Best in Class: The World’s Best Business Class Cabins
Who hasn’t dreamed of flying first-class on an international flight? But with seats at a premium and more people flying than ever before, first-class isn’t always available. Airlines have become super savvy and are putting more money and effort into selling business class tickets over first. Why? Business class sections are bigger than first-class ones, ensuring more profit, and many passengers will pay a premium for first-class amenities (and to avoid coach). Some of today’s business class cabins rival first-class cabins of yesteryear. Here are five of the best from around the world.
Korean Air Prestige Sleeper Korean Air often tops best airline lists and with good reason. Its business class really invokes the rockstar factor. The Prestige Sleeper is a hit with passengers thanks to its dreamlike ambiance, with muted blue tones evoking a cloudless sky. Seats are nearly 22 inches wide and with more than six feet of space between rows, even the giants among us will be comfortable. And it’s a true flatbed experience, offering worlds of comfort. The food is top notch, with Asian and non-Asian options (always opt for the Asian menu). But my favorite amenity is the Celestial Bar & Lounge at the aft of the top deck. A collaboration between Korean Air and Absolut, it’s a great place to relax between meal service. A knowledgable bartender crafts signature cocktails as you recline in one of the space-agey settees, perusing a travel tome or two.
Route: LAX to ICN
Singapore Airlines Next Gen Not to be left out of any list of top Asian carriers, Singapore Airlines is also one of the best airlines in the world. And its Next Gen cabins are truly out of this world. Designed in collaboration with James Park Associates and BMW, the Next Gen cabin boasts metallic colors, a purple and white printed duvet and a curved seat exterior. With an improved recline of 132 inches (from the previous 128), you’ll feel as if you’re in the lap of luxury. Passengers also have the choice between two new sitting positions, offering optimal comfort whether working or relaxing, and listening to inflight entertainment has never been better (the headphones are massive!). The service and food are impeccable as well, with course after course served throughout the flight.
Route: LHR to SIN
Qatar Airways Dreamliner One of the newest airlines flying today, Qatar has managed to make a big impression in less than a decade of existence. Its business class cabins are top notch throughout its fleet but the Dreamliner is the best of them all. This Boeing 787 (Qatar has nine in all) features an expansive storage area, extra-wide windows and motion stabilizers so your food and computer aren’t rocking and rolling during turbulence. You get a true flatbed experience with sumptuous linens and striped slippers and an electronically dimmable window. The service is on point, natch, as is the delectable menu options (the scallop amuse bouche is my favorite). And don’t forget the courtesy limousine awaiting your arrival in Doha.
Route: ARN to DOH
Austrian Airlines Long Haul 767 European carriers have long been ahead of their American counterparts, offering service and amenities to rival Asian and Middle Eastern airlines. Austrian Airlines is often on best-of lists and its long haul 767 boasts one of the top business class experiences in the world. The cabin is split into two sections and passengers have the option of sitting in a expansive single seat next to a window and an aisle, making it feel like a first-class experience. Food and drink are served throughout the flight by an onboard chef—I think I drank a full bottle of Champagne over the course of seven hours— and seats lie fully flat. Watch a great selection of films on one of the largest TV screens of any airline. While you won’t get onboard pajamas, the entire experience is thoroughly relaxing.
Route: IAD to VIE
Virgin Atlantic New Upper Class Richard Branson is a marketing genius and he gets more accolades for his stellar Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin. Passengers are pampered the minute they leave for the airport in a chauffered limousine. Upon arrival, guests are whisked through security and into another world. The business class cabin features chocolate leather seats that are one of the longest and widest in the world—even Lebron would feel comfortable! Seats lie perpendicular to the window so you’ll never bump into another passenger on the way to the lavatory. And the onboard bar, one of the chicest of any carrier, boasts stellar cocktails and conversation during any long haul flight.
Route: JFK to LHR