Words by Jason Dutton-Smith
Travelling first class was always reserved for the super wealthy, the uber famous and the elite few. In today's golden age of travel it has actually never been cheaper or more accessible to fly first class. In fact, first class cabins seem to be making room for the ultra-luxurious first class suites as airlines look for new and exciting ways to entice travellers.
With the introduction of Etihad's latest first class offering, The Residence looks more like a small apartment than an airline seat. The latest incarnation of the first class airline seat has taken in-flight service to a whole new level. Here we take a look at the airlines who offer a first class cabin on flights from Australia.
Etihad Airways The Residence & First Class Apartments
Upping the ante in luxury and privacy, the world's most luxurious flying experience debuts on Etihad Airways with the offering of The Residence and a new first class cabin First Apartments. The Residence is available exclusively on the airline’s new A380 which is due to fly between Sydney and Abu Dhabi and beyond, including daily flights to London Heathrow.
The Residence - Luxury and privacy are taken to the next level with three suites making up the The Residence. The Living Room includes a double-seat sofa with ottoman, two dining tables, a chilled drinks cabinet and 32-inch flat screen TV. The Ensuite Bathroom includes personal bathrobes, exclusive amenities and a private shower. Finally the Bedroom includes a double bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and choice of pillows.
First Apartments' - Upholstered with fine Italian leather by Poltrona Frau, the first apartments feature a large living space (large enough to walk around) with an over-sized armchair, ottoman, wardrobe, 24-inch TV, vanity cabinet, chilled drinks cabinet and room for two people to dine together. If travelling with a companion, wall dividers can be lowered to join rooms. This is undefined luxury in the sky exclusive to the Etihad Airways A380 experience.
The Qantas first class seat stretches out to a 6'6 bed. The unique 'bedding-down' service includes a sheep skin mattress, duvet, sheets and pillow to maximise rest on long journeys. Entertainment is a 17' flat screen TV with over 500 on-demand movie, music and games options.
Dining can be enjoyed a-la-carte or with an eight-course tasting menu with an on-demand dining service. The menu is prepared by celebrity chef Neil Perry and the meals are coupled with award winning wines, champagnes and various liqueurs. Meals are served at your private dining table which has space for a guest.
As the pioneer of the enclosed first class privacy suite, each suite offers personal ambient lighting, a private mini-bar, fully flat bed, vanity mirror and table and sliding privacy doors which are electronically controlled. The gourmet dining experience is served al-a-carte and at the time of your choosing. Dishes are individually plated and served on Royal Doulton fine bone china.
The on-board shower spa allows you to arrive refreshed and ready for arrival. The in-flight spa features a selection of Bvlgari toiletries and signature Timeless Spa products. Mingle at the bar with fellow passengers while enjoying a selection of canapés, cocktails, wines and more with a dedicated bar tender available to all first and business class passengers.
On-board the Singapore Airlines A380 you will find the largest armchair in the skies today, hand-stitched by master Italian craftsman Poltrona Frau. A private sanctum with sliding privacy doors and private window blinds, the suites are further enhanced with leather and wood trim finishes.
The gourmet meal selections have been crafted by a panel of world-renowned chefs and the meals are accompanied by a carefully selected list of cellar wines. Book the Cook allows you to choose from over 60 meal options in advance of your flight for a planned meal. Entertainment is enjoyed via a personal 23-inch TV screen and listening is enhanced with Bose noise cancelling headphones. A multi-port and USB connection are also available for continuous use of laptops and personal mobile devices.
Contemporary British design and cabin sophistication is matched with superior service and attention to detail. The First Class seat folds to a 6'6 bed and includes a quilted mattress, cotton duvet and pillow for maximum sleeping opportunity. Exclusively designed for the first cabin, the signature Anya Hindmarch bag includes the premium skincare product range.
The dining choices include a full a-la-carte menu or lighter options. Created in conjunction with some of the world's top chefs, the tantalizing cuisine is made with the freshest ingredients. Entertainment options abound, and the viewing pleasure is enhanced by the 15-inch TV screen. State-of-the-art noise-cancelling headphones are also included. Facial and massage options are available at the exclusive Elemis Travel Spa at London Heathrow terminal 3 or 5 and at New York’s JFK terminal Seven.
The new Royal First seat on the A380 and the refurbished 747 interior draw from the rich and diverse culture and heritage of Thailand. Each seat slides into a fully flat bed and comes equipped with a large table that doubles as a work station. An ottoman foot rest or companion seat is a popular feature when inviting a guest for work or to dine. Additional cabin features include change rooms and a lounge seating area.
In-flight entertainment offers a range of video and music selections from the personal 23-inch TV screens. Exclusive dishes in Royal First can be pre-ordered ahead of time for a meal that is individually tailored. Ease into the long flight ahead and enjoy a traditional Thai massage at Bangkok Airport prior to departure.
United Global First is available on select long haul aircraft and features a fresh and modern design. Flat-bed seats that recline to a full 6'6 bed are complemented by a turn down service with duvet and pillows. Large dining tables double as a work station with laptop power and USB ports.
Meals are from the specially designed menu offering several course selections and accompanied by the finest wines from California and beyond. On-demand entertainment options on the personal 15.4-inch video monitor are complemented with noise cancelling headphones.
On the all new A380, a new generation of seats has arrived at China Southern. Suites include a sliding door to create a private studio within the dedicated cabin on the upper deck. Fully flat beds in a generous 1-2-1 layout ensure direct aisle access for all passengers. Each suite has an in-built mini-bar, shoe stowage and large dining table that couples as a work space.
A 15.4-inch TV screen is loaded with entertainment options and includes movies, TV shows, e-books and games. Noise-cancelling headphones add to the listening pleasure. Dining options are a mixture of Chinese and Western food and are matched with a premium wine selection and espresso coffee.