Flying First Class: What Happens When You Turn Left?

Today’s post is written by Alice Marshall, a travel writer at My Favourite Voucher Codes, who offers advice on the best tips and tricks to save money at airports and around the globe. Alice enjoys city breaks and experiencing living like a local, and her favourite holiday was to Paris in 2016. In this article, Alice shares her insight into what to expect when you’re flying first class, and which airlines are offering the best first class experiences.

Turning left seems like that one thing that is always tantalisingly close, just out of reach. It wafts its bubbles, gourmet food and promises of complete comfort and indulgence straight into the air conditioning of your economy seats. But what is it and why is it on my bucket list? More importantly, should it be on yours and which airline is best to experience it with? Unlike swiping right on those dating apps, it’s all about turning left into first class.

For all those unseasoned travellers like myself, the phrase ‘turning left’ was a foreign concept. Now my eyes have been opened up to the meaning, though, I’m desperate to board my next flight and experience the magic of flying first class. Turning left is the concept that, rather than taking a right straight into the standardised seating, you can take a left into the more refined, spacious seats.

But what tempting features does first class offer that makes it so exclusive, and which airlines should you be flying first class with to reap the benefits?

View from the window seat of a plane

Air New Zealand

  • All long-haul flights should come equipped with a bed. No need to worry about getting a crook in your neck when you’re flying first class with Air New Zealand, as this airline offers the longest in-flight bed at 6’7.5”.

  • Worrying about going over your luggage allowance is a thing of the past. Fly first class and get three bags of up to 23kg each.
  • Air New Zealand also boasts 14,000 hours’ worth of entertainment, comparable to Thomas Cook long-haul flights, which only offer 30 films and 50 TV shows. You do the maths.
  • You don’t have to click your fingers to get the attention of the air hostess – just use the snazzy touch screen interface listing all food and drink on offer during your flight.

When considered alongside other features, including fast-track security and priority boarding, Air New Zealand’s offerings aren’t bad. But they’re definitely not the most extravagant. Even so, you’re bound to find great savings on such an extortionate package – usually priced at six times more than economy seats – using My Favourite Voucher Codes for Air New Zealand to reduce costs.

Window seat at Cardiff Airport

British Airways

  • Be treated to luxurious gifts when you’re flying first class with British Airways, including an amenity kit from the likes of Liberty London and your own personal complimentary cotton pyjamas. I’ll take a glass of bubbly with that, thanks!
  • Plane food is on another level altogether. You won’t be filled with dread at the menus. Curated by top chefs across the globe, you can expect succulent, well-seasoned dishes like tuna tataki served with ginger, coriander and jalapeno, or buttermilk-marinated chicken breast. Don’t even get me started on the cheese boards.
  • Boarding the 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft brings that passenger to attendant ratio right up, meaning you’ll have someone at your every beck and call, with just seven other passengers flying alongside you.
  • Avoid the cut-throat crowds of the airport and reside in a plush airport lounge, complete with food and drink, complimentary WiFi, an extremely comfortable seat and spa treatments.

With free gifts, fancy food and VIP customer service, British Airways First Class certainly steps things up a notch, making passengers feel truly pampered. However, depending on your budget, you might want to save the pennies and downgrade to Business. Business does come with a less fancy beauty gift, but the real loss, for me at least, is the pyjamas.

View from a plane

Virgin Atlantic

  • From start to finish, flying first class with Virgin Atlantic will leave you feeling like a true VIP. With chauffeured airport transfers and private security channels, fast-track your way through the likes of London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Wing.
  • Forget the airport lounge; this airline has its very own Clubhouse. Like its planes, Virgin Atlantic’s 10 Clubhouses are kitted out with modern, sleek interiors and offers the usual lounge features, as well as a place to freshen up and shower before your flight.

Virgin Atlantic definitely offers the celebrity experience, especially in terms a stress-free airport process. It also goes without saying that their aircrafts are famous for being a cut above the rest in terms of design. However, it feels like this package is a little lacklustre when it comes to the actual flight itself.

Etihad

  • Part of me wishes that other airlines and train companies would take a leaf out of Etihad’s book, in terms of offering flexible flying at no extra cost when you need to cancel or change times and dates.
  • You can also expect your air mile earnings to go up by around 250% when booking first class!
  • Ethihad’s spacious cabins have a real sense of privacy, allowing you the space to pace if you really want to.
  • There is a bar. Enough said.

Etihad really seems to get what it means to experience a touch of luxury. With all the trimmings of the Six Senses Spa at their airport lounge, fast-track, speedy boarding and the rest, you get the sense of a classy first class experience, with space to socialise if you choose. Book the three-room cabin for extra space, or stretch your legs across the bar and gallery area.

Emirates

  • Forget British Airways’ cotton pyjamas – Emirates offers Hydra Active Microcapsule lounge wear. No need to worry about the tendency for long-haul flights to leave you looking tired and parched. Your skin will be nourished and hydrated, and you might even feel more revitalised than you did pre-flight.
  • If you’re concerned you might be looking a little worse for wear, it’s no big deal – just pamper yourself in the on-board shower spa and luxuriate your skin with top products from the likes of VOYA and Bulgari.
  • Emirates also gives you the freedom to stroll and socialise, with group seating near the bar and a selection of gourmet foods.

Realistically, Emirates takes the biscuit on this one. Ever fancied owning your own private jet? Emirates First Class is probably your best bet at experiencing it without forking out hundreds of thousands of pounds on your own Kardashian entourage-carrying aircraft.

Which is the best airline for flying first class?

If you’re not set on selling a kidney and some of your other vital organs, we probably have to be a bit more realistic about what we deem the best airline for flying first class. In terms of getting the real VIP experience to eastern locations, Emirates ticks all the boxes. However, if you’re still trying to be savvy with your money, Air New Zealand or British Airways offer comfortable, flashy flying for those who haven’t quite managed to win the lottery yet.

Putting it into numbers, if you were planning a two-week trip to Sydney, Australia, flying first class from a London airport you’re looking at approximately £2635 at its cheapest with British Airways. Or £7266 at its highest with Emirates – and that’s just for one person! Even if you’re planning a solo trip, flights alone are going to set you back in the name of turning left. For now, my dreams of joining the elite, celebrities and the plain old rich and famous will have to remain on hold.

I think I’ll sacrifice the moisturising pyjamas and tens of thousands of hours of entertainment and just treat myself to airport lounge instead. Good job I can’t seem to tell my left from right half the time, anyway!

Do you prefer to fly economy, business or first class? Let me know why in the comment box below.

This is a collaborative post.

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