Make turning left when you board a plane your business.
Lengthy queues, waiting around in airport lounges, and security searches that leave you wondering why you bothered to get dressed in the morning – flying these days is a hassle. And that’s just on the ground. Once in the air you’re sometimes met with tasteless food, cramped seating, and tiny lavatories. And if you’re regularly taking to the skies, added risk of deep-vein thrombosis caused by sitting still in a restricted space for long periods of time.
The 1960s’ glamorous age of travel is a distant memory – or is it? Certain aspects of flying will always be the same, but eschewing economy class to fly business is undoubtedly the best way of enhancing your travel experience. The catch? Such luxury comes with a hefty price tag.
And the limits of such luxury is expanding. Miami-based businessman Gino Bertuccio was the first to check into the three-room suite on a doubledecker A380 flight from London Heathrow Airport to Abu Dhabi in December. The Residence, which measures 125 square feet, is an ultraluxurious fully private suite that boasts a living room, bedroom with double bed and separate en suite shower room, personal vanity unit and wardrobe. Did we add it comes with a personal butler? Costs are from $20,000 (Dh80,000) one way for two people.
Still, even prior to the financial crisis, pundits were predicting the death of business class. But data from aviation company OAG shows a significant rise in the number of first-class seats in the air – up 34 per cent in 2014 globally. In the Far East overall numbers have increased by 63 per cent in the past five years, while in the Middle East Qatar Airways has seen the equivalent of a 132 per cent rise and Emirates business class a rise of 32 per cent.
Airlines rely on business-class passengers – it’s how they make their money – and so the pressure is on to be constantly upgrading premier cabins. Ten years ago a lie-flat bed was a luxury, today people are looking for Egyptian cotton linen, showers and on-board chefs. Cabins should have night-time mood lighting and menus should rival those in top restaurants.
If you think business class is out of your league, you could be mistaken. If you travel long-haul often – even in economy – sign up for loyalty programmes. Of course, committing to just one airline – or alliance – is the best way to accrue the most miles, but they all have their benefits. So what do the top airlines flying from Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer in the line of luxe travel?