There was a time when flying meant white gloves and spit-shined shoes. The “air hostesses” were hired based on their looks and the uniforms were smart. It’s oft lamented that the golden age of air travel is behind us, but is it? Coddling luxury that includes silk duvets, butlers and tuck-in service can be yours—for a price.
With Dubai as its hub, Emirates flies to some of the most coveted destinations on the planet. With regular service departing from JFK to destinations as nearby as Paris and Milan and as far-flung as Ho Chi Minh City, catching a flight in your private suite doesn’t have to mean a trip to the Middle East. How swank is first class? On the A380 Emirates offers shower spas. Yes, showers at 30,000 feet. The attendant even warms the floor before you step in. Meals are served at your leisure on Royal Doulton bone china. A first-class flight from JFK to Milan averages $ 7,000.
For those who crave more privacy and comfort than a mere first-class suite with a sliding door can offer, Etihad has debuted “The Residence” on its A380s. This apartment in the sky has a large bed (with high thread count linens, naturally), a living room, en suite bathroom, a 32-inch television and, of course, a butler and personal chef. All first-class passengers also have the option of utilizing the personal chauffeur service that will pick you up at home to make sure you get to your flight in style. All Etihad flights connect through Abu Dhabi. Prices aren’t published for flights in the Residence category. But with business class between Abu Dhabi and London running at $12,000, we’re guessing if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
U.S. carriers haven’t put showers in the sky, yet. However, they are making a play for those who prefer a more refined voyage. American, Delta and United have all recently begun offering full lie-flat beds on coast-to-coast trips. JetBlue has even jumped into the game and is upping the ante with private suites in their new MINT cabins, and the fares start at $599. You might not get tuck-in service with Egyptian linens, but you also won’t have a child kicking the back of your seat.