We've all been there — crushed legs from the seat in front, a stiff neck from trying to sleep in awkward positions and those less than appetising meals. Your choice of seat can have a big impact on your in-flight experience.
You're looking for something better, but when it comes to which airline to go with it may seem like there are simply too many options. If you've decided to invest in Business or First Class travel, you want to ensure you're getting the best possible experience for your money.
Although there are a lot of aspects that make up that experience (cuisine, onboard service, quality of the lounge), ensuring your seat that has all the services and functions you're looking for is very high on most lists. Whether you're travelling alone or as a family, for business or pleasure, we can help you decide which option is right for you.
In this blog, we highlight the key features from the leading airlines that fly from New Zealand to the UK / Europe to help you find the best First / Business Class seating for you.
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Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has announced that it is working on a redesign of its Business Class seats so the current herringbone design, whilst innovative in its time, will not be with us for too much longer (we were recently told that there are Air New Zealand staff currently tasked with spending extended periods on the test seats to provide user feedback).
Currently in Air New Zealand Business Premier your soft leather seat transforms into a full lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress. There's also an Ottoman footrest that doubles as guest seating. Air New Zealand endeavours to provide an unforgettable culinary experience full of fresh and innovative creations, complemented by premium NZ wines. If you're still hungry you can order a range of snacks directly from your seat. To top it off, enjoy extensive on-demand entertainment enhanced by active noise cancellation headsets.
There has been a lot of negative press recently around how busy the Business Class lounge is in Auckland and the announcement that Air New Zealand will be opening a separate dedicated lounge for Business Class passengers will be welcomed.
In Qatar Airways Business Class you'll have a full lie-flat seat, up to 4,000 options for in-flight entertainment and "dining on demand", giving you the flexibility to eat when you're ready, not when the dinner cart comes around. For a full review of the onboard experience be sure to read our Qatar Airways Business Class review.
Eagerly awaited for the longest flight from Auckland (to Doha) is the Qsuite. Yet to be confirmed by Qatar Airways, but expected in mid to late 2019, the Q Suite includes the innovative "Quads" that provide a private, adaptable space when travelling with family, friends, or business colleagues. Movable panels allow you to transform your space into a social area, so you can work, dine or socialise in the air.
The Emirates Business Class and First Class experience begins at your front door with a chauffeur* delivering you to the airport and Moët and Chandon or Veuve Clicquot champagne greeting you in the lounge (Emirates swaps champagnes each month to be consistent with what is served onboard). Earlier this year Emirates released its redesigned First and Business Class cabins - although we are yet to see them on the A380 services from New Zealand.
Emirates First and Business Class seating is designed to exude luxury all the way. Onboard A380 flights, stretch right out on a seat that reclines into a fully flat position, choose from thousands of channels of entertainment and enjoy exceptional, regionally inspired dishes.
The First Class cabin offers the memorable "Suites" (pictured below) with a sliding door for increased privacy during the flight. Each First Class passenger also has access to the A380s onboard shower to arrive even more refreshed.
At the rear of the Business Class cabin is the onboard bar, which is available to Business and First Class passengers. Serving cocktails, snacks and conversation with crew and fellow passengers, this is an ideal way to break up a long journey.
*terms and conditions apply to the chauffeur service
Singapore Airlines has made a significant commitment to the New Zealand market with services departing from Auckland, Wellington (via Melbourne) and Christchurch to Singapore and then on to the UK / Europe. The Singapore Airlines / Air New Zealand joint venture also means that Business Class passengers have the opportunity to fly Air New Zealand Business Premier to Singapore and then join Singapore Airlines for the onward flight.
Singapore Airlines operates a range of aircraft from New Zealand and you can read more about the First, Business and Premium Economy seats to the UK / Europe on our dedicated Singapore Airlines page.
From Auckland, Singapore Airlines operates a Boeing 777-300ER providing leather seats that recline into a fully flat bed with cushioned headboard for ultimate comfort. An all-in-one business panel with laptop power supply and USB ports allows you to work in both seat and bed mode, and for entertainment, you have your own 18-inch HD LCD screen. In First Class (pictured below), guests enjoy a generous seat that transforms into a fully flat bed which extends to 80 inches for greater sleeping comfort.
Alternatively, on the A380 service from Auckland, the onboard Suites might be just what you're looking for. These luxurious individual cabins give you privacy and the spaciousness of a standalone bed, completely separate from your seat.
All Etihad Business Class seats recline to a fully flat position and come complete with a full-size pillow, comforter and pyjamas. Dine at any time by ordering from an a la carte menu. If you're travelling with children, long-haul flights offer a trained 'flying nanny' to give you a break.
The Residence is unique to Etihad and comprises the only three-room apartment (living area, bedroom, bathroom) in the sky. It comes complete with a concierge, butler and personal chef.
In the First Class suites, these private spaces allow you to host guests for meetings and fine dining can be ordered and cooked to your individual requests.
China Southern Airlines
China Southern's combination of Business Class lie-flat seats and sharp pricing from New Zealand to the UK / Europe makes it a popular option for those who may be looking for lie-flat comfort for a price close to many other airlines' Premium Economy prices.
The 787 Dreamliner from Auckland offers seats that recline flat with leg room of 74 inches. In First Class you'll enjoy 84 inches of legroom and a great sleep lying flat on your own bed. You can read more on our onboard China Southern review.
Cathay Pacific prides its Business Class service as being discreet, personalised and efficient. At the touch of a button, enjoy the comfort of a fully flat bed, enjoy meals made from local, seasonal ingredients with healthy options, accompanied by award-winning wines and drinks. For entertainment, Cathay Pacific Business Class offers the latest in television and movies on your own touchscreen TV, or create your own office in the sky with privacy partitions, expansive tables, power outlets, and adjustable lighting.
Qantas provides an extensive network from New Zealand via Australia to the UK / Europe. Offering options via Singapore and Dubai (through its partnership with Emirates) and the new, and extremely popular, direct service from Perth to London. Qantas offers First Class, Business Class and Premium Economy onboard the A380 that services its flagship route via Sydney and Singapore to London Heathrow.
In Qantas Business Class (pictured below) enjoy the features of its award-winning Skybed, which reclines to a two metre lie flat position and includes adjustable massage options to suit your personal needs.
Qantas First Class provides increased space and luxurious surrounds. Before take-off, enjoy a spa treatment if you're travelling from Sydney or Melbourne. Onboard, enjoy the bedding down service, turning your suite into a luxurious bedroom with Sheridan bedding, including a pillow menu, 100% cotton woven throw, duvet and memory foam mattress for a truly peaceful sleep. At 212 cm, when fully flat on the A380 it's even more comfortable
The best seats on a plane depend on your priorities as a passenger. Take advantage of the distinctive services on offer and choose an airline that meets your individual needs, for an exceptional in-flight experience.