New first class from Emirates, Singapore Airlines, British Airways

By David Flynn, September 21 2015
New first class from Emirates, Singapore Airlines, British Airways

While business class seats seem to keep getting better, some airlines still keep refining their first class offering to be – well – better than better.

More room, more comfort and more refinement dovetail into a higher grade of meals, wine and service for those passengers who are prepared to pay top dollar.

Here's a quick rundown of the next wave of first class suites being developed by three of the world's leading airlines.

British Airways: first class refined

Big Ben is counting down to the launch of British Airways' new first class seats and cabin when the airline's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner takes to the skies in late October.

With quilted seats, automotive-inspired chrome finishes and contrast stitching, the look is quintessentially British: elegant high-touch style with detailing that's less bling and more Bentley.

The new-look BA First has been created specifically for the Boeing 787-9 and will see just eight seats nestled into the Dreamliner's nose.

Each of those seats is a measured upgrade to BA's A380 First, which was itself finessed from the original First concept introduced on the airline's long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets.

Developed for BA by London design firm Forpeople, BA says the seats take into account extensive feedback from its regular first class travellers.

This means more storage for items large and small, a more easily-accessible coat locker with a mirror fitted to the inside of the door, and space to rest your smartphone or tablet while it recharges from the seat's USB socket.

The 23 inch video screen has also been fixed into position so movies and TV shows can be enjoyed on a 'gate to gate' basis rather than having to stow the screen during taxi, take-off and landing.

Also read: Is this British Airways' next Club World business class seat?

Emirates: A380 meets luxury yacht

Emirates is expected to unveil a new 'private bedroom' first class suite for its Airbus A380s this year, with an airline exec revealing the design will be "more like a private railway cabin."

However, unlike the luxe three-room The Residence on Etihad's A380, Emirates' VIP suite won't come with an Etihad-style butler service and will be "more commercially viable for passengers" said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates' divisional senior vice president, speaking on the sidelines of Dubai's Arabian Travel Market earlier this year.

The design of the new private cabin will be based on today's Emirates first class suites, which are fitted with sliding doors, but is "more as a room concept" according to Al Mualla, "more like if you're in a railway and have a private cabin."

Emirates' current A380 first class suite is set for an overhaul
Emirates' current A380 first class suite is set for an overhaul

But such perks won't cost the earth, with Al Mualla indicating the new cabin will be pitched at "almost the same pricing" as Emirates' current first suites.

Tim Clark, President and CEO of Emirates, has previously said the "our new bedroom concept will take [privacy] to the next level."

"That's very much in our current First Class private suites product, and our new bedroom concept will take it to the next level."

"We're talking fully enclosed rooms, with all the touches and amenities that you'd expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on."

Scuttlebutt suggests the supersuite could be located at the front of the superjumbo's main deck, which is currently given over entirely to economy seats, with Dubai-London tipped as the launch route.

Singapore Airlines: new A380 Suites for 2017

Not to be left behind, Singapore Airlines – which created the 'suites' category when it flew the world's first Airbus A380 in 2007 – will unveil all-new first class suites and business class seats for its A380 fleet in 2017.

What's next for Singapore Airlines' private superjumbo suite?
What's next for Singapore Airlines' private superjumbo suite?

"We are working hard on a new ground-up first suite and business class product that will be unveiled when we put into service the next batch of A380s, which are coming in 2017," Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President Commercial, Mak Swee Wah told Australian Business Traveller at the launch of the airline's new premium economy seats.

However, Mak wouldn't be drawn on details of the new cabins, including if SQ would add shower suites to the pointy end of the plane.

"I don't know about showers" he said. "We have to do what is sensible and what the customers want, and come out with product which fits the market segment who wants exclusivity, privacy and comfort, and not just the suite but the whole package."

Also read: The Airbus A380 first class concept cabins you never saw

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

Will be intresting what EK and SQ do with their First Class...


By more like a 'railway design' I think they will do a 1-1 config and follow in the shadow of EY. It will also be intresting about their new 'Private Room'

SQ will be very intresting, I wouldn't be too suprised if they didn't change much as they have one of the best First products in the business

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 444

I get the impression that BA is falling into the habits of the 3 American airlines - the 'it will do' approach.  Yes it's new, yes it's slick...but it's more like a decent business class - not a first class.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 143

Agreed Chris. BA's is certainly more like a very elegant and refined J seat. Dissapointing... but then, US and EU based carriers aren't known for being innovators - rather pushing evolution on the tried and proven.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 249

Initial response was it looked very much like the new Virgin Autralia buiness class suite.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1245

BA's First seat = the world's best Business seat

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 273

Some people call BA's F class the 'worlds best Business class product'. That is so spot on - though even offerings fron Singapore on their newer seats are matching this - BA needs to get more involved in making a real F seat. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

10 Jul 2015

Total posts 15

SQ needs a bar! Virign has, Emirates has...come on SQ. Otherwise is pretty hard to beat. Much better than a shower

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

Showers are unnecessary in this age of arrivals lounges.

In-flight bars?  In Suites?  Nah...  Bars are more of a business-class thing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 204

Why waste valuable space on on-board bars and lounges? I'd rather those precious millimetres be assigned to more personal space in F and J.

09 May 2015

Total posts 33

Nah...who wants to muck around with the working classes. 

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 271

If Airlines want to take First class seriously they need to think up better schemes than just 'upgraded business class'

There are still people out there that want First class albeit perhaps on less routes

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