Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (February 22, 2021): Top 10 world’s best airlines for longhaul Business Class.
Each year, I give a round-up of my favorite 10 Business Class products in the world. Flying Business Class is purely aspirational for most, a lifetime experience for some, and a must for a select few. With Business Class, the journey itself becomes a fun experience: you don’t have to wait in line at the airport; you get access to airport lounges; you interact with attentive personnel; you are treated to gourmet food and quality wines; and you can sleep in a comfortable flat-bed for total relaxation. But which airline has the best Business Class cabin product anno 2021? I hereby present you my selection of the top 10 best Business Class cabins of 2020 (reflecting my own personal preferences).
There is more information (with trip reports & YouTube videos) below my slideshow. Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!
While British Airways’ Business Class (dubbed Club World) raised the bar worldwide two decades ago with the introduction of the first fully lie-flat seat and an innovative “Ying/Yang” seat plan, the seat concept itself is now dated and outclassed by some of its competitors. So you would not expect British Airways to end up in a top 10 list like this one, but it remains one of my preferred airlines for longhaul travel, because the product is consistent across its wide-body fleet and the seat is extremely private (as long as you don’t end up along the aisle). Also, British Airways has dramatically increased its onboard product over the past years, with improved catering (from DO&CO), excellent bedding, and stylish amenity kits, which rivals the best in the skies. In 2019, the airline also introduced a new suite concept onboard its A350 planes, with direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens, and 40 % more storage space per seat (including a vanity unit and mirror).
- Official website: British Airways.
- Review: read my review of British Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A380 here.
- Review: read my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 747 here.
- Review: read my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
- Review: read my review of British Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 here.
The success of Emirates’ Business Class product is very much based on the comfort and space of its Airbus A380 fleet, and that’s why the mega plane is rolled out on major international routes of the Dubai based carrier. With a staggered 1–2–1 configuration in Business Class, each passenger is assured of direct aisle access and a significant amount of privacy. The window Business Class seats are perfect for solo travelers, while the dual and more intimate seats in the center of the cabin are perfect for partners traveling together. Mammoth amenity kits, a huge inflight entertainment selection, and a roomy and well-appointed bar on the upper deck makes flying Emirates’ A380 quite an event, and in addition, the ground service matches the flying experience (e.g. chauffeur service, a gigantic Dubai lounge). Unfortunately, the Business Class cabins in most of Emirates’ Boeing 777s are laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration (with no direct aisle access for all passengers), which is significantly inferior to the one offered on the airline’s Airbus A380 fleet.
- Official website: Emirates
- Review: read my review of Emirates’ Business Class in an Airbus A380 here.
- Review: read my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific offers a consistent and solid Business Class product, featuring a flat-bed that is just over 82 inches or 2 meters long. A bed extension increases its width by 6.5 inches or 16.5 cm to provide additional hip support, while the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side. For sleeping, you may choose to leave your armrest up for more privacy, or down for more space. In fact, Cathay’s Business Class seat is identical to the one installed on American Airlines, Finnair, and Air France, but Cathay deserves to take the top spot for their difference in customer service, impressive lounges, cabin crew training, and award-winning cuisine, whilst ensuring their price point still remains competitive. The carrier’s newest Business Class seat is found on its A350 planes, although it is basically a refreshed design of Cathay’s ‘old’ Business Class product onboard its B777 and A330 planes. Keep in mind that Cathay’s top-notch Business Class product is not available on some B777 planes with a regional configuration, so plan your travels accordingly.
- Official website: Cathay Pacific
- Review: read my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A350 here.
- Review: read my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in an Airbus A330 here.
- Review: read my review of Cathay Pacific’s Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, traveling in Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class (called ‘Upper Class’) makes your journey something to look forward to. The carrier recently acquired several Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which feature an entirely new Upper Class product. Laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, every suite faces towards the window and offers deployable privacy screens. All suites transition seamlessly from an upright seat, straight to a bed. The suite also boasts Virgin Atlantic’s largest ever in-flight entertainment screen, at 18.5”and features intuitive new system, controllable by passengers’ own personal device. The Virgin Atlantic A350 also features a new bar area known as The Loft. As the largest social space in the airline’s fleet, it’s designed for customers to gather, chat, enjoy a drink or dine with friends. Virgin Atlantic has ordered a total of 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, all scheduled to join the carrier’s fleet by the end of this year.
- Official website: Virgin Atlantic
- Review: read my review of Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class in an Airbus A350 here.
Business Class with the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates is not business as usual. The Business Studios on Etihad’s A380s and 787 Dreamliners can be customized to suit every stage of the journey and are the embodiment of style, simplicity and functionality. The cabin has a unique dovetail design with forward and rear facing seats that creates a sense of space and freedom, with direct aisle access and convenient storage spaces. Upholstered by Poltrona Frau, the 22-inch (56 cm) wide seat converts into a comfortable fully flat bed of up to 6 feet and 8 inches (203 cm). The Business Studio offers a space for everything, including a concealed storage, a meal table and a separate large side table that can be used for laptops and other personal belongings when you are dining. Located between First and Business Class, there’s also a lounge on the A380 that seats up to six guests and is fitted with seatbelts, power supply and connectivity ports. Unfortunately, Etihad Airways’ A330, A320 and B777 planes feature a less glamorous (albeit still excellent) Business Class product.
- Official website: Etihad Airways
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner here.
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330 here.
In 2017, Delta Air Lines redefined longhaul Business Class travel with the introduction of a Business Class cabin that features a sliding door at each suite. The suites offer passenger a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system, and premium trim and finishes to create a comfortable, residential feel. Service in Delta One (which is how Delta calls its international Business Class cabin) includes chef-curated meals, wine pairings by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, terrific Westin in-flight bedding, TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl premium skincare, and in-flight loungewear on select flights. The Delta One suite is currently only available on Delta’s A350 and A330neo aircraft, which operate selected routes such as Seattle to Tokyo and Detroit to Amsterdam. Delta had also refurbished some of its older Boeing 777s, before retiring its entire B777 fleet due to pandemic. The bad news is that when you don’t get to fly the A350 or A330neo, the experience will be less impressive.
- Official website: Delta Air Lines
- Review: read my review of Delta’s Business Class in a Boeing 767 here.
- Review: watch my video of Delta’s Business Class in a Airbus A350 below.
Singapore Airlines has always been synonymous with lavishing luxury in the skies. And the airline does not fail to impress. With their width of 30 inches or 75 cm, the carrier’s Business Class seats on its A350 and B777 aircraft are the widest in the world (too wide for comfort, according to some). The unrivalled space between each seat is a hallmark of the four-abreast (1-2-1) configuration that offers all passengers direct access to the aisle. Designed by JPA and introduced in 2017 on their A380 aircraft, the carrier’s new Business Class seat – albeit more narrow – is even better than the previous incarnation of the seat. A large back shell on every seat creates a cocoon-like feel for more privacy while the center divider can be fully lowered to form double beds, making the two center seats an ideal choice for customers such as families travelling together. Singapore Airlines also offers a fine restaurant-style setting and culinary service at 30,000 feet. Each menu, specially created by a panel of celebrated chefs from around the globe, is sure to appeal to the discerning epicure within you.
- Official website: Singapore Airlines
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A350 here.
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A380 here.
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in an Airbus A330 here.
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 here.
- Review: read my review of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, has collaborated with famed architect Kengo Kuma and leading British designers Acumen to roll out a total of twelve completely redesigned Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are mainly deployed on the carrier’s longhaul routes. At the heart of ANA’s new product investment is a brand new seat design for Business Class called “THE Room”. Inspired by modern, multifunctional Japanese living spaces, THE Room offers flexible doors for personal privacy that can also be adjusted to share the space with fellow travel companions – from dining together with the family to conducting meetings with colleagues. With its bold forward and rearward seat layout, THE Room represents one of the largest Business Class seating environments in the world – with a wide sofa which is double the width to previous Business Class seating. With a design focus on minimization and de-cluttering, the Business Class seat offers a ‘place for everything’ including discreet areas for all personal belongings, with deep blue accent hues precisely placed inside each compartment.
Taiwan based EVA Air calls its international Business Class ‘Royal Laurel Class’, providing passengers with comfortable sleeping space for a sufficient rest that is free from disturbances. The seats in Royal Laurel Class onboard EVA’s B777s and B787s are configured in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 layout that maximizes space. Privacy is assured through fixed panels that help create your own personal area. At the push of a button, each seat converts into an approximately 82 inches (2 meter) long bed, enabling passengers to lie down, get comfortable and sleep on long-haul flights. Thoughtful touches include a space to hang your jacket, a shoe cabinet, a retractable armrest, and a cocktail table. This excellent Business Class product is complemented by exclusive amenity kits, noise-canceling headphones, Fiji water, mouth-watering cuisine from all over the world (ranging from luscious beef steak to delicious lobster), and the warm, friendly service EVA Air is known for. To top it all, EVA Air is one of the few airlines to offer pajamas in Business Class; loose and comfortable, these garments are perfect for slumbering on long-haul flights.
In 2017, Qatar Airways took its Business Class product to a new, unprecedented level of luxury and style, raising the bar for all of its competitors. The so-called ‘QSuite’ features not only Business Class suites with sliding doors for total privacy but also double beds, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the center four seats also allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a four person suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialize together. Each seat is crafted with thoughtful and luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing. To further complement the customisable on-board seating experience that passengers will now enjoy, Qatar Airways is also launching a new food and beverage concept, introducing a menu that offers a host of new dining choices. The QSuite, which makes Business Class look First Class, is only available on selected routes and aircraft (A350-1000s and some retrofitted B777s and A350-900s).
- Official website: Qatar Airways
- Review: read my review of Qatar Airways’ Qsuite Business Class in an Airbus A350 here.
- Review: read my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330 here.
- Review: read my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner here.
- Review: read my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.