5 Cool Planes, and How You Can Fly in Them
Airlines are competing aggressively for business-class and first-class customers, and are introducing insanely expensive amenities to get their business. Below, 5 particularly cool airplanes and where they fly:
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites: A Double Bed
Singapore was the first airline to fly the A380, the world’s largest passenger airplane, and marketed its “suites” as the most luxurious first-class experience in the world. What’s the difference between a suite and a seat? On Singapore, a suite has both a seat and a bed.
If you’re traveling with a companion, you can get adjoining suites so that your beds become one. But don’t take that as a hint: there’s a strict “no sex onboard” policy.
Where to find it: Singapore flies the A380 on some flights from Singapore to Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Paris, Sydney Tokyo, and Zurich.
How much it costs: A round trip in October from Singapore to London (around 13 hours each way) costs about $12,000 in a suite, vs. about $2,000 in coach.
Emirates A380 First Class: A Shower
Emirates, one of the first airlines to fly the A380, decided that suites weren’t enough. In first class, you can also take a shower. The so-called “shower spa” also has heated floors.
There is, however, a 5-minute limit on showers.
Where to find it: Emirates flies the A380 on some flights from Dubai to London, Sydney, Bangkok, Toronto, Paris, Seoul, Jeddah, Beijing, and Manchester, and from Sydney to Aukland.
How much it costs: A round trip in October from Dubai to Paris (around 7 hours each way) costs about $8,500 in first class, vs. about $1,300 in coach.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class: A Bar
Like other international airlines, Virgin Atlantic is happy to bring drinks to your seat. But if you’ve paid for “Upper Class” (Virgin America’s version of business class), you can also sit around an in-flight bar.
Where to find it: Virgin America has Upper Class on all its flights—for example, from London to New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Delhi, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Sydney.
How much it costs: A round trip in October from London to San Francisco (around 10 hours each way) costs about $4,000 in Upper Class, vs. about $800 in coach.
British Airways A318: Fly Trans-Atlantic to London’s Financial District
British Airways (BA) historically has claimed London’s Heathrow Airport as its fortress. But since business travelers from New York are often headed to London’s Financial District, BA started extra trans-Atlantic flights to London’s tiny City Airport.
Flights from New York (JFK) to London City are on the small A318, a plane that typically seats around 100 people. But on BA’s flights, the plane seats only 32 people, in an all-business class setup.
The flight is non-stop from JFK to London, but makes a stop in Shannon, Ireland in the other direction. During that stop, passengers pre-clear US customs and immigration—so when they land at JFK, they’re treated as if they’d just arrived off a domestic flight.
Where to find it: British Airways flies twice a day each way from JFK to London City.
How much it costs: A round trip in October from London City to JFK (around 7 hours eastbound and 9 hours westbound) costs about $4,000, vs. about $700 in coach on BA’s London Heathrow-to-JFK route.
Singapore Airlines A340-500: Fly the Longest Non-stop in the World
Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to Newark, NJ (near New York City)—the longest non-stop in the world, about 10,000 miles.
Singapore’s A340-500 planes have an all-business class arrangement with only 100 seats. Each seat’s TV has more than 100 movies, which should be just enough to keep you from going crazy after spending most of a day in the same plane.
Where to find it: Singapore Airlines flies once a day in each direction between Newark and Singapore. The same type of plane flies 5 days a week each way between Los Angeles and Singapore (the second-longest non-stop in the world).
How much it costs: A round trip in October from Newark to Singapore (about 19 hours each way) costs about $7,000, vs. about $2,000 in coach on Singapore’s one-stop JFK-to-Singapore flight.