Before take off

One of the finest examples of airport lounges is the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at HeathrowTerminal 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 includescomplimentary food and drinks, including breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, a continental platterand an à la carte menu, with an excellent selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to washthe food down with. Sip on a chilled glass of champagne while a stylist lathers your hair with aBumble & Bumble makeover or unwind with a relaxing Cowshed treatment in the spa beforetake-off.virginatlantic.com

Equally as lavish is Qatar Airways’ sleek Premium Terminal at Doha Airport, designed forBusiness and First Class passengers of the airline. There’s a spa, cocktail bar, privacy rooms torest and relax in and even a Jacuzzi and sauna, plus an array of dining options, including finedining, 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.

Gastronomy

Michelin star chefs are flocking to work with airlines to showcase their cuisine to Business andFirst class passengers on a global scale.

Richard Corrigan, of Corrigan’s Mayfair and Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill (London), has recentlypaired with Malaysia Airlines on a limited edition in-flight menu. Designed for First and BusinessClass passengers, flying on Malaysia Airlines’ twice daily A380 service from London Heathrowto 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 fromSKYTRAX for the past two years.malaysiaairlines.com

Qatar Airways has nailed dining in the sky by enlisting the help of four world-class masterchefs: Nobu Matsushisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri and Vineet Bhatia to create their Businessand First Class menu. When the four chefs developed the menu for Qatar Airways, they tookinto account how the taste buds are altered at 30,000 ft and what types of foods are mostsuited to long-haul flights.

The menus served on board their Boeing 787 Dreamliner offer dishes such as oven-roastedmustard and dill salmon, stuffed spinach crêpes with mushroom, cheese and tomato sauce andmature cheddar, Fourme D’Ambert and Saint Albray cheese plates, with an impeccable wineselection to boot.

Hot on the heels of Qatar is Alitalia, winning Best Airline Cuisine Awardfor 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 recentlyhonoured with five gongs at the Cellars in the Sky Awards (London,February). Winning more awards than any other airline for five consecutiveyears, Qantas walked away with Best Overall Wine Cellar, Best First ClassCellar, Best Business Class Cellar, Best First Class White Wine for LeeuwinEstate Art Series Chardonnay 2009 and first place in Best First ClassSparkling Wine for Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000. qantas.com

On-board comfort

Emirates come top with their on-board facilities and services, startingwith their new Shower Spa experience, which is offered in the First Classcabin of their A380 aircraft. Passengers have the privilege of slippinginside their own Private Suite, complete with sliding doors, and enjoya state-of-the-art Shower Spa—40,000 ft in the air! Completing theexperience is Emirates’ Timeless Spa shower kits.

The A380 aircraft’s First Class and Business Class cabins are locatedon the upper deck and offer a comfortable space where passengers canenjoy freshly prepared cocktails, five-star delicacies prepared by some ofthe world’s leading chefs and fine wines selected by Emirates’ sommeliers.

Entertainment-wise, Emirates’ Ice Digital Widescreen will sate yourinflight boredom. Available on over 100 aircrafts, the on-demandentertainment service includes over 300 movie channels, over 150 TVchannels, 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, SMSand email and in-seat laptop charging points in each row. emirates.com

Emirates might have the on-board facilities and entertainment in thebag, 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 luxuryairline offerings, having redefined first class air travel to accommodateindividual suites and more space—with three windows to one suite,which includes a flat 6ft 8inch extra wide bed! In addition, there’s a23inch cinematic widescreen TV, sliding doors to add extra privacy, builtin massage, personal minibar, personal wardrobe and changing room, aprivate chef, with a Mezoon Grille, Taste of Arabia, à la carte and ‘KitchenAnytime’ dining options, plus a silk and cotton duvet, fitted sheets, fullsizedpillows and loungewear. etihad.com

Other airlines leading the way with their first class on board servicesinclude Japanese airline ANA All Nippon, Singapore Airlines, Germany’sLufthansa, Qantas Airways and Cathay Pacific.

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