Flying High: The Best First Class
Those of us unfortunate enough to travel on commercial airlines know the unrestrained joy that occurs when we get an upgrade. For the most part, this means leaving the cattle barn for leather clad chairs and free booze. But there are several airlines that take the experience to the next level. From gadget filled seats that coddle you in comfort to bars and massages, the world of premium class has gotten very competitive and one-upmanship is the name of the game.
Our list is after the jump.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Upper Class
More like a Playboy club in the sky (at least that's what they want you to think,) Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class kick started the premium class wars with its oodles of amenities and services. The Upper Class treatment begins with a chauffeured driven car pickup and drive-through check in at Heathrow or Gatwick. Then you can relax in the oh-so-hip Clubhouse Lounge. Each one is different, but we love the Heathrow lounge with its ultra-mod decor and hot-tub. If you finally decide to get on the plane, you'll enjoy a 22" seat of cushy leather with ottoman that becomes a full 6'6 bed. A full bar is open for your enjoyment and you can even chose a mini-spa treatment so you arrive refreshed. Virgin Atlantic has ordered several of the mammoth Airbus A380's and promises to add new features to the Upper Class experience.
Emirates Airlines First Class
Are you just longing to live like an Sheik? Why not fly the airline of one. Emirates Airlines has undergone a transformation much like Dubai has itself. In Dubai, glittering towers await visitors who come to gawk at the ostentatious wealth on display. To get you there, Dubai has revamped its first class offerings on Emirates to be as fabulous as in the air as Dubai is on the ground. The centerpiece of the first class experience is the cabin. We've seen the lay-flat beds and guest seats before, but Emirates gives you something different, Privacy. These personal "suites" can be partitioned off to give you a personal little cabin in which to nap, watch TV, or dine in. The overhead bins have been removed to give a more open feel and in their place, a ceiling designed to emulate the sky. Through the course of the flight, it changes from day to night with stars coming out to lull you to sleep. Dinner is served whenever you want it and you can relax at the stand up bar for a nightcap with other travelers if you like. Emirates is definitely the airline to chose when heading toward the Middle East.
British Airways First Class
My personal favorite choice in First Class comes from the great people at British Airways. They started flat bed craze and although little has changed, the folks at BA keep a top-notch product coming time after time. With the demise of the uber-luxe Concorde, BA's First Class became the leader of trans-Atlantic celebrity crossing and hardly a flight goes from JFK to Heathrow without some star or starlet gracing the cabin. The seats lay out to 6'6 beds and come with comfy duvets and big pillows. Dinner is whenever you want it and if you prefer to eat on the ground and sleep in the sky, you can have dinner in the first class departure lounge. If sleep isn't your thing, the wine selection is extensive and a catalog of movies ensures that your flight will be relaxing.