When it seems like airlines keep on chipping away at the perks and amenities travelers once expected, peruse this list and know that there is a (dim) light on the horizon.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that salvage a long flight—like the Smart Trays just installed on Asia Atlantic that prop up your phone or iPad so it doesn’t have to do battle with your linguine. Or Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch, which replaces coach’s row of three seats with a more flexible setup that lets a couple or family snuggle together, recline, prop up their feet, and eat off a shared tray. The idea is gaining traction: Air China and Air Astana have SkyCouches on their new planes, too.
Tiptoe Out of Coach
More airlines are introducing a half step up from coach: premium economy, with wider seats, deeper recline, extra legroom, and priority boarding. Lufthansa gets points for serving meals on real plates, while Singapore tosses in perks such as noise-canceling headphones and a footrest. Delta Comfort+ has quilted seats and dedicated overhead bin space. On JetBlue’s NY-to-CA Mint service, seats lie flat, the screen is a respectable size, and gifts of toiletry kits, scoops of ice cream, and cocktails just keep coming.
The New Biz Class
On a mission to democratize business class, the new boutique transatlantic airline La Compagnie offers every single passenger a lie-flat seat, a menu by a Michelin-starred chef, a personal tablet, and a dopp kit—at fares that aren’t sky-high. And in December, Take Air launched another idea that needs to catch on: a fixed monthly fee to fly as much as you want—bypassing check-in, security, and boarding lines. So far, it’s only flying Antwerp/Zurich, but fingers are crossed for more.
Beyond First Class
Meanwhile, there’s some serious one-upmanship going on at the front of the plane. Etihad’s new residence (shown above)—there’s one on every A380—is roomier than some city apartments; the three-room suite is outfitted with Christian Lacroix pj’s, a champagne fridge, and a butler. Emirates has been hush-hush about the details of its new suites, which should roll out in the coming year, but considering the tuck-in service and in-flight shower it already offers, they ought to be good.
Image courtesy of Etihad.