My five favorite first class “hard” products

I asked you guys what you’d like to read about, so this post is in response to a question posted there. I’ll address as many of the questions as I can in the coming weeks. Feel free to keep adding to the list and I’ll use it as a basis for future posts.

Reader AJK requested the following:

Your breakdown and opinion of the top 5 *hard* products in F.

Ah, hard products, my favorite! Service and food can vary from flight to flight, while the “hard” product remains the same. I’ll define hard product a bit different than most for the purposes of this post. For me hard product includes the seat, entertainment, and aircraft amenities. Basically everything that’s constant from flight to flight. Service and food can vary, so that’s what I consider to be the “soft” aspect of the flight.

With that in mind, here are my five favorite first class hard products in order:

Singapore Suites Class

This is probably no surprise, but Singapore Suites is my favorite product in the world, which is only found on Singapore’s Airbus A380s. It’s located on the lower deck, making the cabin a bit more spacious than the airlines that put first class on the upper deck, as that cabin is narrower.

Not only is the cabin extremely spacious, but I find the colors and design to be elegant and soothing. Beyond that, the KrisWorld entertainment system offers one of the most extensive in-flight entertainment selections of any airline.

Ironically enough, given how over the top Singapore usually is, the plane lacks amenities other than the seats themselves. There are no onboard showers, bars, or massive lavatories, as some other airlines offer on their Airbus A380s. Then again, Singapore does have the only double bed in the sky, so that more than makes up for any deficiencies.

Etihad First Class

While I have somewhat mixed feelings about Etihad as a whole (their service is hit or miss and lounge isn’t that great), their first class seat is simply phenomenal. It’s a fully enclosed product and I find the design to be surprisingly soothing and low key for a Middle Eastern airline.

Their bedding and entertainment system are top notch as well, so it’s an all around great product.

Emirates First Class

On one hand I feel bad including Emirates on this list, since their product is so uncomfortably blingy that you can’t help but just not feel worthy… and feel like an Arabian Prince and Flavor Flav got together to design it.

Their Airbus A380 first class is on the upper deck, so the cabin isn’t quite as spacious as you’ll find on the airlines offering first class on the lower deck. The first class cabin is also quite large with 14 seats.

And while I don’t find the seat itself to be all that massive or spacious, everything around it sure is an experience, from the vanity mirror staring at you the whole flight, to the in-suite room service phone. Their ICE entertainment system also has one of the most extensive libraries of any airline.

Emirates also deserves some bonus points for their onboard shower and bar, both things that make them totally worthy, even if we aren’t.

Qantas First Class

Qantas has one of the most unique first class seat designs on their Airbus A380. Unlike every other airline they didn’t go for an enclosed suite or the typical forward facing seat design, but instead all their seats are angled towards the windows when in the flat position.

The cabin colors are pleasant, the entertainment system is quite good, and they hands down have the best bedding in the airline industry. It’s indescribably good.

Lufthansa 747-400 First Class

I can’t in good conscience leave out the only airline that has a dedicated seat and bed for first class passengers.

Lufthansa’s 747-400s feature eight first class seats on the upper deck, each of which consists of both a seat and bed right next to it. So not only is it awesome to have your own bed, but you really can’t beat an upper deck cabin with at most seven other passengers.

Now, at times I feel the execution of the product isn’t perfect. For example, the TV doesn’t swivel towards the bed, so it’s tough to watch TV from bed. Similarly I wish the seat reclined a bit more. But this is a revolutionary product and unbeatable for getting a good night of sleep.

What are your favorite first class products?

Comments

  1. Thanks Lucky! I’m going to be flying to Asia later this year, and I’m excited to finally redeem some AA or United miles. What do you think of Cathay’s first class product? This will be my first time in international first class!

  2. @ Trevor — Cathay Pacific actually has my sixth favorite hard product, and they’re definitely in my top five airlines for all around first class products, because the food and service are typically excellent. They’re a GREAT choice.

  3. Asiana Airlines using their new 777-300ER (or maybe 777-200L). It has 32 inches HDTV, the biggest in the sky :).

  4. Hopefully I’ll be in Lufthansa 747 and SQ Suites this July. HKG-SIN-SYD is booked in Suites, but I’m hoping to change DEN-EWR-HKG in Y+ to DEN-FRA-HKG to LH F.

  5. So are you saying that the vanity mirror doesn’t fold down into the table/desk? It appears that it would from the photo.

    Geez, the last thing I would want to see on a long flight is my own face 🙂

  6. Nothing beats Cathay First class, not even an SQ, EK or Etihad suite. The widest bed in the air, is not matched by any narrow suite bed.

  7. @ Denis — With Qantas it’s on the lower deck, while Etihad doesn’t have Airbus A380s.

    @ rich (arizona) — Hah, it does fold down.

    @ Albert — Tough to say. I LOVE the Airbus A380 so probably prefer the new first class on that aircraft. But for the novelty I do love having a “real” bed in the sky.

    @ nathan — Cathay has the widest bed in the air? That’s news to me. It’s a great hard product for sure, I agree.

  8. Great post! However, based on a response of yours above, I’d be interested to know your top “airlines for all around first class products”. In other words, not just the hard product, but the all around experience.

    Although, why limit yourself to just 5 when you can list 10?

  9. Lucky, which credit cards and/or FF programs would you recommend for those wishing to redeem for the listed F products?

  10. Oh, and as a follow up. I think it would be great if you’d also include a sentence or two on which types of miles/points can be used to redeem these seats. I suspect most of us already know in most cases. Nevertheless, it would still be helpful in those cases that we don’t (in my case, etihad). Just my 2 cents.

  11. @ Brian L: You beat me to it! I was wondering the same thing.

    @ Heather: I feel like Lucky recently did a post on best business class products. If you do a quick search of some of his recent posts I’m sure you’ll find it.

  12. Another +1 on the LH 744. But then it’s the only one of your top 5 (or 6) that I’ve had a chance to fly.

  13. Great info, Lucky. Mrs. Fredd and I will be winging our way to our umpteenth FT Oz Fest on points in *A C this May on several carriers. What are your favorite C products?

  14. Is the divider in the middle of the SQ double bed made of hard plastic or foam?

    I remember reading a trip report where you had a double bed to yourself. I’m wondering if that divider causes some discomfort if you spread out your body or limbs across both mattresses.

  15. @ PT — The divider is made of wood or hard plastic or something. They put a mattress pad over the bed to make it a bit softer, though you do still feel the center section.

  16. Lucky, would you love the EK suites so much if it weren’t on the A380? It seems the extra bling like the showers and BC bar seemed to sway your thinking…I wonder if you’d enjoy the suite so much if you were on the B777 or the A340 in their suites…

  17. @ wwk5d — That’s a great question. I’d probably think it’s still a very good product, though probably wouldn’t rank it top five.

  18. It’s not new, and it’s not an enclosed suite, but the CX product (especially on the 777 with just 6 seats, though I know some prefer the 747 in the nose I do not) ranks higher for me. It’s a very wide seat and I sleep better in it than any other I’ve tried. And I say that less than 48 hours after an EY F flight.

  19. Tend to agree with Gary here. For me, the CX widest “single” bed is better than 2 narrower bed combined with noticeable harder feel over the divider.

    Also the style and color tone have lots to do with the hard product for me because my eyes have to look at it. That case BA, LH, QF get high score while EK got pushed down big time. However, some aircraft that feature older overhead bins are less attractive even with the same design: LH 744/A340/330 vs LH A380/B748 (have nice clean ceilings).

  20. From your list, I have done:

    EK
    QF
    LH

    and I agree with the reviews and profiles.

    ..not from the list 😉

    OZ
    TG
    QR

    each of which has its charms.

    If only we could go in the pointy end all the time….sigh…

  21. I imagine if I were to fly long-haul by myself, I might appreciate the solitude of the “suites” but I pretty much always travel with my wife and I like being able to kibbitz with her during the flight. It was impossible on Cathay (which I loved anyway) and I guess I just prefer to 1-2-1 layout on FC flights I’ve been on like Swiss, BA, the old Lufthansa and even United.

    Yup – there is a definite rush when you snag those incredibly expensive seats for chump change and face it – aren’t we all being just a tad picky!!! 😉

  22. Lucky —

    Thanks for taking the question.

    You rank SQ Suites #1 despite the fact that “The seat felt a bit like a dentist’s chair and I didn’t actually find it great for lounging.”

    Also, what would you do if you had to push the list from 5 to 10? 🙂

  23. Awesome review, I wish I’d get inboard one of those beauties
    So AF doesn’t make it to top 5, and what about ANA?

  24. Lucky, I have the opportunity to fly either Qantas or Etihad in F between Sydney and London. QF will operate via DXB by then, so I’d be able to use both their SYD lounge and Emirates’ DXB facilities. Which would you recommend?

  25. I cant help ut but singapore seats looks like a barber ir dentist chsur,the colour isnt that classy,beside talking about the only double bed in the ski with that barrier in between???and who frankly needs a double bed in the sky???i need a confortable bed with enough space but not a king size,even in hotels i leave half of the bed unscratched!!!

  26. I may be in the minority but I found LH
    “new-new” F on the 747-8i to be VASTLY preferable to the 744. Even though I flew overnight on 744 and during the day on 74H, I slept much better on the 74H. The cabin temperature is warmer and more stuffy upstairs… simply way too hot for me to sleep.

    Also the IFE on the 74H is probably 10-12 times more expansive than the 744 in terms of number of programs. Screen size is probably the same or very close, though.

  27. @ AJK — Hah, I guess the double bed was just so awesome. For top 10 I’ll cover that in a future post. Stay tuned.

    @ Uri — ANA would probably be top ten.

    @ AndrewMal — I’d do Qantas first class. I love the A380 and the Emirates ground experience in Dubai.

  28. I have only flown F on Qantas (SYD to HKK) and it was brilliant (soft and hard product). Would love to get the chance to try the others out one day….

  29. Hello! Nice top 5. But how about TAM new first class on their Boeing 77W?
    It feels like a living room, with only 4 passengers in it. Nespresso coffe, personal assistant before departure and after arrival…?

  30. @mohamed b

    I always thought dentist’s chairs were grey, the same shade EK uses. As for who would need a double bed…if the option is there, why not? Just because you don’t care for stretching out, doesn’t mean others are the same.

    Does anybody have measurements of all the different seats in bed more? Curious as to which are the widest/shortest…

  31. @wwk5d
    am dentist and my chair is not grey,and i meant the look not the colour :)) well instead of having so called double bed with a barrier in between i preffer the LH style making the most of the space by siding a bed and chair.

  32. The Qantas bedding is absolutely incredible I have to agree with that. Flew LAX-MEL and I have never slept so well on a flight!

    I would also at 9W First for their overall product baring lounges. However, their route network is too small to warrant a ranking on your list.

  33. Loving your blogs and reviews. If you had the choice of F with CX, BA, Thai or EK to Singapore, which would you chose? I don’t mind taking the long way as I enjoy the whole travelling part of a trip. Cheers!

  34. @ joemcd — Thanks for reading! I’d probably go with Emirates, and I’d make an effort to get on the A380.

  35. Thanks Lucky. It turns out with Emirates on my return leg I get to experience Qantas’ A380 too. Thanks again!

  36. Hey Lucky,

    Just wondering if you ended up posting a list of overall best first class products… I googled but couldn’t find it.

    I just returned from a trip that had SQ/EY/CX in F and now am trying to figure out what I should go for next 😀

  37. Thanks Lucky for the advice earlier this year. I booked the Emirates flights and got a bonus that one of them was with Qantas. Both were fantastic and a huge step up from my 2 F flights with BA in May.

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