The Best Business Class Airlines in the World
Who hasn’t had this wish while settling into their small, economy seat on along-haul flight: to once, just once, relax in business class! You enter the plane, walk past the business class patrons enjoying their luxury seating, only to head in the direction of economy class for ten hours of fitful sleep. Today, let’s pretend that money is no object and we can just choose an airline with which to fly Business Class to our dream destination. Today is all about the ten best business class airlines at the top of the market. Simply sit back, stretch your legs (easy enough in Business Class) and start daydreaming.
What are the Top Twelve Airlines in the World?
Before we focus specifically on Business Class, let's first look at which airlines actually run the market overall. Why? When we start investigating the best Business Class airlines later, you will see notable differences. Many airlines that appear on this top list might not have a great business class and vice versa. This list is also useful for those trying to find a good quality economy seat.
Drum roll please!
12 .Qantas - In 2017, Australia's biggest airline actually made it into the top twelve.
11. Turkish Airlines - This airline has convinced the public they deserve a top spot through their years of quality service.
10. Garuda Indonesia - Never heard of it? Me neither. But the national airline of Indonesia must have something special to make it in the top twelve.
9. Hainan Airlines - The number one rated airline in China, Hainan pulled off a piano concert at 30,000 feet — talk about luxury!
8. Etihad Airways - The UAE is known for having the most extravagant versions of pretty much everything - why should their national airline be any different?
7. Lufthansa - The biggest airline in Europe is bound to make it to the top of the list.
6. EVA Air - Although perhaps not well known outside of Asia, this Taiwanese airline has a lot to offer.
5. Cathay Pacific - The name alone sounds luxurious.
4. Emirates - This Dubai-based airline has built an impressive international brand.
3. All Nippon Airways - The Japanese airline is also recognized under it’s abbreviation, ANA.
2. Singapore Airlines - For years Singapore Airlines has topped the list. Great food, great service, great experience.
And coming in at number one:
1. Qatar Airways - Seemingly unbeatable in all areas, Qatar Airways rightly guards the Iron Throne of the airlines.
The Top Ten Business Class Airlines in the World
Time to get down to brass tacks. Which airline can really prove themselves? Who can really conquer the market? Which airline’s Business Class is truly the most comfortable? I won’t keep you waiting for long - let’s check out the top contenders.
10. Lufthansa - Although it may be #7 overall, in Business Class rankings Lufthansa slips down three places.
9. Air France - Although they didn’t make it in the top twelve overall, the new Business Class of Air France carried them to ninth place on this list.
8. Turkish Airlines - Turkish Airlines, in contrast to Lufthansa, moves three places forward.
7. EVA Air - Taiwan remains unchanged as the golden median.
6. All Nippon Airways - After indulging too much in their gourmet Business Class meals, ANA unfortunately became too heavy and slipped three places.
5. Cathay Pacific - Cathay stays where it is and does not budge.
4. Emirates - Emirates bravely defends fourth place.
3. Etihad Airways - Previously in the middle of the pack, Etihad sprints ahead to secure a place on the podium.
2. Singapore Airlines - The perennial runner-up.
And last but not least...
1. Qatar Airways - Really, can we be that surprised? Qatar has absolutely earned its place as numero uno.
Not quite able to afford business class yet? Check out our other pages on budget airlines, how to pack a carry-on for your Eurotrip, and whether or not you need the protection of travel insurance. You'll find even more smart travel know-how and travel inspiration here and here.
What Luxuries Does Business Class Afford You?
With so many great Business Class airlines to choose from, you may already be fantasizing about the wonders of these high-level seats. Unfortunately I have to disappoint you: no, there won’t be a red carpet and you will not be carried onto the plane. However, the comforts of Business Class are extensive, and we have enumerated some of the finer points of each airline’s Business Class offerings below.
Dreaming of, well, dreaming? You’ll love the flat beds that await you at Lufthansa. What is a flat bed exactly? A flat bed is a seat that can be extended completely horizontally, allowing the user the ability to lie down and stretch their legs. There are real pillows in Business Class as well as a real (and very fluffy) blanket. In addition to flat beds, Lufthansa also offers a diverse and delicious menu selection and over 100 films and 200 TV shows to keep you entertained while you’re not snoozing.
Air France has fought its way into the top 10 for a reason. Upon the renewal of Business Class, they wheeled out their so-called Private Pods. They are practically the same as having your own, small room on the plane, with much more privacy and a bed that lies flat. You can enjoy the selection of 500 hours of entertainment on your 16-inch HD screen while you peruse the menu (crafted by a Michelin-starred chef.)
On Turkish Airlines, you will be spoiled in Business Class with a gourmet menu. However the best thing about this airline is not the food, or evn the entertainment system. It’s the flat beds that come equipped with a massage function. Here you can be on cloud nine—both literally and figuratively!
Our seventh place hasn’t only convinced us with their Hello Kitty themed planes. No, EVA Air got our attention with their flat beds, noise-reducing headphones and the exclusive Rimowa Overnight Kit. What is a Rimowa Overnight Kit? It’s a goodie bag of toiletries in the form of a tiny suitcase, filled with a sleeping mask, socks, a toothbrush set and various soothing creams, so you can disembark from your 9-hour flight feeling as if you just came from the spa.
All Nippon Airways
In addition to a gourmet menu and flat beds, you also have the luxury of almost completely private pods at ANA. Lean back, stretch out your legs, and enjoy yourself, because at ANA the flight makes you feel like you’re already on vacation.
Besides flat beds and a state-of-the-art entertainment system, Cathay Pacific also has a luxury Amenity Kit. This kit comes with face cream, hand cream, lip balm, a toothbrush set, a hairbrush, and ear plugs for absolute quiet. Flying in Business Class really should feel like a visit to the spa, in my personal opinion.
Flying on Emirates will make you feel like a king or a queen—satisfied only with the best. In addition to the best in-flight entertainment in the world, you can enjoy your private flat bed, get a drink from the on-board cocktail bar, and order a chauffeur to bring you from the aiport to your final destination. With everything taken care of, all you have to worry about is booking your ticket.
With their Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, amongst the largest passenger planes in the world, Etihad has gone to great lengths to offer their customers value for money. They have an amazing massage function built into their flat beds, an 18.5-inch HD touch screen for entertainment, and an on-board lounge. The lounge gives you a chance to chat with fellow travelers, enjoy a coffee or even order a cocktail or two.
Singapore Airlines is, as you may already know, one of the best airlines in the world. Imagine that you have a bed almost 6 ½ feet long, where you can stretch out and sprawl as much as you please. Certainly that can’t exist on an airplane? Wrong! That's exactly what you get on Singapore Airlines. In addition the unprecedented legroom, there is also an 18-inch HD TV and exquisite food.
What does the absolute number one business class airline have to offer? Plenty of space, flat beds and a super-luxurious Giorgio Armani Amenity Kit including shampoo, various lotions, perfume and make-up remover. Let's not forget the more than 3,000 films, TV shows and songs that you can use to pass the time.
Put Your Feet Up and Grab Some Food
Eating in Business Class is a very special experience. There are no plastic-wrapped menus where you can choose between either chicken and rice or plain pasta. Also say goodbye to the dinner rolls that you can squeeze into a ball only to have them unfold on their own to their original dimensions. And plastic cutlery? Ha! That would not even be considered in Business Class. Instead you will enjoy real porcelain dishware, polished silver cutlery and a carefully curated menu. Do you remember the meal from Air France, designed by a Michelin-starred chef Yes, you will definitely be sent on a culinary journey before your real vacation even begins. This airline has everything, including international cuisine . You will start with an aperitif, accompanied by appetizers. For the main course, there is everything from fresh fish to authentic Japanese cuisine, served with the perfect wine pairing in a real wine glass. Your experience will be rounded off with a selection of cheeses, sweet pastries, sorbets or fruit.
At Qatar Airways, great emphasis is placed on the fact that all dishes are freshly prepared on and that special requests are always taken into consideration. If you are traveling with children, these same considerations will of course be extended to you. For any babies on board, there is pre-packaged baby food, and “young travellers” are supplied with pancakes, breadedchicken, frenchfries, sweets, and fruit, among other things. Vegetarians can choose between an Asianmenu, featuring Indian influences, as well as other diet-specific choices such as vegan, lacto-ovo, or raw vegetarian meals. Non-vegetarians can expect, among other things, a seasonal salad, followed by chicken prepared Indian-style, dal and a spicy tomato sauce or basmati rice with caramelized onions and a sweet dessert. What could possibly be missing? Maybe just the pancakes, which are reserved for the little guests.
A Final Word
Ah, Business Class. It really is the dream. Personally, I have to admit that, after writing this article, I wonder how I can ever go back to economy class without feeling the urge to just walk into business class, settle into one of the flat bed, and refuse to move! Will Business Class be a dream forever? I really hope not! For those of you who can already afford Business Class now– we all envy you. For the rest of us, when the time comes for that first trip in Business Class, don’t forget what you’ve learned today. Happy flying!