Double beds, showers and unlimited caviar: From economy to first class, inside the plane-amazing cabins of the five best-rated airlines in the WORLD
- These airlines were ranked in the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards, known as the ‘Oscars of Aviation’
- Qatar Airways came first, followed by Singapore Airlines in second place and Emirates in third
- READ MORE: How YOU can land a plane – pilot’s video shows how a passenger could bring a 737 down safely
Offering unlimited caviar, massaging seats and menus by Michelin-starred chefs, no wonder these airlines are showered with praise.
They are the world’s five best-rated carriers, their ranking determined in the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards, known as the ‘Oscars of Aviation’. And here we break down exactly what you get when you fly with them. Read on for a deep dive into the perks you can expect with each airline and in every cabin, from economy to first class…
NO.1 – QATAR AIRWAYS
Topping the ranking is Qatar Airways – what can passengers expect from a flight with the world’s best airline?
Qatar Airways was named the world’s best airline in the prestigious Skytrax Awards – above is the airline’s first class cabin
Cabin crew offer a ‘bespoke turndown service’ in Qatar Airways’ first class, making up your bed with pillows, a quilted mattress and a ‘soft, plush’ duvet
Starting with the top tier cabin, Qatar Airways’ first class, priced from around £6,629 one-way, is only available on select A380 flights.
The seat is said to offer ‘complete privacy’ and features an ‘ultra-comfortable’ fully lie-flat bed and ‘ample stowage options’. Instead of a privacy door, there’s a raisable screen built into the side of the seat.
As well as loungewear by the British luxury label The White Company, perks include ‘elegant’ amenity kits from the prized French brand Diptyque that are packaged in ‘luxurious bespoke gift boxes’. These kits are rammed full of signature fragrances and body and face care products that are ‘designed to elevate the senses’.
When you’re ready to dine, you can order ‘signature dishes’ from an on-demand à la carte menu. Meals are paired with ‘artisanal’ bread that’s fresh from the oven and served ‘with the finest butter and a selection of infused olive oils’.
As for tipples, the cabin crew serve ’made to order mocktails’ and ‘exclusive vintages’. On the A380, there’s also a swish onboard cocktail bar that can be accessed by both first class and business-class passengers.
Those hoping to catch up on work at 38,000ft can take advantage of the onboard Wi-Fi and the laptop power points in first class.
When you’re ready to crash for the night, cabin crew offer a ‘bespoke turndown service’, making up your bed with pillows, a quilted mattress and a ‘soft, plush’ duvet.
Business class passengers, meanwhile, are treated to a stint in Qatar Airways’ award-winning Qsuite, available on Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft and priced from around £2,557 one-way.
These aft and forward-facing seats offer ambient mood lighting, fully lie-flat beds and ‘generous’ storage space.
Qatar Airways’ business-class passengers are treated to a stint in the award-winning Qsuite
Qatar Airways’ Qsuites feature doors and a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, so ‘slumber is guaranteed to be uninterrupted’
Passengers travelling with loved ones can take advantage of the ‘quad’ function – panels between seats can be moved to create one private space for up to four passengers.
For extra privacy, Qsuites feature doors and a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, so ‘slumber is guaranteed to be uninterrupted’.
Much like in first class, passengers also enjoy The White Company sleepwear and slippers, as well as a Diptyque amenity kit. Complimentary turndown service is another repeat perk.
It’s handy for working too – there’s Wi-Fi, an all-access power port, plus USB and HDMI ports that you can hook up to your devices.
There’s no premium economy, but Qatar Airways’ regular economy (pictured) is premium economy in all but name
PERKS – QATAR AIRWAYS
Costs from £616 ($762) to £6,629 ($8,209)
- ‘Oryx Kids Club’ for children
- A380 onboard cocktail bar
- ‘Quad’ function to turn Qsuite into space for four
- The White Company sleepwear
- Amenity kits by Diptyque
- ‘Exclusive’ vintages’ to drink
There’s no premium economy, but Qatar Airways’ regular economy is premium economy in all but name.
Moving to the back of the plane, economy class passengers sit in what’s billed as one of the ‘widest [economy] seats in the industry’ at a price of around £616 one way.
There are over 4,000 entertainment options on the Oryx One inflight entertainment system – a feature that’s also enjoyed by first class and business-class passengers. While they’re watching blockbusters, economy passengers can order movie snacks that create a ‘family cinema feeling’. Economy passengers can also access the Wi-Fi, but it costs extra.
Youngsters can take part in the onboard ‘Oryx Kids Club’, with in-flight activity packs and dedicated children’s channels and games on the Oryx One screens.
Tots also get a personal lunch box that’s packed with ‘tasty and healthy’ meals.
The carrier’s hub is the Qatari capital, Doha, which is served by flights from cities including London and New York.
Once the plane touches down, you can shop for souvenirs at the Souq Waqif bazaar, admire the city’s skyline on a dhow boat cruise and check out the exhibits at the striking desert rose-shaped National Museum of Qatar, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. Visit www.qatarairways.com.
NO.2 – SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Taking the silver medal in the Skytrax ranking is Singapore Airlines.
Looking to the more affordable end of the plane, economy passengers can expect to pay from £561 for a ticket. During the flight, they enjoy ‘premium service’ with cabin crew serving up complimentary drinks and snacks from a full-service bar. Passengers can even nurse an iconic Singapore Sling cocktail as they fly. Lunch could be stir-fried beef with steamed rice while dinner might be a pan-roasted fillet of fish with a lemon and white-wine sauce.
Passengers can also rifle through their amenity kits, which hold earplugs, an eye mask, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The airline’s in-flight entertainment system, KrisWorld, offers over 1,900 on-demand options from music to TV shows. Economy passengers who have signed up for the airline’s frequent flyer programme, KrisFlyer, can avail of a complimentary two-hour Wi-Fi surf plan.
Passengers flying in Singapore Airlines’ premium economy cabin can pre-order dishes from the ‘Premium Economy Book the Cook’ menu, such as seared pork medallions
Premium economy passengers, meanwhile, paying from £1,672 for their seat, get more dining choices than those in economy and can pre-order dishes from the ‘Premium Economy Book the Cook’ menu, such as seared pork medallions or stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts. Plus, KrisFlyer members can surf the web for up to three hours with the premium economy Wi-Fi plan.
What about those who turn left when they get on the plane? Business class seats – which turn into fully lie-flat beds – are priced from £3,612.
What’s more, couples flying in the centre-row seats of an A380 can turn their seats into double beds by lifting the personal divider that spans the entire length of the seat.
To stay fresh during their flight, passengers get a ‘luxury’ amenity kit that’s curated by the perfume brand Penhaligon’s of London.
Singapore Airlines’ business class seats – which turn into fully lie-flat beds – are priced from £3,612
To stay fresh during their flight, Singapore Airlines’ business class passengers get a ‘luxury’ amenity kit that’s curated by the perfume brand Penhaligon’s of London
PERKS – SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Costs from £561 ($694) to £10,095 ($12,501)
- Singapore Sling cocktails
- Pre-order dishes from the ‘Book the Cook’ menu
- Couples can turn centre seats into double beds
- Penhaligon’s of London amenity kits
- Meals by the ‘International Culinary Panel’
- Double suites
- Spacious bathrooms with sit-down vanities
- Taittinger and Krug Champagne
- Four-course menus
When mealtime rolls around, passengers select dishes from an onboard menu that includes meals crafted by the carrier’s ‘International Culinary Panel’ – a team of seven world-renowned chefs including Michelin-starred French chef Georges Blanc. Dishes are served on the ‘finest porcelain’ from the Japanese brand Narumi.
They can also pre-order fancy meals – popular dishes such as lobster thermidor – via the airline’s Book the Cook service.
As for wines to imbibe as they dine, the airline’s wine list is curated by a team of wine consultants that includes British wine expert Oz Clarke.
Handily for those catching up on emails during the flight, there’s unlimited Wi-Fi for business class passengers.
Next, we move along to the ultra-swish part of the plane – first class, where a ticket is priced from £10,095.
On the A380 the first-class offering comprises six suites in an ‘exclusive’ cabin on the upper deck, two of which are double suites.
These suites are ‘private cabins’ with closing doors and upholstered leather swivel seats by the Italian brand Poltrona Frau, as well as full-sized beds. Spacious bathrooms in the cabin feature sit-down vanities.
The first-class seats on the B777-300ER aircraft, meanwhile, are described as ‘extra wide’ seats with sculpted headrests that ‘maximise comfort and privacy’. Plus, they turn into 81in- (205cm) long fully lie-flat beds.
‘Gourmet dining’ is part and parcel of a stint in Singapore Airlines’ first-class. Passengers are treated to a four-course menu designed by one of the chefs on the International Culinary Panel, paired with fizzing glasses of Taittinger and Krug Champagne.
On the A380, Singapore Airlines’ first-class offering comprises six suites in an ‘exclusive’ cabin on the upper deck, two of which are double suites
Spacious bathrooms in Singapore Airlines’ first class A380 cabin feature sit-down vanities
The carrier’s hub is Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport, which is served by flights from cities including London and New York.
A green and contemporary city, Singapore is home to futuristic architecture, beautiful urban parklands – the most famous of which is Gardens by the Bay – and hawker centres that are full of superb street food stalls, some of which are Michelin-recommended. Visit www.singaporeair.com.
NO.3 – EMIRATES
Standing in third place on the podium – it’s Emirates.
An economy ticket with the Dubai-headquartered airline is priced from £525. There are 5,000 options on the inflight entertainment system, with a tailored offering for tots – kids get a pair of ‘funky headphones’ and can choose between 50 Disney classic films and over 100 kids’ TV channels. Children also get take-home toys and bags filled with ‘soft toys and blankets to cuddle with’, puzzles and colouring pencils.
An economy ticket with Emirates is priced from £525. Passengers get sustainable amenity kits that are ‘filled with essentials to help you arrive feeling fresh’
PERKS – EMIRATES
Costs from £525 ($650) to £7,095 ($8,786)
- Sustainable amenity kit
- Tailored offering for children with games and toys
- TV screen is ‘one of the largest in its class’
- Aqua Pour Homme toiletries
- Seats have personal minibars
- A380 cocktail bar
- Shower spa
- Bvlgari amenity kits
- ‘Moisturising’ pyjama sets
- Noise-cancelling Bowers & Wilkins E1 headphones
- Unlimited caviar
What’s on the menu in economy? Meals are said to showcase the ‘flavours of your destination’ – breakfast might be a cheese omelette, while lunch could be vegetable paella. Main courses are served along with complimentary drinks, crackers and cheese, as well as the carrier’s ‘sweet treat of the day’.
Both economy and premium economy passengers get sustainable amenity kits that are ‘filled with essentials to help you arrive feeling fresh’ – socks, eyeshades, a bookmark, a toothbrush and toothpaste, all made using recycled materials.
Other perks of premium economy – with a ticket priced from £1,465 – include the 13.3in HD screen, said to be ‘one of the largest in its class’. Premium economy seats are ‘designed to provide optimal comfort’, reclining eight inches (20cm) into a ‘comfortable cradle position with ample room for passengers to stretch out’. They’re covered in cream-coloured leather with ‘intricate stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to Business Class’. Tipples can rest on the seat’s side cocktail table.
Next up is the airline’s business class offering, priced from £2,745 a seat.
Business class seats recline to a fully-flat position and offer ‘ample’ storage space and a ‘high degree of privacy’. On the A380, all seats feature direct aisle access.
Another perk? Seats have personal minibars. But if passengers want a ‘speciality cocktail’ prepared for them by a waiting bartender, they can drop by the onboard lounge at the back of the A380’s upper deck, which is reserved for first and business-class passengers.
Emirates’ business class seats recline to a fully-flat position and offer ‘ample’ storage space and a ‘high degree of privacy’
Emirates passengers can drop by the onboard lounge at the back of the A380’s upper deck, which is reserved for first and business-class passengers
Travellers can choose from a menu of ‘regionally inspired gourmet dishes’ served on Royal Doulton china along with cutlery made for the airline by British brand Robert Welch.
Once they’re wined and dined, passengers can dig into their ‘exquisite’ amenity kits, which are loaded with hand mirrors, face creams, lip balm and shaving foam from Aqua Pour Homme and Bvlgari’s Omnia Crystalline collection.
Finally, Emirates’ A380 first class – the stuff of legend. It offers ‘fine dining, cocktail bars, privacy and shower spas at 40,000 feet’ with 14 suites with doors that can be slid closed. The first-class offering on the 777 is also highly regarded, with six fully enclosed first-class suites to choose from – though no shower or onboard bar.
Once seated, passengers can spritz themselves with the signature white tea fragrance from the Emirates Private Collection Bvlgari amenity kits, or dig through the luxury Byredo set, which features an Emirates skincare collection that’s said to ‘hydrate and soothe skin with vitamins, amino acids and chamomile extracts’.
There’s also a sleep oil and pillow mist that’s said to help travellers drift off for the night. What’s more, the complimentary Hydra Active pyjama sets are said to moisturise your skin as you sleep.
Emirates’ first-class offering on the 777 is highly regarded, with six fully enclosed first-class suites to choose from
If they want to stay up and watch a film, passengers can pop on their noise-cancelling Bowers & Wilkins E1 headphones, created exclusively for Emirates flights.
There’s unlimited caviar and Dom Perignon vintage Champagne to try, as well as a ‘cinema snack menu’ filled with treats such as salted popcorn, lobster rolls and sliders.
Naturally, this first-class experience doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting from £7,095.
Emirates flies to Dubai direct from destinations such as London and New York. Upon touchdown in the Middle Eastern city, wander around the exhibits at the novel Museum of the Future, go for a swim in the Aura Skypool – the world’s highest infinity pool – or take in the views from Ain Dubai, famed as the world’s largest observation wheel. Visit www.emirates.com.
NO.4 – ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS
Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) ranks fourth in the Skytrax ranking, with economy passengers paying from £1,149 for their seat on a long-haul Boeing 777-300ER flight.
The airline says that the economy seats, which have a grey and blue colour scheme, ‘exude Japanese character in every detail’. For added comfort, they feature a six-way adjustable headrest and come with a pillow and blanket.
Economy class passengers enjoy what’s billed as the ‘world’s largest personal monitor’ at 13.3in (34cm), and there’s a USB port and universal power supply for charging computers. As a memento of the flight, cabin crew can hand out complimentary ANA postcards and a pen.
Japanese airline All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) economy seats, which have a grey and blue colour scheme, are said to ‘exude Japanese character in every detail’
At dinnertime, they can nurse a glass of Tsukasabotan Junmai Dry sake with their meal or choose from a selection of wines and soft drinks.
Further along the plane, premium economy passengers can expect to pay from £1,832 for their seat, which has a 38in (97cm) pitch and a footrest. Passengers also have large tables that can swivel at 90-degree angles, and the touch screen TV is bigger than in economy – it’s a substantial 15.6in (40m) in width.
As another bonus, travellers get a pair of slippers, a shoehorn and an amenity kit that unzips to reveal a toothbrush set, an eye mask, ear plugs and tissues.
Premium economy passengers flying with ANA can expect to pay from £1,832 for their seat, which has a 38in (97cm) pitch and a footrest
Now to the pricier end of the plane. Both the airline’s business class and first-class seats have been designed by the British aviation experts Acumen along with the renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
ANA’s business class offering is a seat, known as ‘The Room’, that’s complete with a closing privacy door and aisle access. The airline says it’s ‘the world’s widest business class seat’ at 38in (96cm).
Handily for couples or family members flying together, the partition between centre seats can be lowered to create a shared space.
ANA’s business class offering is a seat known as ‘The Room’, which comes complete with a closing privacy door and aisle access
PERKS – ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS
Costs from £1,149 ($1,422) to £10,972 ($13,587)
- Tsukasabotan Junmai Dry sake
- Slippers and an amenity kit
- 15.6in (40m) TV screen
- Centre seats can become a shared space
- Curated sake menu
- Massaging foot roller
- ‘Suite’ seats can be turned into private twin rooms
- Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne
- Skincare products by Japanese brand The Ginza
- Duck down pillows
Using their Sony noise-cancelling headphones, passengers can watch films on a 24in (61cm), 4K monitor. The ANA Original Globe-Trotter amenity kit contains yuzu face mist and lip balm by the Japanese skincare label Shiro, as well as the usual toothbrush set, eye mask and earplugs. More perks include an ‘aroma card’ infused with the scent of a ‘lush, expansive forest’ and a massaging foot roller.
Pillows are bound in Egyptian cotton pillowcases and passengers can sleep under a down comforter.
Passengers can dine on a menu that’s curated by the head chef of the Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant Ginza Okuda. There’s also a curated sake menu, as well as a list of wines and Champagnes to swill as you fly.
How much will this luxurious experience set you back? Business class passengers can expect to pay from £4,561.
A first-class ticket, meanwhile, is priced from £10,972. ANA’s first class is a seat with a fully closing privacy door that’s known as ‘The Suite’, described as a ‘relaxing space [that] feels like a private suite at a five-star hotel’.
Partitions between the eight centre seats can be lowered to create private twin rooms.
The carrier’s first-class menus are crafted by ‘prominent chefs from inside and outside Japan’. You might have wagyu sirloin beef or a snow crab salad with caviar and smoked Japanese scallops. Sip on Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne or traditional Japanese matcha tea.
Pop on your organic cotton pyjama sets and cleanse your face with the premium products by Japanese skincare brand The Ginza, which are stocked in your amenity kit. Pillows are made using Hungarian white duck down and comforters are bound in a pure Egyptian cotton cover. The Nishikawa AiR bed pad is ‘favoured by many athletes when they travel abroad’, the airline says.
ANA’s first class is a seat with a fully closing privacy door that’s known as ‘The Suite’, described as a ‘relaxing space [that] feels like a private suite at a five-star hotel’
Above are the amenity kits that first-class passengers get when flying with ANA
‘The experience is so relaxing you’ll forget you’re in the sky,’ says the airline.
The carrier’s hub is in Tokyo, which is served by flights from cities including London and New York. Once you arrive, set your sights on exploring the city – experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Sokkon, roam around the beautiful gardens of the Nezu Museum, and spend an evening drinking sake in the bars of the city’s Sankaku Chitai alleys. Visit ana.co.jp.
NO.5 – QANTAS
Landing in fifth place is the Australian airline Qantas.
A seat in the airline’s economy class is priced from £1,495 (prices for a Dreamliner flight from London to Perth).
These seats are ‘ergonomically designed for optimal comfort’ and feature mood lighting and a foot net for support.
Passengers also get ‘stylish’ economy amenity kits – made from recyclable materials – that are filled with dental kits, an eyemask and earplugs.
Frequent complimentary snacks keep passengers going throughout the flight, and there are ‘award-winning’ wines to be savoured.
Solely on the London to Perth route, the airline offers a menu that’s been designed to ‘increase hydration and help reduce jetlag’. It includes cold pressed juice shots, organic kombucha, tuna poke salad bowls and a herbal tea that ‘encourages relaxation’.
Qantas’s premium economy seat, pictured, is said to offer a ‘class-leading level of comfort’
A premium economy seat on the same route would set a traveller back £3,328. In exchange, they enjoy more space and a dedicated cabin crew for a ‘personalised’ service.
The premium economy seat – said to offer a ‘class-leading level of comfort’ – features an ergonomically designed headrest and has a re-engineered footrest that ‘aims to optimise rest’.
Passengers can relax with a ‘welcoming’ glass of Australian sparkling wine. Dishes from a ‘contemporary’ menu – such as black pepper beef with oyster mushrooms – are served on tableware designed by leading Australian designer David Caon.
Taking the luxury levels up a notch, a business class ticket is priced from £6,359. Seats, which turn into fully-flat beds, are said to offer privacy and space.
Passengers can pull on their Qantas pyjamas and snooze under their 100 per cent cotton duvet. Amenity kits hold terry cotton and jersey eyeshades, bamboo socks and an array of balms and creams that are ‘brimming with botanical ingredients’.
Passengers flying business class can pull on their Qantas pyjamas and snooze under their 100 per cent cotton duvet
On the Qantas A380, there’s a private bar area for business and first-class passengers to enjoy, complete with ‘ambient lighting and deep cushions’
Travellers won’t go hungry, either. They’re said to enjoy a ‘restaurant-style’ dining experience with a seasonal menu by the Australian TV star chef Neil Perry.
Throughout the flight, the cabin crew can also prepare snacks such as toasted chicken schnitzel and Swiss cheese sandwiches. On the Qantas A380, there’s also a private bar area for business and first-class passengers to enjoy, complete with ‘ambient lighting and deep cushions’.
Qantas’s first-class ‘suite’ features an ‘expansive armchair’ with an in-seat massage function
PERKS – QANTAS
Costs from £1,495 ($1,851) to £8,774 ($10,865)
- ‘Stylish’ amenity kits
- Anti jetlag menu
- Australian sparkling wine
- Tableware by designer David Caon
- Qantas pyjamas
- ‘Restaurant-style’ dining from chef Neil Perry
- A380 bar area
- In-seat massage function
- Couples can dine together
- Pillow menu
- Skincare from Australian brand LaGaia
There’s no first class on the Dreamliner, but there is on the A380. A first-class ticket from the carrier’s hub in Sydney to Los Angeles is priced from £8,774.
The first-class’ suite’ features an ‘expansive armchair’ with controls built into the armrest that operate the in-seat massage function, inflight entertainment, lighting and window shades.
If passengers are travelling with a loved one, they can dine together in the same suite – a leather ottoman serves as a second seat.
Some of Qantas’ cabin crew are trained sommeliers, identifiable by their brooches, which look like a bunch of grapes. They can offer expert advice on which wines and Champagnes best match travellers’ meals. As for canapes, passengers might enjoy a caviar tartlet with cauliflower cream with their glass of fizz.
When night falls, the cabin crew offer a turndown service that’s said to transform the suite into a ‘luxurious bedroom’ with bedding by the Australian brand Sheridan, a pure cotton woven throw, a duvet and a memory foam mattress. Passengers can even handpick their pillow from a pillow menu.
Charcoal-coloured cotton pyjamas with a pair of matching slippers are also offered, while amenity kits are filled with a range of skincare products from the Australian skincare brand LaGaia, bamboo socks and more.
Qantas’ non-stop 17-hour flight from Perth operates from London Heathrow. Once you arrive in the Western Australian city – and recovered from the jet lag – spend your days perusing the stalls at the historic Fremantle Markets, getting a culture fix at The Art Gallery of Western Australia and sunbathing on the beach by Hillarys Marina. Visit qantas.com.
*Prices are correct at the time of writing. Prices are based on flights from London to each carrier’s hub, except in the case of Qantas.
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