Top 25 Business Class Airlines
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The 1960s—considered the “golden age of air travel”—may be long gone, but the 25 carriers below are bringing glamour back to the international skies. Whether you’re flying to Sydney, Seoul or somewhere in between, the following airlines offer business travelers five-star service:
International business class travelers can enjoy cuisine by renowned Canadian chef David Hawksworth without leaving their flatbed suites. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick says the carrier also provides “the fastest elapsed travel times to Asia and Europe from many U.S. cities”—a major boon to U.S. executives.
AIR NEW ZEALAND
Passengers flying Business Premier can kick up their feet in luxurious, 22-inch leather armchairs that convert to beds and feature separate ottomans doubling as visitor’s seats. Officials say Air New Zealand’s dining experience is also unique, with the Kiwi carrier serving business travelers premium New Zealand produce and wines.
ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS
Japanese carrier ANA ensures first- and business-class travelers stay comfortable—and don’t bump into their neighbors—by providing all passengers with aisle-side seats that convert to flat beds. Elite travelers also benefit from the expertise of master chefs and beverage specialists, who plan all meals onboard ANA flights.
Business and first-class travelers en route to Asia, Europe or Latin America can tune out the world with complimentary Bose noise-cancelling headphones and American Airlines’ extensive in-flight entertainment offerings. Keeping passengers as comfortable as possible also led AA to design motorized lie-flat seats with additional legroom for tall patrons.
Passengers flying business class can sleep soundly in their fully flatbed seats, which span nearly 6.5 feet and feature an innovative air cushion system; once awake, they can utilize their seats’ massage function. Amenity bags containing sleeping masks, earplugs and hygiene items provide further comfort for business travelers.
In addition to providing all business class passengers with fresh, locally sourced meals, the airline offers those flying from select East Coast cities the option to enjoy pre-flight dining in one of its lounges. While in flight, memory foam headrests and quilted blankets help passengers rest easily.
Asian hospitality permeates every Cathay Pacific flight, with flight attendants greeting all business-class travelers by name and presenting them with luxurious amenity kits. Business-class seats are also top-notch, featuring separate settings for sleeping and sitting and coming equipped with fluffy pillows and a soft duvet.
DELTA AIR LINES
The airline’s recently rebranded Business Elite section—dubbed Delta One—offers international business travelers American luxury at its finest. Patrons can rest in their 180-degree flatbed seats after partaking in chef-curated meals and expertly selected wines. Delta can even accommodate 17 special meals for travelers with dietary restrictions.
After resting in one of Emirates’ private suites—which feature fully flat beds with mattresses—elite travelers can bathe in a luxurious A380 Shower Spa. Business class travelers can also utilize the carrier’s complimentary chauffeur-drive service, which provides transportation to and from the airport in more than 70 cities.
Luxury reigns supreme at Etihad Airways, with the United Arab Emirates-based carrier offering first- and business-class travelers personal chauffeur services in more than 40 cities. While in flight, airline patrons can consult a dedicated food and beverage manager about Etihad’s award-winning cuisine and the best food and wine pairings.
Sparing no expense for Premium Laurel (business) class passengers, the Taiwanese carrier offers travelers cuisine from around the world paired with top-quality wines. Cabins in Premium Laurel class are also lavish, airline officials say, featuring 2-2-2 seating arrangements with state-of-the-art hard-shell seats that provide electrically controlled lumbar support.
The Southeast Asian airline’s business class brings new meaning to traveling in style, with Garuda Indonesia offering elite passengers a host of amenities. Each traveler receives a hypoallergenic pillow, a plush duvet and a luxurious L’occitane kit, as well as tasty cuisine prepared by five-star chefs.
A foodie’s dream, Japan Airlines “sets a new standard for in-flight meals,” airline officials say. First- and business-class travelers can choose between custom Japanese and Western fare, as well as delectable wine and sake pairings. Well-satiated passengers can then rest in their private Sky Suites, which feature fully flat beds.
Patrons of Korean Air’s first and Prestige business classes can converse with fellow passengers at the “Celestial Bar,” a chic cocktail lounge on all A380 aircraft. After imbibing, elite travelers can indulge in carefully selected Western, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine and relax in their nearly 22-inch-wide seats.
From 180-degree reclining seats that convert to beds to menus created by renowned local chefs—and wine pairings by South America’s most-celebrated sommelier—LAN Airlines pulls out all the stops for business travelers. Guests of the Chilean carrier’s Premium Business class also enjoy access to state-of-the-art entertainment systems.
NORWEGIAN AIR SHUTTLE
Affordability is one of Norwegian’s biggest assets, with the carrier offering travelers amenities—such as three-course meals and cabins with 46 inches of legroom—at a modest price. “With Norwegian’s Premium business class, [employees of smaller] businesses can now afford to travel to Europe,” says spokeswoman Réal Hamilton-Romeo.
Chauffeur service to and from the airport (at select locations) and complimentary 15-minute massages at one of the carrier’s lounges are just some of the benefits first- and business-class travelers enjoy with Oman Air. On-flight, passengers can indulge in signature Arabic dishes as well as award-winning wines and Champagnes.
For an airline that claims to have invented business class, it’s no surprise that Qantas rolls out the red carpet for customers. Spokesman Stephen Moynihan says the Australian carrier provides business class travelers with lie-flat seats and “a host of healthy food options,” in addition to premium airport lounges.
Comfort, spaciousness and tech-savviness are the hallmarks of Qatar Airways’ business-class cabins, officials say—with all cabins featuring large, private workspaces equipped with OnAir mobile service and Wi-Fi connectivity. And after working up an appetite, business travelers can consume expertly crafted meals designed by two celebrity chefs.
The Singaporean carrier “raises the bar for the business class experience from product innovation to in-flight menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs,” says spokeswoman Miranda Zackowski. Singapore Airlines has also redesigned its business class seats to provide travelers with personal business centers and help them achieve a deeper recline.
SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES
Travel professionals consistently name Swiss as Europe’s top business airline—a title that officials say is well deserved. Along with providing business-class passengers spacious workspaces that convert to 78-inch flat beds—equipped with massage functions—Swiss offers elite travelers personal comfort kits with warm- and cool-weather accessories.
With business-class cabins inspired by Thailand’s rich culture, Thai Airways provides an unforgettable experience for Royal Silk Class patrons. After being handed tropical juices, passengers are fed Thai cuisine to suit the most sophisticated palates. Business-class travelers also enjoy 180-degree, fully lie-flat beds and 15- to 16-inch touchscreen TVs.
Business-class passengers are greeted with welcome drinks as they board the plane—a standard of service that is maintained throughout the flight, Turkish officials say. Along with serving restaurant-quality cuisine and cocktails, the airline gives passengers access to its international lounges—where travelers can shower in luxury.
With two different business-class offerings—UnitedBusiness, for shorter international flights, and UnitedBusinessFirst, for long-haul routes—the Chicago-based carrier covers all the bases in air travel. UnitedBusinessFirst, for instance, offers passengers amenities such as 180-degree flatbed seating, noise-reducing headsets, hot towel service and a four-course meal with beverage pairings.
“Extra little touches”—such as limo service to and from the airport and the presence of on-board bars in every cabin—characterize Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class experience, says spokeswoman Lisette Kwong. The carrier also enables elite travelers to utilize a private security area at its London Heathrow Airport hub. n
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