When it comes to long-haul flights, few experiences make such arduous journeys as enjoyable as business class. These premium seat offerings make sleeping in the sky a breeze. Their level of comfort, privacy, service and space distracts from the ambitious itinerary, creating a flying experience unseen in economy or premium economy.
In recent years, the business class standard has changed dramatically. The highest-rated business class offerings feature lie-flat seats, unparalleled gourmet menus and in-flight entertainment systems as industry norms.
Such a heavenly experience 30,000 ft in the air is reminiscent of the golden Don Draper-era of commercial aviation. Most of all, each aircraft is meticulously maintained by trusted aviation maintenance companies, ensuring the smoothest and safest ride for passengers.
While in no particular order, the list below highlights the best business class flights, having won top prizes within industry and consumer surveys as some of the world’s best airline cabin experiences.
1. Etihad Airways
As the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways is an evocative jet-setting experience similar to the likes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Grandiose yet elegant and utterly sophisticated, Etihad’s business class product is characterized by a reclinable, fully flat bed seat complete with direct aisle access.
Its innovative layout offers more personal space and simplistic functionality. The business class experience on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner includes:
- An in-flight lobby for socializing
- Mood lighting for a relaxed ambience
- Limited edition amenity kits
- An on-demand entertainment system complete with Wi-Fi connectivity
The business class experience onboard an Emirates flight can be akin to a sumptuous luxury spa experience. Guests on the A380 or Boeing 777 are treated to a spacious lie-flat seat, a full cocktail bar situated within the onboard lounge, and a menu of gourmet dishes carefully paired with a considered wine or champagne selection.
The recent updates on the 777 have been inspired by the luxurious Mercedes-Benz S Class. The new business class cabins feature diamond stitch leather upholstery and a sleek design with wood-grain accents.
3. Qatar Airways
The flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways features one of the most innovative and modern fleets from any global airline. Their business class cabin is a study in excellence. Their innovative Qsuite is a new standard in the business class experience, boasting suites with first class-like privacy.
The 2017 winner of the Skytrax World Airlines Award, Qatar Airways’ business class accommodations include:
- Lie-flat seats
- Award-winning hospitality and service
- An amenity kit featuring products from Italian luxury brands Castello Monte Vibiano and BRIC
- Ambient mood lighting
- Generous storage space
4. All Nippon Airways
First founded in 1952, All Nippon Airways or ANA has gone from strength to strength, becoming the largest airline in Japan. ANA’s business class suites are recognized by Skytrax as one the best in the world, bested only by Qatar Airways. And rightly so.
The ANA business class experience features the conventional business class norm:
- A lie-flat seat configuration
- An exclusive onboard feature film program
- An in-flight fine dining experience curated by professional master chefs
- British brand Neal Yard’s curated amenity kit
Its business class staggered seat configuration provides unparalleled individual privacy rarely seen in business class accommodations.
5. Singapore Airlines
Few airlines are as legendary as Singapore Airlines. Their in-flight suites and first-class experiences are peerless, even among those situated on this list. And their business class amenities are no exception.
Passengers on a long-haul business class flight are treated to a one-of-a-kind onboard experience:
- Before the flight even departs the runway, guests can reserve a sumptuous main course 24 hours before their flight
- Onboard the aircraft, their lie-flat seats are handcrafted from full grain leather and diamond stitched
- Their in-flight entertainment system is thoughtfully curated
- Each seat is provided with a Penhaligon’s-inspired selection of toiletries
Soaring to great heights
The long-haul travel experience can be a stressful one. Most will want nothing more than to get the flight over with.
A luxurious business class offering changes all that. With the right seats and in-flight amenities, it’s not really the destination that matters, but the journey.
Viktoria Grokhovskaya is an independent aviation expert currently working within the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry in the UAE. She received her bachelor’s degree in Management and a Specialist Diploma in Economics and Management at the Enterprise from Astrakhan State Technical University.