What it’s like inside 17 different first class cabins

Let's get this sorted right from the start: flying in first class isn't all about the flying.

Yes, you'll spend most of your travel time ensconced in that five-star cocoon.

You'll be served stunning restaurant-quality meals which show haute cuisine can also be 'height cuisine', feted by attentive staff and generally made to feel like a VIP.

Even the loos have room to swing a cat in Qatar Airways' first class cabin.
Even the loos have room to swing a cat in Qatar Airways' first class cabin. 

(Given how much you're paying to sit at the pointy end, to an airline's bean counters you're most definitely a VIP.)

But the benefits of first class come long before you settle into that luxury suite or seat.

First things first

There's often a chauffeur to whisk to you to the airport, and in most cases – with Singapore Airlines' home port at Changi being a superb example – there's a dedicated first class check-in lounge with kerbside meet-and-greet and a queue-busting private security and immigration lane.

Then there's the first class lounge with a dining room offering table service from an a la carte menu, a posh wine list and - in the best instances - a day spa with free massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.

In such lounges you rarely hear passengers moan when a flight is delayed – it's simply the chance for one more glass of French champagne.

Lounging around

Qantas has some of the world's best first class lounges at Sydney and Melbourne, but Lufthansa goes a step beyond with a dedicated first class terminal in Frankfurt where even the most jaded traveller could happily spend a day.

When you eventually step onto your plane, there's that happy moment of turning left rather than right – or in some cases, having your very own boarding walkway straight into the first class cabin.

And that's when you quickly realise that no matter how many hours the flight will take, it'll probably still be too short.

David Flynn is the editor of the Australian Business Traveller website.