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As every jet-setting SCARCI customer will no doubt tell you, not all airlines are created equal. Indeed, there are few things worse than creasing your Italian resort wear while being cramped against a airplane window, with little to look forward to on your flight other than a tray of stale sandwiches.
Thank goodness then, that despite the many low-quality examples of air travel providers out there, there’s an opposite end to the spectrum in this industry. Indeed, air travel can often be one of the last remaining bastions of accessible luxury, providing unique experiences filled with wonderment and exclusivity. It seems that each year, competing airlines go the extra mile to up the decadence and increase the comfort, taking luxurious in-flight services to ever-rising heights of brilliance. What better way could there be to start a holiday or business trip, than by enjoying such efforts made in business class for high-flying travellers?
So, without further ado, let’s peek behind the partition curtain, and take a look at the headiest heights of luxury offered by the most elite airlines on earth. See you on the runway...
There’s no doubt about it: waiting for your flight at the airport can be extremely stressful. Not only do you have to constantly keep your eye on the departures board (praying that this time, there’ll be no delays…), but you have to share your space with rowdy parties, arguing couples, overworked attendants - in short, there never the kinds of places you’d consciously choose to hang around in for hours on end.
However, if you’re spending your waiting time in one of the many elite airport business lounges found worldwide, you might even find yourself hoping for a lengthy delay on your flight. The best examples of these have become sanctuaries of sophistication, using world-class food, drinks and service, alongside awe-inspiring architectural design, to soothe even the most on-edge of travellers. Indulgence and relaxation awaits, and here are a couple of our absolute favourite examples worldwide:
Firstly, if you’re looking for the absolute height of sophistication to found in an airport, you’re going to have to head down under. Qantas has long been associated with luxury travel (and let’s face it, if you’re travelling to or from Australia, you’re in for a long trip…), and the Qantas First Class lounge is Sydney is their flagship display of everything the company represents.
Upon entering this business lounge, you’re initially struck by the design. The whole space is made of natural materials, gently undulating and curving around the space. There isn’t a straight line to be seen, and the effect is one of soothing modernity and excellence in craftsmanship. This level of perfection is carried through to the food and drink, too - Qantas boasts an award-winning Pan-Asian kitchen, cooking up the freshest local seafood and mixing a range of impeccably designed cocktails for their patrons. It’s quite possibly worth the journey it itself.
Ask any fan of German motoring, and they’ll tell you that our cousins in central Europe really know their stuff when it comes to sleekness, style and efficiency. The Frankfurt airport business lounge is a teutonic masterclass is elegance; patrons have access to a cigar lounge, offering the finest Cuban produce alongside a range of rare vintage brandies, and the bar boasts an array of fine Kabinett Riesling wines that puts many treasured cellars to shame. To top it all, there’s the option of being chauffeur-driven to your airplane in the latest Porsche supercar… who could possibly say no to that?
Of course, for many flyers, the stress of travelling by air doesn’t necessarily end once you’ve left the airport. While flying can often be uncomfortable and have travellers feeling on edge, those who are dedicated to seeking out luxury experiences can find all manner of blissful encounters in the air! It’s in this field that certain airlines are able to flex their creative muscles, and offer unique sensory experience to their business class customers.
Take Thai Airlines, for example. Their mottos is ‘Fly Sabai’ - sabai translating in English to ‘healthy mind and body’. They offer a range of spa experiences at 35,000 feet that ensure their clients are relaxed and ready for their upcoming holiday. Head massages, aromatherapy, back and shoulder relaxation… all of these services are offered by Thai Airlines skilled practitioners, allowing travellers to let go of their worries and thoroughly enjoy every moment of their flight.
We’ve not yet seen anything in the air, however, that can compete with Emirates’ ‘Shower Spa’ on-board experience when it comes to in flight relaxation. Top-tier business class flyers with this luxury airline have access to a genuine power shower, which comes complete with branded towels, and a huge range of Bulgari shampoos, soaps and body lotions. While you’re getting dry and dressed in your luxury Italian clothing, the cabin crew will be preparing a fresh cold-pressed juice for your enjoyment, with the option of a massage while you drink it. Heaven!
Remember when airplane food was synonymous with plastic-wrapped inedible rubbish? In the luxury sector, nothing could be further from reality than this. Nowadays, no self-respecting high-end airline is complete without a superb wine list, a top-notch cocktail menu, and food options prepared and designed by award winning chefs. But which are the best of the best?
While there are countless examples of luxury in-flight meal providers out there today, most luxury travellers would wholeheartedly point to ANA - a Japanese airline - as being the one which most consistently dazzles while in the air.
The ANA luxury dining experience features an array of beautifully and expertly-made sushi and sashimi dishes (their octopus salad looks like a work of art, almost too good to eat), and diners can also opt for their twelve course tasting menu, constructed to show off the talents of their chef. This comes with a wine flight featuring several famous vintages, and a series of aged Sakes, too. If you’re a traveller with a sweet tooth, then you’re in luck with ANA; their desserts have been designed by Pierre Herme, 2015 winner of the World’s Best Pastry Chef award. It doesn’t get much better than this!
For most luxury travellers, the quality of a business class seat is measured by one factor above anything else: the amount of space one can enjoy. We all love to stretch out our legs while flying, and in recent years, luxury airlines have been in a race to see who can offer the most comfortable, spacious and relaxing sky-bed experience in the air.
Singapore Airlines, who know a thing or two about luxury in-flight services, are currently on top of their game when it comes to bedtime. Their mattresses are an enormous 35” x 85” - bigger than many beds found in people’s homes! Not only are they sizable, but they’ve upped the comfort with down-filled pillows, and a luxurious mattress topper for extra comfort. Don’t fancy sleeping just yet? You’ll also have access to a mini-bar, a fully-stocked entertainment system, and mood lighting to ensure you’re as relaxed as possible.
The other key contender in the bed stakes is Etihad. If you’re feeling sleepy while flying with this Emirati airline, they’ll offer you a full-size bed to snooze in, which comes with a walnut-wood panelled en-suite bathroom, as well as a branded bathrobe to throw over your luxury resort wear. Quite simply, you won’t want to get off the plane when it touches down at your destination!
So, there you have it: our countdown of some of the most luxurious air travel services found anywhere on the world (or above it). If you’ve encountered any such services, or think we’ve missed anything vital from our list, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org