Commercial airline travel can be hard work. A high-quality business or first-class lounge can make a world of difference before take-off and a luxury in-air experience contributes to a comfortable sojourn. Let us guide you through the very best of business class in Australia.
Although business class makes up just 12 per cent of commercial airline passengers, it accounts for as much as 75 per cent of profits, according to Investopedia. Almost every commercial airline on the planet offers some kind of premium flying experience at a premium price, but some tickets offer a more luxurious flying experience than others.
The airline you choose to fly with is often a matter of timing and circumstance, but thoroughly researching which airline to fly with can make a world of difference to your travel experience. From Qantas to Cathay Pacific, this is our guide to the best business class experiences on airlines flying to and from Australia.
Qantas is one of the world’s best airlines in terms of safety, comfort, and professionalism with a proven track record in personalised service. Their business class experience starts at the departures terminal where you are given priority check-in services, as well as a dedicated boarding lane and disembarkation access.
Comfort is top-notch onboard a Qantas flight. Lie-flat beds on long-haul flights, a Neil Perry-designed menu and an onboard sommelier give the business class experience a distinctive edge over other airlines. Private business suites are available on all A330 and B787-9 aircraft and business class passengers have access to a range of gourmet snacks and a quick breakfast, which is very handy on an overnight flight to South East Asia.
Emirates’ fleet of A380s is a luxurious way to fly to and from Australia. Experience the feeling of freedom you get from getting up out of your lie-flat seat, strolling over to the onboard lounge and ordering a Tom Collins or Bloody Mary.
A regionally inspired menu brings you a world of tastes, textures and aromas from across the globe. After dinner, you can treat yourself to a movie on your widescreen and a nightcap before lying flat on your back, stretching out and dozing off to sleep. The interior colour palette is calming and indulgent, with pale lacquered wood and soothing white accents providing a stunning environment for those glorious above-the-clouds sunrises and sunsets.
The newest airline on the Australian business class radar is offering something a little different in terms of how you secure a business class seat. Rex’s business class seats can be bought by bidding for them before your flight, with the winning bid selected three hours before departure. The winning bidder then gets priority check-in, a more comfortable seat and a complimentary selection of gourmet food.
All of Rex’s business-class seats are on their Boeing 737 jets- their Saab 340 turboprops offer all economy seats. Rex allows 32 kilograms of packed luggage for business class passengers but carry-on varies; Rex Biz Plus gives each passenger up to 15 kilos of carry-on baggage.
The airline is a regional carrier only and does not fly any international routes. Rex’s current flights operate between Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Canberra and Brisbane, but the airline says they have plans to expand its fleet of Boeing 737s to other airports including Perth in the next few years.
Virgin’s Australian business class operates on Boeing 737s and has recently undertaken an upgrade to offer roomier seating areas and a redesigned menu. Entertainment is taken care of by the carrier’s free app, which gives you access to a range of movies, documentaries and TV shows on your very own device, without having to fiddle with worn-out touchscreens.
A curated range of hot and cold beverages is served, including Australian beer and wine. Take off refreshed from one of Virgin’s seven luxurious airport lounges and experience the convenience of priority check-in and boarding. Increased baggage allowance makes for far less stressful packing the night or morning before your flight.
Source: Virgin Australia
Singapore Airlines puts passenger comfort at the forefront of its service operations. Emphasising its commitment to letting business class passengers get a good night’s sleep, the airline offers a cabin layout that is optimised for restful relaxation.
Business class passengers can expect seats that are capable of lying flat, plenty of stowage within easy reach and a delectable menu. You can order all of your food before you even take off and fully customise what you eat, which is essential for those with stringent dietary requirements.
Two seats can be booked directly next to each other and reclined to create space for two passengers to sleep in the same bed, which is ideal for families choosing to fly business class and perfect for newlyweds.
Source: Singapore Airlines
Etihad business class offers travellers an immersive luxury experience, starting with the airport transfer. If you are leaving from the UAE, a private shuttle will pick you up and take you to Etihad’s dedicated business transfer area.
Start your flight with a flute of champagne or orange juice before getting a feel for your lie-flat bed on A350 or B787 flights. An adjustable headrest, back support and cushion firmness functions add to the comfort, and there’s plenty of space to move around. Three-course meals and Acqua de Parma amenity kits contain an eye mask, ear plugs, luxurious socks and a signature fresh fragrance.
Business class passengers flying with Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific can expect an expertly curated menu containing a range of Hong Kong favourites plus lighter options onboard. The airline’s high-rated food options are perfectly complimented by a wide range of spirits, wines and Cathay Pacific’s very own beer, crafted for consumption at 35,000 feet.
Skincare is essential when travelling by air and the business class experience is not complete without a quality skincare routine. Luxurious Bamford amenities are provided for every long-haul business class passenger to nourish, soothe and protect skin while in the air. A380 flights benefit from extra wide cabins which feature intelligent lighting and reduced noise.
Source: Cathay Pacific
There’s nothing better than ordering a coffee, juice or something a bit stronger before boarding or after disembarking from a long flight. This is our guide to Australia’s best premium business-class lounges.
The House by Aspire Lounge, Melbourne
A small, high-quality menu plus an enviable location with a spectacular view of the runway make this business class lounge, for Etihad business class and Virgin Upper Class passengers, one of the best in Australia.
A comfortable lounge area is filled with soft leather armchairs and chic décor. A small buffet offers breakfast, as well as an all-day menu and à la carte dining, available while the lounge is open.
Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney
Simply put, this lounge is among the best and most luxurious airport lounges in the world. Restaurant-quality food from a Neil Perry-inspired menu, marble-lined shower facilities and opulent spa treatments will have you arriving three hours early for your flight, just to be pampered before boarding.
Spotless meeting rooms are very useful and floor-to-ceiling windows offer partial views of the runway. Although charging points are scarce compared to other first-class lounges, a fantastic layout and very well-organised dining and lounging areas more than make up for this. Sydney’s Qantas International First Lounge is definitely worth an extended visit.
American Express Lounge, Sydney
AMEX cardholders are given free access to this gorgeous amalgamation of food and drink options in a well-designed area featuring booth seating, armchairs, sofas and banquette seating in the lounge area. Delicious barista-made coffee is smooth and intense and dishes from the à la carte menu are made to order in front of passengers’ eyes at ‘live cooking’ stations.
The food is what attracts most people to this lounge and a heady range of drinks includes beers, spirits, wines and cocktails.
Virgin Australia’s Domestic Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Fantastic facilities for refreshing yourself on long stopovers combined with two floors of comfortable dining, lounging and relaxing areas offer a range of seating options. Available to Virgin First Class passengers, this lounge is the perfect place to get some work done. AC power and USBs are positioned conveniently and there’s a selection of seating options available.
Although there is no view to speak of from the ground floor, the second level lounge is raised a modest height above the rest of the terminal and is usually a little quieter, but be aware that it’s only open in peak times.
Australians have returned to the skies in the last few months after years of strict border restrictions and the country’s premier airline Qantas initially experienced some teething issues. Promising to invest A$200 million in staffing and place 20 extra aircraft on standby, the flying kangaroo is gradually returning to pre-pandemic on-time performance and cancellation rates.
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