While some airlines have scrapped first class over the years to focus instead on business or premium economy seats, there are still plenty of carriers out there offering first class seats for those who like to travel in style.
As we come out of the pandemic, some airlines, like Emirates, have announced plans to refresh their cabins, while others like Qantas used the time their aircraft spent in storage to give first class cabins a facelift.
And people still seem willing to pay for the high-end experience. Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) chief executive revealed in May 2022 that its priciest ticket – a $24,000 San Francisco-Frankfurt (SFO-FRA) round trip in first class – was sold out.
Skytrax publishes a list each year of what it deems the best first class airlines. The top 20 for 2021 featured airlines including Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Etihad, Emirates and Oman Air.
We take a look at a selection of the airlines still offering first class cabins.
This airline, with the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s, is synonymous with luxury in the air and has been at the forefront of introducing new premium features on its aircraft, including those famous first class Showers.
In August 2022, the carrier announced plans for a large-scale program to retrofit 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s, a total of 120 passenger aircraft. The massive project, set to start in November 2022 and run until April 2025, will see 728 first class suites being refurbished, the airline promised.
When you fly First Class with Emirates, you can expect privacy doors, the onboard shower spa and of course access to the bar on the upper deck.
Emirates First Class on the B777-300ER. Credit: Emirates
Often coming at the top of best airline lists, this carrier’s first class on its A380s are more like a hotel room. No wonder passengers got excited when SIA announced plans to bring back the A380s to service after they were grounded during the pandemic.
The carrier’s A380-800s have six of these suites on the upper deck and each contains a bed and a swish leather chair for relaxing in. If you book seats 1A and 2A or 1F and 2F together, then the dividing wall can be removed and the two seats combined to make a double suite.
SIA first class suite. Credit: SIA
Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) also offers a more “traditional” first class on its Boeing 777 aircraft, with a spacious leather seat, curved partitions for privacy and of course food created by notable chefs.
The British flag carrier may have dispensed with first class on its Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-8 airliners, but it still offers first class on the A380, the Boeing 777-300, the 787-9 and some of its Boeing 777-200.
If you book onto BA’s larger Dreamliner, you will find a first class cabin specifically designed for the 787-9 Dreamliner, with just eight seats, compared to 14 in BA’s A380 and 777.
BA boasts that its seats transform into a 198cm (6ft 6in) fully flat bed, which you can enjoy in Temperley London loungewear.
British Airways First Class. Credit: Stuart Bailey
Australian flag carrier Qantas used the downtime while its Airbus A380s were in the desert to upgrade the seats and cabins on the superjumbo.
The airline offers fully lie-flat beds, a premium Neil Perry multi-course dining experience, award winning Australian wine cellar and Martin Grant designed PJs for those traveling in first class on its A380s.
Qantas A380 first class seat. Credit: Qantas
ANA All Nippon Airways
The Japanese carrier came in at number 4 on the Skytrax awards. The carrier offers different first class seats depending on the aircraft, whether one of its Boeing 77-300ERs or the Airbus A380.
The newest inflight product is the suite on its new 212-seat Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which features a door for privacy, a 43-inch 4K monitor, a seat that lays flat and can also be configured to accommodate passengers traveling together.
Which airlines have you traveled first class on, and which do you want to try? Let us know!