Steve Hui, CEO and founder of iFLYflat, highlights some of air travel’s premium services to create the ultimate – and, at least for now, hypothetical – return flight experience
The world’s best airline? Good question. And, as a frequent traveller, it is one I field a lot. It seems like an easy one, too. Yet, the more one travels, the harder it is to settle on an answer. Every airline, airport and aircraft delivers a unique experience, and each comes with good and bad points.
In fact, the ultimate flight, to my mind, doesn’t exist. Instead, it is an amalgam of some of the best and most luxurious experiences in air travel. Here, I’ve pulled together the hypothetical dream flight.
Emirates’ chauffeur-drive service, available in more than 70 cities worldwide, provides a stylish and stress-free start to any journey. Passengers booked to fly on Emirates First or Business Class, including those on points redemption tickets, receive complimentary airport chauffeurs. One car per passenger is available to transport guests between home and their departure airport followed by their destination airport and hotel. Return transfers are also included for a seamless transition from start to finish.
Check-in: Qantas First Class
Qantas’s dedicated First Class check-in service makes light work of pre- flight administration. You’ll be greeted with a small to non-existent line and a warm, welcoming smile before being efficiently checked in. So comfortable is the space, you won’t even be in a hurry to leave.
Immigration: Sydney International
Boarding pass in hand, the express corridor at Sydney International delivers you to the automated airport immigration gates that slide open after a quick facial verification. It’s a wonderfully uncomplicated version of an often- tedious process.
Lounge: Qantas First Class Sydney International
A lush living wall brings calm as you ascend the escalator towards the Qantas First Class lounge, with its expansive and oddly mesmerising views of the airport and aircraft movements. Guided to your table as if you were dining at a three-hatted restaurant, you’ll soon be faced with a welcome conundrum: what to eat from the Neil Perry-designed menu? Oh, and when you should schedule your massage?
Cabin/Seat: Etihad A380 First Apartment
With 3.6 square metres of private space, the Etihad First Apartment has revolutionised the First Class experience. Rejecting convention, the full-length fully- flat bed is entirely separate from the seat and both can be accessed simultaneously. The ‘apartment’ is big enough to fit up to four people – helpful for meetings or simply to pass the time with travel companions. Then again, time in your own company isn’t bad either, especially when you’re gazing out one of the three apartment windows with a glass of champagne or other top-shelf beverage.
Food & Beverage: Etihad Inflight Chefs
In keeping with the five-star standard of the airline’s First Apartments, Etihad has also raised the bar with its Inflight Chef service. More than 200 internationally trained chefs work on Etihad’s long-haul First Class sectors, giving passengers the option of diverting from the onboard menu for an individualised and delicious dining experience.
Inflight Extras: Emirates
An experience that cannot be forgotten, the bathroom onboard the Emirates A380 is often credited with being bigger than most New York apartments. Then there’s the Emirates ICE entertainment system, with an impressive 3500 channels. Or perhaps a seat at the bar is more your style. The Emirates A380 Business Class bar is the perfect excuse to stretch your legs.
Airport Connection: Hong Kong Airport Express
The best airport-to-city (or vice versa) connection is in Hong Kong with the Airport Express, a frequent purpose-designed fast train that will deliver you to the centre of the city within 30 minutes.
Check-in: Hong Kong
Kudos to Hong Kong, a world leader in efficiency. Hong Kong’s in-town check-in facilities allow you to check your baggage and collect your boarding pass in the city, about 40 kilometres from the airport. With your bags en route, you now have the freedom to continue your holiday or business meetings.
Lounge: The Private Room, Singapore Airlines Changi Airport
Only available to First Class ticket holders, The Private Room is an indulgent way to while away time. Lobster, steak, champagne and other drinks entice you to eat before your flight.
Cabin/Seat: Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suite
The luxury of a private cabin with a full-sized bed as well as a permanent seat is now the benchmark in air travel and Singapore Airlines has joined the elite with the A380 First Class Suite. As well as the electronically controlled Poltrona Frau leather swivel chair, there is a luxury padded storage shelf with room for each of your belongings to have its place. The experience certainly makes you want to tell the captain to take the long route.
Food & Beverage: Singapore Airlines
French champagne and caviar? Don’t mind if I do. And it’s just one of the indulgent options on offer from Singapore Airlines’ Book-the-Cook selection.
For more information on Steve Hui, visit iflyflat.com.au.