First class flying first became a thing back in 1955 when TWA offered two separate services on its Lockhead constellation aircrafts.
Today, almost all major airlines offer some form of premium seating separate from typical economy seats.
That said, the level of luxury, comfort, amenities and overall pampering can vary drastically by airline.
So we’ve put together our top 12 list of most luxurious airline cabins in the world. This list is not necessarily in descending order from best to worst, but just a collection of the most noteworthy first class flights available in 2021.
Keep in mind that many first class flight offers are being pulled due to the ongoing concern of COVID-19, so we will do our best to keep this list updated as offers become added or discontinued.
In this post you'll learn:
Etihad Airways – The Residence
If it weren’t for the windows in the cabin, the Etihad Airways’ Residence, may have you believe you’re actually in some tiny, yet luxurious, hotel room rather than 30,000 miles in the sky.
What gives this cabin that feel?
For starters, the seating. With cozy double beds and armchairs you’ll wish you had at home, sleeping on this plane may even be easier than sleeping on the ground. You’ll also fly in complete privacy, have a bathroom—outfitted with a shower—all your own, and be waited on by a server from the comfort of your cabin. But what really makes this choice stand out is the size. Each of this cabin’s three rooms (yes, three rooms!) is completely private and large enough that you can walk around comfortably, and you can head to your bedroom when you’re ready to call it a day without having to convert any recliners.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York NY (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) = USD $23,067.35.
🍷🍱 Food and Drink: Customizable meals curated by top chefs (ex. Abu Dhabi farmed caviar and sea bass) and expert wine pairings to go with them.
🖥 🚿 🛎 Perks: Three-bedroom apartment measuring 45 square feet, private shower, 27-inch flat-screen TV, personal butler.
Take a 3D tour of The Residence here.
Singapore Airlines Suite
Singapore Airlines is a crowd favorite when it comes to flying in comfort and being treated like royalty, and we agree that it offers one of the best luxury flights out there. Though more similar to a standard first-class flight than the Etihad Airways experience above, this is still a truly unforgettable cabin.
This flight promises private cabins with lush seats and in-flight accommodations designed to make you feel over-the-top pampered. You’ll only need to share a bathroom with a few people and there are sliding privacy doors in every compartment. Also worthy of mention are the countless storage options provided to guests in each cabin, most of which are padded and closeable to accommodate fragile and delicate items as needed.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York NY (JFK) to Singapore, Singapore (SIN) = ~USD $23,000.
🍾 🥩 Food and Drink: Bottomless Dom Perignon champagne and gourmet meals that can be chosen in advance (ex. Dim sum including lobster dumplings and fish congee).
🖥 🛍 Notable Perks: 32-inch TV, Italian leather upholstery, adjustable lighting, sliding doors, ample storage.
Emirates – First Class
The next time you need to take a long-haul flight and want to really do it right, check and see if Emirates airline of the United Arab Emirates has a First Class route available. Designed in partnership with travel and tech industry giants Mercedes-Benz and Panasonic, these cabins put most other luxury cabins to shame.
These cabins are surprisingly roomy at 40-square-feet and highly customizable, letting you toggle everything from lighting and temperature to the angle of recline on your seat/bed. And if all of this isn’t enough to help you sleep like a baby, you can step into the shower spa attached to your cabin for a rinse and unwind with a movie and drink. Don’t forget to use the high-end toiletries left for you—like the pajamas, skincare products, and blankets—for the full effect.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB) = ~USD $13,600.
🥃 🍗 Food and Drink: Regional a la carte meals and canapes (ex. Arabic mezze and grilled lamb cutlets), extensive fine wine selection, and Dalmore King Alexander III whiskey.
🖥 🚿🧴 Notable Perks: Onboard shower spa, Byredo skincare, mini bar, privacy doors, vanity, TV with 4,000 channels, adjustable temp.
Take a 3D tour here of Emirates First Class here.
Air France – La Premiere
Air France takes luxury flying seriously, and it shows. The La Premiere cabin displays all of the class and sophistication France is known for in both design and hospitality. Four private suites in pleasing neutral tones and decadent materials await first-class passengers in La Premiere cabins, and every detail is as luxe as it gets.
When you fly La Premiere with Air France, you’ll get a memory foam seat that transforms into an extra-long bed, a touch screen TV equipped with free streaming, more storage than you’ll probably need, and curtains for privacy. And of course, the French cuisine is memorable, to say the least. These cabins are known for providing high-quality accommodations and sparing no expense when it comes to in-flight goodies (bathrobes, beauty products, you name it).
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Paris, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) = ~USD $16,500.
🍷 🍖 Food and Drink: French cuisine curated by Michelin chefs (ex. foie gras terrine and simmered veal with verbena) and high-end wine and champagne.
🖥 🛏 🧺 Notable Perks: 24-inch touchscreen TV and entertainment system, extra-long bed, cloakroom, ottoman, bathrobes, and high-end amenities and bedding.
Cathay Pacific – First Class
Cathay Pacific’s first-class cabin boasts the widest seats offered by any airline at 36” across, but that’s far from where the luxury stops. This cabin features ultra-comfortable reclining seats in roomy suites that, while not 100% private, are only connected to the suites behind and in front of them, giving them a secluded feel.
These suites are also notable for having ottoman’s with seat belts in them, or buddy seats, so you can invite another passenger to have a meal with you if you’re traveling with someone. But food is where Cathay really pulls out all the stops. From champagne and caviar on mother of pearl spoons to some of the highest-quality fish and cuts of meat available, inflight fine dining with Cathay is sure to wow even the most difficult-to-impress travelers.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Hong Kong = ~USD $20,000.
🍺 🍲 Food and Drink: Asian-inspired and global cuisine on an a la carte menu (ex. marinated abalone and peking duck with black truffle) and fine tea and alcoholic beverages including Betsy beer.
🖥 🎧 🧺 Notable Perks: Extra-wide seats, cotton pajamas, mattress topper, adjustable television, closet, Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Lufthansa – First Class
Another airline that knows how to spoil its passengers is Lufthansa, a German airline that provides a next-level first-class cabin chock full of services and extras. Routes all around Europe and across the globe are available in limited supply with this top carrier.
This cabin is a little more unassuming in appearance than some of the others on this list, but don’t take that to mean that it’s any less comfortable. The recliner/beds deserve the attention they get, because they’re somehow even cozier and more inviting than they look, thanks to the German engineering that brought them to life. Lastly, the food is not only incredible in quality and presentation but also curated with inspiration from the region you are traveling to or from, making for a unique dining experience you won’t soon forget.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) = ~USD $7,000.
🍷 🍲 Food and Drink: “Vinothek Discoveries” wine selections, caviar service, and multi-course meals (ex. caviar and seared beef filet).
🖥 🎬 🎧 Notable Perks: Personal assistant, amenity kit, ergonomic seating, television with over 100 movies and 200 TV channels, Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Qatar Airways – First Class
Another big player in the luxury flying game is Qatar Airways, the flag carrier of Qatar in the Middle East. Qatar Airways also offers a business class that you’d never know wasn’t top-tier first, called QSuites. Be sure to check this option out too if you’re going to be flying globally in the near future.
What makes this cabin special is not one thing in particular but a collection of many carefully thought-out details. The first thing you’ll notice when you board is how aesthetically pleasing the whole cabin is, with everything in sharp neutrals and rich accent colors. Next, you’ll likely take in the large television that can be found in your mostly-private suite and the countless amenities from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio of Italy that await you. Not to be outdone by the others, Qatar also offers stellar food and drink options that passengers can select before flying. The seat isn’t too shabby either, especially when you kick back with your complimentary slippers.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Qatar (DOH) = ~USD $15,000.
🍸 🥗 Food and Drink: A la carte menus featuring vegan and non-vegan choices (ex. parsnip soup and rack of lamb), caviar service, and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
🖥 🎬 💻 Notable Perks: Frette linens and duvet, TV with 4,000 movies and channels, onboard Wi-Fi, Bric’s (reusable) amenity kits.
Qantas – First Class
Next on this list is the premier Australian airline Qantas’ first-class cabin. Each swiveling pod is extra-wide and features privacy walls on every side, so you’ll likely see other passengers only when you board and get off the plane. When you’re ready to turn in, ask for the turndown service and watch your recliner be transformed into a plush bed outfitted in Sheridan linens.
This cabin may not have the square footage or total privacy that some of the others on this list can offer, but it does have inflight entertainment, in-seat massages for every passenger, and plenty of storage. And you can’t forget about the fine dining or this airline’s dedication to sustainability. First flyers can enjoy slipping into bamboo socks and opening complimentary hygiene and skincare products free of plastic packaging.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Sydney, Australia (SYD) = ~USD $5,000.
🥂 🍤 Food and Drink: A la carte options and tasting menu-style meals (ex. Lobster cocktail and seared blue eye), award-winning wine and champagne pairings recommended by a “Sommelier in the Sky.”
🖥 🎬 🍿 Notable Perks: In-seat massages, sustainable amenities, Sheridan linens, inflight entertainment including new release movies and TV shows.
Japan Airlines – First Class
The Japan Airlines first-class cabins are sophisticated and notoriously well-kept, making this another no-brainer on our list. Each seat measures 23 inches across and has its own privacy dividers on every side. Storage is not only ample but thoughtfully designed, and you’ll love the configuration of your cabin when it comes time to kick back with your seat on an ottoman.
Your personal TV is equipped with fan-favorite shows and movies, and you’ll get a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones to use. On top of that, Japan Airlines showers first-class passengers in amenities. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love this airline for both the quantity and quality of its food. You’ll be treated to several appetizers inspired by traditional Japanese cuisine and a lengthy list of (superb) a la carte entrees to choose from.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Tokyo = ~USD $26,000.
🥂 🍣 Food and Drink: Numerous Japanese small plates and entrees (ex. Dainomono and scallop with spicy cod roe) and champagne (including Louis Roederer Cristal).
🧴 👘 🎧 Notable Perks: Choice of hard or soft mattress pad, pajamas, Japanese skincare products, amenities Etro, Bose noise-canceling headphones.
ANA – The Suite
ANA or All Nippon Airways, another Japanese airline, deserves a spot with the best-of-the-best. Each cabin is ultra-private with high walls and sliding doors, roomy for even the lankiest of flyers, and has an extra-wide seat measuring 33 inches across.
Many passengers in this cabin are impressed by the cuisine, which offers both Japanese and Western choices, all expertly prepared and exquisitely presented. Also fan-favorites are the pajamas and cardigans offered on every flight, the high-resolution personal televisions that span a whole wall, and the seat/bed often touted as one of the most comfortable available in luxury flying.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to Tokyo = ~USD $23,500.
🍾 🍜 Food and Drink: Japanese and Western gourmet menus (ex. Foie gras bowl and simmered duck in soy sauce) and drinks including Krug champagne and wine chosen to compliment available dishes by experts.
🖥 💡 🚪 Notable Perks: Sliding door, Samsonite amenity kits, 43-inch 4K TV, adjustable partitions for middle seats, adjustable lighting.
British Airways – First Class
The British Airways First Class cabin is stylish and features staggered cubicle-style seating for increased privacy. Passengers will find many high-end amenities awaiting them at their seats, which are cushioned with foam for long-haul comfort.
British Airways prides itself on providing great service and amenities, including inflight entertainment, pajamas, toiletries, and more. Wi-Fi is available for a small additional charge. The food in this cabin is phenomenal and has been improved upon greatly in recent years, so you don’t want to miss out on what’s cooking. The TV at every seat, though a little smaller than some of the others at 15 inches, comes with ports for your devices and noise-canceling headphones.
💸 Price: Round-trip from New York, NY (JFK) to London, England (LCY) = ~USD $13,000.
🍾 🍤 Food and Drink: Pre-packaged British a la carte cuisine (ex. king prawns and Welsh lamb shank), tea, and Laurent Perrior Grand Siecle champagne.
🖥 🚪 💡 Notable Perks: Sliding door, ottoman, personal adjustable TV, adjustable lighting, Temperley London pajamas, Elemis amenity kits.
Virgin Atlantic – Upper Class
Wrapping up our list of greats is Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin, which offers first-class travel renowned for its extra-long beds and great crew. This British airline travels to the United States, several parts of Europe, Central America, a few countries in Africa, and select Asian and South Asian destinations. Seats are connected in rows but angled away from each other and with partitions between each.
Meals can be pre-selected (but please note that this feature is not currently being offered due to coronavirus travel restrictions) and there is something for every palate on the menu. Another thing to love about this choice is that it is more widely available than some of the others on this list, though still a little hard to come by at times. The earlier you check for an upper class ticket, the better.
💸 Price: From New York, NY (JFK) to London, England (LCY) = ~USD $18,000.
🍷 🍝 Food and Drink: Gourmet meals that can be pre-selected (ex. spicy butternut soup and seafood linguine), full-service bar serving Berry Bros. and Rudd wine, and Eric Lanlard Mile High Tea with refreshments.
🖥 🎬 🎮 Notable Perks: Adjustable lighting, amenities, personal TVs with movies and games.
About the Author:
Lauren is a writer and editor specializing in personal finance and education. She works for the digital publishing company, Dotdash, as a content update editor and writes for APYGUY and SavingforCollege when she's not writing for FlyerGeek.