In today’s shaky economy many airlines have gone the no-frills route, pared down to the bare essentials with nary a bag of pretzels on offer. On the flip side, there are a handful of international carriers that still woo wealthy passengers with luxurious cabins, sumptuous service, added benefits, special touches and privileges well beyond the usual expectations of hospitality. True, the more lavish indulgences come at a premium price but there are some relatively reasonable upgrades out there that even regular folks can aspire to. It’s hard to top the old Concorde that could deliver you across the Atlantic in 3 hours, once with a live concert by Sir Paul McCartney, but here are some of the most pampering airline perks you can splurge on – or at least dream about.
1. Etihad Airways
In a world where most airlines no longer feed you or permit you to check a complimentary bag, isn’t it nice to know that at least one carrier allows you to bring up to four falcons on board? That’s just one of the luxury perks of flying with the Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. Maybe keeping birds of prey at hand isn’t your top flight priority, but there are plenty of other remarkable bar-raising benefits. Why just go first class when you can enjoy a 3 room “luxury living space” suite in the air? Sit back in a Ferrari leather armchair and ottoman watching on-demand programming with your 24 inch flat screen TV and noise cancelling headphones, a chilled beverage cabinet fully stocked at your side. When you’re sleepy, retire to an 81 inch bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, duvet and complimentary lounge wear. Before landing, freshen up in a full height shower with bespoke amenities. Your inflight chef will create a 5-star dining experience for you, and the butler will attend to all your on-board and après-flight whims. Got kids? The team of flying nanny’s will help keep them entertained. A chauffeur, porter and concierge help you arrive in style to check-in at the dedicated first-class reception and lounge, where you can squeeze in some last minute spa treatments before boarding. Don’t forget to pack your falcons.
It’s not hard to see why Emirates won the coveted Skytrax “World’s Best Airline,” award in 2013 and “World’s Best Inflight Entertainment” 9 years running. It boasts the youngest fleet in the world with all the latest comfort and design features, and puts a whopping 1600 channels of movies, TV, sports and games at your fingertips. Young Flyers are treated to special entertainment, meals, toys and even complimentary birthday cake. First class has well appointed private suites with ambient lighting, personal minibar and cushy massage-enabled seat which converts into a full flat bed. Multi-course gourmet cuisine includes such temptations as wild Iranian caviar, Arabic mezze, glazed duck breast, lamb brochette and sticky date pudding, all served on Royal Doulton bone china and fine linens with sommelier selected wines to accompany all but Saudi-bound meals. Grab a mixed cocktail and some hors d’oeuvres on the upper deck lounge and don’t miss the traditional High Tea service. First class passengers on A380s can schedule a hot shower in one of two in-air Shower Spas, complete with marble sinks, top-of-the-line toiletries and plush towels. It will be hard to come back to earth after a luxurious flight on this airline.