Money might not buy happiness, but when it comes to airline travel, it certainly goes a long way to make the journey enjoyable. Beyond silverware and hot towelettes, there are a ton of services and amenities that make first-class travel a luxury bucket list experience.
If you're willing to splurge, don't just book any airline. "Not all first classes were created equal," says Emily McNutt, associate news editor at flight authority The Points Guy. "Do your research—know what you're purchasing and what the experience will be like." For example, McNutt points out that domestic and international carriers vary greatly. "Whereas on the domestic aircraft, you'd probably get something like a recliner seat in a two-two seating configuration, on the long-haul widebody plane, you'd probably be looking at a suite with a lie-flat seat," she points out.
It's also worth noting that many airlines are doing away with first class altogether as they elevate the business class experience. In fact, McNutt's most extravagant flight was a trip in Emirates business class. "I had been traveling for more than 24 hours, I didn't want to get off the plane when we landed," she recalls. Ever dreamt of flying first class? These are the best first-class airlines that are worth your time and heard-earning money, says a flight expert.
Review: "[Singapore Airlines] just launched its brand-new first class earlier this year, and it is arguably the best you'll find. They're full-on suites. You'll have supreme privacy and both a chair and separate bed inside your suite."
Perks: A single or double bed, Poltrona Frau leather armchair, cotton Lalique duvet, dining or workspace, Bose noise-canceling headphones, 32-inch HD screen, and Lalique amenity kits.
Review: "Emirates also launched a new first class last year on its 777-300ER. While there is no separate seat from bed, it's also a fully enclosed suite with some advanced tech. The hard product—and soft product—is great. On the A380, you'll even get a shower in the cabin."
Perks: 40-square-foot enclosed suite, virtual windows, Safari binoculars, 32-inch TV with access to 2500 channels, custom-controlled mood lighting, and climate control.
Review: "With a comfortable hard product and supreme service that Cathay is known for, you'll find one of the best firsts with the Hong Kong-based carrier."
Perks: Intimate six-seat cabin, small closet, mattress pad and comforter, 15.4-inch TV, Bose noise-canceling headphones, Aesop amenity kit, and set of pajamas.
Review: "Etihad's The Residence was created to be like a residence. In it, you'll get your own shower, living room with couch and separate bedroom with bed."
Perks: Three private rooms including a living room, bathroom, and bedroom; seats made of European leather; in-suite mini-bar' automatic blinds; shower; double bed.
Review: "Lufthansa's signature red rose makes it a cozy and warm experience in its first class."
Perks: Valet parking, a personal assistant, ottoman with storage space, Van Laack pajamas, La Prairie amenities.
Preparing for a long-haul flight? Here's what our editor wears time times she flies.