Typically, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines are considered to offer the best business class seats, but competition has grown fierce. You’ll find that lots of carriers are stepping up to provide luxury services to attract business class passengers.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive list to know who is the best business class airline to book with, look no further, as Skyscanner Australia has done the homework.
The best business class airlines 2018
While every airline likes to claim its business class seats are the best, at least in one respect, there’s an independent body that ranks them fairly. Each year, Skytrax names the best airlines in multiple categories, including best business class.
In 2018, the top ten was ranked as:
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Cathay Pacific
- Turkish Airlines
- EVA Air
1. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways may be a surprise to some, but the Doha-based airline is regularly ranked as one of the best in the world. As well as winning best business class airline in 2018, Qatar Airways was named as the best overall airline four times in the last decade: in 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2011.
Seats: Business class seats on Qatar’s flights are laid out in a 1-2-1 pattern. This means all seats have aisle access and half have both aisle and window privileges. Each seat is a generous 56cm wide and turns into a two-metre flat bed. This bed is coupled with LED lighting that helps passengers adapt to new time zones. Each seat also has a 40cm screen, power source and access to onboard Wi-Fi.
Dining: Business class passengers can order meals and snacks from the airline’s menu throughout the flight. The dishes are designed by award-winning chefs exclusively for Qatar Airways. Hot drinks and signature mocktails are also available throughout the flight.
Extra features: Qatar Airways passengers are spoilt when it comes to extras. Enjoy 100% cotton pyjamas and slippers from The White Company and stay refreshed with lip balm, facial mist and moisturiser provided by Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for splurging.
2. Singapore Airlines
Type into any search engine ‘who has the best business class seats?’ and Singapore Airlines will pop up in every listicle going. Singapore Airlines sets the bar for luxury flying and has kept it there. Known throughout the industry for its elegant service and facilities, you can count on their business class seats to be at the very pinnacle of comfortable flying.
Seats: The latest seats in the new business class on Singapore Airlines features handcrafted leather loungers that extend to two metres when laid flat. These come with all the bed-linen trimmings, too. Sleeping on a flight has never been so easy. If you’d prefer to remain awake, there’s plenty of space to work and relax, as the seats boast a width of about 85cm. There’s also the 45cm LCD screen and non-stop on-demand entertainment system which should help while away the hours.
Dining: On Singapore Airlines, you can ‘Book the Cook’. This allows you to peruse the menu up to 24 hours before you board – plenty of time to look through the wide selection of meals and wines created and selected by the airline’s international culinary panel. If that doesn’t impress, when you fly from Singapore you can choose from over 60 dishes!
Extra features: We can’t talk about Singapore Airlines without mentioning their award-winning service. This is a real hospitality airline, and you’ll notice that when you meet the excellent staff. On the ground, you can expect fast-track services and premier lounge access.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for first-class service.
3. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Getting in the top three of any international list is difficult, but staying there is often harder. ANA has claimed a second year in the top three business class airlines, proving that its services are among the best in the world. All Nippon Airways (ANA) is Japan’s largest airline, proving that biggest is best.
Seats: ANA’s business seats are set in a staggered pattern, meaning no one will ever recline into your face. Depending on the plane type you fly on, you’ll either have an extended leg rest or a fully flat seat for a more comfortable night’s sleep. Live TV is available on many services and noise-cancelling headphones are given to all business and first class passengers.
Dining: Business class passengers can order from a different menu depending on the route. Japanese cuisine is available on many Asian routes, with Tofuya Ukai the airline’s specialty. A French-themed menu is available on flights from Japan to North America and Europe. Food from Pierre Hermé – once named the world’s best pastry chef – provides a sweets menu on many flights, including those going to and from Australia.
Extra features: For extra comfort, all passengers are given a blanket and pillow. Business class passengers also get a bed pad and an amenity kit with hand cream, facial mist and lip balm.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for fine dining.
No list of best business class seats is complete without mentioning Emirates. Operating one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world (read: super modern), Emirates focuses on providing top-rate passenger comfort.
Seats: Emirates business class seats come in an ergonomic and leather-bound package that stretch to almost two metres when laid fully flat. The generous 58cm entertainment screen offers a staggering 2,000 entertainment channels to choose from. This includes the very latest new releases along with breaking news to keep travellers updated in real time. Send an email or update social media, write up a business report, or kick back and choose a beverage from your personal minibar all from the comfort of your seating.
Dining: A gourmet menu inspired by regional and international dishes come served on Royal Doulton bone china with Robert Welch cutlery. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, you can match your meal with a Sommelier-selected wine list.
Extra features: The A380 onboard lounge is the place to unwind in the sky and is for the exclusive use of first and business class passengers. Canapes and cocktails, coffee and cake are all on offer in a convivial lounge area where guests can stretch their legs or socialise. Bulgari designed kit bags come with perfumes and skincare, one of the most luxurious amenities bag on the market. You will also have access to complimentary airport chauffer-driven car service as well as being fast-tracked through immigration.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for slick amenities and on the ground transport services.
Read More: 8 ways to score a flight upgrade
5. Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways emphasises that their business class seats are ‘not business as usual’ and with their luxury Business Studio suites and flatbed seats, we’d have to agree. In terms of design, think: boutique hotel and muted Arabian elegance. In terms of comfort, think: oh mama!
Seats: The seats are generous, able to fully recline to just over two metres. Because the airline has redesigned the seats to meet back-to-back, you can choose a private nook off to the side, or select the side-by-side seat options if you’re travelling with someone you know. Don’t worry, all seats come with a retractable screen so you still have privacy when you need it. There are USB and power bar connections and a generous 47cm touchscreen entertainment unit for every seat.
Dining: One of the best features of booking the Etihad business class fare is the ability to decide when you want to eat. You are given a menu and, just like in a restaurant, you order when you feel hungry.
Extra features: A business class ticket with Etihad doesn’t just include your seat. You are given the option of being transported to and from the airport in a private car, full use of their excellent lounge, and some upmarket freebies like luxe amenity kits as well as slippers and PJs. On the Airbus 380, you can also make use of the Lobby lounge and bar, which comes with mobile and Wi-Fi service.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for travelling with colleagues.
Read more: Top 5 airline first class cabins
Australia’s national carrier is frequently said to have some of the best business class seats in the world. You’ll find the pick of the bunch are the Skybeds found on the Qantas A380.
Seats: Qantas seats have won awards for their design, and it’s easy to see why. The cocoon design affords you privacy from your neighbour, and when you’re ready to sleep you can convert the seat into a two-metre-long bed (with an included turn-down service). Perhaps the most coveted feature of these loungers, however, is their multi-zone massage function. Personal telephones, USB and power outlets, as well as 30cm touchscreens complete the set.
Dining: An eight-course tasting menu created by Qantas chef Neil Perry is served by silver service trained cabin staff. Qantas Rockpool sommeliers and mixologists have been tasked with keeping travellers hydrated. As well as the drinks, these provide onboard tasting notes and recommendations.
Extra features: Amenities like soft pyjamas and skincare by ASPAR are provided, with the nifty bonus that the bags they come in are designed by Australian artists. There’s also an onboard lounge if you fancy stretching your legs, having a meeting, or watching a movie on the larger 58cm screen. Also, if you’re flying out of Sydney or Melbourne, you can access the Aurora Spa located in the First Lounges, and snap up a free signature 20-minute treatments focusing on muscle relaxation and skin hydration pre-flight.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for relaxation.
7. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong, has been a regular in Skytrax’s top ten business class airlines. A mix of spacious seats, fine dining options, high staff training and luxurious lounges combine to give business passengers a great flight.
Seats: Cathay Pacific’s business class seats have two settings – for sitting and sleeping – with minor adjustments available to each for added comfort. All window seats are angled towards the window, giving better views of the world passing by, while interior seats angle towards each other to allow travelling companions to speak more easily. Each seat has a charging socket, USB port and iPhone plug.
Dining: Cathay Pacific’s onboard menu regularly changes to make use of local produce and seasonal fruit and veg. The menu has an emphasis on healthful food, but decadent options such as award-winning wines and deluxe chocolates are also available.
Extra features: Business class passengers can utilise privacy screens if they want to work or shut themselves off from the world. Each seat has adjustable lighting and passengers can make use of duvets, pillows and amenity kits.
Our recommendation: best business class for consistent quality.
The top-rated European airline, Lufthansa (part of Star Alliance along with ANA, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines) is celebrating three consecutive years in the top ten. Based out of Frankfurt, Lufthansa (including its subsidiaries) is the largest airline in Europe.
Seats: Lufthansa’s business class experience begins at the airport, with lounge access for all business passengers. Onboard, the seats turn into flat beds to give you a good night’s rest. Each seat has a touchscreen with almost 200 films, 300 TV programs and a vast music library.
Dining: As you enter business class, your flight attendant will hand you a welcome drink and a menu for your flight. The food is served in restaurant style (on fine china, for example) and the menus change every two months to keep things fresh for passengers. The offerings change depending on the region you’re flying to and is accompanied by a fine wine menu.
Extra features: As well as amenity kits, Lufthansa has a Doctors on Board scheme that rewards and encourages medical professionals to make themselves available during flights. As well as this, the airline has worked with Bayern Munich Football Club for your comfort. Together, they have created videos with exercises to help make flights more comfortable.
Our recommendation: best business class for comfort and healthcare.
9. Turkish Airlines
Cementing its place in the business class elite, Turkish Airlines has been named in the top ten the past several years. Based in Istanbul, the airline’s hub has great access to both Europe and Asia. As trivia fans will know, Istanbul straddles this continental divide.
Seats: Like many of the other airlines on this list, Turkish Airlines offers business class seats that transform into flat beds. To make it easier to get to sleep, pillows, blankets, eye masks and ear plugs are also all available. Each seat also has its own reading lamp, power supply, rotating desk and inbuilt massage feature.
Dining: Turkish Airlines’ food has been named the best in the business by Skytrax, so you’re sure to be in for a treat. The menu mixes Turkish favourites with international cuisine. This is prepared by onboard chefs, using seasonal ingredients and served on porcelain tableware.
Extra features: Turkish Airlines won the 2018 award for best business class lounge. As well as the expected features offered in the Istanbul lounge, you can also avail yourself to the masseuses or watch a film in the cinema. You can play virtual golf, on the pool table, or with model cars.
Our recommendation: best business class airline for service before and during the flight.
10. EVA Air
EVA Air is not as well known as some of the other airlines on this list, but this technologically-advanced Taiwan-based airline is always topping lists of best business class airlines. And you’ll find that this carrier utilises the best high-tech systems to enhance the passenger in-flight experience. Look for the Royal Laurel Class tickets, which cover both first and business class flights.
Seats: In EVA Air’s version of business class you will be able to retract your armrests and cocktail table to create a two-metre-long flat bed at the touch of a button. Space and privacy are maximised here, and the reverse herringbone configuration with fixed panels will enable you to create your own private space. The airline has also upgraded all their touchscreen entertainment screens to HD, and added power sockets, USB and iPod ports to complete the high-tech setup.
Dining: Expect a glass of champagne, and a rich choice of dishes which include gourmet options like fresh lobster and prime steak, or low-calorie options if you’re looking for something healthy. You’re also able to book your meal well in advance if you want something specialised.
Extra features: You’ll get a lovely RIMOWA amenity kit filled with skincare goodies from the French brand Melvita. You’ll also be given pyjamas, and our personal favourite: noise-cancelling earphones. We also love the glittering star lighting on the ceiling of the cabin during overnight flights.
Our recommendation: best business class seats for high-tech amenities.