Which Airline has the best First Class in 2022 and What does the future First Class look like?
I am going to rank the top 5 First Class products by breaking down a First Class flight into the following category:
- Airport experience - True First Class experience should start before the flight and continue till you arrive at the airport.
- Seat - Functionality and Privacy
- Food & Beverage
- Products (Amenities, IFE, Wi-Fi)
- WOW Factor (unique features such as double suite, shower, or extra amenities)
Video of Top 5 First Class Flight
No 5. ANA
ANA First Class scores 72% overall.
I think ANA has great food, great products with good privacy in their First Class. I’d say the weakest part is the airport experience. There's no limo transfer and the lounge can be crowded.
I flew the ANA A380 "Flying Honu" in First Class from Honolulu to Tokyo. The A380 and new delivered B777-300/ER feature the latest ANA First Class. Here is a dedicated trip report:
How to fly ANA First Class for Less?
I use LifeMiles to redeem on flights with ANA Premium Class.
You can buy LifeMiles and it is significantly cheaper than most other mileage programs. It often sells miles with bonuses and has great award redemption rates.
Cost of buying miles and redeeming on tickets is at least 50-80% significantly cheaper than a one-way normal fare! You just need to make sure that the seat is available for redemption.
Here are some examples of the cost of using LifeMiles to fly in Premium Class using the current LifeMiles promotion. With this, you could purchase miles for as little as 1.375 cents each.
- Flying ANA First Class from Tokyo to LA would cost 90,000 Lifemiles, which cost $1,238 (90k * 0.01375 cost per mile)
- Flying ANA Businesss Class from Tokyo to LA would cost 64,000 Lifemiles, which cost $880 (64k * 0.01375 cost per mile)
No 4. SWISS International Airlines
SWISS First Class scores 76% overall. SWISS has a great lounge in Zurich and offer a limo transfer service. It scores well in most categories but the product does lack of a bit of WOW factor when compared to what other competitors have in First Class.
Currently SWISS offer First Class on B777-300/ER, A340 and A330 long haul aircraft. Take a look at my First Class trip between Zurich and Hong Kong.
How to fly SWISS First Class for Less?
Only Miles & More Senator elite members and above can redeem First Class on SWISS which makes it more difficult for non-elite flyers.
You can pay a fix price Upgrade from Business class at the airport. One way price from Chicago to Zurich is reported at around $900, and from Los Angeles to Zurich at $1800.
The cheapest way to enjoy SWISS First Class is to purchase an outright First Class ticket from Greece or other Eastern European destination for Asia (BKK/SIN/HKG/NRT), there are good discount fares if you buy in advance at least 45 days. For example, I paid $3,000 from Athens to Hong Kong via Zurich roundtrip on SWISS First Class.
No 3. Singapore Airlines
Singapore First Class scores 88% overall. It has the biggest suite with a separate seat and bed that can even convert into a double suite on their A380. The B777-300/ER features an older First Class product.
Singapore Airlines First Class scores high in every category except the airport experience which I think can be enhanced by adding a limo transfer and personal escort. Singapore Airlines have just opened the new renovated First Class Lounge and the Private Room in Changi Airport.
How to fly Singapore Airlines First Class for Less?
Singapore Airlines restrict most Star Alliance partners to redeem on its First Class. So the best way is to use KrisFlyer Miles of Singapore Airlines to redeem on First Class flights. There are many mileage transfer partners from credit cards and hotel programs to convert miles into Krisflyer miles. First Class availability is limited.
No 1. Emirates
Well, we have a double winner of Best First Class (so there is no Number 2.)
Emirates First Class scores 92% overall. It’s hard to beat the floor to ceiling fully enclosed Game Changer suite with motion window. There are so many wow factors in this particular product.
But be aware only 10 B777s out of 130+ Emirates B777 has these new Game Changer First Class Suites. The whole A380 and most of the B777 fleet features the older suite which is still amazing in its own ways. The A380 also features an onboard shower and lounge.
I think the onboard experience on Emirates is ace but the airport experience for Emirates is the weakest link.
Flying First Class is supposed to be special but you may have to deal with long walks in Dubai. Lot of boarding are from remote bays and its not ideal in the summer months. Emirates First Class lounge is huge which occupies the whole floor of the Dubai airport concourse but they lack the intimacy of other first class lounges.
How to fly Emirates First Class for Less?
You can use either Emirates or Qantas miles to redeem on First Class. These miles can be transferred from many credit cards and hotel programs.
Emirates is also offering upgrade during online check-in. You may able to find some reasonable offers.
No 1. Air France La Premiere
Air France La Premiere has been my favourite product for a long time. It doesn’t have the bling bling or shower or double suite. It is a very subtle luxury that only those who have flown it would agree with me.
The airport experience on Air France La Premiere is fabulous, you get personal chauffeur around airport at Paris (include transit flights). The airport experience is also consistent in outstations. You get escorted from check-in to the lounge and have the option to board first or last.
The experience of first class shouldn’t just end after the flight. La Premiere take care of their first class passengers at formality, baggage delivery right up until they exit airport.
The cuisine rarely disappoints on La Premiere especially out of Paris. Equally impressive is the La Premiere Lounge in Paris CDG. Don't go in there with a full stomach!
How to fly Air France La Premiere for Less?
Air France certainly keep the entry level very high to their First Class La Premiere. Not only does it require a lot of miles to redeem La Premiere, but you also need to be Air France Flying Blue Elite.
The best way is to pay for an upgrade during online check-in, assuming that there are seats available. I did exactly this the day before I travelled and I was offered the upgrade for €1,019. This is significantly cheaper than paying the typical €2,000 plus in fare difference.
Video of Top 5 First Class Flight
What's your favourite First Class flight? Pls share with me in the comment below