Here’s What It Really Looks Like In First Class

Nadine Dilong

‘Luxurious’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I spent Saturday night on a budget airline plane (aka the most uncomfortable place imaginable).

The seats were so narrow that my husband’s shoulders stuck out on both sides, there was a weird bump on the seat that left my bum sore, and my knees touched the seat in front of me. No matter how hard I tried to make my flight experience better, I hated every minute of the eight-hour trip and couldn’t help lament what my journey would be like if I was flying up front in first class.

Sadly, experiencing the world behind those beckoning curtains isn’t something most of us will ever see in our lifetimes. If you think first class tickets are expensive, you’re right, but you’re probably underestimating just how much you’d have to splurge out to fly like a rockstar.

A first class Emirates roundtrip from Dubai to Sydney will set you back about US$8500. But that’s peanuts compared to Etihad, which charges almost US$70,000 for a roundtrip from New York to Mumbai, for the privilege of flying in ‘The Residence’, a luxurious three-room suite in the air…


Lots of space and amenities, such as showers, as well as services such as private butlers and a fully decked out cocktail bar, are what sets first class apart from business. There is no sharing anything with fellow passengers, other than the fact you each have complete privacy.


On board a Qantas first class flight, you can recline in your Qantas PJs on your comfy extra-large seat that reclines into a bed and even has a massage option. When you’re peckish, you can order your food from an à la carte menu created by celebrity chef Neil Perry, then watch movies on your personal 17-inch screen. Guests’ amenity bags include SK-II products, a mirror and even deodorant. The A380 plane is equipped with just 15 first class pods, making the experience as boutique as it gets.


Emirates takes things up a notch by providing a fully equipped bathroom that’s larger than the average inner-city apartment’s equivalent.

Every first class passenger gets a 30-minute time slot to use the bathroom and five minutes of running water in the shower (you can pause it as you please). The gold-detailed cabin offers a lie-flat bed, a personal minibar, and luxe Bvlgari products in your vanity bag. Detoxifying fresh juices are offered throughout the flight, or if you feel like something more intoxicating, a bartender will make you any drink you desire.

If this isn’t enough luxury and pampering for you (wow, you’re hard to please), the only way to fly is in Etihad’s new first-class extravaganza, ‘The Residence’.

It’s mind-blowingly indulgent, opulent, and really, really unnecessary considering the short amount of time you get to spend there. However, if you can afford it, you probably don’t care about sensible spending.


Here is exactly what you get for spending a fortune on an Etihad first class ticket: a glamorous three-room suite, a double bed with Italian linen, a 32-inch TV in your very own living room and a second 27-inch flatscreen TV in your lavishly adorned bedroom.

You’ll also have access to a fully equipped bathroom, a personal chef and butler, chauffeured transportation to and from the airport, and private check-in away from the crowds. Wow, just wow.


Etihad has managed to completely reimagine flying by offering the three things I always miss when sitting in economy: space, privacy and comfort. I know what I’ll be spending my money on. should I ever win the lottery…

Images via,,, Jacob Pfleger/AirlineReporter.

Comment: Have you ever flown first class? Was it worth it?