While a lot of people browse the web for the best travel deals, hoping to fly from point A to B for the lowest price as possible, there are those that are willing to spend whatever it takes to fly in style. Forget worrying about having enough leg room, the privileged passengers who have access to the world’s best airline cabins only need to worry about what their private chefs will whip-up for dinner or how to avoid a Champagne hangover upon arrival.
Etihad Airways will launch its new first-class luxury suite this December. Named The Residence, the high-end experience will be available to passengers boarding the airline’s A380 aircraft. Designed for up to two guests traveling together, The Residence is the only three-room suite available in the sky, boasting a living room featuring a 32-inch flat screen TV and a leather sofa as well as a bedroom equipped with Egyptian cotton sheets and a private bathroom with a shower.
Etihad is one of several airlines raising the bar when it comes to defining what it means to travel first class. As the standards for in-flight luxury amenities increase, we take a look at the world’s most expensive first class seats and the perks that go along with the hefty price tags.
8 Qantas: $14,974
True to its Australian roots, the airline’s first-class seats transforms into a flat bed with a cozy sheepskin mattress. The individual suite also features plenty of space for your belongings and an ottoman chair. Enjoy an eight-course dinner menu put together by renowned Australian chef Neil Perry and consult the Sommelier in the Sky for suggestions on wine and Champagne pairings.
The airline won the Best First Class Sparkling, Best Presented First Class Wine List and Best Overall Cellar at the Cellars in the Sky Awards 2012. A Los Angeles to Melbourne first-class ticket can cost over $14,974.
7 Singapore Airlines: $18,400
Engineer Derek Low’s blog post about his experience traveling first-class on the Singapore Airline’s A380 aircraft went viral due to it's vivid description of what a luxury airline ticket can get you.
The minute he got to the airport, he checked in at a luxurious lounge that looked like a hotel lobby. Once on the plane, he took pictures of every luxe detail available to him, from the Givenchy bedding and pajamas to the Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit and from the five-course dinner to the luxury double bed. There were also plenty of opportunities to enjoy 2004 Dom Pérignon champagne. Low’s ticket from Singapore to New York cost him $18,400 (in accumulated air miles!).
6 Virgin Atlantic: $21,000
The airline’s newest Upper Class Suite has a lounge atmosphere, complete with dimmed purple lighting and Swarovski crystal accents. Grab drinks and socialize with other elite passengers at the on-board bar, which is separate from the rest of the cabin.
Whether you're there to work through the flight or have a good time, you can adjust the lighting of your suite to match your mood thanks to the mood lighting system. Stay in touch with people on the ground with the AeroMobile feature that allows you to send and receive calls and texts from your own cell phone. A first-class flight from New York to Singapore can cost $21,000 and up.
5 Japan Airlines: $24,000
Available on international flights, the Japan Airlines first class cabin features the JAL Suite, an individual compartment with a classy wood grain interior in which your seat transforms into a bed when you're ready to doze-off. The pillow and bedding are designed to maintain your body in an ideal seated or lying position, but if you do get achy you can request a bamboo massage stick for the soles of your feet or a portable air-massaging device.
Japan Airlines has its own high-end restaurant: the Jal Bedd Sky Auberge. Choose between traditional Japanese dishes or Western cuisine concocted by Michelin-starred chefs. A first-class ticket from Los Angeles to Paris can cost $24,000 and more.
4 Cathay Pacific: $25,000
Caviar breakfast, anyone? The airline recently upgraded its first class pods to include a thick mattress that will make you forget that you're on a plane - especially once you slip into the organic cotton pajamas provided. You will be served an array of Hong Kong dishes made in the state-of-the-art kitchen featuring rice cookers and steam ovens. Pamper yourself with a personal amenity kit signed by Ermenegildo Zegna for the men and Trussardi for the ladies. A first-class ticket from Hong Kong to New York can cost $25,000 and more.
3 Korean Air: $27,000
The airline’s slogan for its first class Kosmo Suites is: Find a hotel at 40,000 feet. Its compact seats recline and extend at the touch of a button and the private space can equally be transformed into a comfortable working area. Put on the Bose noise-cancelling headphones to forget about the outside world and watch a movie on your 23-inch LCD screen. Sip on Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 1998 champagne and sample Oriental dishes from the airline’s award winning menu. And for the pleasure? A first-class ticket from New York to Beijing can cost over $27,000.
2 Etihad Airways: $29,000
Even if you travel before the official December launch of Etihad’s new first-class cabin The Residence, you always have access to the ultimate in luxury when traveling first-class with the airline. Your journey will begin on the ground with a chauffeur and concierge service and access to a five-star dinner and a spa at the airport.
Then, whether you are flying in the First Suite or the First Apartment (yes, the name is self-explanatory), let yourself sink in seats made with Poltrona Frau leather upholstery. The company also makes the seats of Ferrari and Maserati cars. As for the 73-inch flat bed, it is made of all-natural materials and features a massage function. A first-class ticket from San Francisco to Singapore can cost $29,000 and up.
1 Emirates: $30,000
In the first class Emirates cabin on board of the A380, you can take a shower at 40,000ft above the ground thanks to the in-flight spa, which features a beautiful marble design and Bvlgari toiletries. Sip on a detoxifying fresh juice for an added boost, especially if you spent the flight hanging out at one of the two on-board exclusive lounges. Your first class seat is a personal suite equipped with privacy doors and mini-bar. Choose from a selection of dishes that include healthy options or traditional Arabic mezze and enjoy your food served on Royal Doulton china plates with Robert Welch cutlery. A flight from Los Angeles to Dubai can cost upwards of $30,000.