These days, it's easy to focus on just how severely airlines are skimping. We're being asked to pay extra to check bags, check-in at the airport, and even eat on multi-hour flights from coast to coast. But if you're willing to open up your wallet, commercial airline travel still offers some pretty outlandish amenities. Here are some of the plushest around.
Hotel in the Sky:
Get as close as you can traveling on a private jet with newly named Best Airline in the World – Emirates. The 14 passengers fortunate enough to be seated in the A380 First Class cabin will be treated to a sliding door, a personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, and your own vanity table, mirror, and wardrobe. The two bathrooms, or Shower Spas, that service first class offer the luxury so many on any long-haul flights wish for – a hot shower. If you want to stretch out and sleep, the crew will convert your massage-enabled seat to a fully flat bed with a mattress. Round-trip first class tickets from NYC to Dubai can range from $22,000 and up.
Luxury Arrivals and Drink Delivery:
For Virgin Atlantic customers who book an Upper Class ticket, you can also order a high-end chauffeur driven vehicle to pick you up upon landing. That's right: you'll be whisked away as if you're a foreign dignitary – no politicking required. Round trip upper class tickets from NYC to London can range from $3,000 and up. Chauffeur service is included with the ticket, depending on how far you're traveling from the airport.
If you spot someone special at the boarding gate prior to getting on a Virgin America flight, the airline allows you to send drinks (and food, if you're daring) to any seat on the plane through their touch-screen system. You'll just need to keep a close eye on where that passenger was seated, lest you accidentally order a cocktail for elderly Mrs. Gail. No extra cost for delivery; cost only associated with what you purchase.
No need to own your own plane in order to receive top-tier fare onboard. Etihad Airways provides a personal chef on its longer international flights for Diamond First Class passengers, who is more than happy to completely customize your in-flight meal. Sure beats the conventional microwave, plastic forks, and peanuts! Round trip diamond first class tickets are typically priced at about $8,300 from NYC to Abu Dhabi.
Singapore Airlines actually offers a class above First on certain international hauls. You can reserve your own suite, which includes a bona fide bed (not a converted seat), meals served with Givenchy tableware, a personal 23-inch LCD television, and turndown service from the staff. Suites are typically priced at about $14,000 for round trip travel from the U.S. to Singapore.
A great many travelers have picked up a tablet for in-flight entertainment, but for those packing light, Qantas has a solution. Flyers traveling on the company's refreshed Qantas’ B767 aircrafts are able to enjoy anything from their selection of 200 hours of on-demand in-flight entertainment streamed directly to supplied iPads in every seat. And yes, that includes coach seats! No extra cost – comes on select Qantas flights.
Have you been lucky enough to experience an unusual amount of pampering while in flight? Let us know in comments below!