First Class is a relative term. For those who haven’t left the lower 48 states, First Class likely means premium economy (or does premium economy really mean first class). But even the most avid globetrotters underwent seismic adjustments to their understanding of first class this year.
The undisputed world champions in first class seats have been and remain three: Emirates, Etihad and Singapore Airlines. All three offer first class suites with enclosed private cabins, full-length beds and finishes worthy of a Monaco stateroom.
Lets get to the seats:
Emirates made its old “suites” look like coach
It’s actually unlikely that anyone would mistake the Emirates A380 suite — the one that YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat brought to widespread public consciousness — resembles economy class.
But those old A380 suites, showers and all, sure look miserable compared to what Emirates designed as a replacement.
Whereas Emirates previously squeezed four suites across the upper deck of the A380, it spread its new suites three across on its new 777-300ER jets. Gone are the burled wood and gold accents, instead replaced by a Mercedes-Benz inspired interior.
Perhaps most impressive is a feature we have never seen before on a commercial jet: artificial windows realistic enough to give passengers in the center suite an honest impression of the window-side aesthetic.
Singapore Airlines spreads out
Since it appeared, the widely considered best physical first class space has been the Etihad apartment. Featuring a recliner and separate bed and couch, Etihad’s cabin was something worthy of a small party.
Singapore Airlines now has something to say about that. The suites include 74-inch (6 feet, 4 inch) beds that can be converted into doubles via a partition. Alongside there is a 21-inch wide swivel recliner chair. Each suit includes a closet, mini-bar and vanity.
Like Emirates, Singapore is reducing the number of suites in its first class cabin (from 12 to 6).
As many airlines eliminate their first class cabins, those that retain them appear to be going all in to appease the smallest percentage of customers. This is likely bad news for points and miles travelers, who will have fewer opportunities than ever before to fly in suite products.
It’s a good thing business class, also, advanced by significant measures this year. In many cases, those lucky to snag the latest business class suites (Q-Suite, DeltaOne) can experience a small semblance of the more liberal and pedestrian first class suites of yesteryear.
Point Me To The Plane is looking back at the most important trends in air travel this year. What do you think is the biggest story? Share in the comments below!