What lies behind the thin divider that separates first class from the plebes like us in coach? Join us as we pull back the (very expensive) curtain and reveal exactly what you're missing when you're not flying first class.
Imagine stepping off a plane showered, refreshed, and ready to tackle your arrival city, or taking a nice hot shower before sleeping on a lie-flat bed at 30,000 feet. Emirates' A380s are equipped with two showers stocked with Timeless Spa toiletries and fluffy towels. First-class guests can take a hot shower high in the sky, although showers are limited to five minutes long—even a first-class ticket can't buy an unlimited water supply in the sky.
First-class flyers are literally breathing a more rarified air on Lufthansa. The carrier's A380s regulate cabin humidity so the elite class doesn't have to get dehydrated on flights like the rest of us. Lufthansa claims that the improvement in air humidity helps fight off jet lag, too.
(Photo: Karl Baron via flickr/CC Attribution)
Forget thin, scratchy toilet paper. ANA's first-class bathroom features warm-water bidet toilets for flyers. After all, they didn't spend thousands on a first-class ticket to wipe their own butt, did they?
A Seat and a Bed
We consider ourselves incredibly lucky if the seat next to us is vacant. But on Lufthansa, first-class passengers get both a seat and a bed all to themselves. The first-class cabin on the B 747-400's upper deck seats only eight passengers, so each first-class flyer gets a bed by the window and the adjacent aisle seat. They can sit in the chair and watch their personal TV, then lie flat in bed and gaze out the window while the sound-absorbing curtains and sound-deadening insulation block out the jet noise and lull them to sleep.
(Photo: Chauffer via Shutterstock)
A taxi or, heaven forbid, a subway ride to the airport—how pedestrian! First-class flyers on certain Qantas flights are whisked from their house or hotel all the way to the gate. Their journey starts with a "first host" who calls the day before departure just to see if they need anything for the journey. The day of, a chauffeur picks them up (for free) and drives them straight to the gate. Not only are they fast-tracked through immigration, but they also have a special boarding lane at the gate, so they can cut the line to get on the plane at any time.
Cathay Pacific (Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution)
Hand-Crafted Sculptural Artworks
If first-class flyers get bored with the extensive entertainment options on their personal entertainment system, they can always turn their gaze to the hand-crafted sculptures by Maria Lobo and Linda Leviton displayed in Cathay Pacific's first-class cabins. Hopefully these sculptures are stowed tightly—we'd hate for the rich and famous to get hit in the head with a first-class projectile during turbulence.
(Photo: Singapore Airlines)
A Personal Suite
Forget the "spacious legroom" that other airlines boast. On Singapore Airlines, first-class passengers can have their very own room on an airplane. Designed by French luxury-yacht interior designer Jean-Jacques Coste, the suites on the A380s have sliding doors for privacy, 78-inch beds (with turndown service, of course), leather seats, and 23-inch flat-screen TVs. The elite class can join the Mile High Club in style by booking two of the suites in the center cabin—the privacy blinds can retract and the beds can be pushed together to make a double for couples.
Champagne (Photo: Creative Commons)
In coach class, we're lucky if we get a full can of soda. In first class, passengers slake their thirst with the finest Champagne. Real bubbly snobs should fly Oman Air or Qantas, which both serve Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, named the best first-class sparkling wine in last year's annual Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky awards.
(Photo: American Airlines)
Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones
When the personal assistants to the elite forget headphones and first-class flyers can still hear the losers whining all the way back in coach, American Airlines has them covered. First-class guests get special AA-exclusive Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones to use during flight. Unfortunately, passengers don't get to keep them.
You don't expect first-class flyers to decant their fine toiletries into plastic bottles like commoners to accommodate the 3-1-1 rule, do you? In first class on Qantas, there's no need to pack toiletries—passengers get a first-class amenity kit stocked with products from SK-II, considered one of the most expensive beauty brands in the world.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title What You're Missing in First Class.
(Lead Photo: Singapore Airlines)