by John Webber
Flying First Class is indeed a world apart from the crowded masses back in Coach, but some airlines are taking the experience far above and beyond extra legroom and fine food. These five carriers offer full suites, not just seats, with amenities and finishes that rival even the most exclusive hotels—a welcome glass of vintage Dom Pérignon upon seating, a five-course meal curated by the world’s best chefs (like Régis Marcon and Joël Robuchon), a pullout bed complete with Egyptian cotton sheets and even silk cotton pajamas to ensure a restful night’s sleep. If you are dreaming of flying like a Saudi Prince, have an exuberant number of miles to use, or find yourself planning the trip of a lifetime, check out what life is like inside these ultra-swanky suites.
The suites, which are designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste, and are available on flights from New York City to Singapore, feature a private sliding door, a leather armchair, a private bed, and a 23-inch LCD screen with more than 1,000 entertainment choices, from TV and film to music and apps. And the culinary options are impressive: poached lobster and seared filet mignon served with Dom Pérignon Champagne. Plus, Singapore has a unique “book the cook” menu, which lets guests pre-order any dish they want from the airline’s collection of chefs. In addition, every suite passenger receives a bag with Ferragamo goodies for freshening up, complimentary pajamas, and a robe.
If you’ve got an extra $8,000 for your round-trip flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi, book one of Etihad Airway’s coveted Residences. Each suite features a living room outfitted with a soft leather sofa, two dining tables, and a 32-inch flat-screen TV. Connected by a short hallway is the bedroom—a cozy private room with a double bed outfitted with soft Italian linens. The biggest draw for many isn’t the private bedroom, the couches, or the “Lobby”—which is open to all guests on the upper deck and features all-you-can-drink Champagne, gourmet snacks, and Wi-Fi—it’s the private en suite shower. Since many of the routes are more than 12 hours, the shower gives fliers a chance to freshen up before landing. The toiletries are Bergamote 22 and were created specially for the airline.
The new suite cabin, dubbed La Première, features four privately enclosed suites decorated in muted grays and soft beige. Each suite has a large seat that turns into a 6.5-foot-by-30-inch-wide bed featuring a surprisingly plush mattress and duvet designed by Sofitel. The 24-inch TV features more than 1,000 hours of on-demand programming, there’s complimentary Wi-Fi, and there’s a dining room table to enjoy a meal prepared by Michelin-star chef and TV personality Daniel Boulud. The collection of gourmet fare offers guests a chance to dine on Champagne foie gras, shrimp poached in a luscious cream sauce, and pan-seared tournedos of beef, and enjoy a thoughtfully curated wine menu with offerings from Burgundy and Bordeaux. The cabins also feature a “special of the day” that’s created by other well-known chefs, like Joël Robuchon.
Their exceptional service starts at the airport’s First Class Lounge and proceeds onboard to their large airline suites, or “jumbo-pods” which are designed by Australian design legend Marc Newson. It has a pullout bed, luxurious amenity kit, a 17-inch private television, an ottoman and a pullout table. When it is time to sleep, the Bedding Down service provides pillows, blankets, a duvet, and a sheepskin mattress for extra comfort. Each pod receives dedicated service around the clock and Champagne (like vintage bottles of Veuve Clicquot or Tattinger) is free-flowing, and delicious canapés (like lobster puffs and caviar) are served at takeoff. The menu is globally inspired, with dishes like spicy curry laksa, or their award-winning steak sandwich with tomato relish.
In the Emirates first-class suite, the cabin door, TV, lamps, and accessories are all plated with gold, and it features its own minibar offering a selection of top-shelf liquor, Champagne, wine, and beer. The dining menu is definitely one of the most expansive in the air—with options for every diet, including vegetarian options and even vegan entrées on request. Favorites include fresh lemon thyme scallops, grilled aubergine and mozzarella, warm cream of mushroom soup, and crispy fried egg noodle salad. One of the newest amenities (on their A380s) is the shower spa, which has a selection of Bvlgari toiletries, a large shower, and a marble sink with a vanity mirror.
“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” @wbbrjp