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BW Businessworld

Fit For Maharajas

With most international airlines making their First Class cabins and service as luxurious as possible, today’s elite Indian can travel like a maharaja

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If you fly First Class between any major Indian city and London, or for that matter any other long-haul route, on an international airline, luxury has a new name. Take Etihad Airways, for example. It ensures that a guest’s experience begins “well before departure” and lasts “well beyond arrival”. We have revolutionised the First Class experience with our First Apartments and First Suites, equipped with the latest entertainment systems, internationally trained in-flight chefs and the plush surroundings of Etihad Airways’ interior to ensure a comfortable journey for our guests,” says Neerja Bhatia, Vice President, Indian Subcontinent, Etihad Airways. 

Same goes for Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Qatar Airways and several others. Let us look at the common and some unique amenities of the First Class cabin, which comes at a price 3-4 times the Economy Class tickets. 

Etihad Airways’ A380 First Class cabin layout features the world’s first ever single central aisle on a wide body airframe. Each First Apartment has a separate seat, bed and personal vanity unit. Six of the apartments can be joined to create three double apartments for couples travelling together, providing unprecedented levels of comfort and the highest privacy walls on any airline. 

Each features an ottoman which transforms into an 80.5 inch long bed, and an entirely separate Poltrona Frau Leather armchair. The bed doubles as a two-piece sofa when the suite is in lounge mode, and is also a powered footrest for the seated guest. “The First Apartment boasts a 74 per cent increase in space over the current award-winning First Class suites available on our Boeing 777 and the A330/A340 fleets. 

The First Apartment is equipped with a personal vanity unit with soft lighting, space for your personal effects, a chilled drinks cabinet and a closet. First Class guests on the A380 can make use of a well-stocked bathroom and shower, located at the front of the upper deck cabin. Each First Apartment is fully equipped with an adjustable 24-inch flat touchscreen TV with noise cancelling headphones,” the company says.

Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Vice-President, (India-Nepal), Emirates says the airline’s First Class suites are available on most flights and certainly on their A380 and B777 fleet. “Typically, the cost for a Mumbai to Dubai, one-way flight in First class is between Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 1.45 lakh. The showers on board are exclusively available to our First Class passengers. 

We see a range of customers taking advantage of the shower spas on board. From business people wanting to arrive fresh for a new business day through to leisure travelers wanting to indulge themselves as part of their luxury travel experience,” he says. 

Talking about the fully operative onboard lounge on Emirates A380 fleet, Ahmad says it is designed to redefine the flying experience for passengers by creating a social area, where passengers can interact and connect with each other like they would do at any on-ground lounge. 

“The latest makeover of the lounge, inspired by private yacht cabins, features a more intimate and social area. It has an airier look and feel and lighter champagne colours are used in the cabin and lounge seating, accented by a glossy dark wood trim,” he adds. 

In India, Lufthansa offers First Class on a number of routes including Frankfurt-Delhi–Frankfurt (Airbus A380), Munich-Delhi–Munich (Airbus A380) and Frankfurt–Bengaluru-Frankfurt (Boeing B747-800). 

Some of the features in Lufthansa First Class cabins include soundproof curtains to ensure you can relax undisturbed on board; electrically adjustable window blinds, an adjustable reading lamp and a separate night light to give you the right amount of light in any position. 

On Swiss International Air Lines, First Class is offered on Airbus A330. The routes being serviced by this aircraft in India include Zurich–Delhi–Zurich and Zurich–Mumbai–Zurich. “Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines offer the highest standard of travel where passengers can expect the exceptional. 

Geared towards providing passengers with exclusive, unique and consistently exceptional experience, fares for First Class are competitively priced for the top of line product and services offered by Lufthansa and SWISS,” says a company statement. 

British Airways currently serves more than 200 destinations around the world. The airline has been flying to India for over 90 years and currently operates 49 flights a week between London Heathrow and five key cities in India namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. From October 2015, customers from Delhi became the first on British Airways globally to experience the most technologically advanced Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the new First cabin.