The World’s Best First Class Airlines (2021)

Filed Under: Advice

I’m a huge airline product geek, and every year I like to publish a list of what I consider to be the world’s best first class products, best first class lounges, best business class seats, etc. In this post I wanted to share my updated ranking of the world’s best first class airlines.

First, I wanted to talk briefly about my methodology for ranking first class airlines, and then I’ll get into my rankings, with an explanation of each.

Why You Should Trust OMAAT Flight Reviews

Hopefully, I don’t have to explain this to regular OMAAT readers, but I feel like this is worth mentioning for those who aren’t regular readers…

All the time I see mainstream media outlets ranking different first class airlines, though almost without exception they’re just going off stock media images and how airlines describe their first class products, rather than actual firsthand experience.

Why should you trust OMAAT flight reviews?

  • I pay for all of my own flight tickets, either with cash or miles
  • I don’t let the airlines know that I’m reviewing flights, and go out of my way to remain as anonymous as possible
  • I’ve flown every single first class airline that I rank, and for that matter have flown almost every single first class product in the world (the only one I haven’t flown is Kuwait Airways first class)
  • I don’t have any sort of financial relationship with any airline
  • This is my passion, I’ve been reviewing airlines for 15 years, I’ve written hundreds of flight reviews, and have logged millions of miles

There aren’t many sites that can say all of the above, and in the case of some other rating agencies (like Skytrax), I certainly wish we’d see a bit more transparency regarding the financial relationship they have with the airlines they rank.

My Methodology For Ranking First Class Airlines

Let me note upfront that my reviews are certainly subjective, and that’s by design.

Some might say “well you should make this as objective as possible and use a scorecard to rank them.” I certainly could, but I don’t think that does justice to the special touches that some airlines offer, and also the variability in the experience from flight-to-flight.

A lot of what makes a first class experience great isn’t something you can rank on a scorecard, but rather is this intangible feeling you get when flying an airline, where you feel “wow, they really get it.” As far as I’m concerned, airlines also deserve bonus points for consistency across various flights, because it’s nice to know exactly what you’ll get.

The other issue is that the top first class products are all really exceptional. On a 100 points scale, I suspect all of these airlines would score a 90+ from me.

To give an example of the issue with a scorecard approach, inflight Wi-Fi is something I personally value, but not all of the airlines offer it in first class. If I said Wi-Fi was worth 10 points on a 100 point scale, that would automatically put any airline without it in last place, and that doesn’t seem right, since it’s something that many people don’t care about.

Again, I’m admitting my rankings are subjective, and what I rank #1 may be #10 for you, and vice versa. And that’s totally fine — I don’t think that makes anyone wrong.

I’ve taken flights on every single one of the airlines on the below list and said “that’s one of the best flights I’ve ever taken.”

If anything, I recommend the takeaway from this being the airlines that I put in the top 12, rather than the very specific ranking of them.

The World’s 12 Best First Class Airlines

With the above explanation out of the way, below are what I consider to be the 12 best first class airlines, starting with the best.

Let me emphasize that the post is specific to the onboard experience, and I’ll be ranking first class lounges in a separate post. Furthermore, at the bottom of each ranking I’ll be noting what I ranked the product in 2019, so you can get a sense of how my rankings have changed.

1. Emirates First Class 777-300ER

Emirates introduced their new first class on select 777-300ERs in early 2018, and the product is spectacular. Emirates is the first airline to introduce truly fully enclosed suites in first class.

The suites don’t just have doors that add privacy, but rather are enclosed floor-to-ceiling (Air France has curtains that go floor-to-ceiling, but I consider that to be different). As someone who values privacy, I love that.

The seat is also thoughtfully designed, with impeccable attention to detail. The suite is spacious, the TV screen huge, the bed extremely comfortable, and you can control the lighting and temperature in the suite.

The soft product is also exceptional, from their free-flowing Dom Perignon, to their dine on-demand menu with all kinds of great options (including caviar).

While Emirates A380s don’t have seats that are impressive, they have the advantage of having onboard showers and an onboard bar, so that’s a treat as well.

The only issue is how few Emirates 777s have these new suites. Emirates only has these first class suites on nine of their planes, and they don’t have immediate plans to retrofit these seats on other existing planes (though upcoming 777Xs will get these seats, once delivered starting in 2021).

(2019 ranking: #1)

2. Air France First Class 777-300ER

There are great first class products, and then there’s the perfection that is Air France first class. Air France’s 777-300ER first class cabin consists of a single row of seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin is so elegant, and rather than offering suites with doors, they instead have curtains you can pull around your suite.

What really sets apart Air France is the first class soft product. The food is the best I’ve had on any airline, the service is flawless and oh-so-French, and every part of the experience is thought out.

When it’s time to sleep, Air France has some of the most comfortable bedding in the sky, and I love being able to draw a curtain around my seat for privacy.

The way I see it, Air France first class is the world’s most well rounded first class product. While I do think Emirates wins out in terms of the onboard experience, Air France still offers the world’s most well rounded first class experience, given that they offer the world’s best first class lounge experience at their Paris Charles de Gaulle hub.

The main area where Air France first class could improve is with the addition of Wi-Fi, but that’s something they’re in the process of adding.

(2019 ranking: #2)

3. All Nippon Airways First Class 777-300ER

This is the world’s most improved first class product in the past year, in my opinion, as ANA introduced incredible new first and business class products in mid-2019, now available on select 777-300ERs.

In the past I’ve always had a strong preference for Japan Airlines first class over All Nippon Airways first class, but that’s no longer the case. For one, ANA has greatly improved the quality of their seats, which now feature doors, are more spacious, and offer a better experience whether you’re traveling alone or with someone.

ANA also has complimentary and improved high speed Wi-Fi on their new 777s, which is much better than their old system.

Add in ANA’s exceptional service, food, drinks (including Krug champagne) and amenities, and this really is a world class product.

(2019 ranking: #11)

4. Garuda Indonesia First Class 777-300ER

Garuda Indonesia is another airline that’s both consistent and tailors the experience from the time you arrive at the airport to when you leave. Garuda Indonesia first class has eight suites with doors. The hard product is good, though not remarkable compared to some of the other products out there.

But everything about the soft product is perfection. I find Garuda Indonesia to have the best flight attendants of any airline, and they even have an onboard chef in first class.

The food is divine, they have great wine pairings, the presentation is exceptional, they offer first class passengers free Wi-Fi, etc. If you have any special requests for your flight, you can even make those before departure.

But really it’s the crews that make the experience. Many surveys rank Garuda Indonesia as having the best cabin crew, and I have to agree. The warmth of the Garuda Indonesia flight attendants I had on both of my flights with them was unrivaled.

The only area where Garuda Indonesia can improve is with their bedding. While it’s good, it’s not nearly as plush as what some other airlines offer.

Unfortunately nowadays they only offer first class on very few routes. The airline only has 10 777-300ERs, and at this point only two of them have first class. I fear this is a product that may disappear soon.

(2019 ranking: #3)

5. Singapore Airlines Suites A380

Singapore Airlines is known for being one of the best airlines in the world, and they introduced their new Suites in late 2017.

Some might be surprised that this isn’t in one of the top few spots on my list.

The new Suites are impressive. They’re in a 1-1 layout, with just six suites at the front of the upper deck of the A380. Singapore has dedicated more square footage to each first class passenger than any other airline.

Each Suite has both a seat and a separate bed, which is a mighty nice feature.

On a good day, Singapore’s Suites might be the best first class soft product in the world. On a lunch or dinner flight departing Singapore their catering is typically excellent, and they sometimes have caviar, satay, etc. You can even “book the cook” in advance, and order from a huge menu that’s not otherwise available onboard.

Singapore is also the only airline to offer both Dom Perignon and Krug onboard, which is a pretty awesome choice to have.

Service on Singapore Airlines is typically excellent.

Based on that, how the heck am I not ranking this product higher? It really kills me to say this, but Singapore Airlines just didn’t put much thought into the design of the Suites. The cabin looks beautiful, and the seats look impressive, but when it comes down to it, the individual components aren’t great.

The seat is wobbly and has limited recline. You can only eat facing the aisle, where you’re looking directly at another passenger. The bed is no bigger than on any other top airline, and it’s extremely hard. There are no individual air nozzles, and air flow is limited.

This is still a world class product, all things considered. However, despite the amount of space they invested in the Suites, I can’t help but feel disappointed in the fact that they didn’t instead use the space to create the world’s most comfortable bed on a plane. They had the space to do it, but they didn’t.

(2019 ranking: #4)

6. Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER

Cathay Pacific has made some improvements to their first class product in the past year, which have really made a difference in terms of the first class experience.

Cathay Pacific first class has just six seats, in a 1-1-1 configuration. While the seats aren’t fully enclosed, they’re angled away from the aisle and sufficiently spacious so that there’s no need for them to be. It makes the product feel less claustrophobic, which I appreciate.

Cathay Pacific has one of the most comfortable beds in the sky. The bed is wide, and they’ve made significant improvements to their bedding in recent months.

I also love the ability to dine face-to-face with a companion. Caviar and good champagne at 37,000 feet is a heck of a date night. I also appreciate that Cathay Pacific offers a full meal service even on departures in the middle of the night.

Cathay Pacific crews are also consistent and attentive. They’re always there during the meals, and when you need something during the flight, they appear in just a couple of seconds after pushing the call button.

The airline is also installing Wi-Fi throughout their fleet, and in first class they offer free Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi, which is tough to beat.

In the past I didn’t love Cathay Pacific’s meal service, aside from the caviar. However, even that is something that they’re in the process of improving.

(2019 ranking: #6)

7. Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER

There’s no country where there’s more pride in the service industry than Japan, and that’s incredibly evident when flying Japan Airlines first class. It’s like getting a taste of Japan before you even get there. Japan Airlines has fully flat beds in first class with direct aisle access, though the seats as such don’t stand out that much.

What does stand out is the excellent food (caviar, sushi, wagyu beef, etc.), champagne, the free and fast Wi-Fi, the ability to choose the firmness of your mattress pad, and the perfect service.

The Japan Airlines first class soft product is pretty close to perfect, as far as I’m concerned.

(2019 ranking: #5)

8. Etihad Airways First Class A380

Etihad was the first airline to have a single-aisle configuration in first class on their A380s.

Their First Class “Apartments,” as they’re called, will take your breath away. I remember being speechless the first time I walked on an Etihad A380.

Etihad has a dine on demand menu with an onboard chef who can help you customize your meal, an onboard shower, and the second most square footage dedicated to each first class passenger. The airline has also added caviar and new amenity kits and pajamas to their A380 first class, so in some ways they’re improving.

However, there are some areas where Etihad is style over substance, in my opinion. While the suite is huge, it isn’t actually that practically designed, as the seat doesn’t recline that far back, and the bed isn’t that large. This is the same issue I have with Singapore’s new Suites.

(2019 ranking: #7)

9. Korean Air First Class 747-8

Korean Air offers a really consistent first class product. By far my favorite first class cabin they offer is on the 747-8, where they have just six seats in the nose of the plane.

The seats are spacious, the amenities are excellent, and the food and drinks are very good as well.

The only thing I don’t love about Korean Air is their entertainment selection and lack of Wi-Fi.

(2019 ranking: #8)

10. Lufthansa First Class A380 Or 747-8

Maybe I’m biased due to my German background, but I love Lufthansa first class for how consistent and elegant it is. No, they don’t have the most private first class seats out there, but the cabins are elegant (in a German way), the service is among the best of any western airline, and they’re remarkably consistent in terms of their offerings.

There’s just something about the pre-flight champagne, nuts, and roses that makes me feel like I’m at home in Lufthansa first class.

Lufthansa has great bedding in first class, and they offer first class passengers free Wi-Fi, and it’s even quite fast.

(2019 ranking: #9)

11. SWISS First Class 777-300ER

It’s a toss-up between Lufthansa first class and SWISS first class, so I could have just as easily ranked SWISS ahead of Lufthansa. SWISS’ 777-300ER first class cabins have eight seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The food presentation and quality are definitely higher-end feeling than on Lufthansa, even though they don’t consistently have caviar.

I’ve had great service in SWISS first class, though I’ve also had pretty bad service, so I find that part of the product to be a bit inconsistent.

SWISS’ first class bedding is plush and comfortable, so a great night of sleep on SWISS is a given.

(2019 ranking: #10)

12. Oman Air First Class 787-9

A couple of years ago Oman Air introduced a new first class product, which is exclusively on their 787-9s flying between Muscat and London. The cabin consists of eight seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. These aren’t the most spacious seats, but they’re very comfortable and have a sleek design.

What makes Oman Air so great is the soft product — Cristal champagne, an incredible customized menu that you can order in advance, and some beautiful Omani touches.

(2019 ranking: #12)

Honorable Mention: Etihad Airways A380 The Residence

This can’t be included on the list since it’s not technically a first class product, but rather is the most incredible experience you can have in commercial aviation. Unfortunately it’s also priced accordingly. Having your own three room suite, including a private bedroom and shower, with butler service, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and then some.

Man, how fondly I think back on my flight in the Residence…

Bottom Line

There you have it. Those are what I consider to be the world’s 12 best first class airline products.

I’d like to once again emphasize that I think anyone would be reasonable to think that the above products should be in a different order, but hopefully this is at least a useful list in terms of the 12 all around best first class products.

For anyone curious, I think I know what I’d rank as the next three first class products (13-15), roughly in order — QatarQantas, and Thai.

What do you rank as the world’s best first class airlines?

  1. @Lucky- Are you able to share with us what routes these 12 First Class Airlines are available on From the US or between other destinations? Thanks!

  2. Interesting as most of them on this list are very inconsistent in the airlines fleet- for example emirates 777 suites only on a few aircraft, Singapore only have 5 a380s with the new first class and Etihad only have 10 a380s where as the bulk of their fleet feature a standard style first class.

  3. What I take from this and the earlier companion piece on Business class is that I’m so glad you branched out from just reviewing First class products. It was a sensible move.

  4. As a “very” frequent First Class traveler (paid ticket no point gaming) here is my top 5 for 1st class service:
    1. Cathay
    2. Japan Airlines
    3. Air France
    4. Singapore
    5. Quantas

    I would place the Qsuite service in number 4 as well.

    At the very bottom of the list the usual suspects: British Airways and the 3 US carriers. I feel very sad for folks who keep on traveling with United, Delta and AA.

  5. @Endre : i love how transparent your lies are hahhahahahaha. The “frequent F traveler” doesn’t know how to spell QANTAS.

  6. What amazes me still is that even among the world’s top airlines and top first class products – there is still quite a bit of variability. For instance, where on this list would you place the EK A380 or the old 777 (where the seat is roomier than the A380)? They are both still impressive products. AF’s A380 is a quite tired-looking hard product, although the linens and food are the same on the new 77W. Also what about SQ old-suites? Not as snazzy as the new ones, but definitely beats plenty of other first classes, again with the same service and food. SQ’s 777s are definitely not as comfortable as the A380s, but might rank ahead of some products on this list. As far as LH goes, I do not think there is a huge variation in terms of hard product on the A380 vs B747 vs A340/30. Of course, the best first class always is a stellar crew with an empty cabin!!!

  7. @Endre feel so sorry for you. Must be really tough to go from “flying exclusively” in first class to just “very frequently”. Is money scarce mate? 😉

  8. My Thai 1st class experience from entering the airport till landing in Sydney (Bkk to syd ) was better then my Singapore Suites flight …..PRICELESS

    It was worth it at 40,000 before delav…….still a bargain at 65,000 the Current offer

  9. Here we go again with the usual frustrated jealous losers “Ben Holz” and “Henry LAX”. Did you feel offended guys? I know it takes a while for you gius you to game credit cards and gain enough points for an upgrade to Premium Economy. If you want to fly First, work for it and stop hating the ones who are more successful than you.

  10. @Lucky, how would you compare Eva’s Royal Laurel (transoceanic) business class to any of these 1st classes?

    It may not be technically first but it does have vintage champers!

  11. Interesting take from your 5 years old rank ( Some products have stayed the same since then, but your view and rank have changed, which is fine.
    How long should take to have a big overhaul on first class cabins, the way it happened from the launch of the A380 to around 5-6 years later? Or this won´t happen on first class, but on business, and we can compare Qsuites and Delta closed doors to the, then launched, Singapore suites and Etihad apartments.

  12. Emirates has 150 777’s and only 9 with this seat and no plans to add more until the 777X comes into the fleet. I think you will have better odds in Las Vegas than trying to score one of these seats. No way it should even be on the list.

  13. @Endre spell Qantas right the next time and we’ll believe you. Also, if you fly first class all the time how tf is JAL #2????

  14. I wonder what you meant by “oh so French” regarding the service provided on Air France?…if you have been to a typical French cafe (and I am part French myself and not a typical “American tourist”), you should realize that it’s not a compliment like you intended it to be 🙂

  15. Few ANA F and JAL F, there is simply no comparison. ANA destroys !!!
    Seat was amazing, I liked everything about it. My ANA flight was also kept cold. JAL I was in a frying pan. ANA food was more customizable and the service far less robotic. I would give both high remarks with ANA up there in the top 3 not down where you have them. To each his own.

  16. @Endre given that Delta doesn’t have an international first class cabin, it’s a bit hard to take your opinion on this matter with any sort of credibility…

  17. @Endre your strong arguments have completely demoralized me, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do to come back at you. Thank you for opening my eyes

  18. One important point is that Emirates only offers showers on the A380 and only the A380 has a lounge. I think that more than makes up for a slightly older hard product.

  19. Good list ✈
    I’ve enjoyed 6 of them
    ANA (IAD_NRT 1st time on ANA) & LH 2x (HND-FRA-IAD 4th & 5th times in LH B747-8i) a couple weeks ago in #RTW19 1.0 ❤ LH Seat 1K
    Japan is very superb as is Cathay and you land in either Tokyo or Hong Kong
    Etihad Apartemnt is set for #RTW19 2.0 in May Repeat trip starting with IAD-AUH on B787-9 my favorite plane ❤ and check out the $100 Lounge at AUH – enjoyed this on #RTW18
    I’ll do SQ Suites (SYD-SIN) on #RTW19 2.0 .

    Your top 2 are “aspirational” (having or characterized by aspirations to achieve social prestige and material success) for me.

    EthaninSF has a good point Best 1st is Stellar Crew and empty cabin. my ANA flight fit this, I was only one and stellar crew, but limited by the single window boxiness of hard product – OTOH Slept great in Seat 2H

  20. Tough to put the new seats with Emirates and Singapore on this list since most planes don’t even have them. You have a much better chance of landing Q Suites, which even as a business class product would blow half of this list out of the water. Also shocked you ranked Lufthansa below ANA since you love Lufthansa first so much lol. And no love for BA first class?

  21. I personally don’t like Air France as much as the others. My father is a senior pilot for AF Long Haul on the 777 so I have flown la pramiere many times. It’s really good though since I’ve had many flights, some were better than others in terms of crew and catering. I’ve had an incredible experence and ive also had one where it didn’t live up to the rest on your list. You have only flown them once in First and it was incredible for you.
    For me I have seen the good and the bad so while I love it, it to me doesn’t compare to Garuda.

  22. I agree with Paul. Flew on AF in F twice and while the ground experience was amazing, the soft product in the air was lacking. I swear I got an FA who was in F for the first time ever. So awkward in every interaction and food definitely wasn’t as amazing as Ben claims. Wouldn’t do it again.

  23. Gary, THIS is one of the reasons I started following you! I’ve retired, the points machine has been retired, and my decade of amazing FC trips went with them. Home in FL now and my sense is that most of my UBER trips are over (BA First to London for a cruise in June) but this is the kind of post that makes one dream. Thanks for that – you and your colleagues opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed and boy, did we do it to the max. Air France First to Paris, Cathay Pacific First to Thailand and Australia, Lufthansa to Frankfurt. What a helluva ride!

  24. @Alonzo, BA first class isn’t eligible for this list since it is a business class product. I’d rank them in the top 5 business class products though.

  25. Ben,

    There are only 2 out of 10 Garuda’s 777 left that are configured with first class cabin (Aircraft registration: PK-GIF and PK-GIG).

    Jakarta/Bali – Tokyo (NRT/HND) are the only routes where you can enjoy Garuda’s first class.

    Currently, Garuda is running a 70% miles redemption discount. You can fly Jakarta/Bali – Tokyo in first class for only 27k GarudaMiles. Availability is almost zero now because Garuda added a 1.000 maximum quota of seats per route per week. Since the promotion has been running for 3 days now, we’ll see how it goes after 4 days.

    I wrote about the promotion here:

    Need to be translated since it’s written in Indonesian.

  26. Very helpful article and interesting seeing such a broad comparison. Gives lots to aspire to! I especially appreciated the inclusion of what fizz is typically on offer (which I felt was missed a bit from the business article and which is a significant factor for me). Would be nice to see the wines too, but realise these are changeable.
    One point I will never quite understand is the importance some put on WiFi being on board. I know everyone’s priorities are different but surely one of the joys of flying 1st is to be forced to escape the outside world for a few hours! I dread the day my office expects me to be on call and responding to work emails when I’m trying to sit back and enjoy a glass of Salon looking over the South China Sea.

  27. Saving this article. I have to burn points for one of these some day. I have never flown first class in my life on planes with 3 cabins. Best ever was Emirates A380 business class, and that was only the third time ever in international business class too (Swiss and South African Airways being the other two).

  28. I agree with @Endre here. I, too, only fly international first class, and my favorites are as follows:

    1. Single Pour Airliens
    2. Air Franks
    3. Etty Had
    4. Cathy Specific
    5. Swish

    Airlines without first class are trash.
    Good day to you all.

  29. totally agree on the poor design of the NH suites. I don’t understand who thought it was a good idea to block all of the windows. And their entertainment selections usually aren’t great. But the mattress pad is excellent and it’s easy to sleep.

  30. I am probably in the minority, but I feel like Asiana first class always gets underrated in these discussions. The suites are private with a door, the service is stellar, the food tastes great (I am a huge fan of Korean food so I might be biased), and the bed is comfortable. I do think the IFE system is lacking compared to some other airlines. I usually don’t buy the onboard wifi so I can’t comment on that.

    I know this doesn’t factor into your rankings, but Asiana also tends to have pretty good award availability, making it easy to book with United, Avianca, or ANA.

    I would personally rank Asiana’s first class on their A380 ahead of Korean Air and on par with ANA, JAL, and Cathay Pacific.

  31. I like the top ten lists.

    Maybe you could do more categories as well?

    Top 10 hotels, top 10 use of points, etc.

    What I like about your blog is how it cuts to the chase with what is recommended, and doesn’t simply list all available options.

  32. Granted, being in the top 16 isn’t as special these days as it used to be, considering how few airlines offer first class these days compared to what used to be available. How many other airlines offer first class but didn’t make the cut? Off the top of my head:

    British Airways
    Air India
    Jet Airways
    Kuwait Airways
    Malaysia Airlines (though aren’t they rebranding their first class?)
    China Southern
    China Eastern

    Any I missed?

  33. I’m with a lot of other posters who can’t believe Asiana clocked in at #16…wow. A fully enclosed suite, great food and an onboard bar should get you higher on the list.

  34. Never tried the EK 777 suite but I think it’s a revolution. Of course can’t compare with Etihad apartment but in my view that’s not first class but rather I would consider it a totally different category. For this reason I’d also consider Emirates suites the top one.

  35. Personally I think Garuda is irrelevant now that it’s only flying F intra-Asia. When I saw the headline I assumed you’d re-done the list because of that..

    The new EK 777 F is fantastic, but there’s no mention of the terrible airport experience being bussed to the aircraft at out stations (eg GVA, crammed in with all cabin classes) and at DXB (Premium only bus but very long drive). Then the long concourse was for connecting flight, EK ground experience surely doesn’t compare to AF.

    Tbh I also think you’re a little jaded with LH F since you’ve done it so many times and it just doesn’t excite you anymore. It’s still fabulous and the first time will blow someone away more than some of the other non-suite airlines higher in the list.

    Sample size is low for LX 777 F too, and you got a bad crew, which is rare, but has understandably tainted your view. A good crew in LX 777 F is at least up there with JL F and CX F (especially without WiFi).

  36. It’s true, I have no friends. Posting here is the only way to help me through my lonely life.

    If I can at least feel a (false) sense of superiority on this board, at least I will be a little less sad for a short while.

    Now please excuse me while I go and increase my proficiency in my favourite pastime, the ancient art of onanism.

  37. Talking about consistency of Korean Air F class product, they are probably the only airline that offers long-haul first class without direct aisle access… (select A330s, which flies ICN-NRT-HNL and ICN-ZAG as well as some destinations in Oceania…) and offers Apex Suites for long haul “F” class (on 787s and select A330s) which fly as long as ICN-YYZ(13+ hours)… all the while offering 6-suite cabin on 747-8 nose. You reviewed both of those F class products actually (HKG-ICN-SFO)

  38. “The seat is wobbly and has limited recline. You can only eat facing the aisle, where you’re looking directly at another passenger. The bed is no bigger than on any other top airline, and it’s extremely hard. There are no individual air nozzles, and air flow is very limited.”

    How on earth can that be so high up the list of best 1st class products? With those fundamental faults it should be way down in the middle rankings of J, let alone F.

    I almost always fly J and rarely F – for the massive extra cost I just don’t value the designery flourishes that highly (YMMV) – and I’m not sure *any* of these look like better value for money for my employer than, say, Qsuites (and some of them seem to offer much less than Qsuites in absolute terms – no individual air nozzles? Really?).

  39. Don’t buy the LH F hype
    I flew IAD-FRA 747 F
    Rude FAs, worse purser, disgusting supper meal, very poor service.
    IMO most LH F reviews are just wet dreams.

  40. Here is my top ten!

    1. Air France
    2. Emirates A380
    3. Singapore Suites
    4. Cathay
    5. JAL
    6. Lufthansa
    7. ANA
    8. Asiana
    9. Etihad
    10. Oman Air

    I can’t include the new Emirates first class because it’s so rare and hard to fly. JAL has a better seat than ANA. I really don’t like Korean Air color choices and the fact that first class is the same seat as business. Also, Etihad’s price cutting tactics scare me off their first class and they are closing lounges outside Abu Dhabi. Oman Air overall experience puts it on my top ten. Swiss would be #11 on my rank because Lufthansa is way easier to book with miles.

  41. My top five would be:

    Air France

    I love the AF seat and the curtains, so much more of a soft and quiet environment than the other enclosed suites.

  42. I’m curious @Lucky if you have any views on if there are any First Classes that will be phased out in the next few years. Does it make sense for American to be the only remaining carrier based in the Americas to offer a First Class? Will Thai and Garuda’s first classes wither away? Is there any carrier that will do the reverse and introduce a First Class?

  43. As others note, F hard products vary widely by aircraft and specific configuration. It would be great to see an expanded list that includes other standard products on top the internationals offering a F product. For instance, include Emirates A380 and the older 777 product, Etihad 787-9, SQ 777, etc. This would expand the list out to 30 or so but would be an impressive thing to see. I know the article is about the best products out there, but a broader survey would still be cool to reference.

    In fairness with an Emirates F ticket in hand, you are far more likely to be on an A380 than the admittedly awesome looking new 777 product.

    I know these lists are subjective but I think @Lucky does a great job explaining why these are his favorites.

  44. I have to agree with The nice Paul on this, I am not sure there is really sufficient upside on these to justify the extra cost (acknowledging entirely that this is a site dedicated to points). When the financial difference comes into play then to be honest I am not sure the upside os there. I’ve flown on Q suites a few times now and frankly, for a business class product, I am not sure what more you could want. The brutal reality is that, no matter how good the food may be in First, the price difference compared to business (where on most of the airlines you have mentioned here you would get perfectly good food) isn’t justifiable. I fly Singapore to London several times a year, out of interest I’ve just looked up the difference in fares on my next flight between business and first – comes to approx $6,000 USD, or nearly twice the price. I just cannot see how I could justify this. Yes the foods a bit better, but I don’t get there any quicker. Or to put it another way, there are 13 restaurants with 2 or 3 michelin stars in London, I suspect in a two week stay I could eat in a different one of those every night for two weeks and it would still be cheaper than the difference between first class and business!! And no-one can convince me the food is going to be comparable on an aeroplane.

  45. @Henry LAX @Endre @Ben Holz

    As someone who actually does fly these products, (albeit infrequently), guess I just don’t have the funds of @Endre as I often use points to upgrade from J on Business Trips I have found these to be my top 5.

    1. Singapore Airlines; no matter what I always find them to be the best. Maybe The Private Room could do with some more food options.
    2. Swiss; Maybe I am just uncultured, however, I see no reason for people to fly Lufthansa over Swiss, Swiss has doors and sleeping rooms (with real beds) in their lounge.
    3. Eithad/Emirates; Anything that needs to be added here? They are just great.
    4. Cathay Pacific; Although I consider their hard product to be older, I think their ground experience is great and the soft product to be excellent.
    5. Qantas; Maybe I am an Australian and just naturally loyal to Qantas, however, I love everything about flying their First Class, from the private check-in at Sydney to their F lounges or the steak sandwich onboard, everything just delights.

    And there was the opinion of a J class peasant.

  46. Top tens are too difficult to categorize. I will share my top three preferred airlines for traveling in F, primarily on frequent corporate trips:


  47. What a shocker that Endre and Debit are the biggest Trump supporters on this blog. Complete selfish, inarticulate, low IQ douches.

    Normal decent people can’t stand you. Like in real life.

  48. I heard Emirates or Qatar spend huge amount of money on wines, I mean really high end wines like we can only order them in Michelin 3 star restaurants ? Do they ever gonna roll out maybe on limited bases on first class like 1982 Rothschild lafite, Petrus and etc

  49. great list Lucky! i generally agree with the list, but one thing that surprised me was JAL over CX F. I have yet to go on JAL F, but i hope to book a flight with them later on in the month to see wether CX or JAL take the win

  50. ANA much better than JAL in both my experiences. Windows are usually kept closed anyways. Food and service on ANA rock

  51. Somebody needs to monitor these comments and block the silly ad hominem attacks between strangers. It is turning into a YouTube comment section.

  52. Ben’s flight reviews are the only ones I trust on the internet when it comes to flight reviews.
    I agree 100% with the updated list for 2020.

  53. @those who ask about Asiana here: Asiana Airlines recently abolished First Class service and all of what used to be First Class seats are being sold as something like Business-class suites (like MH). So Asiana is unfortunately no longer a candidate for best first-class services.

    @Jay KE recently abolished First Class on 330s and 787s – the “weird” First Class seats are now available to business class passengers. Only First Class seats without direct-aisle access are now non-er 773 and 744 (the longest route is ICN-DPS at around seven hours).

  54. “As far as I’m concerned, airlines also deserve bonus points for consistency across various flights, because it’s nice to know exactly what you’ll get.”

    I would say consistency is a critically important part of the offer. If you book Emirates 1st on the basis of this list, you could be shocked when you end up with something so very inferior.

    The other point is how many of each airline’s intercontinental routes actually offer a 1st class option. Most airlines seem to be removing 1st as fast as they can.

    I look forward to the updated business class list.

  55. @Jay out of RKSI: Surely you do notice that those asking why OZ’s rating dropped published those comments in 2018 and 2019, when OZ did have first class? This is the same post that has been updated since then.

  56. I’d still choose Air France over Emirates.

    If are traveling alone, you can still have you own private cocoon.

    If traveling with friends, you can make it a party. That trip you took with Ford and your dad on Air France? No way that could have happened the way it did on Emirates.

    “Air France still offers the world’s most well rounded first class experience, given that they offer the world’s best first class lounge experience at their Paris Charles de Gaulle hub.”

    Not just their hubs. While their outstation lounges are very inconsistent, the fact that they provide an escort to bypass waiting in line for security is also a nice touch as well.

  57. Lucky, you should make a ranking based on first class product with transit expreience.
    Many transit. I look for the overall experience. Flight, ground service and hub first class lounge.
    Id bump Air France to #1 and Garuda a couple placed, if those parameters were considered. Even Lufthansa would be in top 10.

  58. I think I have met endre on a first class flight between London and Singapore. He was pleasant enough but placed many demands on the SQ girls. Personally I prefer quntas first As the food is impressive. I flew Sydney to launceston in first many many years ago and it was delightful.

  59. Our blogging Nero is completely tone deaf. Airlines are going bankrupt because the back of the plane is empty, and his focus is on a few in the front.

  60. I flew BA F in December on the 787 from London to Tokyo and honestly, I was BLOWN AWAY. I had an EXTREMELY good crew who just took such good care of me. Maybe it’s because I went in with very low expectations, but honestly I was really very shocked. I had told my sister (who flew with me in F for the first time) to not expect so much but they really exceeded our expectations. Over the past year I took JAL F, CX F and QR F and honestly the service I got from BA was the best out of all of them. It wasn’t even a language barrier issue as I speak Japanese and Mandarin fluently.

  61. @ Lucky or any of you worldly First class flyers. Lucky mentioned JAL having a seat that goes fully flat. I thought that would be kind of a standard thing in first class – no? I get that there would be variations in different business class hard products. Haven’t flown in first and can’t think of an airline on his list that I would be trying to fly first in, but my question is is there a first class service that doesn’t have seats that go fully flat?

    As a side note to not sure what was meant as “points gaming” as someone referenced? I’m sure anyone purchasing a first class ticket is doing it with a point/mileage bearing credit card and using those points at some time – no? (If one isn’t they are very stupid.) Is purchasing Alaska Airlines miles “points gaming”? I think not. Is opening credit cards for bonuses “points gaming”? As long as you are abiding by all the terms and conditions it’s not.

  62. Air France has la premiere on a380s (9 seats) and some 777s(4)
    Since they will withdraw the a380 from the fleet that’s going to be a net loss of 90 first class sears In fact one 380 already left the fleet.

  63. I feel the need to add that ANA has virtually the same First Class product on their A380 “Flying Honu” between Hawaii and Japan. I’m surprised you haven’t reviewed it given your enthusiasm for both ANA First and the A380. It really is Excellent!

  64. Lol at everyone’s jealousy towards Mr Endre and people who can pay for F. Enjoy the next four years everyone!

  65. “Over the past year I took JAL F, CX F and QR F and honestly the service I got from BA was the best out of all of them”

    Call your experience an outlier, then?

  66. You said the review was purely about the on board experience so this should comment not be part of consideration or mention… , Air France still offers the world’s most well rounded first class experience, given that they offer the world’s best first class lounge

  67. Maybe title these flight reviews as “Brutally Honest” lol. Not sure what is up with those reviews. Most reviews are honest, not like the airlines promise you a discount the next time you fly with them.

  68. Once a JAL flight attendant woke me up in the middle of the night (TYO>JFK). She opened the window blind and pointed outside in silence — I spent the next 30 minutes in awe, that was my first time seeing northern lights.
    It takes a lot of confidence to wake up a passenger, and know he’ll be grateful, based on just a few interactions.
    That‘s the only time I felt a trip was truly “unique“ (the Salon champagne helped a bit too but can’t compare).

  69. I don’t agree with the approach of separating the ground experience from the cabin experience when rating 1st class. The overall experience is what 1st class is all about, being pampered from check-in to boarding, and through any transfers.

    Agreed with @Rocco that the comments really need strict moderation. And not just on this post. I like to look at the comments because there’s sometimes good information in them, but the immature comments really detract from your blog. @Andrew Y, that was really funny tho 🙂

  70. @ASR86

    Believe me, nobody is jealous of Endre because just about every body on here besides sock puppets believe he is a troll who most likely doesn’t fly first class to begin with.

  71. @Andrew Y – you have made my day!

    Thank you for the post and the ensuing comments – I love that so many passionate travellers are able to offer considered comments which allow me to vehemently agree or disagree. It all adds to the air travel experience and I appreciate that we all come at our reviews from different perspectives ….. although some appear to be disingenuous; but that just adds to the amusement factor.

  72. I only fly in F few times with SQ (never in suite) so all I can say is SQ is the best =). But their business class is already very nice. Basically I don’t drink alcohol so I don’t care about expensive champagne and the J seat is already enough for me to get sleep.

    I’m willing to try Emirates F with the shower.

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