In 2018, Singapore Airlines is planning to restore the world’s longest commercial flight, an 18-hour nonstop trip from New York’s JFK airport to Singapore. With the re-launched service, the carrier is introducing new cabin designs in the Airbus A350s used for the route. Plans have yet to be revealed, but the bar has steadily risen every year for the top-category cabin class—just take a look at the new products dreamed up by Air France, Etihad, British Airways and others. Even though airlines have reduced the number of first-class seats in favor of a larger business class in recent years, they’re tailoring an even more exclusive experience for the privileged few who are still willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a ticket. Here are five airlines leading the luxury race in the front of the plane.
Singapore Airline’s First Class, created by BMW’s Designworks, was designed as a cocooned haven with exclusive sensory experiences, from the luxurious texture of a diamond-quilted leather armchair to the soft, warm glow of cove lighting that spotlights unexpected storage spaces. Singapore Airlines’ partnership with Michelin-starred chefs such as Alfred Portale of New York’s Gotham Bar & Grill and Suzanne Goin, who helms A.O.C., Lucques and Tavern in Los Angeles, ensure the satisfaction of refined palates onboard.
Air France’s La Première cabin embodies the sophistication you’d expect from the airline’s home country. The boudoir-esque suite, which can be closed off by sound-absorbing curtains, is clad in leather and suede and accessorized by a sea-horse print lamp and a slate-gray ottoman. You can dine à deux on Atlantic lobster in a curried coconut sauce by Daniel Boulud and come turn-down, the ergonomically-designed, tweed-covered seat transforms into a memory-foam cushion bed topped with a Sofitel My Bed duvet and fluffy down pillows.
British Airways’ re-imagined First Class on the Boeing 787-9 carries a very British air of distinction. Swathed in hand-stitched leather and chrome finishes, the new design focuses on additional storage: a ottoman doubles as a case for shoes or handbags; a wardrobe and mirrored cabinet are accessible within arm’s reach; and a compartment for plugs and tablets is discreetly tucked beside an arm rest. Dual-screen viewing is possible through a smartphone-like handset and a 23-inch flat screen. The esteemed ambience wouldn’t be complete without a traditional afternoon tea with smoked salmon- and rocket lettuce- sandwiches and housemade scones and clotted cream.
Etihad’s The Residence, available on flights between New York, London Heathrow, Sydney and Abu Dhabi, goes far beyond offering extra leg room. The palatial (by airline standards) three-room suite, which incorporates lattice patterns and a desert-inspired color palette, feels like flying in a private jet. Multi-course affairs, whipped up by a dedicated inflight chef, are served on 24-carat gold-plated tablewear Bernardaud porcelain. A concierge sees to on-the-ground arrangements, and a Savoy Hotel-trained butler dresses up the double bed. At your disposal: a private shower furnished with an exclusive range of Acqua di Parma products.
There’s something soothing about the caramel- and grey-brown compartments of Lufthansa’s new first class. The floor is covered by noise-neutralizing insulation, the climate controlled by humidifiers, and generous portions of caviar are served before multi-course meals prepared by a rotation of chefs such as Diethard Urbansky of Restaurant Dallmayr in Munich. In the center of the cabin is a bar station, with an array of free-flowing wines and artisanal chocolates (including pistachio brittle, cactus fruit and sour cherry cream truffles). And when it’s time for slumber, the fauteuil slides into a Paradies-made bed—designed in consultation with the Berlin-based Charité sleep center—complemented with percale sheets and an oversized, temperature-regulating pillow.
ANA, All Nippon Airways
ANA’s first-class cabins may seem more subdued than those of its flashy competitors, but perhaps in the Japanese modus operandi, every detail and inch of space is accounted for. The minimalist cubes boast 30 percent more room than the previous generation’s curvy compartments and are supplemented with space-organizing cubbies to store laptops, glasses, and magazines. The textures and fabrics have been factored into passenger comfort: A cashmere-and-organic-cotton lap rug, a bedtime duvet, and a weight-distributing mattress topper are lightweight and breathable but also cozy and warming. Thanks to a new partnership with Conrad Hotels, passengers on flights from New York to Japan can (for a limited time) feast on dishes from the group’s Tokyo and New York–based restaurants, like branzino with ratatouille in a tomato saffron sauce. fly-ana.com
Source: Architectural Digest