Before take off
One of the finest examples of airport lounges is the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow Terminal 3. Met with a long bar, restaurant, hair salon, spa and The Lodge & Observation Deck, Virgin’s Clubhouse offers ample space to relax and work before your flight. Dining includes complimentary food and drinks, including breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, a continental platter and an à la carte menu, with an excellent selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to wash the food down with. Sip on a chilled glass of champagne while a stylist lathers your hair with a Bumble & Bumble makeover or unwind with a relaxing Cowshed treatment in the spa before take-off. virginatlantic.com
Equally as lavish is Qatar Airways’ sleek Premium Terminal at Doha Airport, designed for Business and First Class passengers of the airline. There’s a spa, cocktail bar, privacy rooms to rest and relax in and even a Jacuzzi and sauna, plus an array of dining options, including fine dining, gourmet sandwiches, a lavish buffet, high tea and delicious sushi. qatarairways.com
Other leading airline lounges include Cathay Pacific’s The Wing at Hong Kong International, Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International and BA’s Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5.
Michelin star chefs are flocking to work with airlines to showcase their cuisine to Business and First class passengers on a global scale.
Richard Corrigan, of Corrigan’s Mayfair and Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill (London), has recently paired with Malaysia Airlines on a limited edition in-flight menu. Designed for First and Business Class passengers, flying on Malaysia Airlines’ twice daily A380 service from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur International, passengers can expect Corrigan’s input on signature dishes, such as the satay, which has been awarded the prestigious Best Signature Dish award from SKYTRAX for the past two years. malaysiaairlines.com
Qatar Airways has nailed dining in the sky by enlisting the help of four world-class master chefs: Nobu Matsushisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri and Vineet Bhatia to create their Business and First Class menu. When the four chefs developed the menu for Qatar Airways, they took into account how the taste buds are altered at 30,000 ft and what types of foods are most suited to long-haul flights.
The menus served on board their Boeing 787 Dreamliner offer dishes such as oven-roasted mustard and dill salmon, stuffed spinach crêpes with mushroom, cheese and tomato sauce and mature cheddar, Fourme D’Ambert and Saint Albray cheese plates, with an impeccable wine selection to boot.
Hot on the heels of Qatar is Alitalia, winning Best Airline Cuisine Award for the fourth consecutive year for its Magnifica Business Class option. And there’s little wonder the accolade has returned to the Italian airline, with chef Gualtiero Marchesi at the helm of the menu. alitalia.com
Wine buffs should check in with Qantas. The airline was recently honoured with five gongs at the Cellars in the Sky Awards (London, February). Winning more awards than any other airline for five consecutive years, Qantas walked away with Best Overall Wine Cellar, Best First Class Cellar, Best Business Class Cellar, Best First Class White Wine for Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2009 and first place in Best First Class Sparkling Wine for Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000. qantas.com
Emirates come top with their on-board facilities and services, starting with their new Shower Spa experience, which is offered in the First Class cabin of their A380 aircraft. Passengers have the privilege of slipping inside their own Private Suite, complete with sliding doors, and enjoy a state-of-the-art Shower Spa—40,000 ft in the air! Completing the experience is Emirates’ Timeless Spa shower kits.
The A380 aircraft’s First Class and Business Class cabins are located on the upper deck and offer a comfortable space where passengers can enjoy freshly prepared cocktails, five-star delicacies prepared by some of the world’s leading chefs and fine wines selected by Emirates’ sommeliers.
Entertainment-wise, Emirates’ Ice Digital Widescreen will sate your inflight boredom. Available on over 100 aircrafts, the on-demand entertainment service includes over 300 movie channels, over 150 TV channels, over 800 music and podcast channels, over 100 video games, HD movies and TV programmes on select aircraft, live BBC text news, sport and business headlines updated via satellite, in-seat telephone, SMS and email and in-seat laptop charging points in each row. emirates.com
Emirates might have the on-board facilities and entertainment in the bag, but Etihad’s award-winning Diamond First Class seats take the lead. The baby of the bunch (Etihad is only 10-years-old) is a leader in luxury airline offerings, having redefined first class air travel to accommodate individual suites and more space—with three windows to one suite, which includes a flat 6ft 8inch extra wide bed! In addition, there’s a 23inch cinematic widescreen TV, sliding doors to add extra privacy, built in massage, personal minibar, personal wardrobe and changing room, a private chef, with a Mezoon Grille, Taste of Arabia, à la carte and ‘Kitchen Anytime’ dining options, plus a silk and cotton duvet, fitted sheets, fullsized pillows and loungewear. etihad.com
Other airlines leading the way with their first class on board services include Japanese airline ANA All Nippon, Singapore Airlines, Germany’s Lufthansa, Qantas Airways and Cathay Pacific.
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