The number of first-class seats may be dwindling across airlines worldwide, but that doesn’t mean the service is on its last legs. Far from it, to judge from November’s unveiling of seriously revamped first-class cabins by both Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
Emirates is introducing its latest-generation “suites” onboard two new Boeing 777-300ER jets on flights from the carrier’s Dubai hub to Brussels and Geneva. Inspired by the Mercedes Benz S-Class, the cabins are fully enclosed by floor-toceiling sliding doors, adding a level of privacy not available in their counterparts on Singapore Airlines’ redesigned Airbus A380s. Apart from sheer indulgence— passengers can look forward to almost four square meters of personal space, kelp-infused moisturizing pajamas, and Bulgari amenity kits—it’s the gadgetry that sets these suites apart from the competition. Food can be ordered from an iPad, lighting and temperature can be adjusted via high-tech control panels, and for those occupying a middle-row cabin (the new configuration is 1-1-1), “virtual windows” project the view from outside the aircraft using real time camera technology. Another well-conceived feature is a sliding service window through which drinks, food, and other items can be passed with minimal disturbance.
As for Singapore Airlines, its revamped suites are all about space, especially the first two in each aisle, which can be converted to form a double bed. Their debut is part of a US$850 million investment by the airline that has also seen a redesign of business- and economy-class cabins aboard its A380s, five of which will be ready for service by December 18. Other first-class niceties include Italian-leather seats upholstered by Poltrona Frau, big swivel-mounted TVs, mood lighting, Lalique toiletries, and access to two stylishly furnished lavatories.
So while it’s still too early to tell which of the two airlines’ suites will prove superior, one thing is for sure: luxury has reached new heights, literally.
Some of Singapore Airlines’ first-class suites can be converted into a double bed. Below: Emirates’ suites are fully enclosed.