Seating: Ergonomically designed with a double back pillow and additional massage function. Once you get comfortable the seat can be programmed to remember the setting. Adjustable lighting for reading as well as a satellite phone, laptop plug and a 10.4 inch touch screen for sending texts and email.
Entertainment: 15 audio channels and 26 video channels including documentaries, the latest film releases, world maps, interactive video games, flight data and live images taken from a camera situated on the tail of the aircraft.
Food: There’s a self-service bar but the menus are taken seriously here and you can expect Spanish delicacies such as Iberian cured ham. The menu is a three-course affair offering choices such as veal consomme to start; duck with raspberries and Porto wine sauce; and chocolate and fudge cake. Fine Spanish wines include reds from Cádiz, Toro, Yecla, Navarre and the two Castiles, and the excellent whites from Ribeiro, Somontano or Rioja.
Extra Touches: A luxury car and chauffeur service from the passenger’s home or hotel to the airport or vice-versa is offered free of charge for Business Plus passengers. This service is available in Madrid, Barcelona, Santiago of Chile, Buenos Aires, Mexico DF and Sao Paulo.
Beds: The USP here is the ”Z” position for supporting the knees and back in a seated recline – Z is the shape bodies assume in zero gravity, apparently. Both the headrest and lumbar area are adjustable and the headrest includes a layer of memory foam. In first class, the crew will lay down a mattress for you; you'll have a quilt and 400 thread-count Egyptian sheets.
Style: Business class is inspired by the look and feel of the Savile Row tailors – it’s a lounge environment in luxuriant hues, designed in consultation with travel style guru Tyler Brule. Very chic.
Food: In Club World the Club Kitchen is a help-yourself larder of snacks and drinks, from smoothies to wine. Meals are first-rate, with some of the best wines and champagne in the world. You don’t get up yourself – you just call for when you want something, whether it’s a bacon sarnie or an ice cream.
Entertainment: Seat-screens offer 100 movies and TV programmes as well as lots of music and even audio books.
Special Touches: For First Class, check-in is fast-tracked. And the First Class lounges at Terminal Five are lavish: vintage wines, expensive art and an Elemis spa. Luxurious amenity packs on board have been designed by Anya Hindmarch.
Food: One of the best in the business. Star Chef menus are offered on long-haul flights from Germany. Through June, Michelin-starred TV chef Alexander Hermann is in charge. Expect the likes of poached marinated king prawns, horseradish chive tartlet and root vegetable vinaigrette and – in first class – Bienenstich (“bee-sting” cake) with rhubarb compote. Sommelier Markus Del Monego changes the wine menu every two months, and offers the best champagne in any First Class: Cuvee Rare Piper Heidsieck (served in July and August). Flight attendants in First Class are specially trained in oenology.
Seats: First Class is fully flat 2m bed; Business Class is a 2m lie-flat one. Design is being revamped and reintroduced next year.
Lounges: The Frankfurt First Class lounges are the largest in the world of their type and housed in a dedicated First Class Terminal. The newest one (which opened in March 2009) has a spa and offers beauty treatments. Business Class travellers have access to the Welcome Lounge, with power-showers, hot and cold food and a concierge.
Special touches: The Lufthansa Private Jet (LPJ). It flies to more than 1,000 destinations within Europe and you can book it for “point-point” service or in conjunction with a Lufthansa or SWISS long-haul flight. A personal event manager takes care of everything. You can book the LPJ on short notice, 24-7. Includes a complimentary limousine pick-up from you home to the airport where you will be met by a personal assistant. There is bespoke catering and in-flight entertainment.
Seats: Fully-flat beds in Business Class and a generous 50 inches of legroom in Premium Economy.
Check-in: A popular business airline, bmi is not a showy one but it knows its area and excels in efficiency, before and after the flight. It is the only airline at Heathrow to offer Business Class customers a check-in promise: they can arrive at check-in as little as 30 minutes before departure with the guarantee that they will make their flight. Premium leisure customers can also have bmi staff collect their luggage and travel documents on arrival, so that the staff can complete the check-in formalities while the customer sits back and relaxes.
Food: This is best enjoyed at the new Number One Heathrow bmi lounge, a runway-facing space in which to work, refresh and relax. Here you can enjoy treats from top chef Mark Hix, such as his own ice cream (try the Credit Crunch, caramel and honeycomb chocolate) and his new line of salad dressings. There’s also a pub with good wine and a cafe with steaming fresh soup all day. On flights to Cairo, Tel Aviv and Saudi, there is an on-board chef to produce restaurant-style cuisine.
Special Touches: Offers total paperless boarding and mobile check-in on all domestic routes from Heathrow. You can check in online or by mobile up to 24 hours in advance, choose your seat and have your boarding pass delivered electronically to your mobile phone or PDA as an MMS. Free chauffer drive to and from airport in certain cities.
Seats: Two sided mattresses: one for sitting, one for sleeping (the two have different requirements.)
Entertainment: One of the best in the business: 300 hours of videos and TV, interactive entertainment, music and games.
Check-in: If you arrive by chauffeur-driven car or LimoBike you can bypass the terminal and head straight for the Clubhouse Lounge via Drive Thru Check In (at Heathrow, Gatwick or Johannesburg). All Upper Class passengers can use Virgin’s Private Security Channel, which speeds things up after check-in.
Food: No set meal times: order what you want and when you want, be it a snack or a three-course meal. Virgin’s wine has been selected with help from Berry Bros & Rudd, Britain’s oldest wine merchant. Expect very good grub – and the Upper Class bar serves up first-rate cocktails.
Special Touches: The refresh lounge at T3 where you can do business, shower, drink, eat and have a housekeeper make minor repairs to your equipment.
Seats: Fully flat beds housed in a shell with built-in mini-bar, large personal table, separate foot-rest extension (electrically operated), laptop stowage, “literature pocket”, shoe storage, adjustable headrests and noise cancellation headsets.
Entertainment: The daddy of IFE. A 17-inch wide LCD screen offers 1,100 channels of in-flight entertainment including more than 700 Audio channels, 100 TV channels and 190 movie channels. News and sports headlines are updated throughout flight, plus there’s seat-to-seat calling.
First and Business Class Lounge: Onboard lounge with fully stocked bar and canapes, as well as sofas and a 42 inch LCD showing the plane’s position and views from external cameras.
Food: Served on bone china tableware and fine linen – enough said? Perhaps not: on long-haul flights, cold canapes are followed by five-course lunches and dinners, with a choice of hors d’oeuvres and entrees, hot and cold dessert, port with five types of cheese, fresh fruit, tea and coffee, and liqueurs with sweets.
Special Touches: The First Class suites include an electrical operated door, minibar, reading lights, desk and room service. There are also two “shower spas” in First Class with showers, changing area, toilet, full-length mirror and hairdryer.
Seats: A big deal for AA. The “lie-flat” seats have five independent motors so that you can adjust any component of the seat, including the seat bottom, seat back, leg extension and leg rest. You can programme your seat for personal comfort by using the memory setting so that you can return to a favourite seat position.
Entertainment: A movable 27 centimetre (10.6 inch) monitor offers 14 films, 10 hours of pre-loaded television and news programmes, 50 music CDs, 15 music videos and a variety of games. Listen with Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones.
Food: A three course American or European Menu includes good solid food like Cowboy Steak with chilli-dusted onions (American) and roast chicken with eggplant confit (European). Wines are the best of American and some good French.
Extra Touch: The Amenity Pack is stocked with Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk and Honey Body Lotion and Beeswax Lip Balm, Colgate toothpaste, a toothbrush with a re-sealable cap, plush socks and big eyeshades.