These first class suites are the best in the sky

Inflight showers and personal ‘IMAX’ screens are just an appetiser for what awaits at the pointy end.

By Chris Ashton, March 15 2024
These first class suites are the best in the sky

Flying first class is the ultimate travel goal for many, with bespoke amenities, refined service and menus playing like a symphony on your palate just a few of the premium perks for those who ‘turn left’.

That said, not all first class suites are equal. Some airlines, including Singapore Airlines and Emirates, have taken the concept and run with it, dialling up the indulgence to leave almost all others in their wake. 

Yet these aren’t the only ones worth stepping into – there’s a world of sky high luxury to be enjoyed, whether travelling to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and beyond. More are in the works too.

From bespoke bars and showers to enclosed private ‘apartments’, these are some of the best first class suites in the air.

 

All Nippon Airways First Class (Boeing 777)

Silky dark chocolate interiors, sliding doors and an IMAX-like 43” 4K screen are just the topline features of The Suite – ANA’s Boeing 777 first class, which was envisaged as a bridge between Japanese and Western philosophies.

Central seats are divided by a moveable partition.
Central seats are divided by a moveable partition.

Designed by architect Kengo Kuma and British firm Acumen, known for its work with Etihad, the suites were inspired by luxury Japanese hotels and each contain a fully flat bed and more storage options than you’ll know what to do with.

An AC power point and USB outlet are discreetly hidden under a lift-up panel by the monitor.
An AC power point and USB outlet are discreetly hidden under a lift-up panel by the monitor.

As you’d expect given Japan’s culinary reputation, dining is exceptional, with every artfully-arranged morsel developed by ANA’s team of internationally renowned chefs. Sommelier paired wine and sake is of course available.

Each suite has a small wardrobe to hang your jacket.
Each suite has a small wardrobe to hang your jacket.

Embodying the Japanese ‘omotenashi’ philosophy of hospitality, business and first travellers enjoy access to mini fridges stocked with drinks and snacks in a self-serve bar space.

Cathay Pacific First Class (Boeing 777)

Cathay Pacific has long been preferred by those doing business in Asia’s World City. And with the Hong Kong-based airline now firmly back on the global stage, so too are the opportunities to nestle into its Boeing 777 first class.

There are no sliding doors here, just classic simplicity and space.
There are no sliding doors here, just classic simplicity and space.

First introduced in 2007, it may not be the newest in the air, yet it retains a distinct charm with its airy design hugged by curved divides. A fresh ‘Halo’ suite is expected to jet off on Cathay's much-delayed Boeing 777X – scheduled for delivery from 2025.

Storage options are rather limited.
Storage options are rather limited.

For now, passengers can set their sights on a la carte menus blurring the lines of Cantonese and Western fare, backed by an award-winning cellar overflowing with premium wines, Champagne and even the airline’s own ‘Betsy’ pale ale.

Crew will happily make up your bed when needed.
Crew will happily make up your bed when needed.

Enhancing the experience is an 18.5” HD screen and Bose noise cancelling headphones, plus the convenience of inflight Wi-Fi.

Emirates First Class (Airbus A380/Boeing 777)

All that glitters is probably gold in Emirates’ A380 first class, which reserves 14 suites hugged by high burled walnut panels, onboard showers to freshen up, and even a lavish social space for its most valued guests. 

Ambient lighting helps set the mood for relaxation.
Ambient lighting helps set the mood for relaxation.

Fashioned as a private sanctuary, the suite is stocked with snacks and drinks for the moment you settle in, with the option to have a full meal or midnight snack – plus vintage Champagne, wine and cocktails, of course – whenever you choose.

Lounge wear and slippers are also supplied.
Lounge wear and slippers are also supplied.

Beyond these you’ll find a 32” HD screen and noise-cancelling Bowers & Wilkins headphones, adjustable mood lighting, a 6’ 5” fully flat bed, and toiletries from luxury brand Bvlgari.

Of course, first class is also found onboard Emirates’ Boeing 777 – and there are two variations in the sky: an older version, which is similar to that on the A380, and a more spacious newer model, as shown below. 

Emirates' newer Boeing 777 first class.
Emirates' newer Boeing 777 first class.

However, only the Airbus A380 has the addition of showers and, of course, that curvaceous horseshoe bar, making it a more comprehensive experience.

Etihad First Class (Airbus A380)

Living the suite life is easy on Etihad’s A380, home to that dramatic three-room suite known as ‘The Residence’, followed by nine first class apartments – each large enough to stretch out in style, either on your comfy leather recliner or the separate bench come bed.

True to form from the Gulf carrier, geometric design flourishes abound, from the technicolour cushion to the peekaboo sliding privacy screen and the milk chocolate upholstery.

First apartments also include a chilled mini bar and personal wardrobe.
First apartments also include a chilled mini bar and personal wardrobe.

Within the mirrored vanity you’ll find a luxe amenity bag from Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani, stocked with toiletries from ESPA and intended to accompany you long after you disembark. 

The 'folio bag' is large enough to fit a 13" laptop.
The 'folio bag' is large enough to fit a 13" laptop.

When you’re feeling peckish, you can dine at any time from the à la carte menu, paired with wines of course, or perhaps partaking in the signature cognac service.

Japan Airlines (Airbus A350)

Oneworld member JAL caused quite a stir with its new flagship Airbus A350 cabins, on which six ultra-premium first class pews have arguably set a new standard for jaunts across the Pacific.

The unique design contains two seats side-by-side; a total width of 1.23m (48”).
The unique design contains two seats side-by-side; a total width of 1.23m (48”).

Since its January 2024 debut between New York and Tokyo, the aircraft’s allure has only grown on the back of features like headphone-free listening and three seating modes: sofa, seat and single or double bed.

Noise-cancelling speakers are built into the headrest.
Noise-cancelling speakers are built into the headrest.

In addition to a concealed wardrobe there’s also under-seat stowage, as the first class cabin has no overhead luggage bins in order to “create a more open individual atmosphere.”

First class flyers are cocooned behind walls up to 1.57m (62”).
First class flyers are cocooned behind walls up to 1.57m (62”).

The suite also includes a 43” 4K monitor, which makes it feel like a personal cinema in the sky. 

Qantas First Suite (Airbus A380)

Whether you’re hopping up to Singapore or across the Pacific to LA, the Qantas A380 is a very fine chariot indeed, especially at the front of the main deck, where you’ll find a spacious open suite fitted with everything to make your flight as smooth as possible.

The armchair faces forward for taxi, take-off and landing, but can then rotate towards the TV.
The armchair faces forward for taxi, take-off and landing, but can then rotate towards the TV.

A distinctly retro vibe flows through the Qantas first class experience, starting on the ground at the Sydney and Melbourne lounges, and extending to the onboard aesthetic where wood panelling, brushed metal and charcoal trims abound.

The A380's large windows are electronically controlled.
The A380's large windows are electronically controlled.

When the in-seat massage has you suitably relaxed, you can change into your charcoal and maroon trim pyjamas while the crew transforms your seat into an 83” fully flat bed, enhanced by a pillow menu and memory foam mattress.

There's nothing ground breaking about the pyjamas, but they are high quality.
There's nothing ground breaking about the pyjamas, but they are high quality.

Of course, this generation of Qantas first class will soon be eclipsed when the Project Sunrise Airbus A350 debuts in 2026 – and with it, an altogether more indulgent first class sanctuary.

Qatar Airways First Class (Airbus A380)

Although plans were afoot to retire its A380s, Qatar Airways’ signature superjumbo – the only one in its stable to feature first class – is here to stay for years to come.

Seats are arranged in an open 1-2-1 layout.
Seats are arranged in an open 1-2-1 layout.

On board are eight beige and burgundy Qatar first suites in an open design which trades sliding door seclusion for the luxury of space and even allows you to dine with a plus one thanks to a comfy ottoman.

Meals can be pre-selected in first and business class.
Meals can be pre-selected in first and business class.

While Emirates and Singapore Airlines pip it in the privacy stakes, it still feels like an oasis, with an optional screen that can be raised or lowered to your liking. A 26” screen with seat-side controls and ample storage round out the features.

The inflight bar is arguably one of the best in the air.
The inflight bar is arguably one of the best in the air.

If you’re feeling social, head to the upper deck premium lounge, shared by business and first class, for a tipple or two. Top shelf spirits, Champagne, canapes and cheese platters are a handful of the moreish menu items.

Singapore Airlines First Class (Airbus A380)

More than a seat, Singapore Airlines’ A380 first class is akin to a hotel room in the sky – sliding doors, richly-upholstered leather recliner you can swivel to the TV or view outside, and a separate bed long enough for most people to sleep soundly.

Embrace the suite life onboard Singapore Airlines' A380.
Embrace the suite life onboard Singapore Airlines' A380.

Spanning up to 4 sq m, the suite adheres to an almost futuristic silver and grey colour scheme, while gadgetry takes the form of a 32” touch screen and B&O headphones, plus a remote for adjusting lighting and entertainment. 

There are only two coveted 'double rooms' on Singapore Airlines Suites flights.
There are only two coveted 'double rooms' on Singapore Airlines Suites flights.

Multiple charge ports are provided for your devices, not to mention plenty of storage to keep the space tidy. That includes at-hand nooks and even a full-size wardrobe for your coat and carry-on. Branded pyjamas and slippers are nestled within.

This bathroom is first class all the way.
This bathroom is first class all the way.

Beyond the seat is a bathroom with a sit-down vanity – not unlike one in a Beverly Hills boutique – and a range of luxe toiletries.

Swiss First (Airbus A340/Boeing 777)

Sometimes less is more. That mantra and way of life was no doubt an inspiration for the design team behind Swiss’ current first class, which eschews glitter and gold in favour of clean lines and timeless textures.

Take off relaxed, travel in comfort and land feeling refreshed.
Take off relaxed, travel in comfort and land feeling refreshed.

From its blue-checked seat to the timber-panelled bookshelf, its beauty is in simplicity. The 32“ screen is the only ‘bling’ to be found. Instead, it’s about embracing the finer things, of which menus by Michelin chef Patrick Mahler firmly fall into.

Meals can be pre-selected up to 24 hours in advance.
Meals can be pre-selected up to 24 hours in advance.

Following the meal, you can ask the crew to make up your bed while you duck off to slip into the provided PJs, and then settle in to enjoy the extensive onboard entertainment collection.

Pyjamas from Swiss brand Zimmerli add to the relaxation.
Pyjamas from Swiss brand Zimmerli add to the relaxation.

Of course, just like Qantas, Swiss will soon welcome an exquisite new first class on the Airbus A350 from 2025. It’s the same ‘Allegris’ suite also coming to Lufthansa, albeit in a more refined claret, black and blonde timber palette.

04 Sep 2019

Total posts 55

qantas, cathay and qatar all have substandard first class.......avoid at all costs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

Qatar?  Are you certain of that?  Please do share your experience in that regard.

23 Sep 2023

Total posts 5

I was going to say that Cathay bed looked pretty damned comfortable.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1518

Rubbish - Cathay is one of the best First that I tried and Qantas is not far behind - FWIW my best sleep (twice!) was in QF First - they have exceptionally good bed. Absent of flimsy sliding doors that everyone passing by can overlook? I do not even give a damn.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 130

Great article  , I've been fortunate enough to experience EK first class and must say the service was impeccable. I did notice depending on the age of their A380,s that there was a slight difference in product .

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 80

Those Qantas seats alongside the windows seem to do everything possible to take away your privacy, and make it difficult to use, including the twisting seat idea!

Why can't they fully enclose the seats like other airlines?

16 Dec 2016

Total posts 54

P1 you yourself have repeatedly stated that you haven't flown Qantas for years, yet you always have a dig at everything about Qantas.  It gets a bit boring a redundant mate, this should be a space to add to the conversation, not just throw in comments when you have a clear axe to grind.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 169

...two bob's worth. 

I've flown EK First 6-8 times, EY First 3-4 Times, QF First 10-12 times, QR First 2 times and SQ First 3-4 times. 

I cannot comment on the rest (but would like to try the new JAL). Here's my blunt two bob's worth.

QF, well, it's dated, things don't work, and it's no longer up there. Alas. EK? Yeah, nice, but depending on the craft, it can be a little dated Still, it's nice. EY, this will sound odd; it felt too big, and I feel a little lonely there - but, like EK, the showers before you land are a ripper. I do, though, sleep well. QR, it's just dated, too. The seat is comfy, and the service is fine (Champers is great), but you'd be better off in a Q Suite (but not on the A380, of course). 

Which leaves SQ. If you want to know what the complete package feels like, this is your answer. Yes, no shower, not over the top, but there is a reason SQ is the premium product. They serve effortlessly and with a sincere smile.

Cheers!

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 974

I agree 100% with your 2Bobs, people do mock the SQ no shower and there is room for it I feel in the current space.

SQ for me everyday

23 Sep 2023

Total posts 5

I get what you mean about the suites being too big.

Funny you talk about things not working.  I've flown QF first a couple of dozen times and BA first once.  The BA flight (SFO to LHR) there were maybe 4 of us in first and they quietly let us know that the plane was not going to fly so they ushered us (me in my PJ's) past a lot of puzzled passengers in the gate lounge to another BA plane which did fly about 30 minutes later.  Some of the suite lights didn't work, and couple of other minor things. I didn't really care but they said to file a complaint and they sent me a few hundred quid of duty free vouchers.  What I remembered was they saved me a night stuck at SFO and the duvet was crazy comfortable.

Even when stuff doesn't work 100% in A it's still a really bloody nice way to fly.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2018

Total posts 16

No Air France La Premiere? That seems like an oversight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

IMOP CX & QR are the best all round experience, considering the soft & hard combination & you can’t go past the QR bar & service (just pips EKs)! For value, also don’t pass up THA, their suite + service is comparable to the top tier airlines & the private suite @ Bangkok 1st lounge with butler service is perfect after a long flight from the UK. Not to mention the caviar service in flight was top class!! 

28 Mar 2024

Total posts 1

Hello,  one would like to sincerely thank all of those who take the time to share their experiences on this platform.  The inexperienced readers like myself greatly appreciate the words of wisdom.

Although I am yet to be fortunate enough to have progressed beyond business, I intend to join the First Club in the coming year.  It is my intention to travel between LHR and a US destination yet to be determined.  If any of those who have experienced such routes and would like to share their thoughts and recommendations, all responses will be appreciated.

Thank you in anticipation ….


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on These first class suites are the best in the sky