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Caviar, Private Rooms, and Automated Toilets: The Best First Class Plane Tickets You Can Buy

Caviar, Private Rooms, and Automated Toilets: The Best First Class Plane Tickets You Can Buy: Photo courtesy of Qantas

Photo courtesy of Qantas

While many airlines are shrinking their first class cabins or doing away with them altogether, others are doubling down both on their cabins and the amenities they offer fliers. But then there are the airlines that still want to cater to the portion of the 1% that aren’t hopping their own private jets to exotic locales. To get that clientele the Air France, Etihad and the like, have to ensconce them in luxury once they step aboard the plane. Here are the most luxe commercial flights you can buy right now.


01-Etihad

ETIHAD
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Forget a simple seat. Etihad stunned the airline industry late last year when it unveiled a new first-class experience called the Residence that includes three, yes three, rooms.

The most exclusive seat in the skies (the airline has only ordered 10 A380s, and there’s just one per plane) includes a private living room, bedroom with a double bed, and en-suite bathroom with shower. Not to mention your very own Savoy-trained butler to oversee your every need, including stocking your personal minibar and toting you drinks from the Lobby lounge between first and business class. After all, why would you mix with the hoi polloi when you’ve got 125 square feet of your own? If you bring the kids along, you can even hand them over to onboard nannies.

Before and after your flight, Etihad will also chauffeur you to and from the airport, so no need to bother with your usual car service.


02-Singapore

Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines

SINGAPORE
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Introduced back in 2007, these were the first suite-style seats in the sky, each ensconced in its own pod with a door that closes for privacy. The airline is currently refurbishing them under the direction of yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste (every airline seat should be created by a yacht designer, don’t you think?), but you’ll still be eating off Givenchy china…in your Givenchy pajamas…before taking a nap on your bed made up in Givenchy sheets.

Just try to stay awake for the multi-course meal with a choice of plates specially created by the airline’s “Culinary Panel” of nine celebrity chefs from around the world including LA’s Suzanne Goin. France’s Georges Blanc, and Singapore’s Sam Leong.


03-Emirates

Photo courtesy of Emirates

EMIRATES
Aircraft: Airbus A380, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR
Available aboard most of its long-haul fleet, Emirates’ flagship first class suites are among the most plentiful first-class seats in the skies. However, the experience is still truly personalized, from the moment your airline chauffeur (yes, it’s included with your ticket) whisks you to the airport to the moment your next chauffer (yes, it happens on both ends) drops you off at your destination.

Not only is each suite cordoned off by its own privacy doors, but inside, you’ll find every manner of indulgence, from a fully stocked minibar with Pellegrino and Pringles among other treats, to a wall-mounted flatscreen in-flight entertainment system that includes a handheld control tablet, and even a lighted vanity (ladies aren’t the only ones who want to look nice after a long flight).

Try to get onboard early to snag a good time slot in one of the two shower suites at the front of the cabin, and tote along your Bulgari amenity kit with its classic Taylor’s of Old Bond Street razor so you’re clean shaven by the time you land.


04 Air-France

Photo courtesy of Air France

AIR FRANCE
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Though not entirely groundbreaking, Air France’s new La Première, which debuted last May, still looks très très chic thanks to touches like a curtain that wraps around the seat for privacy, creamy leather headrests, silvery tweed upholstery and brushed-metallic finishes.

The entertainment system is a personal 24-inch HD monitor, while the menu has been created specially for Air France’s first class passengers by a veritable Legion D’Honneur of France’s most renowned chefs, including Joël Robuchon and Guy Martin (you can try some Alain Ducasse’s cuisine in the Charles de Gaulle Première lounge before your flight).

As for wines (this is Air France, after all), the list changes every two months, so you won’t get bored even if you’re a regular flier, and your vintage of choice will be served in Christofle crystal.

That suede ottoman draped in a merino blanket also doubles as a second seat in case you find a dining companion on your flight, though it also converts into the foot of a bed that the crew will be happy to make up with signature Sofitel My Bed linens.


05 Cathay-Pacific

Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific

CATHAY PACIFIC
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
The first class seats on Hong Kong’s flagship carrier are like the doublewides of the skies. Each is a yard wide and 81 inches long, which is pretty much the most room you can get in the air (unless we’re talking three-room apartments—see Etihad, above). But would you expect less from London starchitects Foster + Partners, who recently renovated the cabins for Cathay?

The other things you can count on include a caviar course to start out meal service provided by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and accompanied by vintage Krug. The amenity kits are stocked with Australian Aesop products (try the camellia-nut facial hydrating cream), while Hong Kong fashion house PYE supplies the 100% organic cotton pajamas.


06 Qantas

Photo courtesy of Qantas

QANTAS
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Qantas’s most current first class seats are only found aboard its superjumbo A380s, and even then, there are just 14 of them per plane. Each is a semi-private pod with a seat that folds down to a bed (with a sheepskin mattress cover, mate!) of 79 inches. Just long enough for a ’roo to rest.

It’s a long flight to Australia, so you might as well take advantage of the eight-course tasting menu created by Aussie celebrity chef Neil Perry (don’t skip the spanner crab tartlet with harissa) paired with Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and some of Australia’s finest wines from names like Leeuwin Estate and Hentley Farm.

The amenity kit comes courtesy of Japanese prestige brand SK-II, but get to the first class lounge in Sydney early so you can have a treatment at the mini Aurora Spa there.


07 Lufthansa

Photo courtesy of Lufthansa

LUFTHANSA
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Though Lufthansa offers an updated first class seat on its 747-8s, A330s and A380s, aviation geeks seek out the old 747-400s because their first class section is a self-contained eight-seat cabin on the plane’s upper deck, and each seat boasts both an armchair and a separate full-length bed. Essentially, it’s two seats in one.

The airline has an award-winning wine program, so prepare to taste some mind-blowing homegrown Rieslings, but you can always count on a nice Champagne like Pommery Cuvée Louise to start off your flight, as well as a caviar course with all the fixings served with ice-cold vodka.


08 JAL

Photo courtesy of JAL

JAL
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
The new first-class JAL Suite exemplifies a truly Japanese hospitality experience of understated elegance. The chocolate-brown leather seats and wood-grained paneling will have you fantasizing about a hike along the forested slopes of Mt. Fuji, while the 23-inch flatscreens are a far cry from that vintage Sony Walkman you just picked up at a Williamsburg flea market.

As is standard with Asian carriers, there is a choice between Western and Eastern menus, but go for the Japanese choices compiled by a who’s who of young Japanese chefs, including Seiji Yamamoto and Chikara Yamada. Pair your meal with award-winning sake or your choice from staggering list of French grands crus.

The most fun feature? Automated Toto toilets in the lavs, though the amenity kits with Spanish luxury brand LOEWE products aren’t bad either.


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