For the great majority of people traveling across the world, an airplane is known for being one of the quickest, and sometimes one of the most cost efficient ways to travel of all time. However, many in the economy class tend to have horrible experiences, with overcrowding, bad airline food, and flight attendants who care little about their job. With that being said, there are some truly nice airlines out there who cater to a very specific clientele: those with a lot of money. Here are the ten most luxurious airlines of all time.
Source: Hainan Airlines, Image: 颐园新居 via Wikipedia
The lesser-known Hainan Airlines won the World Travel Awards’ “World’s Leading Airline – Business Class” award in 2015 for the second consecutive year. (It also won an award for the best in-flight service.) Turn-down service (including a silk quilt) and different tea offerings based on the season are available in Business Class.
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Source: Virgin Atlantic, Image: Airline Cabin Interiors via Flickr
The brainchild of Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Airways is – along with other Virgin-branded airlines – putting fun back into air travel. Besides swanky on-board bars for socializing, this luxurious airline features a 10 minute car-to-airport-lounge check-in so Upper Class passengers can hit the spa before departing. Did we mention the in-flight massages, too?
All Nippon Airways
Source: All Nippon Airways, Image: Jun Seita via Flickr
The First Class section of Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) seems less like a plane and more like a train cabin. Complete with a dedicated closet for jacket storage, each cabin also comes with international telephones and, with its box-like shape, provides near-complete exclusion from the world around.
Source: Korean Air, Image: TravelingOtter via Flickr
Korean Air’s new Kosmo Suites are cocoons among First Class cabins, giving flyers maximum privacy in a seat color reminiscent of Art Deco South Beach. Passengers can visit the Celestial Bar in what feels like the newest “opened-just-last-week” chic Chelsea bar. Korean Air was nominated for the “World’s Leading Airline – First Class” award along with American Airlines and the six remaining luxurious airlines on our list.
Source: British Airways, Image: Courtecy of British Airways
If there are two things Brits love, it’s the Queen and tea-time. Though you likely won’t be seeing the Queen on a British Airways flight anytime soon, you can rest assured that afternoon tea is still observed, even at 35,000 feet. Before taking to the skies, First Class passengers can enjoy a luxury facial treatment or a relaxation massage when flying from London Heathrow and New York JFK.
Source: Qatar Airways, Image: Alex Beltyukov via Wikipedia
One of only six airlines to receive Skytrax’s “5-Star Airline” Asia Award (along with #23, #22, #10, #8, #5, #3, #2), Qatar Airways brings Middle Eastern hospitality to the skies. If a business lounge the size of 10 Olympic swimming pools isn’t enough, how about an on-board amenity kit filled with Giorgio Armani products?
Source: Emirates, Image: Pyonko Omeyama via Flickr
Hands down one of the leading luxury airlines flying the skies, Emirates really steps on-board amenities up a notch. From Bvlgari toiletries to an on-board shower spa to an on-board bar and lounge, Emirates knows how to please its wealthier customers. And, for those who understand what this means, you’ll eat your meals from Royal Doulton bone china plates using Robert Welch cutlery. Sounds fancy.
Source: Cathay Pacific, Images: Courtecy of Cathay Airlines
Cathay Pacific’s First Class service makes this luxurious airline cabin feel more like an art gallery. Artists Maria Lobo and Linda Leviton have designed sculptures which are displayed in the cabin. With an ottoman allowing a visitor to join you, the set-up of Cathay Pacific’s cabin makes it look more like you’re having a drink at an Indie coffee shop than flying through the air.
Source: Singapore Airlines, Images: Courtecy of Singapore Airlines
Step into a Singapore Airlines Suites cabin and the first thing you should do is change into your (provided) comfy pajamas and bedroom slippers. Once you’re settled, take a look at the design, crafted by French luxury yacht interior designer Jean-Jacques Coste, and the leather on your seat, upholstered by Poltrona Frau in Italy. A 23-inch (58 cm) LCD television keeps you busy and the sliding Suite doors which enclose the cabin give as much privacy as you wish.
Source: Etihad Airways, Images: Courtecy of Etihad Airways
The be-all and end-all of luxurious airline travel, Etihad Airways has everything a passenger could possibly wish for in-flight. Beyond winning multiple World Travel Awards (“World’s Leading Airline – First Class”, “World’s Leading Airline – Business Class”, “World’s Leading Cabin Crew”, and even overall “World’s Leading Airline 2015”: a title it has clinched for seven straight years), flying on Etihad’s First Class service feels more like a First Class cabin on the Orient Express. Passengers willing to dish out over $30,000 (for a trip from New York City to Abu Dhabi) can book “The Residence”: the cream-of-the-crop regarding in-flight comfort. This upper-deck cabin comes with a double bedroom, living room, shower room, and personal butler (not to mention a gourmet chef) to make it feel like you’re staying at the swankiest hotel even when you’re at 40,000 feet.