The extra money to spend on first class usually means a traveler wants the best possible experience when flying with their airline. There are many reasons to want a first-class ticket aside from having the extra money to spend. Many people get anxiety when flying or feel claustrophobic, which leads to them finding a better experience when choosing the first-class option. All perks when flying in the first-class cabin are fun things that can range from luxury seats to great meals to better entertainment options. Some airlines clearly do a better job treating their first-class customers well than others.
The airlines to do the best job internationally typically go all out to make sure these people have a great experience. Others fail to live up to such expectations by offering fewer perks than the customer hopes for. Both sides will be examined here as we try to find the best and worst overall first-class cabins in the world today. Find out just how well certain airlines treat their passengers compared to how little effort other airlines put into such an experience. These are ten airlines with the best overall first-class cabins and another ten airlines that are not so great at it.
20 Best: Thai Airways
Thai Airways is the flag carrier airline of Thailand and does them proud with a great service. The airline is generally praised for how they are run, but the first-class cabin is among the most popular aspects of what they provide. Travelers that opt for the first-class perks will be treated to extremely comfortable seats with enough room to relax.
The 180-degree flat lie beds provide the most relaxing experience for those wanting to nap on a long flight.
Great food, champagne and many entertainment options make Thai Airways one of the most impressive first-class cabins for those lucky enough to fly with them.
19 Not-So-Great: United Airlines
One United States based airline with a weak first-class cabin is United Airlines. The airline flies all over the country and offers flights to various other countries all over the world. It makes sense that many people will want to test out the first-class option if flying with United Airlines.
Many reviews and customer rankings rate United Airlines among the worst first-class cabins. Complaints suggest that the flat beds are too uncomfortable to get any rest. There’s also a significantly smaller storage space area for personal items compared to other airlines. Privacy is considered to be something that is lacking with United Airlines, as passengers complain about not having enough personal space in first class.
18 Best: Qantas Airlines
Qantas Airlines is the flag carrier airline for Australia and has a stellar reputation from passengers of all levels. First-class is clearly one of the areas they do a great job with.
Qantas Airlines is most known for having great menus of delicious food options along with “Cellar in the Sky” wine selection.
The comfort is tremendous as well with a sheepskin mattress allowing passengers to get a good rest when using the flat bed on long flights. Each passenger has a great 17-inch screen to watch any entertainment options, like many movies or television shows offered in first class.
17 Not-So-Great: Iberia
The flag carrier airline for Spain makes the negative side of the list as Iberia has a terrible reputation when it comes to first-class cabins. Iberia customers have reacted with anger and disappointment when reviewing and rating the first-class flying experience with the airline.
Food options are the most common complaints as passengers are required to pay for first class options (as they don’t get extra perks on the menu). One customer also was livid at the fact that Iberia only offered two films on a glitchy screen for their 10-hour flight. Even the seats are considered a disappointment with not much extra comfort in the first-class cabins when sitting.
16 Best: Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways is the flag carrier airline for Hong Kong. They have done a great job creating a premium experience for anyone flying in first class with them. The cabins are luxurious with clutch amenities for the best flying experience.
Travelers rave about the comfortable seats with manually controlled massages. The flat bed and duvet combination allow fliers to sleep on long flights as if they were home.
Dining options are impressive along with many entertainment options available on each personal screen. Cathay Pacific Airways has a stellar service that ranks highly among the best first-class cabins you’ll ever find.
15 Not-So-Great: China Airlines
China Airlines is the largest airline of Taiwan with a poor reputation for their first-class cabin. The problem is the planes are quite old and outdated when it comes to comparing them to other first-class flying experiences. Many reviews indicate that the planes are too old and stand out negatively when boarding. It becomes an issue in the first-class cabin with smaller and less comfortable seats than most expect heading on the flight.
The leg room is only ideal for people shorter than 5’5’’ due to the older models still being used.
China Airlines’ biggest criticism is not upgrading their planes with the use of modern technology.
14 Best: Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is known for providing some of the best flying perks possible for any airline. As the flag carrier airline for Qatar, they do a great job adding new elements of comfort for their first-class cabins. The flat lie bed and duvet is as comfortable as sleeping at home which takes away a huge stress for long flight times.
There are over 4,000 entertainment options available for those wanting to watch something to pass the time. The menu is also hard to top with five-star dishes like seared scallops and filet mignon offered in first-class. Qatar Airways presents great comfort, entertainment and food when flying in first class with them.
13 Not-So-Great: Alitalia
The flag carrier airline of Italy has a negative reputation for its first-class cabins. Alitalia has a few common complaints from passengers expecting money value for the extra money paid for a seat. The first-class cabin in Alitalia planes are compared to business class on the average airline.
There are no flat-bed options offered, meaning anyone flying on a long flight must attempt to sleep sitting in their chair. That is also flawed due to many complaints about the seats being too old and not updated for current day comfort. Alitalia’s service is criticized in general for mediocre food options and minimal drink refills for those flying first class.
12 Best: ANA All Nippon Airways
ANA All Nippon Airways is the largest airline in Japan with a great reputation when it comes to reviews and ratings for the first-class experience. The biggest perk is the private individual cabin with a sliding door to deliver the most private experience away from others.
World class cuisine options are available with five-star dishes for those in first-class wanting an authentic Japanese dish or something from elsewhere in the world. Between the utmost privacy and the outstanding food and entertainment options, ANA All Nippon Airways tries their best to give the best bang for your buck in their first-class cabins.
11 Not-So-Great: Aeroflot RA
AR Airlines is the flag carrier and the largest airline in Russia's Federation. However, it does not offer as many perks as one would expect from the first-class cabin area with such a large airline.
Many complaints come in from travelers regarding their experience with the Russian Airline company not living up to expectations. The seats do not offer the ability to lie flat which makes it nearly impossible to sleep unless you are easily comfortable. Punctuality and a lack of entertainment options are things that passengers of all levels complain about, especially those in first class expecting more from the experience.
10 Best: Emirates
The Dubai-based airline Emirates is among the best in the world on every level, but first class is obviously another level with many great things offered in the cabin.
Emirates’ first-class suite is the top of the line with the ability to control the temperature and mood lighting.
Their leather seats are second to none after being made from the inspiration of Mercedes-Benz. There’s a wine cellar, gourmet meals and hundreds of entertainment options to pass time. Some travelers compare their first-class experience with Emirates to staying in a hotel room while flying in the sky. The high price appears to be worth it for such a comforting flight.
9 Not-So-Great: British Airways
British Airways is the flag carrier and largest airline in the United Kingdom. Unlike most other airlines on the negative side of the list, they have a generally positive overall reputation. However, there are complaints coming in from those who fly first class or business class with them.
Seat accommodations are the most common criticism from passengers believing the chairs are too small for the price. The entertainment and food options have mixed opinions depending on the flight. British Airways is not a bad airline by any means, but it is considered one of the most disappointing first-class providers given the size of the airline.
8 Best: Lufthansa
Lufthansa is the largest airline from Germany, and they do a great job accommodating their customers. First class is clearly the best possible way to fly with Lufthansa given the perks that come with it.
The airline has first-class customers greeted at the airport by a personal assistant to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Lufthansa flights have an extremely comfortable seat in size and material in the first-class cabins. Eating options are superb with top of the line meals offered and great wine options. Entertainment options are offered with hundreds of things to watch. The first-class cabin experience with Lufthansa is truly a VIP experience.
7 Not-So-Great: AA
AA is met with disappointment from many passengers reviewing the first-class experiences. The airline is criticized for not having as many perks available in the first-class cabin compared to business class despite the vast price difference.
Domestic flights (being shorter) see AA trying to get away with fewer perks despite still charging first class prices.
Some common complaints feature a lack of meal options and a few people claimed they didn’t even get a pillow while blankets were being handed out. The space, comfort and entertainment options were praised, but the negatives make it a surprising pick for the worst first-class options.
6 Best: Air France
Air France is flag carrier airline for France with stellar reviews online from passengers. Anyone to fly in the first-class cabin with Air France seems to have been given a luxurious experience. The spacious and comforting seating area is comparable to staying in a fancy hotel while in the air.
Food options are among the best on any airline with most dishes inspired by world-renowned chefs from France. The entertainment options are full of shows and movies for passengers to watch on a beautiful screen. Air France truly has a remarkable first-class cabin meant to make travelers have the best flying experience of their lives.
5 Not-So-Great: Air India
The flag carrier airline of India does a terrible job with their first-class experience. Many passengers of Air India pay the extra money hoping to have a fun experience flying to their destination in the first-class cabin. Unfortunately, the airline has a horrible reputation for being extremely cheap.
A flying experience with Air India is described as among the most outdated and least relaxing. The planes are old and show it both from the outside and inside.
Customers complain about the planes being in terrible shape and nothing being done to improve it. One first-class passenger complained in a review that there was a condensation drip from the overhead compartments that was solved by stuffing tissues to prevent it. Air India is at the bottom of the list.
4 Best: Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates and has an unbelievable first-class cabin experience. The best cabin is compared to staying in your own apartment with the ridiculous amount of space and comfortable seating arrangements.
Flat beds are almost 7 feet tall ensuring anyone can rest with comfort when going to sleep or laying on it. Personal in-flight showers are even offered as part of the VIP experience.
Dining options see passengers get their choice of various delicious meals prepared by great cooks. Most people would forget they are even on a plane with the level of comfort offered with Etihad Airways’ first-class cabin.
3 Not-So-Great: Air China
The fact that Air China is the flag carrier and largest airline in China makes it more disappointing to realize they have one of the worst first-class cabins in the world. Air China should be even more ashamed than the other airlines on the list as they fail at the simple things.
The uncomfortable seats already put travelers in a bad mood when realizing they won’t have the most relaxing trip after paying extra for first class. However, easily fixed things like various complaints about dirty planes and poor customer service rank Air China even lower. Their first-class cabin option is clearly not worth the money.
2 Best: Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines have been the standard for the best flying experiences in general, and it only makes sense it has the best first-class cabin as well. The flag carrier airline of Singapore provides a luxury experience for anyone lucky enough to fly first class with them.
Privacy is very much a part of the perk here with a relaxing chair and a great bed option for those paying extra for such a comforting flight. Thousands of entertainment options are offered, and various genres of meals are prepared for the traveler’s choice. Singapore Airlines treat their customers to a perfect experience when it comes to flying in a first-class cabin.
1 Not-So-Great: China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines has a reputation for being one of the worst airlines in the world. The horrible experience carries over to the first-class cabins where people paying for perks are treated to even more disappointing moments.
Seating arrangements are not much more comfortable than the average seat on the average airlines. Many reviews claim the food options are rushed and limited even for those flying on long 13-hour flights.
One person claimed the only difference between the first-class cabin and economy class was getting four pieces of fruit. Poor customer service, uncomfortable seats, horrible food options and a lack of respect puts China Eastern Airlines as the worst first class experience.