What it’s like flying First Class and Business Class in the current climate.
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On many full-service airlines, flying First Class or Business Class is often considered the epitome of luxury travel as far as commercial flights go. Spacious and plush seats, upgraded meals, and even well-appointed restrooms or showers are the perks enjoyed by those living the high life up in the air. These days, not many of us are able to get on an airplane to go anywhere save for domestic flights - and even then, it is subject to restrictions imposed by the government based on the COVID-19 situation in any country. Most of us are just dreaming of the day when we can get onboard and fly off to that must-go place on our bucket list. Well, if we’re going to dream a little dream, we might as well dream big! Check out these First Class or Business Class seats and suites to aspire to one day when we can travel in style.
This airline based in the United Arab Emirates has always been associated with luxury and extravagance, embodying the best of air travel for many travel enthusiasts. The first airline in the world to offer suites with fully-enclosed floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, the perks provided doesn’t stop at just full privacy for First Class passengers. Each suite is spacious and fitted with a large screen television, soft beds that can be set to a NASA-inspired ‘zero-gravity’ position for that feeling of weightlessness, passenger-controlled lighting and temperature, and Bvlgari-branded amenity kits for you to use in the onboard shower. For drinks or a bite to eat, passengers may enjoy meals at the onboard lounge and sip at the cocktail bar, or have delicious gourmet meals delivered to their suite, of course. Recently awarded ‘Best Airline Worldwide’ , ‘Airline with the Best First Class’ , ‘Airline with the Best Cabin Crew’ and ‘Best Airport Lounge in the Middle East’ at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2020 in November, the airline continues to deliver the best while also keeping on top of COVID-19 pre-emptive measures during this time of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
A passenger flying on All Nippon Airways (ANA) can always expect that renowned Japanese hospitality, no matter which class you’re flying in. More so if you’re flying in Business Class, or in an ANA First Class seat, known as ‘The Suite.’ Based on designs found in luxury Japanese hotels, renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma worked with London-based Acumen Design Associates to create a well-tailored space that includes a comfortable seat that fully reclines into a flatbed, with a 43-inch entertainment screen, and doors that close off the suite so that you can watch movies and have your meals in private. However, adjacent seats in the middle aisle do have the option of the centre partition being brought down for those travelling with a friend or partner. Meanwhile, small yet useful touches include power charging ports for your gadgets, and a nifty “closet” rack to hang your jacket, keeping it wrinkle-free.
With six private suites in a 1-1 configuration, this Southeast Asian airliner goes beyond First Class as it dedicates more to space for the leisure of passengers, rather than packing on the pax. Passengers booked into the Suites on SIA’s new Airbus A380 are welcomed with a swivelling and reclining Poltrona Frau leather chair as well as a separate bed, which can be converted into a double bed with two suite bookings. For privacy, doors slide to close, and a personal tablet is provided to set the mood in your suite for a few wholesome hours of rest, or viewing of the latest movies on the 32-inch touchscreen monitor. Passengers can also “book the chef” in advance and request for top dishes from a huge menu tailored exclusively for SIA’s first-class passengers. Meanwhile, the luxury experience extends to the toiletries by Lalique, to be used in the spacious restrooms where you can freshen up before touching down.
Etihad is known for famously naming their lavish first-class suites ‘Apartments’ and ‘The Residence’ – both of which are at two different levels of availability. With a single aisle configuration, ‘Apartments’ are equipped with an armchair and a connectable 6- foot long bed. Passengers are also welcomed with a first-class meeting room/lounge, an en-suite vanity, and an onboard shower, complemented by an Acqua di Parma amenity kit and are welcome to customise their own meal with the onboard chef through the dine-on-demand menu. ‘The Residence’ , on the other hand, consists of a living room, a separate bedroom, a personal shower and comes complete with a butler service! Your actual seat in the living room is a leather double seat sofa facing a 32-inch inflight monitor. When you book The Residence, there’s nothing left to worry about as everything from booking the limousine to escorting you to your private lounge is fully covered by the Etihad VIP Travel Concierge.
Another South-Eastern gem, Thai Airways is well-regarded for their welcoming hospitality. Starting at the airport, passengers who book First Class seats are greeted with buggy service and a complimentary 60-minute massage. Onboard, with partitions on the aisle-side of the seats, passengers can stretch out and get a good rest, their feet on the provided ottoman while watching a movie or listening to soothing music from the entertainment console. and a small closet with a mirror to stow jackets and dresses. Aside from being provided with two comfy pillows and a thick, cosy blanket, passengers are also given Rimowa amenity kits and a box of chocolates to enjoy inflight.
For short-haul flights within Southeast Asia, Malindo Air provides quite the value with their Business Class seats. Passengers enjoy more space and comfort with the full leather seats that can be reclined, with a glorious 45 inches of legroom. Meanwhile, those who prefer to work on long flights can plug their gadgets into the power supply sockets and peruse the free Wi-Fi connectivity. When it’s time for a bite, passengers will get to enjoy exclusively designed signature dishes created by the chef. Business Class ticket holders of this airline also enjoy a smoother check-in process at Malindo’s exclusive check-in lounge, touch-screen tablets for the latest in entertainment, and a baggage allowance of 40kgs.
AirAsia may be a low-cost carrier but for certain, long-haul routes their sister company AirAsia X offers Premium Flatbed seats that are akin to Business Class seats on other airlines. Located in the front section of its aircraft, the spacious seats can fully recline into a flatbed for the ultimate comfort, say for a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hawaii, or maybe to Saudi Arabia. This is available on flights with their Airbus A330. Not just spacious - at a 20-inch width, 60-inch pitch and 77-inch length in full recline position - the seats are also equipped with universal power sockets to plug in your gadgets as well as an entertainment screen that is not available for Economy seats; pillows and duvets available upon request; and a privacy screen can be pulled up as a shield if you happen to be seated next to a stranger. For passengers departing from Kuala Lumpur, complimentary use of the AirAsia Premium Red Lounge is also included, so you can wait for your flight at leisure.
From virtual residences in the sky to premium upgrades on budget carriers, there does seem to be a wide variety of Business Class, First Class and Suites to choose from when booking flights. It all just depends on how much you’re willing to spend. Although in the current climate we’re not likely to be flying as much as before, it’s always nice to #dreamnowtravellater and with the steep discounts offered by the airlines, it might just pay to book early to get that premium seat at a fraction of its usual price!