When an airline has thought of everything, and then thought of it again, the result is perfection–and that is what the Emirates Business Class experience offers. With an extensive non-stop route network from cities in the United States like New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago O’Hare and more, Emirates takes passengers soaring through the air in comfort and style through their hub in Dubai, and on to some of the most exciting places in the world. They have recently begun opening routes outside of the UAE, like their non-stop service from New York to key cities like Milan and Athens.
Traveling in business class with Emirates, especially on their Airbus A380s, can compare to first class on other airlines. Passengers can expect gorgeous leather and wood accented lie-flat seats, on-board lounges, LED mood lighting and wall accents made from the United Arab Emirate’s national Ghaf tree. 23-inch entertainment centers accompany your seat and so does a personal mini-bar with a selection of beverages for your enjoyment–a rarity in the sky. Not enough? Just visit the communal bar and order up a cocktail, as well as sample some of their complimentary nibbles. You can connect your smart device through an HDMI cable right to your screen at your seat, or send emails with one of the fastest on-board Wi-Fi services you’ll ever experience. Delicious meals are served on Royal Doulton bone china plates with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery, and amenity kits are by Bulgari. This experience is luxury, through and through.
United Airlines has rolled out a fantastic new business class experience on routes from Newark, San Francisco and Chicago called Polaris. On these flights, the central focus of booking business class is sleep. If you’re traveling on an overnight flight, you can expect a completely lie-flat bed that can fit even the tallest of the bunch, at 6 feet, 6 inches in length. Bedding in this cabin is designed by Saks Fifth Avenue and amenity kits offer spa products from Soho House’s Cowshed Spa–including ergonomically designed eye masks and a calming lavender mist. Gel-cooled pillows and electronic privacy dividers ensure a peaceful slumber while in-flight.
Food on-board Polaris is seasonal and there are hot snacks offered between meal services. If you’re on a flight over 12 hours long, expect delicious and decadent options like lobster mac and cheese and make-your-own ice cream sundae bars. If you fly from Chicago, you can enjoy the first Polaris lounge in the United States, with more locations to follow, which echoes the on-board Polaris experience both in food and in five-star service.
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Leave it to Finland to design one of the most visually stunning business class experiences in the world (and the clouds). Flying from one of the airline’s U.S. gateways like New York, Chicago or Miami gives you an opportunity to sit-back and enjoy the large cabin of the Airbus A350 XWB, which delivers you to your destination flawlessly–without feeling like you’ve been on an airplane for hours. Their “Nordic” business class cabin is equipped with plush lie-flat beds, extra-large personal entertainment screens, amenity kits and bedding designed by Finnish fashion brand, Marimekko. Finnish designer Vertti Kivi designed the cabin with lights that reflect the changing colors of the famed Northern Lights as your plane soars through the air, which are said to help alleviate jetlag and adjust you to new time zones. In fact, after a stopover in Helsinki, those moving on to destinations in Asia like Tokyo, Beijing or Bangkok will find Finnair one of the fastest connecting routes. This airline flies very far north, shaving travel time off your entire flight duration.
Food on-board is delicious with homemade Scandinavian breads, fish entrees and expertly crafted cocktails served in Iittala glassware custom-designed for the airline in the 1960s.
Delta Airlines has an incredible route network and their Delta One cabin is available on many of them. Quilted leather seats with ample legroom, lie-flat beds and Westin Heavenly in-flight bedding are all offered. Travelers familiar with Delta One from years past will be impressed with new changes. The suite-like experience brings flying to a new level with privacy doors, ample workspace, storage and surfaces. Food is reflective of the destination and route, and consists of delicious seasonal dishes with wines paired by expert sommelier Andrea Robinson.
What is special about Delta One is their new linkage with Delta Vacations, which has expanded at an incredible rate to offer luxury-minded travelers a wide array of hotel and activity choices to pair with your seat. New hotels in Polynesia, London, Rome, Ireland, Paris and other popular destinations can be built in as a vacation around your seat for a good deal of savings. The goal, it seems, is allowing you to continue your business class journey on the ground once you reach your destination.
For any airline to get business class right, it should be Turkish Airlines–they fly to more than 110 countries throughout the world. Craving a candlelit dinner above the clouds or a meal served by the airline’s chef? Turkish is the carrier that goes there. On-board travelers can expect lie-flat beds with more leg room than most airlines. Each seat has a built-in massage function and connectivity for your smart devices.
Meals on-board can be enjoyed by flickering faux-candlelight and are served by chefs in-flight on some routes. Menus tend to have a bent towards Turkish cuisine but marry international flavors as well. Meals can be customized for those with dietary restrictions and are served on beautiful porcelain by some of the most attentive crew.
If you’re traveling round trip within certain routes from the United States, or stopping in Istanbul (the airline’s hub), business class passengers are eligible for the “Exclusive Drive” service, which will transport you to and from the airport to your home or hotel at no additional cost. If you’re laying over in Istanbul for a more than an hour, business class passengers should take time to indulge in the incredible lounge at Ataturk Airport or book a suite (that rival even some of the city’s best hotel suites) while you wait for your connection.
TAP Portugal has begun redesigning their business class experience and expanding with new routes to Portugal from Boston and New York’s JFK Airport. You can expect a uniquely Portuguese experience on these legs with nods to the country’s incredible culinary heritage and wine diversity. Aside from lie-flat beds and one of the most cozy bedtime comforters of all the airlines, TAP’s business class is small and intimate, allowing you to receive personalized attention on your way to Portugal and beyond (the airline serves many destinations in Europe and Africa as well). If you want to to add an additional destination to your itinerary, TAP allows a stopover in Lisbon or Porto for those connecting to other destinations, at no additional charge.
Food on-board TAP is delicious, with seasonal soups, appetizers and entrées curated by some of Portugal’s leading culinary stars like José Avillez. If you’re looking to imbibe in-flight, try one of the stunning red wine varieties from the Douro Valley. If you want something sweet, nibble on the country’s signature dessert, pastel de nata.
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South America’s largest carrier offers a fantastic business class experience for those traveling from the United States to cities in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru or Chile. Lie-flat seats and noise-cancelling headphones are just a part of the overall experience. Passengers enjoy 15-inch monitors to drone the hours away watching premium entertainment and cozy bedding to curl-up with while waiting for your meal to be served.
Food on-board LATAM is good, but the wines are out of this world. Curated by Master Sommelier Héctor Vergara, you’ll taste wine “flights” from Chile and Argentina. Service on-board is stellar and the flight attendants ask if you’d like to be woken before breakfast, or left sleeping and undisturbed–this is real-deal attention to detail.
Start your journey off with SkyPriority for check-in, where you’ll be immediately lead to the front of the check-in line before heading to the business class lounge, where you’re able to rest up before boarding. In the lounge prior to red-eye flights, you’ll have the option of enjoying your dinner before boarding; then, flight attendants are notified that you aren’t to be disturbed during meal times to maximize your opportunity for a good night’s sleep.
Seats aboard Air France’s business class are lay-flat for even the tallest of passengers–they stretch to six feet and five inches long. Hypoallergenic pillows and plush duvets keep you extra comfy in-flight, and outlets and noise canceling headphones insure you can do everything from work to sleep in peace. Amenity kits are well-designed and contain Clarins products, which hearken to the in-airport spa experience available to all business and first class guests, where guests can opt for a facial prior to or post flying. Food is curated by Chef Daniel Bouloud, and focuses primarily on French fare, bien sur.
There’s something to be said for flying non-stop from the United States to South Africa. And, when you’re traversing the skies for what can amount to a 15+ hour flight, you need to be sure you’re in total comfort. Whether you’re headed to the country’s gorgeous beaches in Cape Town, or taking-in the incredible art scene in Johannesburg, South African Airways’ business class product will get you there fast and in extreme comfort. The airline offers non-stop flights to Johannesburg from New York’s JFK and Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport.
What stands out most about South African Airways’ business class is their hospitality and food options. The attentive service complements lie-flat beds, a fantastic entertainment system and menus curated by star South African chefs, Reuben Riffel and Benny Masekwameng. Aside from the delicious meals, many prepared with South African ingredients and recipes, a lengthy wine list features 24 whites and 24 reds from the country’s beautiful vineyards in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
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For budget-minded travelers who don’t want to sacrifice on the luxury of space and comfort, you can hop aboard one of Norwegian’s beautiful Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s, which cuts down on jetlag tremendously with its well-balanced air and pressure throughout the cabin. Norwegian has made huge headway in the United States by beginning direct routes from the East Coast, West Coast and Southern states to cities like Paris, London, Rome and Barcelona.
The premium cabin isn’t a true business class, but does offer an expanded seat–comfortable enough to sleep in–and various options for food in their touch-sreen ordering system. The main attraction here is the price, as fares here can be as much as a quarter of the cost of another business class ticket on a competing carrier.
This post originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.