First class suites take the premium cabin experience to the next level. Passengers can enjoy over-the-top luxury with privacy doors, proper beds, gourmet food, excellent service and many entertainment options.
The best first class suites are offered by three of the most luxurious airlines in the world: Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Emirates. Depending on the flight, tickets can cost over $15,000 one-way!
That’s more than most of us can afford, but you can get into a suite for a lot less with points or miles. Let’s take a look at what each of these carriers have to offer and how you can get an award ticket.
Located in the front of the upper level of the aircraft, Singapore’s first class suites are arranged in four rows of a one-two-one configuration. The suite has a surprisingly large and comfortable seat that, after the turndown service, becomes a full bed. One nice benefit of Singapore’s layout is that the two middle seats can become a shared double bed if you’re traveling with a companion.
The food is among the best in the air. Champagne and multi-course meals are the norm. For entertainment, you’ll find a 23-inch TV and plenty of video-on-demand.
From the U.S., Singapore Airlines offers first class suites on flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo and New York to Frankfurt. Both routes continue on to Singapore.
The New York to Frankfurt route is the most affordable suite on a flight departing from the U.S. It costs 67,500 miles one way. If you continue on to Singapore, you’ll pay 110,000 miles.
From the West Coast, you can get from Los Angeles to Tokyo for 87,500 miles, or all the way to Singapore for 107,500 miles. Note that KrisFlyer members who book online get a 15 percent discount.
The best way to build up your balance with the carrier’s loyalty program, KrisFlyer, is by transferring points. Luckily, American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou are all transfer partners. With rewards cards from these programs you’ll be able to earn enough miles for a suite in no time.
In addition to the super-extravagant three-room Residence, which comes complete with a shower, Etihad also offers the First Apartment. The Residence can’t be booked as an award through Etihad, though you can purchase a ticket through a third party reward program, such as Membership Rewards or ThankYou, for a lot of points. It might be worth it, but let’s consider the much more attainable and still extremely luxurious First Apartment.
The First Apartment is the most spacious of the suites. Its generous layout of only two apartments per row offers ample room for both a comfortable seat and a couch which converts into a bed. You can actually walk inside the suite and comfortably host guests.
Like Singapore, some suites have a removable partition allowing you to share the bed with a companion.
One of the most impressive features is the onboard showers. Each passenger gets 20 minutes in the shower room and five minutes of water. There’s no better way to freshen up before landing.
As a first class passenger you also have access to the Lobby. Open to both business and first class passengers, the Lobby is a spacious meeting place offering additional room to relax on long flights. Notably, it is not an in-flight bar.
In the suite itself, there’s a 24-inch TV with on-demand entertainment. And of course there’s the in-flight chef, multi-course meals and endless cocktails, wine and champagne.
Etihad offers First Apartments on only one route from the U.S., New York to Abu Dhabi. If you book through Etihad’s frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest, that flight costs 117,560 miles one way. You can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points directly to the program.
Another option is to book your flight through American Airlines, which you can do since its partners with Etihad. As a bonus, the flight is slightly cheaper at 115,000 AAdvantage miles.
Emirates’ first class suites are in a one-two-one layout and they are the smallest of the three airlines. It’s also the most eye-catching with gold trim, fake wood, a mini-bar and a lit vanity mirror. If you sit in the middle two seats, a partition can be lowered if you’re traveling with a companion.
After turndown service the seat turns into a bed, complete with mattress pad. It’s not as spacious as the beds offered in the other suites, but it’s still large enough to sleep comfortably. There’s also a TV and lots of on-demand entertainment. Gourmet food, champagne and other drinks are provided whenever you want.
The slightly smaller suite space is balanced by the carrier’s other onboard amenities. There’s a shower and a dedicated shower attendant to cater to your spa needs. Simply book a time and, like Etihad, you have twenty minutes to use the shower and five minutes of water.
There’s also has a dedicated first class bar. Unlike Etihad, this space is not shared with business class passengers. That doesn’t mean that you won’t also want to visit the more social business class bar. It’s a larger space complete with a bartender.
Emirates offers first class suites on more flights departing from the U.S. than the other carriers. All of its Airbus A380 flights have suites, and routes from North America include New York to Dubai or Milan, and Dallas, Houston, San Francisco or Los Angeles to Dubai.
The airline also offers the suite on select Boeing 777s. You can check Emirates’ website before booking to see if it’s an option to your destination.
The New York to Milan flight is the shortest and cheapest at 85,000 miles; New York to Dubai is 136,250 miles; and Dallas, Houston, San Francisco or Los Angeles to Dubai all cost 155,000 miles. You can transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards directly to Skywards, Emirates’ loyalty program, but the carrier imposes hefty surcharges on award flights.
Another option for getting into an Emirates suite is to book through its partner, Alaska Airlines. While Alaska’s prices for Emirates awards have gone up recently, most routes are still slightly cheaper than booking through Emirates, and you can avoid the sizable surcharges. First class tickets between North America and the Middle East cost 150,000 miles. Surprisingly, the shorter flight from New York to Milan costs a whopping 180,000 miles.