Being stacked like sardines in between other passengers, sitting on long flights next to screaming babies and having to deal with sitting beside someone who has decided your shoulder is really their pillow are all possible pitfalls of airline travel. Savvy executives and flyers, however, know that the best way to avoid these horrors in the air and enjoy a smooth ride is to fly business or first class.
The top 5 Business Class airlines offer comforts and amenities that go above and beyond just larger seats and a little extra leg room:
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Flying in comfort. By Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr.
British based Virgin Atlantic offers a dedicated check in for Upper Class travellers, allowing them to skip the long lines and frustration that leisure travellers may be experiencing. While waiting for their Virgin Airlines flight to take off, executives can hang out in one of the airlines clubhouses. Clubhouses are found in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Heathrow and various other international business hubs.
Virgin Airlines has designed its clubhouses to be as sheek as many elite hotels offering showers, spa services and gourmet meals. In flight, in the Upper Class Suite there is a bar and business travellers have their own cosy section offering unblocked aisle access and a seat that can fully recline for comfortable sleeping.
Asiana Business Class Lounge. By Global X/Flickr.
Business passengers that prefer the personal touch will appreciate the courtesy, attentiveness and friendliness displayed by crew members of Asiana Airlines. Based in South Korea, the airline serves major Asian cities and international destinations including Europe and the United States. Business Class on Asiana Airlines is full of so many perks it is better than flying First Class with many of its competitors.
During the flight, attendants serve fine wines and guest can mix and match offerings to enjoy both Asian and western cuisines. For those who do decide to fly First Class with Asiana Airlines, there are 32 inch television screens, mood lighting to ease jet lag and amenity kits including pyjamas and slippers.
Etihad Business Class. By Thomas Galvez/Flickr.
With the Arabian based Etihad Airways, business travellers can enjoy their solitude since there Pearl Business Class features seats constructed with privacy shells. While relishing in their solitude, executives can unwind using the massage function built right into their seat. Seats also include power sockets so executives can keep their laptops, smart phones and other electronics in working order. Internet access also helps managers stay in contact with clients and their business affairs.
For help with picking meals or sampling the airlines boutique wines, business travellers can consult their personal Food and Beverage Manager. Access the business airport lounge for all types of services from shoe polishing, nannies to supervise children in the family room and international cuisine. The lounge also has a spa specialising in 15 minute treatments. Try a back realignment therapy after a long flight to reduce soreness and tension.
Cathay Pacific Business Class. By Karl Baron/Flickr.
When business executives fly First Class or Business Class with Cathay they can expect to be spoiled. The 2012 annual satisfaction survey from Skytrax, aviation research leaders, ranks Cathay Pacific as the best Business Class airline in the world.
Seats in this travel class are equipped with controls that allow passengers to manoeuvre their seats for better comfort when working, sleeping, talking to travel companions or when wanting to avoid speaking, making eye contact with travel neighbours. Noise cancelling headphones, flat screen televisions, and an entertainment panel that include a range of movies, TV shows, games and music are all standard features.
Business class in-flight meal on the Emirates. By ToastyKen/Flickr.
Like a number of other airlines, Emirates Business Class has convertible flatbed seating and power supplies for keeping electronics functioning. Passengers also receive inflight kits stuffed with a hand mirror, toothbrush, hand cream, tissues and other useful items. Emirates Air, however, also manages to set itself apart from other airlines with quite a few unique perks.
The most admired feature for those travelling Business Class is the sky lounge. Although private seats feature personal mini-bars, visiting the lounge is a chance for managers and executives to stretch their legs and network with other business passengers while enjoying snacks and cocktails. Emirates also caters to Business Class passengers through tasty cuisine. Healthy gourmet meals featuring multiple courses with options for vegetarians and diabetics show how far the airline is willing to go to please business professionals.