Sure there is a flatbed, bubbly, caviar and top-notch service to spoil you. But what is beyond this, that makes flying first class so much fun. A frequent traveler answers anonymously on Quora.
I used to be a heavy business traveler in Asia and frequently got first class upgrades on some of the top airlines in the world due to high frequent flyer status. Low premium cabin demand in late 2008 due to the financial crisis made for amazing upgrade opportunities! International first class, especially on top airlines like Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Emirates, or British Airways is completely different than anything offered by US airlines where first class means a slightly larger seat and a modest meal (vs nothing at all).
Cathay Pacific’s First Class lounges are amazing. The food is catered by the Pennisula Hotel and there is buffet breakfast lunch and dinner with western and Asian options. Anyone who is Cathay Pacific Diamond / OneWorld Emerald can use it in addition to paid first class travelers. I’ve bought a $70USD economy ticket to Bangkok and gotten almost that much value out of the high end food an drinks from the lounge! The business class lounge has a really good made to order noodle bar and the waiter will run over and get it for you if you know to ask. In addition to the food, free internet, magazines, etc. the top of the line Wing Lounge in Hong Kong has five private cabanas that are shower suites with a day bed and a peaceful stone river running past it. In addition to departure lounges, some major hub cities (NY, Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt) have arrivals lounges.
If your gate is more than a certain distance from security at Hong Kong Airport they give you a ticket for a golf cart to take you out to the gate. If you have a tight connection they’ll meet you at your arrival and wisk you off to get to your connecting flight. Lufthansa does this with Cars at some European airports.
Private security lines:
Some airports have private security lines. At some places, this just means a shorter line. At others, this means a separate, more private screening area.
Fresh cooked food
On Asian airlines, the long-haul first class food is cooled to order. Tell them how you want your eggs and they’ll make it that way. They have rice cookers, ovens, a toaster, etc. Want them to hold your dinner until an odd time to help you manage jet lag. Sure no problem! If you want a snack between meals they have that too.
Fully flat bed with a duvet and mattress. The flight attendant will make the bed for you (in fact they get a bit flustered if you try to do it yourself since they feel haven’t been attentive enough). They also offer pajamas and slippers that you can take with you after the flight!
First class cabins are generally pretty private, but Singapore and Emirates have suites with doors.
The bathrooms are well outfitted with flowers, and high end toiletries. The staff will also clean the bathroom frequently and put out a toilet seat cover! Many 747 first class bathrooms have windows!
Often the footrest can be converted into a seat so that a companion can join you for a meal or in flight business meeting facing opposite you across the fold out table.
At major airports in China many of the planes are boarded from buses to non-gate locations. First class will have a separate van with seats. Lufthansa will provide a chauffeur driven mercedes to non-gate planes in Germany.
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