing 777-300ER fleet features just one row of 4 individual suites in a 1-2-1 layout. Each “haute couture” suite is dressed with thick curtains, held back with leather tiebacks, enabling the passenger to decide whether to be totally isolated or just partially. The suite features a seat that reclines into a bed stretching 2 m (6.5 ft) long and 77 cm (30 inch) across, one of the most spacious beds in the sky. Opposite the seat, an ottoman can be converted into an extra seat, enabling the passenger to invite a guest for dinner or simply for a conversation. Each First Class passenger also has a personal 24-inch HD touch screen.
- Official website: Air France
4. ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways outclassed all its competitors in 2014 by pushing luxury to a sky-high new level and beyond First Class with its ‘First Apartments’ concept on board its (small fleet of) Airbus A380 superjumbos. More than just a seat, the First Apartment has a large leather armchair and separate bed of 208 cm (6 feet and 10 inches). There is even space to walk around after closing the privacy doors. Six of the First Apartments are interconnecting, perfect for when you’re travelling with a companion. Alternatively you might want to invite a travelling partner from First Class to join you in your apartment for a meal or a meeting. Passengers can freshen up in the bathroom with an energizing shower using exclusive amenities, before landing. Unfortunately, Etihad has (temporarily) grounded its A380s during the pandemic but its First Class product can still be enjoyed on a number of B787 aircraft.
- Official website: Etihad Airways
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
3. CATHAY PACIFIC
Following the spectacular refurbishment of their First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific extended the sophisticated, contemporary style into its First Class. The outer surface of the First Class Suite is a dark, high-gloss material, while inside, the side console and the interior of the seat are wrapped in natural leather with subtle linings and stitching for a clean, refined, sophisticated look. Warm-toned natural leather is used extensively on most interior surfaces of the suite for a soft, luxurious feel. The seat smoothly transforms into a fully flat-bed, and the bedding comes with high-quality fabrics for the duvets, pillows, cushions and the mattress to ensure a comfortable sleep. Cathay Pacific’s First Class service is always consistent and top-notch!
- Official website: Cathay Pacific
- Review: read my review of Cathay Pacific’s First Class in a Boeing 777 here.
Emirates’ most impressive First Class product is found on the airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft. With floor to ceiling sliding doors and sleek design features inspired by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Emirates’ B777 suites take luxury and privacy to the next level. The soft leather seat reclines into a fully flat bed and can be placed in a ‘zero-gravity’ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness. To ensure all First Class customers have a view, Emirates introduced the industry’s first virtual windows for suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time camera technology. The suites also come with a service window where customers can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed.
- Official website: Emirates
- Review: read my review of Emirates’ First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
- Review: read my review of Emirates’ First Class in a Boeing 777 here.
1. SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Singapore Airlines’ new First Class A380 cabin features 6 suites within the front cabin of the upper deck (compared to 12 suites on the lower deck of the carrier’s A380s with the old layout). Each suite comes with a separate full-flat bed with adjustable recline and plush, swivel leather chair, enabling passengers to lounge comfortably in the chair or rest in bed without the need to convert the bed from a sitting position. For couples traveling together, the beds in the first two suites of each aisle can be converted to form a double bed. Each suite also has a 32 inch full HD monitor, a full-sized personal wardrobe, specially designed carpet and a feature wall with mood lighting – all exquisitely crafted to give a touch of luxury and intimacy.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
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Reagading Lufthansa, I was surprized to note that the excellent First class lounge at Munich airport was not mentoned in your remarks that spoke of Frankfurt…
Apparently your ranking is not accurate…notice that you didd’nt flew Qatar in First for minimun one year as they change in 2017 the amenities from Armani for a less renowned italian brand but Still good by the way.
Have to agree with your number one spot. No other airline dares to offer that type or real estate on a commercial airline like Singapore Airlines. Their new first class is truly a benchmark. And the irony for those who voted for Etihad is that you can put TWO Etihad apartments into ONE Singapore Airlines Suites.
Who really cares what the contents of amenity kits are in First Class?
Thank you for amending your report, to add Munich to your comments about the lounge in Munich!
Did not have good experience LH F IAD-FRA. Incredibly disappointed. Big fan of CX F.
Problem is: You’re only regarding to SQ New Suites – what about the older Suites and most of all: The First in B777 which offer no Suite at all?
Same goes for Etihad, since a really small amount of airplanes offer the Apartment.
I also agree with above – you seem to only consider new Singapore suites and Emirates suites, and it skews your objectivity a little
My husband and i have flown with all these airlines and never been given one of these suits. I expect you would have to pay even more if you want one.
Except of course all the A380 reviews are useless as most of them will be gone soon
I also like the First class suites on the ANA B777-300ER.
In all seriousness, most of these First Class cabins look like Business class seats on other airlines. In fact SIng business class looks better (at least wider seats and larger TVs) than most of these First Class offerings. I have noticed that most of the European airlines have older planes and lesser quality offerings, whereas most of the Chinese airlines have bought newer planes and are streets ahead of the europeans.
In fact the best service I have ever enjoyed was Hainan Airways business class. It matched SIngapore First Class, which is the bench mark in my extensive experience.
Bottom line: why pay for a first class seat that is just an expensive looking business class seat on other airlines ???
This is such a great post! I’ve actually flown QATAR airlines, but some of these others look amazing – especially Air France! There is nothing better than getting to actually lay down on a long flight.
How about ANA’s new first class seat?
Like several other comments, I wonder what the Top 10 rankings would look like if you included as separate entries all the variants a given carrier might have of a F class cabin. For example, SQ new suites vs the “older” suites, or EK’s Game Changer suite vs it’s “older” suites. Not sure I am knowledgeable about variants attributable to aircraft type, but maybe add that into the mix as well. I think it makes much sense to know if flying a second-hand F cabin on a top 3 premium long-haul carrier is better than the only offering of a carrier ranked somewhere in 6-10 slot.
I care about the amenities. I just paid 20k for a plane ticket. Of course they better be top notch. I love it when my money is appreciated. Emirates is my favorite; honestly, I have not flown Singapore’s new first class.
I just wish I had experienced First Class on any of these airlines to be able to express an opinion. I have done Business Class many times over the last 30 years but never got bumped up, either on my money or the company’s.
Nice suggestions here! As travel continues to open, and becomes safer, it’s good to know which options are on the table.
How about QANTAS?
On their A380 F is a pretty good setup.
Of the airlines I have flown international first class on,
1. Cathay pacific – great lounges, impeccable in flight service. Great wide seat
2. Lufthansa – consistent personal and professional soft product on the ground and in the air.
3. Qantas – great seat, ife, and food. Amazing service when transferring to domestic and handling irrops
4. Etihad – nice enclosed suite, good service
5. American – should be out of business, at least shouldn’t pretend to offer first class
I personally like flying Delta Airlines but I wish they would go to many places I would like to visit. I always fly 1st class due mobility and for the most part the crew members are extremely friendly and helpful.after flying other airlines I will continue to fly Delta when ever possible even if it cost me an arm and leg sometimes
The configuration of Lufthansa’s First Class seats and the quality of its First Class Lounge is no better really than Singapore Airline’s Business Class seat configuration and Business Class Lounge.
No ANA? The new ANA “The Suite” is getting raves. Also many say ANA first class meals are the best they ever had on an aircraft.
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Just tried one out of the list provided here. And as per that experience, I can say that Singapore Airlines is one of the best in the world.
A nice compilation, thank you. And there will never be a US air carrier on this list.
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