Top 10 Airlines for Business Class Travelers

Written by Your VIPTRIP Team on April 10th, 2014

Singapore Airlines. Among its many best-in-class offerings, Singapore Airlines has a stellar culinary program: There’s Givenchy tableware and a special “Book the Cook” option that enables passengers to preorder their main course from a lengthy online menu.

SWISS. Attention to detail is what sets this airline’s business cabin apart: Expect out-of-the-box touches like all-veggie menus from Zurich’s Haus Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant.

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Top 10 Airlines for Business Class Travelers

Virgin Atlantic. Business travelers love this perennially popular carrier for all the reasons you’d imagine — modern planes, an upbeat staff and loads of perks in the cheekily named “Upper Class” like 22-inch-wide beds that convert to 33 inches when it’s time to sleep.

British Airways. The airline’s lie-flat seats have a distinctive “Z” position that extends to 6 feet, 6 inches and is ideal for watching movies, and the carrier’s lounges also garner top marks.

Cathay Pacific. This Hong Kong carrier still stands tall when it comes to providing passenger comfort, with one of the world’s widest business-class seats at 32 inches and a side storage compartment that doubles as extra knee space for those who prefer sleeping on their side.

Qantas. Passengers on this Australian carrier recline in award-winning Mark Newson-designed Sky Beds with massage options, and airline staff members do a turndown service with a mattress and duvet on request.

Etihad Airways. Etihad’s Pearl business-class cabin features 6-foot-1-inch flat beds with privacy shells and direct aisle access from every seat; food and beverage managers for each passenger; and thoughtful touches like mood lighting to help ease jet lag.

Oman Air. This airline offers door-to-door service with complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers in select destinations such as Paris, London, Muscat, Oman and Mumbai, India.

Qatar Airways. The airline was the first to offer different wine selections going East and West out of Doha, Qatar, so that frequent fliers enjoy different selections on each leg

Emirates. The fact that Emirates has one of the youngest fleets in the sky doesn’t hurt its reputation as one of the luxury airlines to beat.

“Nowadays, business class is a lot better than first class used to be.”

Or so says Philippe Kjellgren, cofounder and CEO of Hotel Insider — a resource for upscale travelers to research, book and experience luxury hotels. And he should know: Kjellgren travels about 150 days every year for work and is a connoisseur of everything from flat beds — which the 6-foot-2-inch executive considers essential — to in-flight drinks and dining.

Gailen David, a former flight attendant-turned-travel expert with Savvystews.com, can also speak to airlines’ business-class transformation.

“When I started in the industry, a big seat, legroom, cocktails and upgraded meals were pretty much all that you could expect. Now expanded menu choices and infinite entertainment are pluses I’ve quickly become accustomed to.” David also gives points to airlines that strive to create a convivial onboard atmosphere. “If an airline has a bar at the galley it makes the flight a little more fun.”

The business-class experience also now extends beyond flying time. Frequent travelers weigh lounge options and add up additional perks such as chauffeur service to and from the airport. “One really important element is what I call anticipatory service,” Kjellgren says. “It makes a big difference when airline staff know what travelers want and are prepared to customize.”

In compiling this list Executive Travel established certain baseline criteria, like fully flat beds, something each of the airlines on the list offers. Many also have ample space between seats and easy access to the aisle — configurations that certain airlines, like Swiss and Singapore, have mastered. We consulted several sources, from SeatGuru.com to London-based Skytrax, which operates the World Airline Awards, a global benchmark of airline excellence based on extensive customer surveys. We also scanned reader surveys from trusted sources like Travel + Leisure magazine (a fellow American Express Publishing publication) and intel from industry insiders like veteran flight attendants and savvy travel bloggers.

 

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