I’m an enormous airline product geek, and yearly I wish to publish a listing of what I think about to be the world’s greatest first-class merchandise, greatest first-class lounges, greatest enterprise class seats, and many others. First, I wished to speak briefly about my methodology for rating first-class airways, after which I’ll get into my rankings, with an evidence of every.
Why it is best to belief OMAAT flight critiques
Hopefully, I don’t have to clarify this to common OMAAT readers, however I really feel like that is value mentioning for many who aren’t common readers…
On a regular basis I see mainstream media retailers rating completely different first-class airways, although virtually with out exception they’re simply going off inventory media photos and the way airways describe their first-class merchandise, reasonably than precise firsthand expertise.
Why do you have to belief OMAAT flight critiques?
- I pay for all of my very own flight tickets, both with money or miles
- With only a few exceptions that I particularly disclose, I don’t let the airways know that I’m reviewing flights, and exit of my approach to stay as nameless as potential
- I’ve flown each single first-class airline that I rank, and for that matter have flown virtually each single first-class product on the earth (the one one I haven’t flown is Kuwait Airways first-class)
- I don’t have any form of monetary relationship with any airline
- That is my ardour, I’ve been reviewing airways for 15+ years, I’ve written tons of of flight critiques, and have logged thousands and thousands of miles
There aren’t many websites that may say all the above, and within the case of another score businesses (like Skytrax), I actually want we’d see a bit extra transparency concerning the monetary relationship they’ve with the airways they rank.
My methodology for rating first-class airways
Let me word upfront that my critiques are subjective, and that’s by design.
Some may say “effectively it is best to make this as goal as potential and use a scorecard to rank them.” I actually may, however I don’t suppose that does justice to the particular touches that some airways supply, and likewise the variability within the expertise from flight-to-flight.
Lots of what makes a firstclass expertise nice isn’t one thing you possibly can rank on a scorecard, however reasonably is that this intangible feeling you get when flying an airline, the place you are feeling “wow, they actually get it.” So far as I’m involved, airways additionally deserve bonus factors for consistency throughout varied flights, as a result of it’s good to know precisely what you’ll get.
The opposite subject is that the highest first-class merchandise are all actually distinctive. On a 100 factors scale, I believe all of those airways would rating a 90+ from me.
To present an instance of the problem with a scorecard method, inflight Wi-Fi is one thing I personally worth, however not all the airways supply it in first-class. If I mentioned Wi-Fi was value 10 factors on a 100 level scale, that might routinely put any airline with out it in final place, and that doesn’t appear proper, because it’s one thing that many individuals don’t care about.
Once more, I’m admitting my rankings are subjective, and what I rank #1 could also be #10 for you, and vice versa. And that’s completely high-quality — I don’t suppose that makes anybody fallacious.
I’ve taken flights on each single one of many airways on the under listing and mentioned “that’s among the best flights I’ve ever taken.” If something, I like to recommend the takeaway from this being the airways that I put within the high 12, reasonably than the very particular rating of them.
Why I’m not absolutely updating rankings this yr
For the reason that begin of the pandemic it has been robust to replace my listing of the world’s greatest first-class merchandise:
- Some airways have grounded some planes, and have even briefly discontinued first-class
- Some airways have retired their greatest lengthy haul plane, that includes the primary class product that made my listing
- Most airways have adjusted inflight service because of the pandemic, and as you’d anticipate, I haven’t been capable of fly all of those first-class merchandise previously 18 months
Nonetheless I believe there’s worth in conserving this listing up to date, so right here’s what I’m going to do:
- I’m not going to vary my rankings in comparison with early 2020 (the final time I formally printed my rankings)
- With every product I’ll word any adjustments to availability of the product, or what airline executives have been saying in regards to the product’s future
- Even in conditions the place it has been advised that airways will retire sure planes, I’m not going to take them off the listing of greatest first-class merchandise simply but, as a result of all of this might be topic to vary; we’ve seen a numerous variety of airways backtrack repeatedly, so I believe it’s too quickly to rely on something as being sure
Hopefully the above is sensible, and my hope is that in 2023 the world returns to some extent the place I can replace rankings that absolutely mirror the long-term adjustments airways are making.
The world’s 12 greatest first-class airways
With the above rationalization out of the best way, under are what I think about to be the 12 greatest first-class airways, beginning with the perfect. Let me emphasize that the publish is particular to the onboard expertise, and I rank first-class lounges individually.
1. Emirates first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
Emirates launched its new first-class on choose Boeing 777-300ERs a number of years in the past, and the product is spectacular. Emirates is the primary airline to introduce really absolutely enclosed suites in first-class.
The suites don’t simply have doorways that add privateness, however reasonably are enclosed floor-to-ceiling (Air France has curtains that go floor-to-ceiling, however I think about that to be completely different). As somebody who values privateness, I like that.
The seat can also be thoughtfully designed, with impeccable consideration to element. The suite is spacious, the TV display large, the mattress extraordinarily comfy, and you may management the lighting and temperature within the suite.
The mushy product can also be onerous to beat, from free-flowing Dom Perignon to a dine on-demand menu with all types of nice choices (together with caviar).
Whereas Emirates A380s don’t have seats which can be as spectacular, they’ve the benefit of getting onboard showers and an onboard bar, in order that’s a deal with as effectively.
The one subject is how few Emirates 777s have these suites. Emirates solely has these first-class suites on 9 of its planes, and there aren’t any plans to retrofit current planes with these seats. Upcoming Boeing 777Xs ought to characteristic these seats, however these received’t be a part of Emirates’ fleet till 2024 on the earliest.
2. Air France first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
There are nice first-class merchandise, after which there’s the perfection that’s Air France first-class. Air France’s 777-300ER first-class cabin consists of a single row of seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin is so elegant, and reasonably than providing suites with doorways, the airline as an alternative has curtains you possibly can pull round your suite.
What actually units aside Air France is the primary class mushy product. The meals is the perfect I’ve had on any airline, the service is flawless and oh-so-French, and each a part of the expertise is believed out.
When it’s time to sleep, Air France has a few of the most comfy bedding within the sky, and I like with the ability to draw a curtain round my seat for privateness.
The way in which I see it, Air France first-class is the world’s most well-rounded first-class product. Whereas I do suppose Emirates wins out by way of the onboard expertise, Air France nonetheless presents the world’s most well-rounded first-class expertise, on condition that the airline additionally presents the world’s greatest first-class lounge expertise at its Paris Charles de Gaulle hub.
The primary space the place Air France first-class may enhance is with the addition of Wi-Fi, however that’s one thing that’s within the strategy of being added, and shortly all La Premiere-equipped planes ought to characteristic this. For the time being solely 777-300ERs have first-class, however it’s rumored that some future supply A350s may characteristic first-class as effectively.
3. All Nippon Airways first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
That is the world’s most improved first-class product previously couple of years, in my view, as ANA launched unimaginable new first and enterprise class seats in mid-2019, now obtainable on choose 777-300ERs.
Previously I’ve at all times had a powerful choice for Japan Airways first-class over All Nippon Airways first-class, however that’s not the case. For one, ANA has tremendously improved the standard of its seats, which now characteristic doorways, are extra spacious, and supply a greater expertise whether or not you’re touring alone or with somebody.
ANA additionally has complimentary and improved high-speed Wi-Fi on its new 777s, which is a lot better than the outdated system.
Add in ANA’s distinctive service, meals, drinks (together with Krug champagne) and facilities, and this actually is a world class product.
4. Garuda Indonesia first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
Garuda Indonesia is one other airline that’s each constant and tailors the expertise from the time you arrive on the airport to once you arrive at your vacation spot. Garuda Indonesia first-class has eight suites with doorways. The onerous product is nice, although not outstanding in comparison with a few of the different airways on the listing.
However every part in regards to the mushy product is perfection. I discover Garuda Indonesia to have the perfect flight attendants of any airline, and the airline even has an onboard chef in first-class.
The airline presents tasty meals, nice wine pairings, distinctive presentation, free Wi-Fi for first-class passengers, and many others. When you have any particular requests to your flight, you possibly can even make these earlier than departure.
However actually it’s the crews that make the expertise. Many surveys rank Garuda Indonesia as having the perfect cabin crew, and I’ve to agree. The heat of the Garuda Indonesia flight attendants I had on each of my first-class flights was unmatched.
The one space the place Garuda Indonesia can enhance is with its bedding. Whereas it’s good, it’s not almost as plush as what another airways supply.
Sadly Garuda Indonesia’s first-class product might quickly be historical past. At the moment solely two Garuda Indonesia plans have first-class. On high of that, the airline is present process a restructuring whereby the airline plans to retire its 777s, which might spell the top of first-class. We’ll see how this evolves, however I worry this airline will likely be off the listing subsequent yr.
5. Singapore Airways Suites (Airbus A380)
Singapore Airways is thought for being among the best airways on the earth, and the airline launched its new Suites in late 2017. Some is perhaps stunned that this isn’t in one of many high few spots on my listing.
The brand new Suites are spectacular. They’re in a 1-1 structure, with simply six suites on the entrance of the higher deck of the A380. Singapore has devoted extra sq. footage to every first-class passenger than another airline.
Every Suite has each a seat and a separate mattress, which is a mighty good characteristic.
On a superb day, Singapore’s Suites is perhaps the perfect first-class mushy product on the earth. On a lunch or dinner flight departing Singapore the catering is often wonderful, and there’s normally caviar, satay, and many others. You possibly can even “e book the cook dinner” upfront, and order from an enormous menu that’s not in any other case obtainable onboard.
Singapore can also be the one airline to supply each Dom Perignon and Krug onboard, which is a reasonably superior option to have.
Service on Singapore Airways is often wonderful.
Primarily based on that, how on earth am I not rating this product greater? It actually kills me to say this, however Singapore Airways simply didn’t put a lot thought into the design of the Suites. The cabin appears stunning, and the seats look spectacular, however when it comes right down to it, the person parts aren’t nice.
The seat is wobbly and has restricted recline. You possibly can solely eat going through the aisle, the place you’re trying straight at one other passenger. The mattress isn’t any greater than on another high airline, and it’s extraordinarily onerous. There aren’t any particular person air nozzles, and air stream is proscribed.
That is nonetheless a world class product, all issues thought of. Nonetheless, regardless of the quantity of house Singapore Airways invested within the Suites, I can’t assist however really feel disenchanted in the truth that the house wasn’t utilized in a extra artistic method, to create the world’s most comfy mattress on a airplane. The airline actually had the house to take action.
6. Cathay Pacific first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
Cathay Pacific completely has first-class on Boeing 777-300ERs. Firstclass has simply six seats, in a 1-1-1 configuration. Whereas the seats aren’t absolutely enclosed, they’re angled away from the aisle and sufficiently spacious in order that there’s no want for them to be. It makes the product really feel much less claustrophobic, which I recognize.
Cathay Pacific has probably the most comfy beds within the sky — the mattress is vast, and the bedding is a few of the greatest on the market.
I additionally love the flexibility to dine face-to-face with a companion. Caviar and good champagne at 37,000 toes is a heck of a date night time. I additionally recognize that Cathay Pacific presents a full meal service even on departures in the midst of the night time.
Cathay Pacific crews are additionally constant and attentive. They’re at all times there throughout the meals, and once you want one thing throughout the flight, they seem in simply a few seconds after pushing the decision button.
The airline can also be putting in Wi-Fi all through its fleet, and in first-class Cathay Pacific presents free Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi, which is hard to beat.
With every part occurring in Hong Kong, I can’t assist however surprise after Cathay Pacific’s survival prospects, at the very least in its present kind. Right here’s to hoping that Cathay Pacific finally returns to its glory days.
7. Japan Airways first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
There’s no nation the place there’s extra satisfaction within the service trade than Japan, and that’s extremely evident when flying Japan Airways first-class. It’s like getting a style of Japan earlier than you even get there. Japan Airways has absolutely flat beds in first-class with direct aisle entry, although the seats as such don’t stand out that a lot.
What does stand out is the wonderful meals (caviar, sushi, wagyu beef, and many others.), champagne, the free and quick Wi-Fi, the flexibility to decide on the firmness of your mattress pad, and the right service.
The Japan Airways first-class mushy product is fairly near excellent, so far as I’m involved.
8. Etihad Airways first-class (Airbus A380)
Etihad was the primary airline to have a single-aisle configuration in first-class on its A380s.
The First Class “Flats,” as they’re known as, will take your breath away. I bear in mind being speechless the primary time I boarded an Etihad A380.
Etihad has a dine on demand menu with some customization choices, an onboard bathe, and the second most sq. footage devoted to every first-class passenger.
Nonetheless, there are some areas the place Etihad is type over substance, in my view. Whereas the suite is big, it isn’t really that virtually designed, because the seat doesn’t recline that far again, and the mattress isn’t that enormous. This is identical subject I’ve with Singapore’s new Suites.
Sadly this is perhaps a product that by no means comes again. Etihad was planning on retiring its complete Airbus A380 fleet, that means that the one planes to characteristic first-class can be 5 Boeing 787-9s. And people planes characteristic a far inferior first-class product. Current experiences counsel that the Etihad A380 may make a comeback, so let’s cross our fingers that that is the case.
9. Korean Air first-class (Boeing 747-8)
Korean Air presents a constant first-class product. By far my favourite first-class cabin supplied by the airline is on the 747-8, the place there are simply six seats within the nostril of the airplane.
The seats are spacious, the facilities are wonderful, and the meals and drinks are excellent as effectively.
The one factor I don’t love about Korean Air is their leisure choice and lack of Wi-Fi.
The excellent news is that this product ought to nonetheless be round for some time, as Korean Air plans to maintain 747-8s into the 2030s.
10. Lufthansa first-class (Boeing 747-8)
Possibly I’m biased as a result of my German background, however I like Lufthansa first-class for a way constant and stylish it’s. No, Lufthansa doesn’t have probably the most personal first-class seats on the market, however the cabins are elegant (in a German method), the service is among the many better of any western airline, and the airline is remarkably constant by way of its choices.
There’s simply one thing in regards to the pre-flight champagne, nuts, and roses that makes me really feel like I’m at dwelling in Lufthansa first-class.
Lufthansa has nice bedding in first-class, and presents first-class passengers free Wi-Fi, and it’s even fairly quick.
Whereas Lufthansa has considerably scaled again its first-class product, there are nonetheless fairly just a few Boeing 747-8s flying round with these cabins.
11. SWISS first-class (Boeing 777-300ER)
It’s a toss-up between Lufthansa first-class and SWISS first-class, so I may have simply as simply ranked SWISS forward of Lufthansa. SWISS’ 777-300ER first-class cabins have eight seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The meals presentation and high quality are undoubtedly higher-end feeling than on Lufthansa, though the airline doesn’t constantly have caviar.
I’ve had nice service in SWISS first-class, although I’ve additionally had fairly unhealthy service, so I discover that a part of the product to be a bit inconsistent.
SWISS’ first-class bedding is plush and comfy, so an amazing night time of sleep on SWISS is a given.
12. Oman Air first-class (Boeing 787-9)
Just a few years in the past Oman Air launched a brand new first-class product, which is completely on its 787-9s flying between Muscat and London. The cabin consists of eight seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. These aren’t probably the most spacious seats, however they’re very comfy and have a glossy design.
What makes Oman Air so nice is the mushy product — Cristal champagne, an extremely personalized menu which you can order upfront, and a few stunning Omani touches.
Honorable point out: Etihad Airways A380 The Residence
This may’t be included on the listing because it’s not technically a firstclass product, however reasonably is probably the most unimaginable expertise you possibly can have in business aviation. Sadly it’s additionally priced accordingly (or was, when it was supplied). Having your personal three room suite, together with a personal bed room and bathe, with butler service, is a once-in-a-lifetime expertise, after which some.
Man, how fondly I believe again on my flight within the Residence. That’s much more the case when you think about that this product could also be a factor of the previous, on condition that Etihad may retire its A380 fleet.
There you’ve gotten it. These are what I think about to be the world’s 12 greatest first-class airline merchandise. Admittedly this can be a robust time to rank merchandise like this, given all that’s altering, although hopefully the above remains to be helpful. Sadly two of the above 12 merchandise are unlikely to be round for much longer, if in any respect (Etihad’s A380 first-class and Garuda Indonesia’s 777 first-class).
I’d wish to as soon as once more emphasize that I believe anybody can be affordable to suppose that the above merchandise must be in a unique order, however hopefully that is at the very least a helpful listing by way of the 12 throughout greatest first-class merchandise.
For anybody curious, I believe I do know what I’d rank as the subsequent three first-class merchandise (13-15), roughly so as — Qatar, Qantas, and Thai.
What do you rank because the world’s greatest first-class airways?