Which Airlines Have Onboard Bars & Lounges?

Which Airlines Have Onboard Bars & Lounges?

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While airlines are doing everything they can to squeeze more seats onto planes in economy, in many cases airlines are increasingly allocating more space to first and business class.

For the most part this comes in the form of more comfortable and spacious seats, though around a handful of airlines take it a step further by offering special onboard amenities, like inflight bars and lounges. After all, when you’re on an ultra long haul flight, there’s something really nice about being able to stretch your legs, and possibly even mingling with some of your fellow passengers.

In fairness, in many cases these bars and lounges are pretty efficient, in the sense that they don’t take up much usable space. That’s to say that they’re often installed in areas where there couldn’t otherwise be seats.

Below I’ll cover the bars and lounges you’ll currently find on commercial airplanes. Sadly the number of these available has decreased significantly, with Etihad having retired its Airbus A380s, and Virgin Australia having discontinued long haul flights.

With that out of the way, let’s get right into it.

Emirates A380 onboard bar

Emirates is the airline most well known for its bars, as the airline has 100+ Airbus A380s that feature a bar at the back of the upper deck, for first & business class passengers. This is something that Emirates has marketed widely, and for good reason.

The bar is staffed throughout the flight, and you can either enjoy a drink at the bar, or take one back to your seat. There’s a huge list of cocktails to choose from, and there are also a variety of self-serve snacks available.

There is quite a bit of foot traffic at the bar, as business class flight attendants are constantly walking through the bar to get between the galley and cabin. That being said, it’s also one of the liveliest onboard bars, and if you have a fun flight attendant, you’re sure to have a good time.

Emirates Airbus A380 bar
Emirates Airbus A380 bar
Emirates Airbus A380 bar

Note that some of Emirates’ newest A380s have a new style bar. So while the idea is the same, the design is a bit different, with a “booth” of seats facing one another, rather than just one bench along each side of the fuselage.

Emirates Airbus A380 bar

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar & lounge

Virgin Atlantic is well known for its aircraft social spaces, though it’s something the airline has evolved on quite a bit. Historically Virgin Atlantic has had an onboard bar, and this is something you’ll still find on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330. This is a fairly small place with just a few seats, and you’ll only find a “bartender” there at some points during the flight.

Virgin Atlantic 787 bar

However, Virgin Atlantic has an updated social lounge on its Airbus A350s, known as “The Loft.” Standard A350s have a lounge area immediately behind business class, featuring a few couches, as well as an entertainment screen. Crews will generally check on you to see if you want to order any drinks or snacks here, though the area isn’t otherwise formally staffed.

Virgin Atlantic A350 lounge

Virgin Atlantic’s newest leisure A350s have a much smaller Upper Class cabin, and have a new lounge concept, known as “The Booth.” As the name suggests, this is essentially just a booth. While here, you can enjoy a private dinner for two, a cognac tasting, a wine tasting, or game time.

Virgin Atlantic A350 lounge

Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar

While Qatar Airways has a much smaller A380 fleet than Emirates, I’d argue the carrier’s onboard bar is even nicer. The bar is available to first & business class passengers, and is located behind the business class cabin (in front of the small upper deck economy cabin). The bar is gorgeous, spacious, and has plenty of seating.

Furthermore, there’s virtually no foot traffic, given that the flight attendants don’t have to walk past the bar to provide their service. At the bar you can order a huge selection of drinks, from wine to cocktails to mocktails. There are also some light snacks available there throughout the flight.

Qatar Airways A380 bar

Korean Air A380 onboard lounge

Korean Air has a lounge at the back of the A380 upper deck behind business class, named the Celestial Bar. It’s an inviting space with a good amount of seating. It’s operated in conjunction with Absolut vodka, and there’s a specialty list of aviation-themed cocktails.

What’s a bit odd is that Korean Air just serves the signature cocktails at the bar, and not other drinks. So if you want something else to drink you explicitly have to ask the crew to fetch it from the galley. Still, the space itself is pretty, and who doesn’t love a vodka-based aviation-themed libation?

Korean Air has grounded its A380s for much of the pandemic, but the planes will be returning to long haul routes as of this summer.

Qatar Airways A380 bar

Qantas A380 onboard lounge

At the front of the Airbus A380 upper deck, Qantas has a lounge area that features two sets of booths, intended for business class passengers. This is in the same area where Emirates has its A380 showers, so this is truly just using up space that couldn’t otherwise really be utilized. There’s not much in the way of formal service here, but crews will gladly bring you snacks and drinks.

Qantas A380 onboard lounge
Qantas A380 onboard lounge

Bottom line

It’s incredible to see how far airlines have come with onboard bars and lounges. Emirates and Virgin Atlantic are most famous for this concept, but you’ll also find it on Qatar Airways, Korean Air, and Qantas. Sadly the number of airlines offering these products has decreased over time, and that will likely only continue further, as the number of A380s flying decreases.

Which airline has your favorite onboard bar or lounge?

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  1. LOA Member

    I found the Virgin A350 lounge to be a huge dud. Very un-inviting space. I did not like it one bit. Maybe my expextions were high since it was my first tome flying Virgin. But the A350 experience was a huge letdown. No mood lighting, crappy lounge area. Just a huge disappointing dud. They should have kept the bar concept, tbh. I flew on a 787 right after and the cabin and bar was much...

    I found the Virgin A350 lounge to be a huge dud. Very un-inviting space. I did not like it one bit. Maybe my expextions were high since it was my first tome flying Virgin. But the A350 experience was a huge letdown. No mood lighting, crappy lounge area. Just a huge disappointing dud. They should have kept the bar concept, tbh. I flew on a 787 right after and the cabin and bar was much much better. I hope the 787 gets the new seats soon and I hope they don't add the crappy A350 lounge!

  2. Alex Guest

    Lucky - Do you mind sharing why these spaces would otherwise be unusable, if not used as a lounge?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Alex -- They're generally in spaces where there otherwise couldn't be seats. For example, Virgin Atlantic's A350 lounge is located by the second set of doors, so there could otherwise only be a galley there. Meanwhile Qantas' A380 lounge is in the very front of the upper deck cabin where there aren't windows and where the fuselage narrows, so airlines don't really install seats there.

  3. SullyofDoha Guest

    Qatar Airways bar in the A-380 is fantastic!

  4. Dave Guest

    Isn’t there also Azal’s A340-500s too?

  5. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

    FYI, Caption under the Korean Air pic is incorrect.

  6. John Guest

    The Emirates First class bar in front of the first class cabin, between the showers should also be mentioned. Although its “just” a selfserve area it stock some pretty nice drinks!

  7. Sergio Guest

    I hope you have heard about the "prestigious era" of the 1970s when the upper deck hump of the 747 was a luxury to travel. If you could of course.

    1. KB Guest

      For a few years in the 1970s several airlines even had an economy class lounge area in their 747s and other widebodies. The planes were flying around half-empty so they made use of the space.

    2. Rafa Guest

      And don’t forget American Airlines Piano Bar, Continental Airlines Pub and Pan Am Dining in the Sky

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Rafa Guest

And don’t forget American Airlines Piano Bar, Continental Airlines Pub and Pan Am Dining in the Sky

0
LOA Member

I found the Virgin A350 lounge to be a huge dud. Very un-inviting space. I did not like it one bit. Maybe my expextions were high since it was my first tome flying Virgin. But the A350 experience was a huge letdown. No mood lighting, crappy lounge area. Just a huge disappointing dud. They should have kept the bar concept, tbh. I flew on a 787 right after and the cabin and bar was much much better. I hope the 787 gets the new seats soon and I hope they don't add the crappy A350 lounge!

0
Alex Guest

Thanks for explaining!

0
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